Cycle Melbourne, Sightseeing Ride, Woodlands Historic Park
Woodlands Historic Park provides a fascinating glimpse of the landscapes and wildlife seen by European settlers in the 1840s. The park has a 150-year old homestead, indigenous canoe trees, native woodland and grassland. The fenced ‘Back Paddock’ is a great spot to see kangaroos, birds and other wildlife. The lightly wooded hills provide a good environment for a ride with the roar of planes taking off from the nearby airport being the only disturbing influence.
Within the bushland there are scarred trees and surface scatters, remaining evidence of the Woiworung aboriginal people, who lived in the area before Europeans arrived. Throughout the park, but especially in the wildlife enclosure, if you travel quietly enough, you may also see the other long time inhabitants, the kangaroos. The other highlight within the park is to ride up through the granite boulders of Gellibrand Hill for 360˚ views over the city, the Great Dividing Range and the airport. As you come down from the hill you become aware of the frequent takeoffs from the nearby airport as passenger jets scrabble in to the sky above you, if the wind direction means they use a particular runway.
Along the ride there are pleasant spots where you could have a picnic lunch, under the shade of a big, old gum tree, but beware the proverbial snake in the grass. Back at the finish you can spend time looking at the homestead which is a rare example of an early prefabricated building. Built in the early 1840s it was designed in Britain, probably for export to India. Its association with early pioneering families make it significant to the early settlement of the Port Phillip district. It is surrounded by restored gardens. Magnolias at the homestead are the oldest recorded garden plants in Victoria. If the sun is beating down in the bush the gardens or the tea rooms are the places to go. Just in front of the Homestead are the paddocks for the ‘Living Legends’ retired racehorses.
Established to bring retired champion horses back to the public, the front paddocks are home to some of Australia’s finest retired racehorses, including several Melbourne Cup winners such as Might and Power, and Rogan Josh. They all look like they have slipped comfortably in to retirement. If any of them made you money through a Melbourne Cup sweep or bet, now could be the time to show your appreciation.
The park entrance is off Oaklands Road, Greenvale, near Melbourne airport. It is open to vehicles daily from 8.30am to 4.30pm, extending to 6pm on weekends and public holidays from 1 November until the end of daylight savings. Pedestrian and bicycle access is available at all times.
Food and Drink
Nothing en route, but there are refreshments available in the homestead. On a warm day the cool homestead tea rooms or the shaded gardens are welcoming.