Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published May 23rd 2013
The perfect autumn walk - for kids, dogs, and you
Emerald Lake Park autumn walking (c) JP Mundy 2013
Now's the time to get out and enjoy the autumn colour. And there's a perfectly formed walk, just tucked away in the Dandenongs, which is a must-do at this time of year. Full of glorious autumn leave, the Emerald to Cockatoo Recreational trail is perfect for all-comers. Following roughly along the Puffing Billy train track, the walk starts from Kilvington Street in Emerald, takes in the magnificent Nobilius Gardens and Emerald Lake Park, then heads via fern gullies and then bush through the towering gums of Wrights Forest before descending gently to Cockatoo. Marked along the way with yellow arrows in blue signs, it's pretty straightforward to follow, so you can enjoy the walk instead of peering into your map the whole way.
Wrights Forest bushwalk - part of teh Emerald-Cockatoo Walking Trail
You can take dogs on lead, which is a real bonus, and there is an off-lead park at the start and end of the walk so you can let your dogs stretch their legs and run. It's also a wonderful walk for children, as there are only a few gentle inclines, but it is largely flat, and if walking on weekends, they can keep an eye out for Puffing Billy! At Emerald Lake Park (the favoured stopping off point for Puffing Billy passengers), there are also aquatic big wheel bikes for hire on the Lake and a wishing well to find, as well as a cafe and model railway.
Emerald Lake Park in the Dandenongs: Perfect for Kids
If you walk on weekends or school holidays, you can catch Puffing Billy back from Cockatoo at 3pm (check times on the day to be sure), or there is a regular bus service. Alternatively, if you are having such a great time on the walk, as we were today in the autumn sun - you can turn around and walk back for a great 14 km/5 hour return walk.