Our tenth walk features Valley Reserve, a favourite place for many local residents. This 5–6 kilometre walk begins at the main entrance to Mount Waverley railway station (southern side). There is plenty of on-street parking available within a few blocks of the station, but do check for restrictions. Public transport users have two options from Burwood Village: either Smart Bus 903 south along Warrigal Road to Holmesglen Station followed by two stops in a Glen Waverley train, or tram 75 to Burwood Heights Shopping Centre, then the Oakleigh bus 733 to Mount Waverley. There are several coffee shops and tasty bakeries in Mount Waverley Village!
From the station, walk east along the rail trail – rumoured to be the home of several foxes – and under Stephensons Road. You will see Holy Family and Avila schools across the tracks. Just after Avila, there is a small bushland reserve that Monash Council keeps in a natural state rather than encouraging visitors. Shortly after this, you will pass Huntingtower School.
The next underpass is beneath Lawrence Road, and you turn right (south) here. As you emerge from the paperbarks above this service road, look across Lawrence Road to see a small, weatherboard house that recently sold for the first time in over 100 years! Continue south along the left-hand side of Lawrence Road; the newer estate on the other side is on the site of the much-loved Syndal Technical School. Soon you will pass a friendly milk bar (the only shop on this walk). Just after the milk bar, pause beside the Scotchmans Creek Path sign.
The path ahead does not look steep (just a nice, downhill stroll for us), but going uphill it is locally known as Heart Attack Hill! In 10 minutes you will reach the Melbourne Water Flood Retarding Basin, which is a haven for water birds. White-faced herons and purple swamp hens – among many others – are often seen. Walk across the bridge to the information board. For an overlook of the reserve, walk behind the Margaret Smith seat and you will see an informal track along the fence line. In a few minutes you rejoin the main path (looking out for bikes – some mirrors are provided). As you pass the spillway, imagine what this area must look like “in flood”. Cross the next bridge, and follow this path past a small playground, crossing the road to enter Valley Reserve beside an information board.
Valley Reserve is a credit to Monash Council and the loyal band of volunteer “friends”. Look out for wildflowers, and listen for frogs. Follow the path, but do not cross the bridge over the creek, keeping beside the creek as you walk westerly. At this point you will see a sign regarding the fencing of revegetation areas; large parts of the reserve are like this, but the fencing is mostly quite “discreet” to maintain the bushy environment – nicely done!
After 10 minutes in the reserve, go through the pedestrian gate straight ahead. Listen for (and hopefully see) local bush birds. A few minutes later, turn right through another pedestrian gate, and soon you will reach the carpark, picnic areas and toilets. There are now several choices what to do next.
You can relax on a seat in the grassed area. The new adventure playground will probably be finished, with its extensive picnic facilities. Beyond the playground, an aboriginal scar tree trunk has been restored, and may now be in place with informative signage.
Study the map of the reserve near the toilets before wandering the tracks, and after you finish return to this central area.
Your author’s favourite loop starts here. Start along the main west path near the toilets at the information sign ‘Bringing back the bush’; take the first path on the left, continuing anticlockwise around the perimeter. Look at the “landing” (with a seat dedicated to a highly respected teacher at Mount Waverley High School). A few minutes later you will cross the bridge not crossed earlier; turn left, and at the second pedestrian gate take the quiet track to your left – designed for pedestrians – through the centre of the reserve, among habitats of birds and micro bats (who roost in tiny tree hollows or even large cracks in tree bark). Turn right at the end of this track.
When you are ready to return to Mount Waverley shopping centre, stay on the main west path (see previous paragraph). After five minutes, you will reach another information board; continue straight ahead, exiting the reserve and walking uphill along aptly named Valley Road. Just before you reach the shops, there is a small public art gallery on your left that is well worth a visit (Wednesday to Sunday afternoons). The station is on the opposite side of the shopping centre.