I'm a Melbourne girl, born and bred, and new resident of Geelong. Fantabulous adventures await as I explore my gorgeous new city and the stunning Surf Coast. But don’t worry—I’ll be crossing the bridge regularly to get my Melbourne fix.
Published September 25th 2015
The perfect pooch-friendly park - with a rather odd name
As a child, I was always quite intrigued as to what the Liverpool Road Retarding Basin was. It looked like a big park from the backseat windows as we'd whiz by in the car…but what did that name mean? A basin? Was it like a big, ginormous sink? Was it some sort of top-secret facility to test sinks and water and other weird stuff? I never actually went there as a child, but as I grew up, I began to realise that it had something to do with Melbourne Water, and I now know it as an important part of the Dandenong Creek waterway in Melbourne's east.
The Liverpool Road Retarding Basin's main function is to reduce the risk of floods downstream within the Dandenong Creek, and was basically built for drainage purposes. But that description belies the beauty of the reserve—in addition to its important role within the management of Dandenong Creek, it's also a popular public park with native flora, fauna, walking trails and man-made lakes.
Once you've figured out what the Retarding Basin actually is (or perhaps it was just me that wondered about it all these years?) the reserve is a beautiful place to go if you need some quiet time-out or feel like a peaceful wander around the gravel paths surrounding the lake. But perhaps most importantly, it's pooch friendly. Oh yes, your four-legged pals will be in their element here—it's off-leash, there's water to splash in, trees to sniff at and long reeds to bound through. They'll meet many other furry friends as they run and pounce and generally get up to mischief, and no doubt you will too (meet other friends that is), as you chat to the other pet parents while you watch your pooches go just a little crazy as they're let loose.
The bigger lake is the centrepiece of the reserve, but if you're not constrained to making sure your crazy dog doesn't drown, terrify the ducks/other dogs/other pet parents or roll around in who knows what, take some of the connecting trails in the bush land and scrub to the east of the main lake. The trails loop around a smaller lake, with a couple of bridges here and there, easy-going terrain (you can even ride your bike around in here with no problems), and you're pretty much hidden from the crazy dogs going berserk in the main lake area (because let's face it, even if you're pooch is relatively calm at home, give them some open space and water, and trust me, they'll be going a little berserk).
There are some nice, quiet trails that twist around the smaller lake
The reserve is accessed by the car park on Liverpool Road, just shy of a kilometre away from the roundabout on Mountain Highway in Boronia. The gravel car park is big enough to accommodate plenty of cars, and true to its pet-friendliness, the gates to enter and exit the reserve are configured in a way that your beloved pooch won't be able to take off and run back out on the road without you in tow (most dogs are pretty smart, but thankfully even the smartest hound won't be able to escape this reserve unaccompanied).
If you're feeling extra active, you can also get to the reserve by way of the Dandenong Creek Trail. The trail passes through Bayswater and heads out towards Boronia, crossing under Dorset Road and then Colchester Road. Once you've hit Colchester Road, the trail turns to gravel for a short while, and keeps going until it appears to come to an end, where it abuts a narrow, quiet dead-end road, surrounded by a few farmhouses. Don't despair though, it hasn't come to an end just yet. Keep pedaling (or walking) along this quiet road (Chandlers Lane), and it eventually reaches Liverpool Road. Make a right turn when you've reached Liverpool Road (you can't miss it), and after a couple hundred metres, you'll see a small gate (another of the dog-friendly access ones) on your right, and you're arrived.
Head on through this gate and take the trail around the top of the lake
This gate will lead you directly onto the path that surrounds the principal lake, and if you follow it all the way around, it takes you to the car park and main entrance. The path on this side of the lake is high above the water level, and gives you panoramic views of the entire reserve. But even better is the backdrop to the reserve—the retarding basin is set in the foothills of Mount Dandenong and the surrounding hills, and on a clear sunny day, it makes for some stunning sights.
The trail comes down the slight hill on the other side of the lake, and it is here where the reserve's biggest fans really throw caution to the wind and go a bit wild. The lake comes right up to the gravel shore, allowing excitable balls of fluff and fur of all shapes and sizes to splash their way through the shallows and frolic through the long grassy reeds. There's plenty of green grass for them to run and play and shake themselves off, and if you do happen to have a chance to rest a while, there's a couple of park benches set alongside the lake where you can chill out for a bit and watch the ducks putter about on the water.
The park benches are basically the reserve's only amenities though—there's no barbecues or picnic shelters or toilet facilities, so it's probably not the place to plan a full day's visit or family gathering. But what the reserve does have is quiet, open space and a chance to slip away from the noise and busyness of everyday life. It's perfect for a morning walk in the crisp early-morning mountain air, a relaxing saunter to listen to the birds and trees rustling in the breeze, or as an extra few kilometres to add to your run or cycle along the Dandenong Creek Trail. And of course, even if they do come home looking a bit wet and bedraggled with bits of grass and reeds tangled in their fur, your pooch will think you're the best damn pet-parent going around.
Great article. I know the place well. Be careful on quiet summer days if you have a small dog. The grounds have several places that are snake havens. Busy noisy days are not an issue as the snakes will mostly leave you alone, given warning.
I visited this park today with my two dogs, and I need to make a correction to this article. The author says"... true to its pet-friendliness, the gates to enter and exit the reserve are configured in a way that your beloved pooch won't be able to take off and run back out on the road without you in tow (most dogs are pretty smart, but thankfully even the smartest hound won't be able to escape this reserve unaccompanied)."
This is RIDICULOUS. Yes there are marginally secure dog gates-set in a post and rail fence! Any dog that has eyes and at least two working legs can walk straight through/under/over the fence and directly onto Liverpool Road. If your dog doesn't come straight to you EVERY TIME you call it, do not let it off-leash here. Calling this a secure off-leash dog park is asking for tragedy.