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 August 20th 2015
Pure and simple fun in the great outdoors
Nortons Park, in the outer-eastern suburb of Wantirna South, is a big patch of open-space greenness that you may have whizzed past plenty of times without even really knowing it was there. Access is just off High Street Road, between Glen Waverley and Wantirna, in that odd stretch of road where for about a kilometre or so, you could be forgiven for thinking you'd accidently driven out of suburbia and into the countryside. The houses stop, there's a lovely pony club set into green paddocks, and a couple of fruit orchards with drive-in fruit sales. And there behind the rows of pine trees lining one side of High Street Road lies Nortons Park, sitting quietly, and awaiting your visit before the green chunk of land turns back into houses and traffic lights and service stations and main roads.
Nortons Park is one of the many parks and greenspaces that make up the Dandenong Valley Parklands, which encompasses an extensive network of parks, trails and bushland that follow the Dandenong Creek in between Boronia Road and Wellington Road. There's so much to see and do and explore and enjoy in this wonderland of parks and trails, and Nortons Park is the perfect place for an outdoor adventure.
The park is by no means fancy. It doesn't have a café like the ever-popular Jells Park (also part of the Dandenong Valley Parklands), or a playground, or meticulously maintained gardens. But what it does have is wide open space, green-as-green grass, towering trees and a funny little lake in the middle. The wide expanse of grass begs for jumbles of kids to run and play and roll and laugh and let their imaginations go wild. You can fly kites, play hide-and-seek, kick footballs and soccer balls and play cricket and chase one another around the pine trees. There are asphalt and gravel paths for bikes and scooters, and in the summer months, I'm sure there's more than a child or two rolling themselves down the gently sloping hills. And while you're keeping an eye on said children to make sure they don't roll too far away, take a moment to let your gaze wander for bit—the top of the park affords you with views of Glen Waverley in the distance, with the iconic Police Academy tower peeking out over the rooves of the surrounding houses.
And for your furry four-legged companions, the park is dog-friendly with plenty of space for hounds of all shapes and sizes to go a little crazy. Bring a couple of balls and they'll be happy for hours, or go a little 'off-road' for a bit, and take Fido for a walk right around the perimeter of the park. It can be a tad wet underfoot, and mind they don't take off and head for the lake, but they'll be happy as the proverbial Larry as they sniff and explore and chew pinecones and generally get into mischief (perhaps prepare for some muddy paws in the car on the way home).
The park has a couple of gas barbecues under a covered shelter, along with some seen-better-days picnic tables, but throw a picnic blanket over the top and they work a treat. Better yet, if the sun is shining and the grass is dry, spread your blanket over a patch of lawn and enjoy a leisurely picnic under the brilliant expanse of sky. The park is big enough for everyone, and it's usually quiet enough so there's no clamouring for that perfect spot. There's toilet facilities, and fresh drinking water available, but the park operates on a carry-in, carry-out basis so please be kind to everyone and take your rubbish home with you.
If you are feeling like a bit of an extra burst of exercise, the path to the bottom of the park then connects up to the Dandenong Creek Linear Trail. The trail winds along the Dandenong Creek giving you the chance to explore the wider parklands even further, including the nearby Jells Park. It weaves and curves and criss-crosses with numerous other sections of trail, and you could find yourself, quite willingly, in this neck of the woods (pardon the pun) for hours. There are little wooden bridges to cross, signposts here and there to point you in the right direction, and the tallest of gum trees reaching high into the sky. Other than the sounds of your feet crunching over the gravel, leaves rustling in the breeze, the creek gently flowing by and the occasional call of a bird, it is stunningly silent and ever so peaceful.
The bottom of the park takes you to the Dandenong Creek Linear Trail.
But alas, reality beckons, and the tranquil stillness must eventually come to an end as you head back to the park, to the car, then home, where real life must resume. But there is nothing to fear. Whenever you need some family fun-and-games outdoor time, some quality doggie time with your best pal, or just some me plain-old-me time, Nortons Park will be there waiting, sitting quietly and patiently, ready whenever you are.