Gayle is an accountant. Shh – don’t tell. She thinks she’s a writer.
Published November 1st 2015
There's something for everyone at family friendly Jells Park
Jells Park is a 127 hectare natural oasis in suburbia set aside for both public leisure and conservation. Tucked away in the Dandenong Creek Valley, the park has facilities aplenty and just as well because it caters for over a million visitors a year.
1. Enjoy the Lake Jells Lake is a scenic, man-made lake bordered by Dandenong Creek and the Jells Park Conservation Area. The lake is about 800 metres from the Visitor Centre on an easy bitumen path, which arrives at a small lakeside beach and Jetty 1, the largest of the three jetties. There is seating at the jetty which gives good views across a large part of the lake. Lookout for ducks and other waterbirds.
Fishing is allowed from Jetties 1 and 2 on Jells Lake. A normal fishing licence is required. If you feel like a walk the path around the lake is a 2.3km circuit on wide bitumen or gravel paths. Waterbirds are prevalent, especially on the island and there is a bird hide on the east side of the lake.
If it's a picnic or BBQ you have in mind, you will be spoilt for choice at Jells Park with no less than six picnic areas. Jells East, Stringybark, and Elms Picnic Areas are in the north of the park. Stringybark has electric BBQ's and a picnic shelter while the others have wood fired BBQ's and picnic tables in the open. The Stringybark playground sits between them all and they are close to the car park. There are public toilets at the Jells East Picnic Area or it is a short walk to public toilets and the kiosk at the Visitor Centre at Madeline's at Jells.
The Pines Picnic Area is to the east of Madeline's at Jells. It has electric and wood fired BBQ's, a picnic shelter, public toilets and is adjacent to the Yabbie Hill Playscape and the Ponds Area where there is a second picnic shelter.
The Oaks and Ashes Picnic Areas are in the south of the park near the sports ovals. Both have electric BBQ's and picnic shelters. Oaks Picnic Area has a playground with a liberty swing.
There is an additional picnic shelter near Jells Lake by Jetty 2, but no BBQ's.
3. Savour Coffee or a Meal at Madeline's at Jells Not a picnic or BBQ person, then Madeline's at Jells is for you. The restaurant doubles as the Visitor Centre and has a kiosk window for a quick coffee or tasty ice-cream. It opens 7 days a week from 9am for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea. I can recommend the scones. Madeline's has indoor and outdoor seating, both with sweeping views of the park and can be contacted on (03) 9561 4522 or via their website.
4. Ride Your Bike There are around 9 kilometres of shared paths in Jells Park but bike riders need not content themselves with this. The Dandenong Creek Trail which passes through Jells Park runs the length of the Dandenong Valley Parklands Network and connects with the Eastlink Trail, Scotchmans Creek Bike Pathway and the Knox Bike Track. In Jells Park the paths are an easy ride, both bitumen and gravel and are suitable for children. A map of the Dandenong Valley Trails can be downloaded here.
5. Let the Children Run Free at the Playgrounds There are three playgrounds in Jells Park. The Stringybark Playground is surrounded by the Stringybark, Jells East and Elms Picnic Areas. Three brightly coloured structures offer slides, crawl tunnels, ladders, monkey bars, swings and a springer.
The Yabbie Hill Playscape is an adventure playground next to the Pines Picnic Area. On offer are a twisted bridge, a rope bridge, an A-frame rope net climber, slides, a wall climb, a monkey bar tunnel, a tower, swings, balance walks, ramps, a fireman's pole and stairs. The playground opens onto expansive lawns and ponds with ducks and waterfowl are close by. Children under 8 should be supervised.
The third playground at the Oaks Picnic Area is in the southern part of the park accessed from Ferntree Gully Road. There is a liberty swing, a see-saw and a couple of modest structures with low ladders, platforms, climbing frames and slides.
6. Take an Easy Stroll or a Brisk Walk
Paths in Jells Park are shared by walkers, riders and joggers. There are bitumen paths throughout the park and gravel paths in the conservation area around the lake. Choose as long or as short a walk as you like. The Park Notes with a map can be downloaded here. A gentle 4km loop walk in the park has been included in the Heart Foundation's Green Walks in the Park Program.
7. Go Birdwatching
Jells Park's is renowned for its birdlife. Over 150 species of native and migratory birds have been observed. Nesting boxes have been installed in the bushlands and at the lake. A bird hide can be found on the east side of Jells Lake. In one October afternoon I spotted kookaburra, noisy minor, eastern rosella, Australian white ibis, straw-necked ibis, great cormorant, little pied cormorant, common minor, magpie, peewee, white faced heron, Australian wood duck, Eurasian coot, purple swamphen, rainbow lorikeet, and wattlebird.
8. Walk Your Dog
Your puppy pals are welcome on leads in the park, except in conservation and signed bushland areas. With as many as 9kms of paths you and your four legged companion may tire before traversing them all. Nortons Park to the north of Jells Park allows dogs to be walked off lead.
9. Book a Function
The Ashes and Oaks Picnic Areas in the south of the park have good facilities for large get-togethers. If your group numbers more than 50 or you are bringing equipment obtain a permit by emailing Parks Victoria around eight weeks in advance on firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone on 13 1963. The two sporting ovals near these areas can also be booked for private functions for a fee during the summer months. Bookings can be made by telephoning Madeline's at Jells on (03) 9561 4522.
Madeline's at Jells can host functions in its Alexander Room, in the restaurant, in the outdoor area or in marquees. Weddings, parties and conferences are catered for. To organise your function call Madeline's at Jells on (03) 9561 4522 or contact them via their website.
Jells Park is on Waverley Road, Wheelers Hill, just east of the intersection with Jells Road. The southern end of the park can be accessed from Ferntree Gully Road. The park is open daily with 24 hour pedestrian access. Waverley Road gates open at 8am. There is onsite parking. For more information ring the Visitor Centre (Madeline's at Jells) on (03) 9561 4522 or go to the Parks Victoria website where you can download the Park Notes and a Map. Entry is free.
Wow Gayle what a beautiful place. I have never heard of Jells park. I would love to take my daughter and 2 year old granddaughter there for a day. Great article by the way. Well written. You know this park well.