When we were looking at some chooks to replenish the homeflock, at Yummy Gardens near St Andrews (lovely well kept birds!), it was a good reason to explore the area some more. We discovered this lovely little track near Smiths Gully ... perfect as we could buy some supplies at the Smiths Gully Cafe first, and enjoy lunch (we are late risers :)) at the picnic tables at the starting point of the track, in the Peter Franke reserve. The narrow track - 3 km return - follows the creek all the way. We saw an echidna burrowing into the ground right next to the track, and a wallaby enjoying the cool water in the creek. An enjoyable walk for those milder days.
Even though it has been several years since we were last here, and the walk seems so much shorter now that the kids are so much taller, it's still a great walk - and the kids still love exploring the multi coloured rocks at the base of the cliffs that frame the lake. What a gem!
The only difference to the original walk is that the Lookout at the start of the walk is closed at present, and may not re-open anytime soon according to Parks Vic.
Another brilliant winter day saw us revisit Walk 29. Bizarre basalt formations, a meandering creek and even a kangaroo with a joey less than 10 metres away ... this walk ticked all the boxes for the kids. What's more, we discovered some extra tracks that climbed the steep walls of the gully, much to the joy of the boys in particular. Whilst the main walk is suitable for carrying a baby, these alternatives are not. The tracks are steep and very slippery in places (and unsuitable if wet). Kids should be a minimum of 5 and sure footed if they attempt these.
So, for those with the adventurous kids, here's the alternative walk:
From the car park, head right towards the toilets and visitor centre. The track down to the creek starts behind these. Head downhill carefully - but enjoy the brilliant views! Once you reach the creek, turn left, and then follow the original walk along markers 3 and 4. At the Tessalated Pavement rest spot, instead of turning around, climb the steps along the creek, and you'll find a narrow track. Follow this track which will soon start heading up the slope back towards the car park.
If you don't want to go downhill on these tracks, just do the normal walk down to the creek, and then pick either one uphill to head back.
In the arms of giants ... my kids just love the ancient gnarly red gums on this walk. We have been back several times since writing about it for my guide, and all my children, now 12, 9 and 5, still enjoy every aspect of this magnificent place. It is the perfect walk for one of the beautiful sunny winter days we have been experiencing recently, or any other time of the year apart from really hot summer days as there is little shade.
I'm sure climbing on trees will be forbidden soon, so let your kids feel the smooth bark of a red gum while you still can!
No matter the season, this walk is always great to come back to. There is a creek crossing though, and at the moment, you need to be sure footed or you end up with wet feet like Patrick did! The narrow tracks can also be slippery in places, but nothing most 5+ kids can't manage. Part of the track (the Alternative for 2+ kids in the book) along the creek was closed for revegetation, however you can still do this section simply by walking to the cairn and back on the same track, rather than doing a loop.
Walk #23 of the Bushwalking for Kids guide is as beautiful and varied as it has always been. A creek, billabong and many rocks offer plenty to explore. Hard to believe all this is to be found in (south eastern) suburbia!
We area currently revisiting all walks in the guide ... click on the "guidebook walks" tag on
http://www.kidsinnature.com.au/where-to-go---melbourne.html and you will get all current updates.
We have been on this particular walk many times. This reserve is a local secret, although you can find it in my book :-). Many tracks criss cross this reserve, and although it is not very big, it is quite easy to get lost in it! Fortunately nothing much has changed over the years, and all tracks described in the book are still there and in the same beautiful "bush" condition.
Maranoa Gardens is a beautiful compact botanical garden. With tracks criss-crossing its many "landscapes", it's just right for little (and not so little) kids to explore. And if your kids have energy left to burn, neighboring Beckett's park has a lovely wooden adventure playground and trees you are allowed to climb!
A great place to explore nature doesn't have to be far from the city. The gardens of the Heide Museum of Modern Art in Bulleen provide a beautiful natural space for the kids, with the sculptures an added bonus! But nothing beats a good climbing tree :)
Walk #2 has had an "upgrade" to the area where everyone used to feed the wild(ish) birds. I guess it's better for the birds, but it does give this area a zoo-like feel. Fortunately the walks themselves are as beautiful as ever, although we couldn't locate our usually reliable lyrebirds this time!
Where to go -