Multiterraced Birrarung Marr is a welcome addition to Melbourne’s patchwork of parks and gardens, featuring grassy knolls, river promenades, thoughtful planting of indigenous flora, and great viewpoints of the city and the river. There's also a scenic route to the MCG via the ‘talking’ William Barak Bridge – listen out for songs, words and sounds representing Melbourne’s cultural diversity as you walk.
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.
Within an old railway building, ArtPlay hosts creative workshops for babies, toddlers and preteens, getting them sewing, singing, painting and puppeteering; there's also a very cool playground out the back.
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.
Other highlights are the 10m-high, three-legged mosaic Angel (1988), 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.