What you need to know

A new park to add to your COVID-19 exercise outings – the fences are coming down at Woodlands Park

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From floating islands for our sunbathing native wildlife to transforming stagnant ponds into living wetlands with clearer water quality, there’s more to the improved Woodlands Park than meets the eye.

Thanks to all our community for their patience as we carried out two stages of works to improve this much-loved heritage park in Essendon for our residents and visitors, as well as the environment.

The fences are coming down, but the new plants and grass will take time to settle in and grow, so you may see workers in the park over the coming months when restrictions allow. Our gardeners will be keeping a close eye on how the plants and grass are growing and as with all our parks we’ll continue to maintain them.

Next time you visit you’ll easily spot some of the new features, but we want to tell you about some of the improvements that aren’t so obvious too.

  1.  New places for our younger residents to explore
    There are more opportunities to play, with more rope climbing equipment and natural play elements including a new dry creek bed, rockwork, logs, steppers, balance beams, stumps, pebbles and planting to help children connect with nature and develop resilience, self-confidence, initiative and creativity. (We know it’s tempting to play, but please stick to the State Government’s COVID-19 restrictions and help stop the spread)
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  2. New places for the rest of the family too
    We love long summer nights outside with family and friends, it’s why we’ve improved our BBQ facilities and added more bins to cater for group gatherings. There’s a new rotunda and more park furniture too including new seating spots for quiet contemplation. (We’re hoping by summer we’ll be able to use the BBQ and park furniture, but for now please but please stick to the State Government’s COVID-19 restrictions and help stop the spread)
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  3. Ponds that look great, and help improve our creeks and our bay
    Council teamed up with City West Water and Melbourne Water to transform the Woodland Park ponds into a Stormwater Harvesting project. That means the water that flows through our streets and into nearby drains is now collected by the ponds and cleaned by thousands of new native wetland plants taking up the nutrients and pollutants.
    Once it’s clean some of it gets used to water the park and gardens before continuing on its journey to Five Mile Creek and Moonee Ponds Creek, and then onto the bay.
    While our ponds are working to clean our storm water, it’s important to stop paint, chemicals and pollution from getting onto our nearby roads and into the system. Please contact Council if you need advice on how to dispose of waste or if you see pollution or spills on your street.
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  4. Native wildlife who call our park home
    Healthier cleaner ponds mean a better home for our native birds, fish and yabbies that live in Woodlands Park. The ecological benefits from the upgrades include greater local biodiversity, which will better support the ecosystem for native species such as the buff banded rails, herons and native aquatic species. We’re already really excited to see a local heron who has been spotted returning to the ponds.
  5. New ways to keep fit
    You’ll find new workout stations to help everyone stay active as well as a new bike repair station and additional bike hoops (we’re as devastated as you that we can’t use all the new features of the park, but once again please stick to the State Government’s COVID-19 restrictions and help stop the spread)
  6. Colourful spinning flower seats
    Need we say more?
  7. Floating islands
    Thanks to the Australian Government’s Communities Environment Program we’ve got floating islands in our ponds. They provide protected habitats for local fauna for nesting and sunbathing, away from predators plus the roots of the native plants provide water treatment by sucking nutrients from the water.
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  8. The Bunyip Sculptural Garden
    We heard from our community how important this unique sculptural garden is for imagination play, so it has been retained in place and better integrated with the rest of the playspace with the extension and continuation of soft fall mulch, logs, rockwork and planting to make it even more magical. The original artist returned to re-paint the sculptures to enhance it and give it a breath of new life.

And a couple of things we hope you won’t see…

  1. Carp!
    To help improve water quality and protect native wildlife, Council removed hundreds and hundreds of exotic carp from the ponds. Carp and other introduced species including goldfish can quickly undo a lot of the work we’ve done to make Woodlands Park an environmentally friendly, native animal sanctuary. Carp are incredibly invasive and have previously caused significant damage to this pond. Carp damage our ponds when they suck up mud – stirring up silt and muddy the water, blocking sunlight to aquatic vegetation and native fish and lowering water quality.
  2. Fishing
    Fishing at Woodlands Park is not allowed and is prohibited. There’s plenty of great spots to throw a line in nearby, including the Maribyrnong River. Catching carp may be fun, but they have a devastating impact on our waterways and Woodlands Park is not a place for fishing. It’s why we’re asking for your help by not dumping unwanted pets in the ponds or introducing carp for fishing. Dumping pets here exposes them to harm, threats and illness. Abandoned pets should be surrendered to the RSPCA or local animal shelters, who will take care of them properly. Please help us maintain a healthy wetland by protecting it from carp fish, goldfish, exotic or domesticated ducks and pet turtles.

Moonee Valley Mayor Samantha Byrne said while the upgrades took time, the results will be worth it.

“Woodlands Park holds dear memories for so many of our local lifelong residents, these upgrades mean it will continue to be a place of play and joy for generations of Moonee Valley kids to come,” Cr Byrne said.

Council’s Leisure and Active Communities Portfolio holder Cr Rebecca Gauci Maurici is pleased the fences are now down given how valuable our parks are now during restrictions.

“I encourage residents who live close to Woodlands Park to use their 60 minutes of active outdoor time to take a walk or a run to see the upgrades,” Cr Gauci Maurici said.

Moonee Valley City Council want to thank everyone who helped make this big project possible including City West Water (contributing $580,000 through the Stormwater Harvesting Partnership Fund), Melbourne Water (contributing $300,000 through the Living Rivers Grants), the Australian Federal Government (contributing $20,000 through the Communities Environment Program), Monash University, Essendon North Primary School, Strathmore Veterinary Clinic and local wildlife carers. Thank you to everyone for your contribution, patience and interest.

Find out more about the Woodlands Park Project here.