Gayle is a retired accountant and a photography enthusiast living on Victoria's beautiful Bass Coast. Gayle is passionate about writing and keen to showcase Aussie culture to a global audience. Gayle loves her family, dogs, sunsets, and chocolate.
Published October 25th 2015
Make this Amazing Public Space Your Own Back Yard
A quarry until the 1970's, Wilson Botanic Park has been transformed into a public treasure. Stretching across an astounding 39 hectares and accessed by an oak lined driveway the gardens showcase Australian and North American species including wattles, pines, roses, water lilies and grasslands. Lovely indeed, but the gardens are just the beginning in this versatile public space.
1. Relax by the Marsh The Marsh near the entrance is home to water fowl, ducks and turtles. In spring ducklings and moorhen chicks are favourites with the children. This formal water feature has wooden sun lounges at water's edge so this really is a place to relax. Water lilies surround a small centre island with ornamental trees.
Picnic tables and chairs are dotted around the park in superb locations; beside lakes, on lawns, and amongst trees. Expansive lawns provide ample space for picnic blankets and for children to run free and wild. There are three BBQ areas; between the Marsh and Anniversary Lake, near the Children's Playground and on the Outer Loop to the west of the Marsh. There is a drinking fountain by the playground but there is no kiosk.
3. Admire the Rose Gardens Arrive when the roses are in bloom and you will likely smell the perfume before you see the flowers. The Rose Gardens are beside the Visitor Centre. They surround a lawn area with a centre wishing well. The size and colour of well labelled roses are a joy. There is an arbour with bench seating, a small pond, bush roses, standards and climbing roses.
There is so much to see and do here it's easy to forget it is primarily a botanic park. Australian native flora is showcased near the car park. Mature grevilleas are a sight to behold when in flower. Raised gardens just past the Visitor Centre showcase a variety of plants and are well labelled. On the north side of Anniversary Lake you will find the Pinetum and the Sensory Garden. There are water lilies in the Marsh and reeds in the Lakes. There are too many varieties of trees to name but I was particularly taken with the weeping willows.
The walk around Anniversary Lake is an easy, reasonably flat, wheelchair accessible 750m. The walk around both Anniversary Lake and Basalt Lake is about 1.5km and takes in the boardwalk. The Outer Loop and Lake Walk combined which is around 3kms has gravel paths, some quite steep. No matter which you select, rest assured all pass through beautiful surrounds.
Dogs are welcome in the park as long as they are on a leash. Dog poopy bags are available at the entrance to the park.
The park is a bird watcher's delight but the real treat is the Bird Hide at Basalt Lake. Situated near the boardwalk which itself has birdwatching platforms, the bird hide has windows and bench seats on two sides. The walls are lined with posters to assist in species identification. In a two hour visit to the park I spotted wattle birds, galahs, Australasian grebes, Eurasian coots, black pacific ducks, mallards, purple swamp hens, wrens, noisy minors and magpies.
7. See Spectacular Views from the Lookouts There are three lookouts and each accords sweeping views over Melbourne and its suburbs.
The Hoo Hoo Tower Lookout is accessed from a set of stairs by the children's playground with more steps up to the platform. You will be treated to sweeping and expansive views over Melbourne and Port Phillip Bay. If heights aren't your thing the views from the base of the tower and also spectacular.
8. Take Your Children to the Playground or Ball Games Area
The Children's Playground is behind the Marsh next to BBQ's and lawns and is covered by shade sails. It is fenced on one side and divided into two areas. There are slides, ladders, walkways, tunnels, a fireman's pole, a see-saw, swings, a flying fox and ramps. The Ball Game Area is a large grassed area near Ben's Lookout. There are some bench seats at the edges.
9. Book a Shelter for Your Function
There are two shelters for hire, perfect for your family get together. Both are close to BBQ's. The upper and larger shelter is next to the Children's Playground and the smaller, lower shelter is between the Marsh and Anniversary Lake. They can be hired in 3 hour blocks. Click here for more information.
10. Get Married in the Park
If you fall in love with this beautiful place, as well you might you can book your wedding in the park. Four different spaces have been identified for ceremonies, catering for between 50 and 300 guests. What spectacular surrounds for your photos. More information for weddings or wedding photography in the park click here.
Wilson Botanic Park is at 668 Princes Highway, Berwick. The park is open daily from 7am to 6pm or from 7am to 9pm during daylight savings, every day except Christmas Day and Good Friday. The Visitor Centre is open from 10am to 4pm. There is off road parking and public toilets. Admission is free except when special functions are on. For more details ring the City of Casey on (03) 9707 5818 or check their website.