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Wilson Reserve, Yarra River, Ivanhoe

Home > Melbourne > Parks | Outdoor | Nature | Animals and Wildlife | Walks
by Lyndsey V (subscribe)
I'm an ecologist and writer based in Melbourne, Australia. Also visit me at www.instagram.com/victoriafloraandfauna/
Published May 30th 2021
Visit billabongs brimming with birdlife
In Melbourne's northeastern suburbs the Yarra River winds its way through parklands and golf courses. This area is in the lands of the Wurundjeri People, and this important river is Birrarung.

Wilson Reserve, Yarra River, Ivanhoe, walking track, bird watching, walks, trails, nature, parks
Birrarung (the Yarra River) at Wilson Reserve


One of the loveliest places to visit in the area is Wilson Reserve, in Ivanhoe. The walking tracks in Wilson Reserve are a nature-filled respite from the hustle and noise of the surrounding suburbs. Not only do the walking tracks take in a long stretch of the Yarra River, but there are also billabongs that are often brimming with waterbirds, particularly if you take the time to watch and listen.

Wilson Reserve, Yarra River, Ivanhoe, walking track, bird watching, walks, trails, nature
One of the billabongs at Wilson Reserve


If you've got binoculars, bring them along, and allow for some time to sit and do a spot of bird watching. A great resource to learn about birds in a particular area is eBird - check out the list of birds seen at Wilson Reserve. For example, if you're lucky (like me on two separate visits!), you might see a Nankeen Night-Heron hiding in the wetland plants. The distinctive call of the Bell Miners can also be heard in the trees around one of the billabongs.

Wilson Reserve, Yarra River, Ivanhoe, walking track, bird watching, walks, trails, nature
Birds the author has seen at the reserve, including Nankeen Night-Heron, Rainbow Lorikeet and Pacific Black Duck.


The main walking track is a loop of around 1.6 km. It's a relatively short walk, however, the real value in exploring Wilson Reserve is through taking time to stop and watch the wildlife along the Yarra River and in the adjacent billabongs. There are also interpretive signs along the tracks, including information about the reserve's history (read about the Sea Scouts!), as well as natural features.

Wilson Reserve, Yarra River, Ivanhoe, walking track, bird watching, walks, trails, nature
Read about the recent history of the reserve


Wilson Reserve can be accessed by road from two main locations in Ivanhoe: from a small dirt carpark down a steep driveway off The Boulevard, or from a larger carpark at the end of Irvine Road, at Chelsworth Park. Both carparks have playgrounds nearby. The loop trail can be started from either of these points, and all the intersections of the walking track are very well signposted so there should be no issue with getting lost.

Wilson Reserve, Yarra River, Ivanhoe, walking track, bird watching, walks, trails, nature
One of the playgrounds, with a billabong, and a seat to sit and watch, in the background


There's a particularly great bird viewing spot adjacent to the Chelsworth Park carpark and playground, with a seat right at the edge of a large billabong.

Wilson Reserve, Yarra River, Ivanhoe, walking track, bird watching, walks, trails, nature
Walking tracks are flat and wide


Wilson Reserve has a very active and enthusiastic Friends group, and their dedicated work can be seen in the reserve through the many plantings of indigenous plants and the extensive areas of weed control.

Wilson Reserve, Yarra River, Ivanhoe, walking track, bird watching, walks, trails, nature
Flora in the reserve


For cyclists, the trails in the reserve link up to the Main Yarra Trail. The trails are flat and wide but are unsealed.

Wilson Reserve, Yarra River, Ivanhoe, walking track, bird watching, walks, trails, nature
Catch a glimpse of another billabong through the trees


Wilson Reserve is dog friendly but remember to keep your dog on leash, especially given the birdlife around and the popularity of the trails with walkers and cyclists.

Wilson Reserve, Yarra River, Ivanhoe, walking track, bird watching, walks, trails, nature
Dogs on leash, be aware of snakes... and no digging of worms...?

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Why? Walk in nature and hear the birds sing
When: Any time
Where: 78 The Boulevard, Ivanhoe 3079
Cost: Free
Your Comment
Great article and location Lyndsey. It is educational to see such areas so close to capital cities.
by Neil Follett (score: 3|2610) 21 days ago
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