All posts filed under: nature

Moonee Ponds Creek Trail

We Melburnians are fortunate souls. I felt this particularly keenly the other day as I cycled the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail for the first time. Surrounded by green, and with frequent easy access to public drinking taps, we cycled all the way from Brunswick to Tullamarine hardly ever seeing a car. I’ve long been a fan of the beautiful Merri Creek Trail, but the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail turns out to be equally lovely, even if it’s not quite as well maintained. As the trail winds along the creek, it takes you through stark industrial underpasses and lush parkland, including one of the prettiest picnic spots I’ve yet come across in Melbourne. The trail is 25km long, linking the Docklands with Tullamarine, with only a short on-road section in the quiet backstreets of Essendon. If you are in the mood for a full day’s ride, there are also connections to the Merri Creek trail and the Capital City Trail. For more information on the trail, visit the Moreland City Council website. Advertisements

Spring Gardening in Melbourne

Ah, spring. My favourite time of the year in Melbourne. Sun, blossom, green shoots and a winter’s worth of compost ready to be put to use. Although the weather’s still a bit temperamental, there are dozens of herbs and veggies that are suitable for planting in September. Herbs like basil, oregano, parsley, mint, coriander and dill are great to grow in pots if you have limited space, while those lucky enough to have big backyards can go for veggies like beans, carrots, broccoli, potatoes, pumpkins and zucchinis. For a full run-down on what to plant this spring, the Gardening Australia website has a great planting guide. (Here’s another handy one.) Melbourne sits in the southern temperate zone, and these guides are tailored specifically for our city’s climate. For some more general tips on gardening in Melbourne, click here.  

Werribee Gorge

After living in the city for a while, it’s easy to forget how therapeutic nature can be. Surrounded by the bell-like sounds of Australian birdsong and the gorgeous range and depths of nature’s colours, you begin to feel a peace rarely found in cities. On the weekend I spent a day at Werribee Gorge. About an hour’s drive (65 kilometres) from Melbourne, this state park is a lovely place to go picnicking, hiking or even rock-climbing. There are several walks you can do, ranging from a leisurely river walk along the bottom of the gorge to the 4.5-hour (10 kilometre) hike up and down the hills surrounding the valley. There are some beautiful views here, and if you keep your eyes sharp there’s every chance you might get lucky and spot some local wildlife. Unfortunately there is no way to reach Werribee Gorge by public transport — car is the only option. If you’re planning a trip here, make sure you bring supplies as of course there are no shops anywhere nearby. There are toilet facilities and …

Regent Honeyeater Project 2014

It’s that time of the year again, folks. Last year I wrote about the great work of the Regent Honeyeater Project, a volunteer conservation group that works to rebuild the habitat of endangered species in the Lurg Hills of North Eastern Victoria. As we slowly approach springtime, the RHP is once again calling for volunteers to help dig holes, plants trees and generally get together for a weekend of good clean fun. Some food is provided, and there’s free accommodation in the Benalla Scout and Guides Hall (mattresses are provided but bring your own sleeping bag and pillow). You can find all the details on the RHP flyer here. The planting weekend is hard work, but it’s also extremely rewarding and a lot of fun. If you’re a city dweller, it’s rare to have the opportunity to escape the concrete and get your hands in some dirt. Here’s your chance — plus you’ll be helping to save several endangered species at the same time.   Regent Honeyeater Project 2014 Planting weekends: 9–10 August, 23–24 August, 6–7 September, …

How to survive a heatwave (in Melbourne)

Batten down the hatches, Melbourne. We’re in for a scorcher. With temperatures set to peak at 43 degrees Celsius today, and the next few days hovering around 40, I figure now’s the time to pass on some hard-earned advice on how to keep cool in Melbourne’s summer heat. Option 1: Fortify Assuming you don’t have air conditioning at home and you don’t want to brave the heat outside, the next best tactic is to keep your house cool by closing all windows and doors in the early morning, blocking out the sun, sitting in front of a fan and keeping a water bottle handy. Ice blocks and wet towels highly recommended. Option 2: Take a plunge Although a common response to 43 degrees is hitting the beach, this can be a mixed blessing. Yes, there is cooling sea water, but often there isn’t much shade, without which you will boil and burn. A tree-lined river or water hole can be a better option. You can find some lovely swimming spots along the Yarra River: check …

CERES Community Environment Park

If you love nature, gardening, organic food, bicycles or animals, or if you’re passionate about conservation and general do-gooderness, you should head to CERES Community Environment Park in Brunswick East. This place is like an urban lung, feeding Melbourne’s northern inner suburbs with oxygen and greenery and the smells of fresh dirt and ground coffee. Apart from being a lovely place to simply wander around and look at chickens, CERES has its own Organic Market, a Permaculture Nursery, and an Organic Cafe. CERES also offers a range of courses and workshops on all things green and sustainable; check the website for details of what’s on offer. There are also a bunch of volunteer opportunities here, so contact CERES if you’re keen to get involved. One popular and very handy CERES service is the team of volunteer bicycle fixer-upperes at The BikeShed. If, like me, you’re a little mechanically challenged, take your ailing bike along to CERES and the kind folk here will teach you how to fix it yourself. You can also buy new and second-hand bicycle parts …

Royal Botanic Gardens: summer discovery walk

Melbourne’s beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens are not only regarded as the best botanical gardens in Australia, but also one of the finest in the world. Situated close to the CBD, the gardens cover 38 hectares and include over 10,000 native and exotic plant species. It’s free to visit the gardens, and from 14 December until 28 February you can also take free guided tours to learn about the gardens in a little more depth. The tours run every day except Mondays — a lovely way to spend a warm summer day.   Royal Botanic Gardens Summer Discovery Walk When: 11am–12.30pm and 2pm–3.30pm Tuesday to Sunday (except 24 and 25 December and 1 January) Where: Meet at the Visitor Centre, Observatory Gate Address: Alexandra Avenue, Melbourne Damage: free    

How to make a garden (in Melbourne)

If you’ve never tried making a garden, now’s the time to give it a shot. As the weather warms, this is the perfect time of the year to plant some seeds and watch them grow. The internet is full of information and advice on how best to make a garden, but I’ll pass on a few small tips that I’ve found to be the most helpful. 1. Pots Those of us who live with small gardens (or no gardens) will need to grow our plants in pots or other containers. You can buy plastic pots very cheaply from Kmart; the bigger the better. I also use a couple of large wooden drawers that I found on the roadside. With a few holes cut in the bottom, they work perfectly as a garden bed. One advantage of using pots is that you can strategically place them in the spots that get the most direct sunlight — a crucial factor for growing most plants. 2. Compost Juicy, wormy compost is, basically, plant food. Without it, your plants …

How to keep chickens (in Melbourne)

On a recent sunny Sunday my housemates and I decided to adopt some chickens. We had no chicken coop, no chicken food, no feeder — nothing apart from half an unused back courtyard. So we went scavenging. Within a day or two we had built our very own custom super coop and chicken run using wholly recycled materials that we either found by the roadside or sourced from and friends. We now have two chooks, happy to scratch the days away, which each lay an egg daily. We plan to add two more to our new farmyard. It’s really quite simple — not to mention fun, environmentally friendly, economical and surprisingly therapeutic — to keep chooks. Here’s what you’ll need — and what you’ll need to consider — to set up your own chook coop in Melbourne: 1. Space Chickens don’t need a huge amount of space, but every creature deserves to be able to carry out its primal needs in comfort. For chooks, those primal needs are scratching for food, taking dust-baths, laying …

Merri Creek bike path

If you feel like getting some fresh air and exercise, jump on your bike and head to the Merri Creek Bike Trail. Not only is this bike path a very useful way of getting from A to B (it connects Dights Falls in Abbotsford with the Western Ring Road path in Campbellfield — a 25km trip) it’s also a beautiful green haven that really makes you feel as though you’ve left the city far behind. The artificial weir at Dights Falls is a lovely spot to visit and explore, too. The trail follows Merri Creek, and although the water can look very inviting on a hot day, I wouldn’t recommend swimming here. The bike path is wide and, at the city end at least, very well maintained. Perfect for a Saturday morning ride.