All posts tagged: nature

Williamstown sunrise

Recently I happened to be in Williamstown at dawn. As an inner-north dweller, I rarely see the sea — particularly not at this time of the morning — so my bleary eyes were stunned by the gorgeous views across the water. Williamstown itself, sunrise or no, is a super charming part of the world with its lovely historic buildings, large yacht club, botanic gardens and funny little beach located on the western side of the peninsula. Coming here feels like stepping into a far-off seaside town; it’s hard to believe it’s just 9km from Melbourne’s CBD. These photos were taken on a phone and they’re completely unedited, so what you see is truly what you get. Even if dawn isn’t your thing, this sunrise over the city really is worth the effort.  

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, …

St Andrews Community Market

Every Saturday, a hillside in the small township of St Andrews is overrun with falafel stands, vaguely tribal-looking jewellery stalls and general hippy-happiness. Like-minded types come from near and far to soak up the market’s relaxed atmosphere and sip tea in the Chai Tent, while a few music groups gather with violins, drums and earnest voices to serenade visitors. Located about 45 kilometres north-east of Melbourne between Hurstbridge and Kinglake, St Andrews is a picturesque little place, surrounded by rollings hills, farms and thick native bushland. It takes about an hour to drive here from Melbourne’s CBD, and luckily on Saturdays it is also accessible by public transport (take the train to Hurstbridge then catch the free shuttle bus to St Andrew’s Market). The scenery is as much a drawcard as the small market — those with cars should also take the opportunity to explore the surrounding area (nearby Kangaroo Ground is, well, a prime kangaroo ground). Even if you’re not particularly excited about palm readings and hessian clothes, the St Andrews Market is a …

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    

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.    

regent honeyeater project

    Here’s a fantastic opportunity for anyone who finds themselves in Victoria over the next few weeks. The Regent Honeyeater Project is a volunteer conservation program that works to restore box-ironbark forests in the Lurg Hills of North Eastern Victoria. This bushland was heavily forested in the century following European settlement, resulting in the decimation of a number of native bird and animal species, including the Regent Honeyeater (pictured above). Each year the RE Project runs seasonal activities such as seed collection, checking nest boxes and tree planting. And, as spring quietly approaches, now is the time for planting.     Even if you’ve never done anything like this before, or even if you’re not a particularly passionate environmentalist, I can promise you these planting weekends are a lot of fun. They’re hard work — you’ll be either digging ditches all day or crouching down to plant seedlings — but it’s incredibly satisfying and great to be out in the beautiful Victorian countryside with some friends for a weekend. If you’re concerned about your budget, …

Melbourne: a beach city?

    Most people don’t associate Melbourne with the beach. Culture, coffee, fashion, art — yes. Golden tans and bikinis? No. The north–south cultural divide in Melbourne is strong — so strong, in fact, that many Melburnians who live north of the Yarra River very rarely clamp eyes on the sea. But Melbourne is a beach city; Port Melbourne and St Kilda lie just 20–30 minutes south of the CBD by tram or bicycle. And while these may not match up to Sydney’s Bondi, or the glorious beaches of the Great Ocean Road, they are beautiful in their own right. As the weather cools, you can still take advantage of Melbourne’s beaches by cycling the great bike paths that follow the coastline. You can find maps of these paths, and others, at bikemap.net and Bike Paths and Rail Trails.  

Melbourne Zoo

  Established in 1862, the Melbourne Zoo is the oldest in Australia.  Featuring beautiful gardens and over 320 animal species, there’s a strong emphasis on on education and conservation here. It takes around 15 minutes to get to the zoo from the CBD by train or tram. Check Public Transport Victoria for more information.   Melbourne Zoo Address: Elliott Avenue, Parkville 3052 Tel: 9285 9300 Opening hours: 9am–5pm every day Damage: $26.10 adult / $20.20 concession