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Together with Parks Victoria, Park Walk volunteers and the Parks Victoria Community engagement team, BSRV held four Accessible Sensory Park walks.
We wanted to explore what makes Park Walks accessible and which locations lend themselves to great sensory experiences. We checked out the trails in advance, and then promoted events that would be led by Park Walk volunteers who had been trained in Vision loss awareness. A total of twenty-three BSRV members who are blind or have low vision joined the walks held at Yarra Bend Park, Werribee Gardens, Coolart Wetlands and Plenty Gorge.
We started our Yarra Bend Park walk on Wurundjeri Country, at the Studley Park Boathouse; meandering through a beautiful nature trail alongside the Yarra then crossing the Kanes Bridge and past the Deep Rock swimming hole. We looped back after a steep climb, to walk alongside the public golf course.
Annette, BSRV participant shares her thoughts:
"The warm, sunny weather combined with a gentle intermittent breeze, heightened the aroma from the eucalyptus trees. The sounds of the birds chirping and the feeling of the gentle breeze on the skin was so invigorating. The Parks Victoria volunteers had an impressive amount of knowledge and enthusiasm about the location and they described the surrounding scenery, as well as any obstacles on the path."
Read more of Annette Leishman blog where she shares further impressions of the walk here.
Our visit to Coolart Homestead and wetlands on the Mornington Peninsula, on Bunurong country, was on the remains of one of the oldest grazing properties with a homestead, adjacent wetlands and coastal woodlands. The weather was kind, allowing our group to thoroughly enjoy some sunshine and a variety of different walking tracks. A highlight was visiting the Minsmere Hide which is a 2 level wooden building with viewing platforms out over the large lake. Over 125 species of birds visit Coolart wetlands from swamp hens, white ibis, hoary-headed grebe and cormorants, to home grown kookaburras and magpies. Feeling the atmosphere of a birdwatcher, our group listened to descriptions of the local birdlife and wetlands.
We were greeted with glorious sunshine for our walk around the Werribee Gardens, on Bunurong Country. Guided by Park Walk volunteers David and Anne, we were shown many aspects of beautiful vegetation, smells, and sounds as well as some history about the mansion itself. This included feeling the different sizes and shapes of various oak leaves, and cyprus, as well as smelling the lemon scented gums and many other flowers in bloom along the way.
Annette Leishman, a BSRV Ambassador shares here impression of the walk here
Visiting Plenty Gorge Parklands on Wurundjeri country, the day started with an icy breeze and then the sun came out and the breeze dissipated. Jim, a Parks Victoria Park walk volunteer, was our guide for the day, and he was very knowledgeable about the area.
The walk started along a large expanse of grassy open space, stopping at a pond complete with bull rushes and frogs, to listen for some bird calls. There were plenty of kangaroos on the grassy plains.
Jim led us up a steepish grassy embankment to feel the termite tracks in a fallen tree that had been attacked by termites. The texture left by these tiny, tyrannical, tree destroying ants was slightly more interesting than the lava rock. Their cute squiggly, wiggly tunnels under the tree bark would eventually lead to the demise of the tree and reduce it to dust. We learned a lot about the local area and enjoyed each others company.
This summary includes an excerpt from Annette’s blog post about the walk.
Thanks to Parks Victoria for the funding that made these walks possible.