The southern vehicle entrance to Koomba Park
|Location||Wantirna, Victoria, Australia|
(33 hectares open to public)
|Operated by||Parks Victoria and VicRoads|
|Status||Open all year|
Koomba Park is one of the parks comprising the Dandenong Valley Parklands in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne, Australia. It consists of 92 hectares (230 acres) of which 33 hectares (82 acres) are publicly accessible, and is bounded by Dandenong Creek, Boronia Road, EastLink, Mountain Highway and Burwood Highway in a clockwise direction. It is managed primarily by VicRoads and Parks Victoria. The park opened in December 1981, and its land was previously used for cattle grazing and apple orchards. The surrounding area is still used for grazing. There are three major power transmission lines running through the park: Rowville-Templestowe Single Circuit Southern (1st and 2nd), and Rowville-Ringwood.
In 2019, a study found that Koomba Park was one of the least used areas of the Dandenong Valley Parklands, and also garnered the least satisfaction from park users when compared to Jells Park and Tirhatuan Park.
The park forms part of the wildlife corridor of Dandenong Creek, and contains a large amount of riparian forest, as well as wetlands and swamps and some areas of indigenous revegetation. Common mammals in the park include various species of bats, possums, and sugar gliders. There is a bird hide adjacent to one of the ponds, from which many species of native birds are observable. The park also provides habitat to a variety of indigenous plant species, many of which are threatened or endangered. Koomba Park has several man-made water bodies, and is classified in the Urban Floodway Zone since it is prone to inundation.
Paths and trails
Both Dandenong Creek Trail and EastLink Trail run through the park on the primary north—south concrete path, before the trails split near the southern car park. All trails were originally of fine crushed gravel, but in mid-late 2007, the existing Dandenong Creek Trail was upgraded to 3 metre wide concrete from Boronia Road south to the former toilet block as part of the construction of EastLink. A new path of the same standard was constructed which leads further south to the Mountain Highway intersection with Burwood Highway, which forms part of the EastLink Trail, opened in mid 2008. The primary path exit at the north of the park leads under Boronia Road and continues to run alongside the Dandenong Creek while the southern path (the EastLink Trail) leads further along EastLink to the south and the south west path (the Dandenong Creek Trail) crosses the Dandenong Creek and meets the Burwood Highway in Vermont South, with this link being constructed as a raised boardwalk and opened in 1997.
There are also a series of official fine course gravel criss-crossing paths which are located in the park designed for walkers, although can be used by cyclists. These paths are usually very poorly maintained, with sections bumpy, narrow and even impassable due to overgrowth and fallen trees. A number of unofficial paths have also been created by visitors in the park.
Koommba Park has a large carpark at the southern end, on a service road off Burwood Highway, which is shared with Wantirna Reserve. There is another smaller carpark at the northern end off Boronia Road. A joint picnic shelter and toilet block (which was originally a sports pavilion) existed in the park for some time, but was demolished in mid 2008 due to numerous crime incidents . Electric barbecues were also removed at the same time. Information boards are located at the north and south pedestrian entrances to the park. A drinking fountain is also located at the junction of Dandenong Creek Trail and EastLink Trail.
The adjoining Wantirna Reserve, managed by Knox City Council and located at the southern end of the park, features a sporting oval with an adjacent clubhouse and cricket nets which caters for Australian rules football and cricket. The reserve also contains the Wantirna Tennis Club, as well as a scout hall and playground. All facilities are accessed by dirt roads with parking areas provided. The Victorian Jazz Archive is also located on the left side of the southern entrance to Koomba Park.
The park is known by locals and the police to be a meeting point for drug deals and gay sex, due to its remoteness from residential areas and densely wooded forests, especially at night. There have been several attempts to decrease criminal activity in the park, including regular patrolling. In 2006, the male toilets were permanently closed in a bid to curb gay sex meetings. In late 2008, the entire toilet block/picnic shelter was demolished in a further effort.
- "Koomba Park". Parks Victoria. Archived from the original on 5 June 2008. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
- Lorimer, Graeme S., PhD (28 June 2010). "Site 58. Dandenong Valley Parklands" (PDF). Sites of Biological Significance in Knox. Vol. 2 (2nd ed.). Knox City Council.
- "Dandenong Valley Parklands: Culture and Heritage". Parks Victoria. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
- Vicnames (Map). Victorian State Government Department of Environment, Land, Water and Planning. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
- Morocza, Nora; Henderson-Wilson, Claire; Nath, Aparna Sethu; Patrick, Rebecca (March 2019). Community Use and Appreciation of Dandenong Creek Parklands (PDF). City Health International. Deakin University, Liverpool John Moores University, Port Phillip & Western Port Catchment Management Authority. Lay summary – Conference program.
- "Know Your Creek: Dandenong Creek" (PDF). Melbourne Water. 2009. ISBN 978-1-921603-25-9.
- "Park Notes: Dandenong Valley Parklands" (PDF). Parks Victoria. September 2014. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
- "Park Notes: Koomba Park" (PDF). Parks Victoria. January 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 31 July 2008. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
- "Property Report for 15 Mountain Highway, Wantirna" (PDF). land.vic.gov.au. State Government of Victoria. Archived from the original (PDF) on 20 July 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
- Dandenong Valley Parklands (PDF) (Map). Parks Victoria. August 2013. Archived from the original (PDF) on 5 September 2015. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
- "EastLink Trail" (PDF) (Map). EastLink. Melway Publishing Pty Ltd. 2007. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
- "The Knox Bike Network" (PDF). Knox City Council. Retrieved 21 July 2019.
- "Koomba Park Maintenance Works 5 August – 9 August" (PDF). Parks Victoria. 11 July 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
- Reid, Marnie (31 March 2009). "Loo-dicrous situation". Knox Leader. News Limited. p. 23.
- "Active Sporting Reserves in Wantirna". Knox City Council. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
- Seedy, Kimberley (7 July 2015). "Sex haven in sights". Knox Leader. News Limited. p. 9.
- "Problem park made safer thanks to spruce-up". Knox Leader. News Limited. 3 November 2019. p. 9.
- Anthony Dowsley (9 May 2010). "Dandenong man's body found in Koomba Park, Wantirna". Herald Sun. Retrieved 10 May 2010.
- Fagan, Josh (28 February 2017). "Call for trail safety boost". Knox Leader. News Limited. p. 1.
Six years before, Ferntree Gully man Philip Davies, 50, died on the trail when he fell from an elevated boardwalk at Koomba Park near the creek in Vermont South
- Fagan, Josh (29 January 2016). "Push for shared path and bridge". Whitehorse Leader. News Limited. p. 6.
...a fatality in 2010, when cyclist Philip Davies came off his bike off the elevated boardwalk and landed on a log.