Braeside Park is a large, natural area in a suburban sandbelt. Nestled amongst golf courses, urban development and busy roads, it has the quality of an oasis. The park offers easy walking and cycling trails that meander through three very distinct environments - wetlands, heathland and red gum woodland. The 312 hectares offer a peaceful interlude with picturesque views.
Things to Do
Bring your bike and explore the 7 km of trails.
Bring a picnic and use the free electric barbecues, or BYO gas barbecue.
See the old racetrack where the mighty Phar Lap ran in 1930-31.
Try to identify different birds in the many wetlands and billabongs.
Play on the adventure playground.
Go on a self-guided trail walk or observe the wildlife from the bird hide and observation decks.
View the two mural art walls which depict Braeside Park before and after Federation.
Visit the new Braeside Park Community Garden currently under development.
Picnic area with car parks, toilets, shelter, electric barbecues.
An information centre.
Bird hide and observation decks.
Access and facilities for people with a disability.
Braeside Park Community Garden
Braeside Park Community Garden was the first to be launched under the Victorian State Government's Community Gardens program. Expanding on Parks Victoria's Healthy Parks, Healthy People initiative, the Braeside Park Community Garden promotes the social and physical benefits associated with hands-on garden activities. The Community Gardens program has risen out of a desire to build on the range of community activities delivered by Parks Victoria that work to connect communities with their parks.
Parks Victoria have designed the display gardens in partnership with the Braeside Park Community Gardens Group to highlight the beauty, diversity, natural drought tolerance, sensory characteristics and potential applications of local native plants to the home garden.
The Braeside Park Community Gardens Group consists of enthusiastic volunteer gardeners, who meet regularly to design, propagate, plant and maintain a series of indigenous display gardens. Parks Victoria encourages any interested individual or collective to become involved in this exciting community project. Participants have the opportunity to learn about local native plants, how to collect seed, take cuttings and produce plants to be used either in the community display gardens or their own garden. They will also learn more about the local environment including animals native to the area.
The Bunurong people lived for many thousands of years in, and around, the area now called Braeside Park. Some six Aboriginal scar trees can be found in the park.
The first European family to settle here were the Keys, hence Keysborough. They ran cattle from 1844 to 1909. Their original homestead has been incorporated into the Southern Golf Club's club house. Later, when the family sold the property, the land was developed for racehorse training and at one time was claimed to be the largest complex of its type in Australia. A sewage treatment plant, built in 1940, ran until 1980. When it closed, it presented an opportunity for a park to be developed in the area. Braeside Park opened in April 1989 with the completion of stage one of its development plan.
Hollow trees house animals and birds including parrots, cockatoos, owls and kookaburras. Over 60 species of water birds are regularly seen on the wetlands and their numbers are increasing. In spring, ducks, swans and waterhen breed here. Migratory birds such as Lathams Snipe from Japan and the Sharp-tailed Sandpipers from north-eastern Siberia arrive at Braeside and can be seen from the birdhide or the two viewing platforms along the wetland trail. The park also has an increasing population of echidna's, ringtail and brushtail possums.
In the woodlands where the soil is heavier grow beautiful red gums. Remnant patches of Kangaroo Grass, native orchids and other wildflowers can still be found.In the heathland, flowering plants can be found in most seasons. In spring and summer, native peas, bursaria and the beautiful Wedding Bush are seen. Access to this fragile area is by permit only.
How to Get There
The park is reached via the Nepean or Princes Highway. The main entry is on Lower Dandenong Road (Melway ref: 88 D8). Another entrance exists on Governor Road (Melway ref: 93 F1). Bus services (811 and 812) run along Lower Dandenong Road connecting Dandenong, Springvale, Keysborough and Mentone.
Braeside Park is open at 8:30 AM and closes at 5:00 PM in winter, 6:00 PM in spring and 8:00 PM during daylight saving.
The south end of the park (accessible from Governor Road) has a picnic area near the car park which has shelters with tables, information shelter, toilets and water tap. The park closes quite early (around 4pm) for vehicle access. We followed the line of the wetlands but did not see a huge number of water birds. The best place to see birds was the Bird Hide. There are water taps in a few locations. At the north end of the park is a nice playground. The park is huge and requires a fair bit of time or a bike to cover the area extensively.