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 July 27th 2015
Lysterfield Park, in Melbourne's outer south-east, is one of those rare places that makes you feel like you're a million miles from the city, but is really quite close to the urban sprawl. Located on the edge of suburbia, just as rows of houses are replaced with apple orchards, farms and plant nurseries, Lysterfield Park is the perfect place to get out and enjoy the great outdoors, whatever the time of year.
The park was opened to the public in 1986, and was then combined with the neighbouring Churchill Park in 2007, meaning the two parks (operated by Parks Victoria) now cover over a staggering 1,600 hectares – not bad, considering its proximity to Melbourne. The size of the park means that whilst you may be jostling for a car space on a summer weekend, it's plenty big enough for everyone to enjoy all the park has to offer.
All manner of outdoor pursuits take place at Lysterfield Park, and it's open year-round, meaning you can get your fix of clean, fresh air and Vitamin D whatever the weather. The park is situated around the impressive Lysterfield Lake, which is a drawcard in the summer. There are two protected areas of lake specifically for swimming, with sandy beaches and grassed areas to set up your deck chairs and towels and while away a summer's afternoon. Sailing and boating (non-powered) are also popular, and the Lysterfield Sailing Club is always open to new members should you wish to pursue your sailing adventures even further.
The lake in the quiet of the winter. But there's plenty of other activities to keep you busy!
But it's not just the lake activities that attract so many visitors each year. The park is hugely popular with Melbourne's mountain biking community, and was even the site of the cross country mountain bike competition at the Melbourne 2006 Commonwealth Games. There are 20km of mountain biking trails throughout the park, from easy trails that are suitable for families, to single trails with steep hills and technical sections for those that need a little more adrenalin and who don't mind getting a little dirty.
The car park is busy with mountain bikers on the weekends.
The park also has an extensive network of walking and hiking trails, some of which are shared with cyclists, and others that are for walkers only. To really immerse yourself into the park, take the 8km walk that circles around the entire lake – the terrain is fairly easy, and it also takes you across the dam wall, rewarding you with panoramic views of the park grounds and the lake itself (mind your hat though – it can get incredibly windy on the wall!!). And keep your eyes peeled too – you'll no doubt see a kangaroo or two!
The Lake Circuit is the perfect way to see the park!
Horse riding is also permitted in the park (just be sure you take the designated horse trails only), and there are a number of asphalted paths winding in and around the main picnic area if a slower stroll is more your thing. These paths are also suitable for wheelchairs, and are easily accessible to the numerous car parking areas throughout the park.
The main picnic area is a haven of green grass, towering trees and native wildlife . There's plenty of room to kick a football, set up a game of cricket or toss a Frisbee. There are picnic tables and barbecues dotted throughout the picnic area, which are hot property on a summer's day (get there early to stake your claim!) but in the quieter months, they're yours for the taking.
If you don't feel like bringing your own supplies to cook up a barbecue feast (the park operates on a 'carry-in, carry-out' policy, so remember to take all your rubbish home with you), the Trailmix café is situated in the heart of the park, nestled amongst the gum trees. It's open from Tuesday to Sunday, serving coffee, breakfast, lunch and snacks. And if you're lucky, you can snag a spot on one of the comfy old couches on the deck of the café, with views of the lake peaking through the trees (be warned though – as you sink further and further into one of the couches, with a cup of hot coffee and a pastry in hand, you may find yourself never wanting to leave). Trailmix also offers bike servicing and maintenance, bike hire and skills clinics, as well as a plethora of maps and information about the park.
Trailmix cafe - perfect spot to relax after a morning of activity
Melburnians are lucky to have such a wonderful public park in their midst, and winter is the perfect time to visit and explore. It's a little quieter, it's peaceful, and whilst there may be a few stray puddles and a little mud lurking on some of the trails, there's nothing better than feeling the fresh, cold air on your flushed cheeks after a weekend afternoon of invigorating walking or biking or horse riding or picnicking. Bundle yourself up, grab your walking shoes or mountain bike or some sporting equipment, and head on down there this weekend…and the stresses of the week will be left at the gate.