Bellbird Dell

Bellbird Dell steps
Bellbird Dell steps

Bellbird Dell is a 1.4 km linear park with an area of 17.5 hectares with some areas of remnant bush, walking trails, wetlands and ornamental lakes. The park has two children’s playgrounds, many walking trails/tracks and boardwalks over the wetlands sectors. Open grassed areas with picnic tables provide places for quiet enjoyment. The Dell can be accessed from Terrara Road (via Canterbury Road or Burwood Highway). The main access point is from George road.

PRIOR to the first European settlers, Bellbird Dell’s landscape was thickly timbered bushland with Kooris of the Wurundjeri tribe hunting and camping in the creeks and gullies. The creek flowed from north of the Dell, through it, and on to join the Dandenong Creek. The first settlers were woodcutters and charcoal burners who came in the 1850s before land sales. Selectors who followed marked out, leased and improved allotments to enable them to gain freehold titles from the Crown. Their early wattle-and-daub huts were later replaced by substantial timber cottages.

Apart from some general farming, orchards dominated the landscape until the 1950s and ’60s when the demand for new housing areas led to subdivisions. In 1966, Nunawading Council began acquiring property with the purchase of a 7.26 hectare block from local orchardist Cecil Rhodes. This block forms the bulk of Bellbird Dell North, extending from its Philip Street frontage to the then existing freeway reservation.

After heavy rains in 1972, when the increased run-off from the subdivisions caused flooding of Morack Road and the Burwood Highway, the creek was barrelled and the natural watercourse disappeared but the site and its adjoining land was reserved as public open space. A further 14 titles were progressively acquired between 1972 and 1986 and the freeway section was leased to join the North and South areas. The first improvement works were in 1975 when a small section near Philip Street was cleared of blackberries and gorse. It was re-grassed, play equipment installed and the walking tracks, second playground, seats and picnic areas followed. The 1980s saw extensive tree planting and landscaping.

Permanent water features were constructed and boardwalks built along the central gully following the course of the original creek. In times of normal rainfall this gully becomes a natural wetlands and planting has been done to establish habitat suitable for wildlife. Bellbird Dell’s flora species are far too many to list but can be viewed on the website. The many varieties of birds (28 species) and frogs can be seen and heard and in spring wildflowers bloom. Victoria’s floral emblem the Pink Heath (Epacris impressa) grows ‘wild’ within the remnant areas.

For walkers the Dell offers short or long strolls but dogs must be on a leash. Main pathways are shared with cyclists. Bellbird Dell is always seeking volunteers to assist in its upkeep and maintenance. Become a member of their team ‘Friends of the Dell’ and help in weed removal, clearing rubbish, planting indigenous plants, guiding walks and other such activities. ♦

To find out more email bellbirddell@yahoo.com.au