Easy ways to experience nature close to campus
Melbourne, like many cities in Australia, is considered a biodiversity hotspot, with a wide array of native flora and fauna within a stone’s throw of the CBD.
If you’re keen to get back to nature – whether to see Australia’s wildlife, enjoy outdoor activities or just take in the peace and quiet – there are lots of options close to campus.
Here are a few of our favourites.
Just 25 minutes’ walk from the Graduate Student Association, Royal Park is one of the largest open spaces in Melbourne.
Home to a wide variety of native wildlife, Royal Park comes alive in the early evening as rainbow lorikeets search for roosting sites; and after darkness, bright-eyed possums can be seen in the trees.
Students with families (or students who are big kids at heart?) can enjoy the large adventure playground with exciting rope courses, and there are plenty of picnic tables and barbecues to while away the hours until the wildlife comes out to play.
A quick journey on the 546 bus from outside Stop 1 will deliver you to the inner northern suburb of Fairfield, where Yarra Bend Park and Fairfield Park meet. Although they’re just a few kilometres from campus, these parks feel like they’re in the middle of nowhere, and the walking tracks which wind through them deliver tranquillity, wildlife (including a large colony of fruit bats) and beautiful views.
The Dights Falls Loop, a short but popular walking track, takes you 4km around the parks, passing the weir known as Dights Falls. These falls, close to where Merri Creek meets the Yarra, are historically significant as one of the first places visited by white colonialists in what is now Melbourne.
For a complete day out, stop for a Devonshire Tea at Fairfield Park Boathouse before catching the bus back to campus.
The Dandenong Ranges, in Melbourne’s outer east, are made up of lush, cool-weather rainforests. Famous for the incredibly tall, native mountain ash trees and their ferny gullies, a trip to the Dandenong Ranges National Park is an excellent way to experience a different side to Melbourne’s natural beauty.
By train, the Dandenongs are a little over an hour’s ride from the CBD to Belgrave Station. From there, you can easily access the famous 1000 Steps – or if you’re looking for a more leisurely day out, you can climb aboard the Puffing Billy steam train and head high into the mountains above Melbourne.
The park has numerous other facilities and walking tracks, all of which can be easily accessed from Melbourne by car. Try the Living Bush Nature Walk, a 3km track for which you can print off a guide to the native flora and fauna in advance.
If you’re interested in learning more about Australia’s native flora and fauna, you don’t even have to leave campus.
Sustainable Campus run Biodiversity Walking Tours around Parkville campus on request – or you can use the information from their website to run the tour for yourself. The tour includes information about the animal and birdlife that calls campus ‘home’, as well as providing information about trees, flowers and more.
Why not use the Campus Biodiversity Tour to take some photos and enter GSA’s inaugural Sustainability Prize? Just snap a photo on your smartphone and click here to find out more.
* images via Flickr and Creative Commons licensing.