More to discover at Jells Park
Friday 12 November, 2021
Jells Park has been a Melbourne icon for generations: a beloved place for city-dwellers to get into nature with the whole family.
But there are special places in this popular park in the south-eastern suburbs that even regular visitors might not know about.
We asked local expert Ranger Sandie for her tips on enjoying Jells Park’s most exclusive spots. From tucked-away bird hides to brand-new playscapes, discover a new side to your all-time favourites.
Take time out at Jells East Playscape
You might have already encountered the new playscape at Stringybark picnic area, complete with all-abilities carousels, swings and sculptures. But did you know there's another new playscape in Jells East?
"You've got the large main playscape, and you'll often find that quite busy," says Sandie, "but we would also recommend the new smaller playscape at Jells East. This one has a lot of similarities: it's nature-based, it's got a swing set, a couple of small slides for toddlers and some climbing structures."
Here you'll also find a sandpit and a fabulous and unique tactile blue-tongue lizard sculpture carved from timber and concrete. With toilets nearby and a big open space to kick a ball around, Jells East is a great spot to escape the crowds.
"If you have a child with special needs who prefers a quieter place, it's perfect," says Sandie.
Embark on a tranquil tour of the lake
After stopping at Madeleine's Cafe for a spot of lunch, why not take a quiet stroll around the lake on the 2.3km loop through the conservation area? Just make sure to leave your four-legged family members at home for this one – whilst dogs are allowed at Jells Park, they are not allowed in this special conservation part of the park.
Along this tranquil track, you'll find bird hides perfect for spying on the local wildlife, including an island of ibis that has attracted a predatory sea eagle.
"The majority of the time, people are seeing this sea eagle," says Sandie. "Which is great – it just sits there waiting for the right time to go hunting for its next meal."
There's new information due out soon about all the other birds you might glimpse in Jells Park – watch this space!
Escape the crowds at Jells South
For an unstructured day of recreation away from the hustle and bustle, pay a visit to Jells South. Here you'll find expansive grassy spaces to kick a footy or set up a game of cricket, as well as easy access to the conservation area via a gravel trail. This is Sandie's top spot for a bit of quiet time.
"Jells South has some nature areas at the back of the ovals," says Sandie, “and you can just sit there and quietly watch nature if you're trying to find a quiet spot to yourself in a really busy park."
Cycle from Jells into the great beyond
If you're keen on a bike ride, Jells Park is a great place to start a nice long ride. Park at Jells Park and cycle along the Dandenong Creek Trail that goes through the Bushy Park wetlands, into Koomba Park and beyond the Parks Victoria estate to the north and south. For a full-day excursion with the family, you can't do better than exploring this beautiful area on two wheels.
Bring your four-legged friends
Dogs are welcome on-leash in most of Jells Park, but for free-running play, take a stroll to Nortons Park: an off-leash dog park complete with toilets, barbecues and picnic tables. It's also just a quick walk along the Dandenong Creek Trail from all the fun at Jells.
"We built Nortons Park specifically as an open space for dogs," says Sandie, "and you can walk to it from Jells Park to the north."
Jells Park has so much to offer visitors of all ages. Junior Ranger activities run every school holidays, and the team has recently received twenty pairs of binoculars from Macpac (Principal Partner of Junior Rangers program) for their 'Away with the Birds' program.
There's plenty to look forward to with longer days of good weather and summer around the corner. Stop by in November for the park's Diwali event, and put the Monash Carols concert in the calendar for Christmas.
To make the most of your Jells Park visit , try to visit before 10am or after 3pm – this will help you avoid the park's busiest times when finding a carpark can be difficult. If you're meeting friends, why not arrange to meet at one of the park's quieter places like Jells South? And please remember not to park illegally if you're visiting by car.
Enjoy exploring the many beautiful and open green spaces at Jells Park. Pack a picnic and some outdoor games and you'll have a fantastic day out in nature.