New active spaces a win for northern suburbs

It’s a sunny afternoon in the northern suburbs and locals are out enjoying the new community spaces around Moreland and Coburg stations.

Cyclists glide past on the new and improved bike path, families with young children climb, swing and run through the playgrounds, enthusiastic teens play basketball on the new half courts and senior citizens sun themselves on the benches.

The Victorian Government’s Level Crossing Removal Project, which removed four level crossings between Bell Street in Coburg and Moreland Road in Brunswick and elevated the rail line, has made way for some very cool public recreational spaces in the densely populated suburbs.

On top of reducing congestion and improving safety, the project has created 2.5km of parkland – a green, open area almost twice the size of the MCG – for locals to come together, exercise and enjoy. Designed to cater for all ages and abilities, there are brand new playgrounds at both stations, linked by an array of exciting new active spaces.

Coburg Station Reserve is right next to Coburg Station and close to the local shopping strip. It has a half basketball court, bocce pitch and a playground featuring a merry-go-round, climbing fort with slide and pyramid climbing net. There is also a picnic table, tall shade trees and lawn providing space to run around and play games.

Josh Nathan, 39, and his 10-year-old daughter Ava are playing Kubb, also known as Viking Chess. They live across the road from the park and come here often to enjoy the range of facilities and activities, including basketball, table tennis and exercise equipment. The space was especially important to them when COVID-19 restrictions meant they couldn’t go far afield. 

“It felt like there was an array of things to focus on at the park and distract you from being at home,” says Josh.

He thinks the space is a great addition to the area and brings people together. 

“People don’t have to go out of their way anymore to neighbouring suburbs,” he said. “Being along the train line, it’s a central place for the community and makes it easier for everyone to get out for a walk and gather together.”

It’s a short 1.5km walk, scoot or ride between Coburg and Moreland stations along the upgraded Upfield Bike Path, which has separate pedestrian and cycling paths on either side of the open space. There are also bicycle repair stations along the bike path near Carron Street, which include retractable tools and air pumps.

Near the corner of Audley and Marks streets, dog owners can sit and relax in the fenced and gated dog park while furry friends explore the many rocks and logs. 

Fifteen-year-old Leia lives nearby and enjoys bringing her new puppy here to exercise and socialise with other dogs.

At Moreland Station, the new nature-based playground features a climbing net, fort with slide, tyre swing, spring pads and wobbly balance bridge. It also has a picnic table and barbecue facilities amid extensive planting and landscaped gardens.

Lachlan McKimmie, 42, often rides or walks here from O’Hea Street with his four-year-old twin boys. 

“It’s good that it’s easily accessible with the bike path next to it, and close to the shops if we need to grab a few things,” he says.

While there were lots of parks near where they used to live on the eastern side of Sydney Road, Lachlan says there’s not so much on the western side. “So this is a good little spot, this one,” he says.

Ahmet Bulut, 74, likes to visit the park at Moreland Station after going to the Sydney Road shops. He enjoys sitting in the sun watching the activity around him and says it gives him a sense of community. 

“Everyone likes space and to feel part of something,” he says.