It’s Week 12 of semester 2, and that means a few different things. First, if you’re a coursework student, you’re probably drowning in revision or assignments. And second, the weather is finally cheering up and everyone is getting sick of being in the library, or their office, or just inside more generally.
It’s a good thing, then, that there are so many wonderful places to get back to nature within a stone’s throw of campus. If you’re looking to study in the great outdoors, or if you just want to stretch your legs and not be inside, this is the post for you!
Here are a few of our favourite spots:
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
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.
* images via Flickr and Creative Commons licensing.
Amy Claire Thompson
Amy is Communications Manager at The University of Melbourne Graduate Student Association.