Craving some closeness to Mother Nature? There's nothing like a romp through a park or an animal encounter to restore some balance. Next time you're sick of the sight of concrete, head straight to these green spots – all of which are either in the centre of the city or just outside it. To really get active, check out our favourite quirky outdoor activities or dip into one of Melbourne's best outdoor pools.
Five natural attractions in Melbourne
This Brunswick haven includes a small vegetable farm, chook pen, permaculture and bush nursery and community kitchen in the park surrounds. Keen to get involved? The park’s rambling paths lead to community kitchens, a weekly marketplace and education centres.
You’ll probably have to share your visit with a few school excursion groups, but the Collingwood Children’s Farm is a treat at any age. Come spring, the baby goats and little lambs come out to play, and the garden will be in bloom. Come in time for the afternoon cow milking and say hi to Mash the cat, who likes to sneak a few sips of fresh milk!
There’s only one way to get to Herring Island and that’s by punt service, which only operates from mid-December until Easter. Walk the sculpture trail, explore the native plant life and bring a picnic to make the most of your visit to this isolated island in the Yarra River (though in reality it’s only a stone’s throw away from South Yarra).
There’s nothing quite like a meander along the Merri Creek Trail; a 21km shared bike and walking path that snakes through the northern suburbs (as far up as Craigieburn down to Abbotsford). In spring, the creek is lush with trees and wildflowers, and the trickling of the water makes you forget that there’s a highway and train tracks just over the surrounding hills.
The Royal Botanic Gardens are easy to forget about when you spend most weekends brunching at popular cafés and drinking at poky bars, but it's definitely worth revisiting. Our favourite spots are the Tropical Glasshouse, the Arid Garden (careful, it’s full of cacti), and the spiralling Guilfoyle's Volcano.