Since I arrived in Melbourne I’ve been soaking up the city and have gotten used to my urban lifestyle. While the café-lined streets of Collingwood are charming, this week I decided to check out some of the outdoor activities nearby in Victoria. Conveniently, one of Australia’s National parks is accessible via Melbourne’s Metro rail service. Along with another Drexel student who is attending Collarts, I took the train to Fern Gully to hike in Dandenong Ranges National Park.
Thankfully the weather was ideal for hiking: overcast but warm, with a light breeze. As we soon learned, the thick forest within the park provides a habitat for many species of birds, especially colorful tropical birds I’m not used to seeing in the US. Within the first five minutes of our walk, we spotted wild cockatoos and bright red crimson rosellas.
Crimson rosella perched in a tree
We hiked the Kokoda Memorial Track, a trail consisting of 1,000 steep rocky steps to the top of the ranges- and yes, 1,000 steps is as tiring as it sounds. The trails were bustling with both tourists and locals, and everyone seemed to have just as much difficulty making it up the stairs. In the end, my exhaustion was worth it since we ended up seeing even more animals along the upper trails. After about an hour of hiking, we saw a wallaby! This was probably my most exciting animal sighting to date, and was especially exciting because we saw the marsupial in the wild. It was just off the path, eating leaves when we came upon it, and it even let us take some photos. Later on, when we returned back to the base of the trail, I spotted a kookaburra, another Aussie animal I had wanted to see.
A curious wallaby watches cautiously as we approach it
Even though I love attending university in a major city, whether it’s Melbourne or Philadelphia, I always appreciate the opportunity to spend time in nature. I’ve always enjoyed hiking with friends or family back in the states, so visiting an Australian national park was relaxing and reminded me of home. When I’m stressed out from school or just creatively drained, exercising outdoors never fails to help me calm down and clear my head. Part of the reason I chose to study in Australia was because of the wildlife, and I’m glad I finally got to take advantage of it.