Self-guided walk

909-911 Riversdale Road, Tram 70, stop 54. 

South Surrey Park is a relatively small urban park with a number of gems from its European past. Today it is part of the biodiversity corridor linking Back Creek to the Yarra River.

This walk begins from behind the shops on the corner of Riversdale Road and Verdun Street. It follows the path to the playground and then the circuit on the north side of the little bridge. Turn right when you cross the low bridge. 

South Surrey Park

South Surrey Park runs along both sides of Back Creek from where the creek crosses Union Rd near Rose Ave to where it crosses Riversdale Rd just west of Through Road. The key stakeholders of the park are City of Boroondara, Melbourne Water and Friends of South Surrey Park. Over the past 25 years these organisations have revegetated and maintained this biodiversity corridor.  Improving the park through planting indigenous species, weeding, removing litter and upgrading the creek channel has turned this area into an urban bushland enjoyed by people of all ages.

The park management focus has been the riparian vegetation along Back Creek. This is why the side of the path away from the creek will often have introduced plants such as oaks while the creek side has plants that are similar to what might have been here prior to European settlement.

Signage in the park gives insights into some of the flora and fauna.


Sites of Interest 

1. Heading North from Behind the Riversdale Road Shops.

Notice the deciduous trees on the right of the path and the native plants on the left. This has been a management strategy to minimise the risk of fire over summer.


2. Big Bridge

Opening of Bridge 1936

In earlier times, removal of all native vegetation was favoured as Surrey Hills became settled. This image shows celebrations for the opening of the big bridge.

Bridge Today
  • Can you see the poplars that were planted to celebrate the opening of this bridge? Four were planted. How many are still standing today?
  • What other differences can you identify from the 1930s to today?

3. Playground: Canopy Trees

The vegetation in the park includes upper story trees to attract larger birds e.g. Kookaburras, Tawny Frogmouths and possums. 

Angophora Beside Playground.

This Angophora has been listed as a significant tree with the City of Boroondara.

The Angophora beside the playground looks like a gum but is not. Angophora’s bark has a beautiful pink colour. Unlike Eucalypts, Angophora flowers develop with small petals and have no flower bud cap. The fruit cup is ribbed. For further differences between Eucalypts and Angophoras use this link. 

The most common eucalypts in the park are yellow box. This species of Eucalyptus is excellent for honey production.
Yellow Box (Eucalyptus melliodora) beside path heading down to creek. (The saplings are wattles)

4. Little Bridge: Middle Story Plants

Bursaria spinosa or sweet bursaria, acacia melanoxylon or blackwood wattle and melaleuca ericifolia or swamp paperbark are examples of middle storey trees which have been planted below the taller trees. These small trees and other shrubs are important habitat for the smaller birds and the small bats that live in the park, so they can source their food away from bigger birds that can harass them. 

Sweet Bursaria Located on the North Side of the Little Bridge

This sweet bursaria is one of oldest trees in the park and it is showing its age. It might not look beautiful, but it is a reminder of what used to live here.

Juvenile Acacia. 
 Can you locate any other wattles in the park?

Little Bridge: Grasses and Herbs 

These lower storey plants can be seen throughout the park. Common grasses include microlaenas and poas. Many of the herb plants have interesting flowers. In October, the flower of the chocolate lily does smell like chocolate.  

Chocolate Lily

If you notice young grasses that look like they have been planted in circles they are most probably Microlaenas that have germinated from seed collected in the park.

Lomandra longifolia
These plants are very robust and are common in the park. There are a few varieties.

These rushes prefer moist soils.
Birds and insects feed on nectar and pollinate these bell-shaped flowers.


Little Bridge: Weeds

The wetland area near the little bridge used to be free flowing but sediment, washed down the creek from roads and building sites, has been deposited here blocking the free flow of Back Creek. Weeds including buttercup (Ranunculus) have infiltrated this area where once microlaenas and other native grasses where planted. 

 Weeds growing in sediment from upstream which has been recently deposited 


5. Square Table     

Look at the sign near the square table. Have you seen any of these plants in the park today?

Sit on the seat in memory of Frank Sharp. Frank grew up in this area and was a member of the Friends of South Surrey Park. His memories of the indigenous plants that used to grow in the park have influenced the types of plants that have been planted by the Friends Group.
From the seat and look towards the creek.
  • What can you see?
  • What can you hear?
It is hard to comprehend that there are houses all around.

Frank Sharp Seat
Remnant Quince Tree

The park was once farmland. In the cleared lawn is an old quince tree. A reminder of earlier times.
  • Have you ever had quince jelly/jam? It used to be very popular. 

6. Union Road and Gabion Wall

At the Union Road entrance is signage describing the other interesting facts relating to the history of South Surrey Park.

Gabion Wall

Controlling water and soil movement in the park is important. This includes controlling the movement of rainwater so that it does not erode away the soil and cause rockfall. The gabion wall aims to decrease the erosion from the steep slope up to Union Road. 

Gabion Wall

In Back Creek there are big rocks to improve the water flow. Melbourne Water changed the creek bed by adding these rocks to decrease the erosion along the bank and also to allow the creek to tumble, increasing the amount of oxygen in the water, so a broader range of organisms might live in the creek. However, the creek water is still regarded as having poor quality. Not many organisms live in it here but blood worms (yes, they look red when magnified) are very common as they can live in poor quality water. 

Rocky Stream Bed near Gabion Wall.
  • Where has this water come from?
  • Would you like to drink it? Why/why not?
  • What could be done to improve the water quality in this pond?


7. Anderson Street Back to Little Bridge 

A number of deciduous trees, many English, grow here. However, revegetating with native plants aims to enable more native animals to call the park home. 

Deciduous Trees below Anderson Street

Looking South from Anderson Street

There are three years of recent plantings along here. Can you spot where each planting occurred?

Herbaceous Plants in the Anderson St Planting

Everlasting Daisy


Making Changes

The key stakeholders have been working together to improve the park with an aim of creating “wild spaces” in an urban environment. 

Picture taken 2004. Impenetrable Weeds

 Lots of Weeping Willows and No Formal Path. 
Visiting the park in 2004 was a very different experience.

Stream Bed and Reparian Vegetation 2019

Friends of South Surrey Park

The Friends of South Surrey Park is a very active Friends group.

Regular Working Bees: 10.00am-12.00pm

    Tuesday morning: weeding, some planting, litter collection. Meet at shed behind Scout Hall.
          Last Sunday of the month April to November: planting in cooler months, mulching in warmer months. 
          Meet at shed behind Scout Hall. 
         Please let us know if you are planning on attending your first working bee to undertake a brief induction.
    Other Friends Activities
    ·       Planet Ark National Tree Planting Day, July 28th, followed by BBQ
    ·       Autumn Fungi Foray – Expert led fungi identification foray in the park
    ·       Visits to other revegetation sites and gardens 

    Sunday Working Bee

    We trust you have enjoyed this visit to the park. Please give us your feedback.
    If you see any interesting animals in the park, we would love to hear about it. 
    Did you notice any possum boxes on your wander?

    ·       Information shelter in the park
    ·       Contact:

    Note: There are no snakes in the park due to Back Creek being barrelled i.e. put in a pipe as at Lyndon Park. We are just fortunate that residents lobbied to not have this section of Back Creek barrelled. 

    Sunday Working Bee

    Are you interested in writing a review of your park experience on Trip Advisor?



    Popular posts from this blog

    FSSP 2024 Working Bee Program