New Park in Port Places
At the end of the 70 tram line, at the end of Docklands Drive, under the Bolte Bridge, is the newest park in Docklands – Ron Barassi Snr Park.
This Park packs in a lot without feeling crowded. Already it is adding to the community life of Docklands.
An urban river/raingarden, instead of a median in Docklands Drive, leads into the park.
The main features of the Park are a very large oval, a perimeter walking/running track, a community pavilion and a children’s playground.
It’s how these familiar features are executed that makes this new park such a pleasant discovery.
The park is edged with thickly planted indigenous vegetation – banksias and casaurinas as well as wildflowers and groundcovers. Pigface, carpobrotus rossi, is planted liberally throughout the Park. In time, the Park will be sheltered from wind by trees and will become a magnet for birds and insects.
The grass on the oval is thick and lush – almost too thick to bounce a football on – but perfect for a picnic. A succession of people come and go with varied fitness routines. People gather with their dogs on the oval.
Every aspect of the children’s playground supports active play. The soft fall is sand so it’s kind of beachy. There are simple machines to operate and sand to shift from here to there. Water play is welcome on these hot days with a hand pump leading to a constructed stream. There are places to climb, places to balance and places to hide. At this time the playground is exposed without shelter, but large trees have been planted and defended against future depredation.
The park offers a different perspective on Melbourne’s changing cityscape.
The Bolte Bridge provides a strong boundary to the park and great under cover parking. The traffic noise is not too intrusive.
The park backs on to the Moonee Ponds Creek. The care of the neatly constructed new park contrasts abruptly with the unkempt and neglected Creek. In spite of being so abused, and so altered over its history, this little spot of Moonee Ponds Creek reveals a surprising richness. The creek banks are thick with varied saltmarsh plants. Over time the two landscapes may meet more seamlessly as that pigface creeps towards towards the creek. The proximity of the park to the creek will surely lead to an increase in interest and care.
The park interfaces with the Port. Across the Creek is one of the last sheds to be built before containerisation in the 1950s.
The shortage of green space has been a persistent criticism of Docklands. This park shows what can be done to transform a neglected area into a park for everyone and nature too. Its location at the end of the line means that this is likely to remain a local backyard park for people living in Docklands.
The park designers have created a restorative landscape. Port Places will be sure to go back to see how the vegetation is maturing and how the Park is being used.
A moment of discomfort. As the wild unkempt places get tidied up, there are fewer places for people who choose to live as far away from neat and tidiness as possible.
The name was the popular choice of several put forward – easy to understand why when your read the story.
Moonee Ponds Creek Port Heritage Trail Site 9
There is plenty of free parking and toilets.