Melbourne Off The Beaten Path Tips by iandsmith Top 5 Page for this destination
Melbourne Off The Beaten Path: 227 reviews and 271 photos
The Avenue of Honour is a part of the Maribyrnong River Trail and represents an era when values and beliefs were different to what they are today and, as such, makes for a fascinating historic record of times past. Old people such as myself will find the interpretive signs of much interest. The young will mostly pass on, disinterested by such a topic.
The avenue came about because of the Essendon League, a group of civic minded citizens who decided to plant a row of 12 cypress trees, part of their riverside beautification scheme, and name them after British Naval ships of WWI, nine of which were sunk in the Battle of Jutland.
The original plan to commemorate the locals who had fallen in battle became superflous when local council decided to have a Soldiers' Avenue in a different part of the city.
The original trees are no longer there though their stumps house the explanatory signs. Kauri trees, that last much longer, have replaced them.
This 4 km loop walk is certainly not "Off The Beaten Path" for Melbournians but is included here because very few tourists will have done it and that's a bit of a shame for a few reasons, not the least being because it's a nice thing to do and you can get exercise doing it. If you can find Raleigh Road Bridge or Chifley Drive you'll be in the right area of Maribyrnong.
If you're in the CBD take the 57 tram out of Elizabeth Street and alight at stop 41 and you're there.
All along this short walk there are interpretive signs with lots of interesting information, the most dramatic being a record of the flood levels over the years.
Enticing entrance of kangaroo paw
Though the aforementioned garden is unquestionably the main attraction, you can park and walk on the bush trails for nothing. These take up a much greater area than the garden and make for a pleasant stroll.
Shown here is more of the main attraction and, after you've toured, you may wish to take a cuppa overlooking the desert landscape (pic 2), parts of which can been seen in pics 3 & 4 on the far side from the cafe.
The last picture gives yet further weight to the thought that has gone into this area with imaginative use of 1950's building pieces.
There are aspects to the Royal Botanical Gardens at Cranbourne, one of those is sculpture.
Fine examples of the art form abound though none are more striking than the 93 metre long Escarpment. It's really only when you get around the back of it that it becomes formidable and by that time you've already gone past several other imaginative examples, such as the colourful clusters of watering cans (pic 2) and the children's section (pic 5).
When you stroll around to the other side of the garden (assuming you're going anti-clockwise) you come across themes that appear to be more in synch with arid lands and here the untitled sculpture (pic 3) seems perfectly at home, along with the strands of upright and rusting steel (pic 4).
A great day trip from Melbourne would be to toddle off out to Walhalla. I happened to get lucky on a day when there was a charity horse ride in progress (pic 1).
There's quite a lot to do there for all the family. You can visit an old gold mine, view the historic cemetery on the hillside (pic 2), ride the historic train (pic 3), dine at the historic pub (pic 4) or do the scenic walk around the town (pic 5).
For details on these and other activities, see my Walhalla pages.
Memorial to the fallen of WWI
I love the building in pic 3 for two reasons - 1. It's the best looking building in Kew; 2. It was originally a bank building and it's still a bank building - how extraordinary is that!
The first pic is something that appears in every Australian town and village, a war memorial to those that gave their lives fighting in other countries. I always wonder when in the presence of these, how many wars must we have before we learn anything.
The second pic is that of a bar that used to be the post office, these days cleverly called the QPO.
The fourth pic is interesting. The State Government has agreed to sell the Court House to the local council for a "knock down price" of $825,000. Its true value is around $2,000,000 and it is intended to be used for community purposes.
In 1915, the Hawthorn Tramways Trust purchased the then rural land from Mrs Eliza Welch for £9,000 on the condition that it was to be used as a public park. It was not until the late 1920s and early 1930s that extensive planning and development commenced with the construction of the Chalet (pics 1 & 3) in 1928, curator's cottage (pic 2) in 1932 and most of the sporting facilities over the next few years.
The Field Naturalists Club of Victoria and the Wattle League were influential in the planting of 12,000 wattles, natives and ornamental trees between 1926 and 1928.
Birds commonly seen include the wattlebirds, kookaburras, rosellas, rainbow lorikeets, galahs, noisy mynahs and gang-gang cockatoos during the breeding season. Less common are the grey currawong, musk lorikeets and white-browed scrub-wren. Other types of bird life include waterbirds (wood duck and little pied cormorant), birds of prey (brown goshawk and Australian hobby) and nocturnal birds (tawny frogmouth).
Native fauna includes, 20 species of butterfly, at least 60 species of beetle, 3 species of frogs, bats, skinks, ringtail and brushtail possums.
Native grasses and wildflowers such as kangaroo and wallaby grass, chocolate lilies and milkmaids bring the eastern slope alive with colour and insect activity during spring. Orchids and butterfly populations are also a special feature of the park. The lone pine overlooking the oval was sown from seed collected at Gallipoli in memory of soldiers from the 24th Battalion who were killed during World War One (pic 4).
If you're on public transport you should take Tram 70 from Princes Bridge or buses 767 and 735 from Box Hill Central. Pedestrians can enter the park from Warrigal Road, Patterson Avenue, Riversdale Road and Elgar Road.
The fountain - in disrepair
A classic Aussie park. Lots of space, some sporting fields (including a golf course) and memories of bygone usage.
Wattle Park's singular appeal comes from a delicate balance between historic buildings, man-made landscape and natural bush. Opened in 1917, the park was modelled on the American trolley parks, designed to draw customers to the end of new tram lines.
The Melbourne Tramways Band stills plays once a month during spring and autumn (weather permitting).
Picnics or a barbecues are two popular activities still, along with tennis or golf. Golf clubs and buggies are available for hire.
You can also fly a kite (something I've been told to do on occasions), jog, walk or play cricket on the sporting oval. Amazingly, I would guess due to vandalism, there are no rubbish bins.
You can check out the ponds along the eastern creek and look for the ducks and frogs amongst the native rushes, but the saddest sight I came across was the once splendid water feature fallen into a sad state of disrepair. Where once was a circular pond, now is only cracked concrete and grass and water doesn't pass this way anymore.
Other Contact: 1012 Riversdale Road, Surrey Hil
Sometimes the seemingly banal can turn out to be quite interesting. Such is the case with a pond of discoloured water and a crumbling ruin behind an adjacent fence.
The suburb is Box Hill and, were you to turn back the clock, you might see hundreds of people here with some launching themselves off the edge into the murky water below. According to legend, the pit was bottomless. There was even a story that there was plant at the bottom and one day a spring sprung and flooded the entire hole.
The reality is that, at the deepest point, it measures 24 metres, still a substantial drop.
The clay used by the Haughton Park Brick Company to fire the bricks that built the nearby suburbs came from here. In the depression of the late 19th century, the works closed and 100 staff were laid off; a severe blow to the community as many of the workers lived with walking distance.
In 1907 the Shire of Nunawading imaginatively added a diving board, ramp and bathing sheds. Imagine, there were brass bands, crowds cheering swimmers on in the races, picnics everywhere. It was known as Surrey Dive.
Time moved on and just six years later another brickworks opened, the Box Hill Brickworks with its dominating red brick Hoffman Kiln that broods over the park today, having closed in the 1980s.
The pool's history was also chequered. Water was scarce during drought years in the 1960 and the council had a ready resource here but its ultimate demise came with chlorinated swimming pools and by 1976 it was decided to close it as a swimming hole. It had been the first in Australia, in 1933, to have marked 100 metre lanes, 10 to be exact.
Today it has become a facility for model boats and there's a designated walk around the area and, should you want a swim, there's another pool just 50 metres away. Somehow, it just lacks the atmosphere.
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