Lonely Planet review
The three-terraced Birrarung Marr is a welcome addition to Melbourne’s patchwork of parks and gardens, featuring grassy knolls, river promenades, a thoughtful planting of indigenous flora and great viewpoints of the city and the river. There's also a scenic route to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) via the ‘talking’ William Barak Bridge – listen out for songs, words and sounds representing Melbourne’s cultural diversity as you walk.
The sculptural Federation Bells perch on the park’s upper level and ring out daily like a robotic orchestra, with 39 brass bells of various sizes and shapes, all with impressive acoustics, and specially commissioned contemporary compositions.
As a sign of respect to the Wurundjeri people, the traditional owners of the area (in their language, 'Birrarung Marr' means 'river of mists'), the park features a snaking eel path with Indigenous Australian art, a shield-and-spear sculpture and an audio installation outside ArtPlay that tells the story of contemporary Wurundjeri people.
Other highlights are the 10m-high, three-legged mosaic Angel , a vivid abstract sculpture by Deborah Halpern; Speakers Corner , featuring original mounds used as soapboxes in the early 20th century; and a dried riverbed lined with ghost gums and palms, giving it a tranquil billlabong feel.
Within an old railway building, ArtPlay hosts creative workshops for two- to 13-year-olds, getting them sewing, singing, painting and puppeteering; it features a very cool playground out back.