Six reasons to visit Deer Park
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Six reasons to visit Deer Park

Six Reasons to Visit Deer Park

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Maria de la Plaza and her husband Marco make authentic empanadas at Latin Foods and Wine.

Maria de la Plaza and her husband Marco make authentic empanadas at Latin Foods and Wine.

Photo: Richard Cornish

In the heart of the suburb of Cairnlea, surrounded by large new homes is a solid concrete building that was once the most dangerous workplace in Melbourne. So explosive was the black powder milled at the Albion Explosives Factory that a single spark could blow the workers apart. They wore soft woollen clothing and caps, on their feet were special boots made without metal hob nails. The floor was a mix of felt and bitumen. Next Saturday the Black Powder Mill is open to the public when the Friends of the Black Powder Mill will put on talks describing life in the suburb in the early 20th century and how the mill worked. They will also be firing 19th-century firearms and offering light refreshments.

Parklea Avenue, Cairnlea; April 28, 10.30am-3.30pm; free; contact: foford@tpg.com.au

Kororoit Creek Trail.

Kororoit Creek Trail.

Photo: Richard Cornish
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Tally Ho!

This area used to be called Kororoit Creek but the name was changed in 1889 to reflect this was where the Melbourne Hunt Club chased deer. The 1886 two-storey Hunt Club Hotel, popular with the club members, is now a vibrant community centre and gallery. If you're after good value ceramics or life-drawing classes head to the website for details. Inside until May 4 is the exhibition Forgotten Art: But Not Its People, a collection of traditional Croatian art including tapestries, embroidered decorative table covers, hand-painted wooden cooking implements and mosaics. Come also for the collection of local historical paintings and ask to see the wide balcony on the second floor.

Hunt Club Community and Arts Centre, 775 Ballarat Road; Mon-Fri 8.30am-4.40pm; brimbank.vic.gov.au

Kororoit Creek Trail

Kororoit Creek at Deer Park.

Kororoit Creek at Deer Park.

Photo: Richard Cornish

If you love exploring the fringes of the city where the Western Plains meet our burgeoning metropolis, grab your bike or walking shoes and take the Kororoit Creek Trail. It runs 13 kilometres, following the creek from Jamieson Links at Caroline Springs to the Federation Trail at Brooklyn, connecting along the way with the Sunshine Trail and M80 Trail. It takes in industrial landscapes formed by the explosives industry and the few remaining market gardens on the flood plain. Behind the Deer Park Hotel is the large clear waterhole that was a traditional meeting place for the local Aboriginal people. The trail is occasionally difficult to follow and poorly signed so download a map from bikemap.net to get you going on this interesting ride.

The Serenity

Kororoit Creek at Deer Park

Kororoit Creek at Deer Park

Photo: Richard Cornish

Only a block from the constant buzz of traffic on Ballarat Road is the tranquility of Station Waters Reserve. This is a beautiful spot where the waters of Kororoit Creek run clear, shaded by the river red gums. Wading in the shallows are egrets and herons, in the bottle brush and bursaria wrens and finches flit about. Here the creek has cut an escarpment through the basalt lava flow and despite houses a mere stone's throw away, you get a sense of what the area looked like years ago.

Cnr Millbank Drive and Billingham Road

Black Powder Mill, Deer Park.

Black Powder Mill, Deer Park.

Photo: Richard Cornish

Isabella Williams Memorial Reserve

This wonderful family playground on the edge of the Kororoit Creek escarpment overlooks remnant native grassland out towards Mount Macedon. There are two great slides, swings and "volcano" playground plus barbecues and shelters. It is named after an early pioneer who arrived from Tasmania as a servant and ended up being a farmer and the mother of 12 children. She died tending her cattle on a cold, stormy evening in 1879.

Isabella Williams Memorial Reserve.

Isabella Williams Memorial Reserve.

Photo: Richard Cornish

Opies Road; brimbank.vic.gov.au

Emanadas and fiestas!

Hunt Club Community and Arts Centre.

Hunt Club Community and Arts Centre.

Photo: Richard Cornish

Latin Food and Wines is known for the best and best value for money South American food in Melbourne. This barn of a liquor store, grocer and cafe is packed with imported Chilean and Argentine wine, plus cookware, household goods, tea and maize meal. Tonight (April 21 from 6.30) is party night with a band and $35 a head South American grill with pork ribs, chicken, chorizo, black pudding and beef ribs plus a glass of wine. Come here at other times for the best empanadas in Melbourne and the heart-stopping grilled chorizo served in a soft white roll. Delicioso!

809 Ballarat Road; open daily; (03) 8358 5503; latinfoodsandwines.com.au

Next Week: You Yangs

6reasons@richardcornish.com.au

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Copyright Richard Cornish 2018

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