You'd never know it nowadays but Taradale (between Malmsbury and Castlemaine) is a former gold rush town and once a popular pit stop on the Old Calder Highway. Historic buildings still line the main drag. The blue stone step of the old post office, (now a wine bar with decent wood fired pizza) is worn boasting the thousands of visitors in the last one hundred years.
The Taradale Mineral Springs Reserve (gazetted in1888) is part of a larger recreation area once providing facilities for many sporting and leisure activities such as cricket, football, tennis, fishing, picnics, nature walks… and believe it or not … shooting! Needless to say, this sporting activity is no longer encouraged.
In recent months the park on the main street has been rejuvenated. You can't miss it with its beautiful iron gates. My son enthusiastically threw his new scooter over the fence and quickly followed, missing the fact that the other side (near parking spaces) is completely open to the public. The pine timber deckings and equipment has not lost its colour yet and the equipment smells new. According to a local, people travel for miles to bring their kids to play here.
It's an attractive and diverse area that even my teenagers didn't want to leave. If you lie on the large modern circular swing and look to the sky you will notice the variety of large gums and other old weeping trees. Native revegetation work regularly undertaken by community groups and students from the Taradale Primary School.
Warning: be careful as you approach the large swing equipment, it has a mighty force that knocked me flying into the swing on top of my daughter when I got too close. This caused raucous laughter from the children and some mad undignified flailing from me. Luckily it was past dusk and we were the practically the last of the visitors, all except one gentleman who had stopped to fill his bottle from the 'healing' mineral spring.
My son, completely oblivious to stranger danger, ran off to have a full-blown conversation with this shadow in the distance and then back again at equal haste to borrow his sisters' drink bottle for a drink of the spring water. This is freely accessible by a pump situated close to the creek at the rear of the playground equipment.
Let me tell you from my son's reaction alone… this is not Hepburn spring water you buy in the shops. I had the final laugh when he took a big swig of the water and instantly ejected it like a fire hose of water. I will not repeat his description of the drink but it was enough to put the rest of us off sampling the 'miracle cure'. I found a 1927 chemist's analysis of the mineral water. Despite the report, I was not convinced to try it.
The Mineral Springs Park provides toilet facilities and a free gas operated, undercover bbq area and seating throughout the park. The Taradale War Memorial is also located here. The memorial commemorates the service of WWI, WWII and Vietnam veterans.
We went to the Taradale Mineral Springs Park for the playground. The flying fox is always popular. The climbing frames, slidesand swings are great for all ages too. I was forbidden to publish a photograph of my son on the 'baby swing' but I have one for his 21st! It was getting dark as we left so we didn't get to take advantage of the walk over the creek. But as Arnie says 'We will be back' to enjoy it for all its joys and beauty - minus the gun.