Uni exams, pressures at work or simply the daily grind stressing you out? We’ve compiled our top five places in Footscray to catch some solace and refresh the mind.
#1 Footscray Park
On the northern side of Footscray, on the slopes that fall away from Ballarat Road towards the Maribyrnong River, sits the glorious and underused Footscray Park. Housing botanical gardens and a mini lake equipped with ducks and lily pads, it’s the perfect setting to feed your soul some of that nature stuff.
Heritage Victoria has recognised the park as the state’s largest and most intact Edwardian-era park. At 15 hectares the park is big enough to provide a decent lunch time stroll to cleanse your mind and rinse your lungs. Look up and notice the trees scattered through the park, many of the figs, cypress, palms, oaks and elms in the park are rare species.
On race days at Flemington Racecourse, perch yourself on ‘Scotchmans Hill’ at the eastern end for a free seat to the races.
#2 Footscray Wharf
Take a seat on a surprisingly comfortable recycled mooring bollard and watch our country’s largest freight distribution centre in action from across the Maribyrnong River.
Located on Maribyrnong Street and a spit away from the uber cool Lonely Planet building, Footscray wharf was recently redeveloped into a pleasant riverside mooring facility which includes a viewing platform of the Port of Melbourne.
From the wharf you can observe huge freight ships glide silently into dock while the majestic stevedore cranes load and unload their precious cargo of TVs, ugg boots and steering wheel covers.
While George Lucas has gone on record to debunk the myth that the Star Wars AT-AT war machines were not inspired by stevedore cranes, it’s fun to imagine Chewbacca popping his head out the top of one and emitting his grizzly war cry.
When you’re ready to stretch your legs, head west along the old rail line for a scenic route that takes in the area’s industrial past.
#3 Footscray Library
Have you been into a public library lately? Far from the shooshing librarian days of yesteryear, today’s libraries are fully equipped multimedia resources and couched up places of relaxation.
Great on a wintry day, take your laptop to the warm and cosy Footscray Library, hook up to the free wifi, and settle your backside in one of many seating options. If you have small kiddies there’s a colourful and comfy corner where you can settle in with some picture books and have a break from Peppa Owl Ballerina the Tank Engine, or whatever it’s called.
While you are allowed to talk in the library, the beauty is that most people have an inherent respect for the space as a place of literature and learning, so it’s usually pretty quiet. One library rule remains – you can’t eat inside (no one wants crumbs in the beanbag), but you can take your lunch and coffee into the courtyard.
#4 Whitten Oval
North of West Footscray station, scramble up the grassy hill from Cross Street and sit yourself in front of the training ground of some of the country’s most elite sportsman. The great expanse of green is a welcome break from the urban landscape. Sit and imagine the glory days of yore when it used to be home to the Footscray Bulldogs, and where post-war legend Charlie Sutton trained his team, including one Teddy Whitten, to take the 1954 premiership flag.
Once you’re done reminiscing about local footy history, walk around to the Pound Café near the grandstand, grab a coffee and check out the memorabilia museum. For a proper distraction from your troubles head down there when the senior Bulldogs team are in training.
#5 Heavenly Queen Temple
You don’t need to be a Buddhist to enjoy the other-worldliness of the Heavenly Queen Temple. Sitting on Joseph Road, between the train tracks and the Maribyrnong River, this Chinese temple provides a spiritual oasis among Footscray’s excavators and temporary fences.
As you enter the property you will be welcomed with the heady fragrance of incense wafting across the forecourt. This is not a place for rushing. Unwind yourself first by taking a seat on a bench in the forecourt, taking in the sweet view of the river and city skyline, and grandeur of the place.
Make sure you walk around the temple to appreciate the intricate stone carvings and etchings on the pillars, statues and walls. The temple still has six years to completion so expect some building material on the peripheral (and lots of RRL workers in fluoro shirts working on the nearby rail bridge).
Take your shoes off before you enter the cool, high-ceilinged temple. Little plastic stools are provided for your contemplation or spiritual worship.
For an enriched visit to the temple, drop a donation into the big metal money box, sign your name in the guest book, record a prayer (or wish), and seal the deal by striking the metal singing bowl with the wooden mallet.
Once it is completed in 2019, Heavenly Queen, modelled on Beijing’s Forbidden City, will become the biggest Buddhist temple in the country.
Did we miss one? Where in Footscray do you go to revive your soul? Let us know in the comments below!