Woodlands Historic Park: Gellibrand Hill Circuit 13km

Woodlands Historic Park is one of Melbourne’s largest parks. Located in Melbourne’s northern suburbia, an hour’s drive from the city centre. Former farming land, it contains several ruins and a renovated historic homestead. And yes, Woodlands Historic Park is also next to Tullamarine (Melbourne) Airport.

The hiking map…

When Good Mrs and I arrived, the parking area was empty except for one car. That changed within minutes. Car after car arrived including the “Green Army”, volunteer earth carers. Popular place.

Plenty of paths to choose from within Woodlands Historic Park:

Signboard for orientation

Ready to walk. Let’s get cracking…

Before the hike

Yes, many tracks but also plenty of Eastern Grey Kangaroos and some wallabies. The below mob of kangaroos bounced away minutes into our hike.

Eastern Grey Kangaroos in Woodlands Historic Park

The hike sometimes felt like a “stroll in the park”. Minimal difference in elevation, with occasional paths mowed through tall grass.

Wide path through the grass

I couldn’t help myself. Woodlands Hill offered an excellent(?) “king of the mountain” picture. Poles up!

Show me your poles

Or “Queen of the outcrop”…

Lady on the hill

We walked in the map’s opposite direction to avoid the “crowds”. That meant Woodlands Homestead soon appeared. A group of buildings where the main dates back to 1843. A fee required to enter the main building (closed anyway), so we explored from the outside.

Woodlands Homestead

Living Legends, the international home of rest for champion horses, is at Woodlands Homestead. Whether any of the below horses are ex-champions, I don’t know. Must assume so.

Retired champion horses?

With Melbourne Airport right ahead, the map took us towards it.

Walking towards the airport

Noisy? Yes, sometimes. When planes were landing which appeared close. The noise took some of the ambiance away.

This fence looked “no-go” from a distance. Turned out to be there to protect endangered bandicoots from dogs, cats, and foxes. Not from humans or hikers.

Gated entry to nature reserve

The nature reserve fence looked somewhat detention like…

Fence to nature reserve

Melbourne city centre soon appeared in the distance. Departing clouds then provided ample opportunity for photography. A pity that I only had an iPhone. Zoomed in pictures through digital rather than optical amplification never look great.

Melbourne city centre – not that far

Woodlands Historic Park on my map and in reality differed. Many tracks and some fences were absent from the map.

Occasional crumbled signage too. We first missed the below sign but soon realised we took the wrong path. So we returned and saw this sign.

Sign to Cumberland Ruins

Cumberland Ruins are the remains of Cumberland Homestead. Not much remained today.

Cumberland Homestead – sign in front, ruins behind (Not Good Mrs)

Former Cumberland Homestead is located in the park’s corner closest to Melbourne Airport. Once a large bluestone house, later burnt down, with much of the bluestone taken elsewhere. Part of chimneys always seem to survive.

Cumberland Homestead ruins

Next to Cumberland Homestead ruins were other remains of stables and yards. Most of it overgrown by tall grass. We had a cuppa there and then continued.

A couple of cute little wallabies stared at us. Not afraid, only curious. Still apart from moving heads.

Wallaby – blends in so well

Gellibrand Hill at 204 meters elevation is the park’s highest point. Given its proximity to Melbourne Airport, of course, a radar tower was present. Plenty more kangaroos there too. Good vantage points.

Radar tower on Gellibrand Hill

On Gellibrand Hill is also the Dundonald Ruins, remains of another homestead. Great lunch spot which we had there. District views provided for free.

Hans The Hiker lunching at Gellibrand Hill

The feature image is me climbing up onto the Dundonald Ruins. The old steps were still there.

Much of the return hike was along the nature reserve’s fence line. Then we passed a square sized plantation. The trees were of similar height but appeared in no obvious formation. Beautiful colours.

The plantation

One trail went right through the plantation, resembling a wide logging track. No notice of current use, if anything, for this planted forest. It did provide a welcome change of scenery from the tall grass and otherwise scattered trees.

Path through plantation

Final kilometre of walking and we arrived back at the car.

Woodlands Historic Park is a great destination for some light walking in the bush. Easy to access, lots of paths to choose from, convenient to town and tranquil when planes stay away. Some history is thrown in through several ruins.

If you’re after stringent or hard hiking, Woodlands Historic Park is not your place. For some hours out and about on a Sunday, it is perfect.

Leave a Reply