Studley Park and its neighbours Fairfield Park and Yarra Bend Park is one of the gems of Melbourne and forms a wonderful complement to the Botanic Gardens. The Botanic Gardens are perfectly manicured, meticulously planned and consist of plantings from all around the world with a strong European influence. Studley Park is big, rambling, and covered with natural Australian bush. In many areas you can lie on your back and watch the trees and birds above your head and feel far removed from city life and European sensibilities. It would not feel out of place if a member of the Wurundjerie tribe wandered out of the bush in possum skins to investigate this strange person on his territory. And yet you are only 10 minutes from the centre of the city.
Studley Park follows the course of the Yarra River for some distance, snaking its way through several suburbs. The shallow river valley has the effect of visually removing it from its surrounding suburbs.
My favourite areas are the bushland with their bird life. You will find many finches in the South-West corner near Victoria Street. On the other side, if you cross the pipe bridge you are likely to come face to face with brilliantly coloured parrots. Water birds can be found all along the river, and many areas ring to the delightful ping of bellbirds. The best time for birds of course is early morning or late afternoon.
It is the ideal spot for a picnic, romantic outing, BBQ or social gathering, and the focal areas are the two boatsheds. Hire a rowing boat and row your loved one up the river and feel part of another era. It is almost obligatory for an Australian costume drama to have a boating scene shot at the Studley Park Boatsheds or with boats rowing under the suspension bridge .If you prefer a bit more adrenalin, try shooting the rapids in a kayak at Dight's Falls, or taking the motorbike for a spin (within the speed limit of course) with the petrol heads who gather at the top of the hill in Yarra Boulevard. Bike tracks (both sealed and unsealed) run through the park, and it is possible to run, walk, cycle, or rollerblade for many kilometres along the river and its tributary, the Merri Creek.
The Botanic Gardens represents Melbourne in its Sunday Best. Studley Park is Melbourne in its Saturday Casuals. Both are important and I wouldn't want one without the other.
During the summer months the amphitheatre overlooking the river is often used for concerts and other performances, and each year there is a series of world music concerts.