A short ride across the Eastern Freeway from North Balwyn, the Bolin Bolin Billabong is a welcome respite from the air and noise pollution produced by cars and trucks on the main roads that intersect the area.
It is an oxbow lake, formed when the Yarra River gradually changed course over time through erosion. It forms part of the long series of semi-linear parkland that follows the river along is course from its source in the Yarra Ranges down to its mouth at Port Phillip Bay (ending at Birrarung Marr in the city). Consequently, it is home to many species of wildlife, especially birds.
Accessing the billabong is not very easy or obvious. There is a small and poorly-mapped path network that runs around the circumference of the water through bushland that can be reached either through a small entrance just off Bulleen Road itself or via the Bolin Bolin Trail that follows the eastern bank of the Yarra River running between the Koonung Creek Trail in North Balwyn and Banksia Park in Heidelburg.
As you can see in the map above, the map of the area has improved (the old map is still visible in the Cycling layer). Part of my reason for visiting was to GPS trace the paths so that I could add them to OpenStreetMap and fill in the gaps.
To complete the experience, it’s also a good idea to ride or walk further south towards the sporting fields and have a look at some of the public art that has been installed along the way. There is also an information sign with a map showing the location and significant of each artwork.
While the legibility of the paths in the area is quite poor and can take some effort to access, the billabong is well worth a visit.