When travelling in new areas, the best gems always come through word-of-mouth. When a friend suggested that we spend some time exploring Darebin Parklands in Melbourne’s inner-northeast, I thought it would be a large park with the usual set of facilities. Instead, we found ourselves wandering along bushy tracks, dipping our toes in the creek, examining historical remains and generally forgetting that we were in a city!

Darebin Parklands, March 2013
Darebin Parklands is located only seven kilometres from the heart of Melbourne but truly feels like you're far away from any city!

Running across the lawn at Darebin Parklands, March 2013
After our schedules and restrictions of the past couple of days, it's wonderful to see the girls run free again.

Climbing a hill at Darebin Parklands, March 2013
It's a pleasant surprise to wander in a park where very few of the pathways are concrete. Instead, we follow the natural trails of bushwalkers who've trekked before us, and sometimes they're challenging for little people!

Darebin Parklands, March 2013
This park is particularly popular with cyclists and dog-walkers, and one paved track does run along Darebin's western side.

Darebin Parklands, March 2013
We are delighted to discover the moving water of Darebin Creek. Rain yesterday has brought the water level up.

Calista Mae, 4yo, March 2013
All day long, our girls are playing with little ponies that they received as a gift from David during this last visit.

Playing at Darebin Parklands, March 2013
The girls stop to play in the shade of a tree. Most of the park is left uncultivated except for the occasional mow.

Darebin Parklands, March 2013
Another trail catches our eye and we follow it back to another section of the creek.

Darebin Parklands, March 2013
For an urban waterway, Darebin Creek is quite clean, although there are remnants of floating rubbish at the high-water mark along the bank.

Darebin Parklands, March 2013
We play for a while at a flat-rock formation along the creek that the park map calls "tessellated pavement".

Aisha and Brioni playing, March 2013
Aisha and Brioni discover a diff from an old vehicle and discover it makes a little see-saw.

Exploring Darebin Parklands, March 2013
The managing committee make maps available to park users, and it's a terrific way for the girls to identify the sections they want to explore.

Delaney strokes a cat, March 2013
On our way back to the bus, Delaney is greeted by a local cat. This was the only "wildlife" we saw, but surely Australian natives also reside in this beautiful bush location.

Today was the first day we had to start exploring Melbourne, and I’m so glad we started with a rejuvenating time “in the country”. The girls loved running all over the park, exploring the different paths and maintaining their imaginary games all the while.

Darebin Parklands is extremely accessible for locals and visitors, and it’s highly recommended for anyone who wants to escape the city, if just for a little while!