Nortons Park is a hidden gem located in Wantirna South. Part of a group of linked parks in the Dandenong Valley, it's full of rolling lawns and great bush walking paths. If you're lucky some days you might have this quiet place all to yourself.
It's a perfect place to have a picnic with family under the trees or make use of the undercover electric barbecue facilities opposite the lily pond. Dogs are allowed in the park and will love exploring the open spaces. The park was previously used as a market farm for growing apple and pear trees and you can still see evidence of this today, with abundant fruit trees that bloom in Spring.
To find Nortons Park, drive down High Street Rd and take a turn down Nortons Lane. Head down the dusty gravel road till you reach the car park on the right, with plenty of room for parking. From the main lawns you'll have a great view of the surrounding areas, with the large pine trees and rolling hills giving the park a European feel.
If you follow the gravel path down the hill you'll reach Shepherds Bush, an important conservation area which is home to over 90 bird species, many of which are rare. Turn right on the path to head inside. It's hard to believe that the suburbs are not far away, with the towering gum trees surrounding you.
As you walk along the path you're sure to hear the sounds of wildlife, as well the cockatoos screeching overhead. If you look carefully you'll be able to spot some of these noisy birds perching above you. Other birds you might notice include the cattle egret and white herons, as well as the common magpie and bronze winged pigeons.
Following the path will eventually lead you to some stairs which will take you to another trail at the bottom (there's also a bench at the top of the stairs if you want to take a breather). Turning left on the path, you'll eventually reach a series of boardwalks with the creek by your side. There's an abundance of plants and ferns that invite investigation, and fluttering butterflies and dragonflies on warmer days. The path eventually links back to the another steep road where you can walk back up to the main lawns, or head right towards the link trail.
This link trail leads all the way to Jells Park and is a relatively flat and easy walk that takes around half an hour, depending on your pace. It's also a popular bike track, which links up to Knox Bike Track. If you go during the evening you might see flocks of Sacred Ibis, and at night, sugar gliders are active within the trees.
On your way out of the park, head down the road to Bushy Park Farm. You can't miss it- just look out for the giant slice of watermelon by the side of the road. Here you'll find fresh wholesale fruit and vegetables direct to the public, which is a great way to stock up on delicious produce for the week.