With the current enforced isolation due to the COVID-19 pandemic and many families possibly having some spare time, walking may be an enjoyable pastime and provide some well-needed exercise.

We are BLESSED in the City of Manningham with its many parks and local walks associated with the Yarra River and associated streams. We can thank the City Council and Parks Victoria for the upkeep of these wonderful parks.

Did you know you can walk (perhaps cycling would be better) from Bulleen Park near the Freeway, and follow the tracks right around the Municipality, via the Yarra Trail and the Mullum Mullum Trail, to Eastland? Many of the walks in these parks are used by the local U3A walking groups each week and were ‘discovered’ by our now defunct monthly Sunday afternoon Strollers Group from ex Pilgrim UC.

Traversing these trails leads to many interesting highlights –

football, model aeroplanes, and archery at Bulleen Park

the Bolin Bolin Billabong with its strong aboriginal heritage history

the paintings along the Artists’ Trail, especially in Yarra Flats and at Warrandyte

the winding paths in Banksia Park and the nearby gardens of Heide Museum of Modern Art (with an historic aboriginal canoe tree in its carpark)

Banyule Lake and bird sanctuary (always a must for U3A Birdwatchers!)

Birrarung Park on the south side of the Yarra River

 Rosanna golf course and the confluence with the Plenty River on the north side

Finns Reserve with the Swing Bridge across the river leading to Odyssey House (the old Monastery) – look for platypus from the bridge

children will love Wombat Park Playspace

then the well-loved Westerfolds Park with its many walking tracks and picnic areas (look out for kangaroos and watch the river rapids)

Candlebark Park leading to the rear of Petty’s Orchard and onto Tikalara Park (see Major Newman’s historic house)

Beasley’s Nursery and Tearooms then along the Mullum Mullum Linear Park, past Crystal Brook Holiday Park; deviate to Currawong Bush Park; Mullum Mullum Reserve and sporting area, cross Tindals and Park Roads and continue via the recently-opened trail through Donvale; over the Eastlink tunnels and onto the historic Schwerkolt Cottage and park in Mitcham.

many walks in Ruffey Lake Park,

along Ruffey Creek,

Green Gully Linear Park,

The 100 Acres at Park Orchards

deviate north from Candlebark Park to Eltham Lower Park (and the Miniature Railway) and on through Eltham

and also many walks along the Yarra River at Warrandyte, and in the Warrandyte State Park (see the Pound Bend tunnel) and Jumping Creek Reserve.

So many exciting discoveries and adventures virtually at our backdoor.

Have you ever been to Currawong Bush Park (Melways Map 34: H6)? It is off Reynolds Road, just east of the junction with Springvale Road, and can be entered by car from Reynolds Road or by walking from the adjacent Mullum Mullum Linear Park along Mullum Mullum Creek in Doncaster East. It has more of a rustic nature than the mostly paved walking trails around Manningham, with unpaved often-muddy tracks, many trees, wildlife, birds, creeks and hills. The tracks are unsuitable for bike-riding and children’s bikes (but mountain bikes would be great). It is frequently used by school children for their nature classes, and there are relics of their attempts to build cubby houses or aboriginal shelters from the dropped timber on the hillside.

On Saturday afternoon, 21 March, a bright sunny autumn day just after the restrictions came into force, Helen and I went to Currawong Park. We had a wonderful walk that afternoon. We left the Mullum Mullum Trail, crossed the recently built footbridge over the creek near Reynolds Road, walked down the access road, and then up the hillside towards the carpark and meeting area. Feeling tired, we sat on a seat on the hillside in the sun and enjoyed the peaceful surroundings. What a delightful tranquil setting! Here we were in the centre of suburbia, about ½km from our home, and a similar distance from busy Reynolds Road, yet all traffic noises were muted and all we could see were trees, not a house in sight. Birds were noisy in the tree-tops and a flock of pigeons were peacefully pecking in the grass nearby on the hillside, basically oblivious to the busy city, and only slightly disturbed by the few other walkers in the park. It was so peaceful. Often we see up to a dozen kangaroos grazing in this park.

So get out and discover our special parks. Enjoy the walks or the cycling, absorb the nature and wildlife, and feel the peace and tranquility of God’s creation, away from the busyness and worry of our lives.