Whether you are looking for the perfect family picnic spot or a leafy walking trail for a sunny day stroll, here’s a list of some of Boroondara’s favourite parks and gardens. (For further information on parks and gardens of Boroondara click here)
Maranoa Gardens, Balwyn
Yarrbat Ave, Balwyn.
When John Watson purchased a whopping 3.5 acres of land in 1901, he had a vision to create a botanical masterpiece made entirely of native trees and shrubbery from the homeland (and New Zealand).
Although it doesn’t seem like a big deal today, Watson was a green thumb rebel for his time where European trends were the only influence; it wasn’t until years later that Watson received the praise he deserved. The space has since acted as a University of Australian vegetation for students, botanists and green enthusiasts alike.
Designed around an impressive circuit path, Maranoa Gardens leads visitors through a storybook of plants, each collection covering a chapter of a particular geology, land form, soil and climate – from cottage garden to rainforest, temperate woodland, indigenous display and beyond.
Where: Yarrbat Ave, Balwyn.
Best for: STROLL
Spend a day learning about the history of Australian native flora and fauna
Hays Paddock, Kew
Leason St, Kew East
Arguably one of Melbourne’s best playgrounds, the all-ability site at Hay’s Paddock features a spider’s web trampoline, hammock, flying fox, a shaded sandpit, extra-wide see saw as well as the obligatory playground classics such as swings and slides. Officially opened in October 1998, having been developed by local residents Danielle Blanden and Jenny Grahem who are both mothers of children with a disability, this was the first community playground in Australia designed for children of all abilities… because every child deserves to have their own fun.
Where: Leason St, Kew East
Best for: SLIDE
Fully enclosed play park for all children
Kew Billabong, with boardwalk.
Canterbury Gardens, Canterbury
Canterbury Road, Canterbury
There’s no park in Melbourne that describes the term ‘gardenesque’ quite like Canterbury Gardens.
Over the years, it’s been many things – a thoroughfare for West Creek in 1850 and a quaint farmstead soon after. Today the garden’s filled will rolling lawns, specimen trees and psychedelic displays of perennial borders and annual beds. In fact, there are even a few established trees remaining that have been doing their thing since the 1800s.
In 1903, the land was fenced and named Canterbury Reserve. And in 1909 a rotunda was built for locals to flock together. Today the gardens still act as a venue for dense gatherings. Festive carols are held yearly, just in time for Santa, and the hums of jazz waft through the green as part of the Summer Music Series.
Where: Canterbury Road, Canterbury
Best for: PICNIC RUG
Jazz in the park during summer
The grand rotunda
The magic of carols in the park.
Surrey Gardens, Surrey Hills
Between Union and Norfolk Rds, Surrey Hills
Few gardens can boast being one of the first grounds in Australia to feature a World War I memorial, and that’s what makes Surrey Gardens unique.
Originally designed by William Guilfoyle, (Melbourne’s Royal Botanic Gardens), and featuring a stone cross and war memorial shrine (also known as a cenotaph), Surrey Gardens has more history over 1.4 hectares than any other park in the Boroondara area.
Opened in 1917, Surrey Gardens had a thorough revamp in 2007, and today it features a rare Art Nouveau artwork, carved by one of Melbourne’s pioneering wood carvers – Mr JK Blogg, as well as two cannons, affectionately known as ‘Brook’s Babies’ that commemorate the end of the Boer War. These belong to Arthur ‘Empire’ Brooks and can be seen peering over the garden from the highest point.
Where: Between Union and Norfolk Rds, Surrey Hills
Best for: STROLL
Mr JK Blogg’s Art Nouveau artwork
‘Brook’s Babies’ at the park’s highest point
Beckett Park, Balwyn
Yarrbat Ave, Balwyn
Children of the area and elsewhere delight in this wonderland of ramps, swings, slides, monkey bars, and in-ground trampoline and a large sandpit with mechanical scoops. Hours will while away here, as the adults among us can find shaded tables from which to look on at all the fun happening. Unless of course we’re too busy losing ourselves in the wooden maze or up the stone tower.
Where: Yarrbat Ave, Balwyn
Best for: SLIDE
The stone tower
Large wooden maze.
Yarra Bend Park, Kew
Boathouse Rd, Kew
Much more than a neighbourhood park, Yarra Bend Park is a 260 hectare expanse of parkland that hugs the river and plays home to the historic Studley Park Boathouse. From one location you can enjoy a restaurant meal, relax in a café, take in sweeping views of the Yarra River and surrounding bushland, set yourself up in the picnic area or even hire a boat and go paddling, just as Mole and Ratty would do in The Wind in the Willows.
The largest area of natural bushland in inner Melbourne is a real hero of Kew and attracts visitors from all corners. But don’t worry, there’s plenty of space for everyone... find your own patch of grass or riverside embankment and forget where you are.
Where: Boathouse Rd, Kew
Best for: PICNIC RUG
Rowboats, canoes and kayaks for hire
Impressive views across the river and to the city
Picnic and barbeque facilities.