Elsternwick Park is less than 10 km southeast of the CBD and hosts just about every recreational activity you could need. At 37 hectares, it's home to organised sports clubs as well as children's playgrounds, barbecue areas, a tennis wall, open areas for off-leash dog walking, and a lake that boasts waterbird species in exceptional numbers. There's even a couple of skate bowls for any skaters, riders, or bladers
The park is bordered by Glenhuntly Road, Head Street, St Kilda Street and New Street and divides into northern and southern sections, bisected by Bent Avenue. North of Bent Avenue, a big chunk is taken up by the 9-hole Elsternwick Public Golf Course and the sports clubs' headquarters.
South of Bent Avenue are 15 hectares given over to less strenuous activities. Barbecue facilities are available at a small playground and rotunda off Head Street, close to Elwood Beach. There's another BBQ area at the main adventure playground near the corner of Bent Avenue and New Street. Built atop a hill, this playground gets a great workout, with many obeying the urge to roll down said hill.
The topography is otherwise flat. Grassy areas provide endless dog exercise possibilities. There's even an informal Pug club on Sunday mornings, where the heavy-breathing canines can be observed en masse.
For beginners, the lake offers plenty of water birds, which are large, relatively slow and great fun to watch. Anything from chook-like swamphens to elegant herons can be seen along with ducks, cormorants and coots. Many breed on the island, including the park's resident black swan, P62, a female who wears a collar as part of a Melbourne University study.
The lake is fenced, which minimises disruption to the birds. It's the only place I know where it's safe to take your dog on a birdwatching jaunt!
Parking is available in Bent Avenue, New, Head and St Kilda Streets. To get there via public transport take the number 67 tram. It is then a 10 minute walk from the corner of Glenhuntly Road and Nepean Highway.