If you live in Melbourne and want to experience the soft and calming embrace of nature, you don't need to pack your bags for a journey to the Grampians or down the Great Ocean Road. You don't even need to set off to places like the Mornington Peninaula. Chances are, the shade and serenity you are looking for is right under your nose.
In Melbourne's South East, just a short drive from the city, where the Yarra snakes its' way through the suburbs of Thomastown, Ivanhoe and Fairfielld, there are neat little spots of peaceful river-side bliss, more fitting for a sleepy village then a metropolis. It is truly one of Melbourne's hidden secrets.
It was a secret for me until the subject came up in conversation at work one day. We were chatting about places to go for a lazy Sunday afternoon when the name 'Fairfield Boathouse' came up. There is a boathouse? In Fairfield? Only ten minutes away? I was intrigued.
As it turned out, the place looked even nicer then I imagined. Hidden behind a children's play area, only few minutes away from Eastlink, the Boathouse is situated in a picturesque spot where the green, wooded hillside meets the river's bend. There is a cafe and a boat-shed where, for a very reasonable price you can hire a canoe, a kayak or a row-boat.
The day we came down for a visit, the weather was not on our side. The sun did peek through in the last possible moment but after 24 hours of uninterrupted rain the river burst its' banks and looked ominously dark and menacing. I hopefully asked at the reception but the answer was predictable: No, there will be boat hire today. The disappointment, however quickly gave way to the delight of stumbling across such a hidden treasure.
The gentle breeze from the river felt cool and pleasant on the hot day. There is a bicycle track which lets you cycle all the way to the City in 10 minutes or so. You could also survey the vista from above by taking a stroll across the 'Pipe bridge' (what's in the pipe? No-one knows.)
Overall: an excellent place to spend a spare, peaceful moment to reset your busy day. I hope there are other hidden gems like this one tucked away in suburban Melbourne. And when I find them, rest assured I will tell you all about it.