The dogs of Melbourne's North are good at keeping a secret. Behind a row of innocuous looking houses at the end of Separation Street in Alphington lies an expanse of unspoilt countryside. Walk down past the local pooch's off lead area and you'll reach a small winding path on the edge of the Darebin Creek.
You'll find wild rocky cliff faces, benches to sit and ponder in shady spots and dog friendly lagoons to give your four legged friend a swimming lesson and cool off on a hot day. Keep following the creek and you'll walk through glorious wooded thickets – look up and you might see a couple of owls huddled close and enjoying a daytime nap. There are hidden nooks, secret paths and plenty of secluded spots for you to enjoy your own little piece of peace.
Climb Mount Puffalo Viewing Hill and you'll be rewarded with views of the parklands and one of several inspirational plaques dotted around the parklands. Exercise for the body and the spirit!
There's also bike and running paths skirting along the edge of the parklands which will lead you up towards Bundoora Park or down towards the city and the Yarra trail.
If exertion isn't your thing or you're looking to relax in botanic garden style settings, bring a picnic and hang out on one of the lush grassy areas where there are barbecues, toilets and a children's play area. With spring upon us and summer around the corner, now is the time to check out Darebin Parklands - a magical combination of wild countryside and tended gardens right on your doorstep.