One great thing about living Melbourne is the fact that there are so many wonderful parks and open spaces. I guess this is one thing that has helped earn Melbourne the title of one of the world’s most livable cities. Going out to the park doesn’t cost much other than petrol / public transport to get there, and Park’s Victoria’s slogan “Healthy Parks, Healthy People,” encourages us to get out and enjoy them. Almost every suburb of Melbourne contains a park or smaller recreational space.
By far one of my favourite parks has got to be Jells Park in Wheelers Hill, Monash. Named after one of the first settlers of the area Joseph Jell, it is one of Melbourne’s biggest parks and is bounded by Jells Road on the west, Dandenong Creek on the East and Ferntree Gully Road on the south. To the north is the end of Waverley Road, and continuing North along the Dandenong Creek Trail path / cycle track is Norton’s Park and High Street Road. Jells Park is part of the Dandenong Creek Valley, is over 127 hectares in size and attracts over 900,000 visitors a year. There are car parks off of Ferntree Gully Road (to the south) and off Waverley Road to the north.
Jells Park is awesome for walking and there are nearly ten kilometers of tracks, including one around Jells Lake through the bush land conservation area. There are also bird hides here, and one can often see some of the native birds including the Pelican, Purple Swamphen and the White-faced Heron. One can also see many native gum trees as they walk around the park.
There are also sealed paths and I often used to cycle on the one from the Dandenong Creek Trail up the hill past Madeline’s Café on the way to Jells Road on my way to work. I can tell you first hand that riding up the hill up past the café to Jells Road was hard work.
One of the most popular things people do at Jells Park is to enjoy a BBQ or as they say in Australia a Barbie. Jells Park has several great barbeque areas: including the Oaks and Ashes picnic areas to the south end of the park, the Stringybark Picnic area to the north-east and the Pines picnic area near the café and the Yabbie Hill playground. Note that the Stringybark Picnic barbeques are wood fired and are not to be used during days of a Total Fire Ban (usually during the summer).
Of course another great reason I love Jells Park is for the photo opportunities. I love to capture the long shadows formed by the mighty eucalyptus trees as the sun heads lower in the sky. Of course if you have a good zoom lens bring it along and snap the birds.
Due to its size Jells Park has been used for many years as the venue for the Monash Carols by Candlelight at Christmas time, which attracts over 10,000 people. Last year’s event was awesome and included many classic carols as well as a fireworks finale, and of course a visit from the big man in the red suit.