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Canterbury Rd urban forest

As the Westgate Bridge approached completion in the late 1970s, intense work began on how the freeway would connect with the wider road network. Ferrars St/Canterbury Rd, Montague St, Graham St and Kingsway were identified as the key connecting roads. There was growing apprehension about the implications of the increased traffic through local streets.

At that time, a visionary gardener, Brian Carter, was employed by the South Melbourne Council. He shook things up. Brian brought a ‘can do’ approach to his job as Parks and Gardens administrator. He was not discouraged by naysayers, inertia or a shortage of resources. ‘The point I’m getting at is there can be no room for the pessimist or lazy. Pessimism usually comes out of laziness. Someone says it can’t be done because they are too lazy to do it so they become pessimistic. We disproved that and got people moving.’p156

He worked with school children and the community on an extensive tree planting programme in neighbourhood streets. Over fifty years those trees have attained great stature.

His most ambitious project was the Canterbury Road Urban Forest. To him, the wide and featureless Canterbury Rd ‘nature’ strip was full of possibility.

A planting plan was prepared in the winter and spring of 1975. Bill Molyneaux and Sue Forrester from Austraflora assisted with the plant provision and selection. 400 different species were introduced representing different regions of Australia. This was a trial of using native plants in urban projects.  It needed to work. Local school children planted the first 3,000 plants.

This is how Canterbury Road looked shortly after the planting in 1976.

Canterbury Road when it was first planed c1976 from Brian Carter’s collection

Take a walk through the urban forest.

(The video is 1 minute)


  • Rhonda Small

    I loved your video Janet, such wonderful colours, contours and sounds - and so good to know a bit about the history of the Canterbury Road urban forest. It should be sound evidence for a great outcome with investment in the current Green Line proposal along the Sandringham rail line. Thank you!

  • Heather Wheat

    The urban forest is such a wonderful concept and I love the video. Sound and movement add the essential ingredients. We miss Australia’s unique bush when we travel overseas but were delighted to see eucalypts so many place in Bolivia imported from Australia. Thank you Janet

  • What treat! Thanks Janet

  • Stephen Pennells

    A favourite walk! Thanks Janet. Lake Bolac Eel Festival - Heeling[sic] walk next Saturday.

  • This is great! The sound only came on for me about half way through.

  • So beautiful Janet, what a visionary project. Amazing that this narrow strip has more charm and biodiversity than the whole expanse of Albert Park just over the rail line.

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