You’ve come a long way from that first wobbly training-wheel ride down a neighbourhood street–parents in tow, knees covered in plasters. Now, you’re in the bustling city of Melbourne (parents still possibly in tow) and you want to go exploring, or get some exercise? Enter: the bicycle. Why cycle?
It’s good, low-injury cardiovascular exercise. It’s a great way to see the city (for free). And it’s good for the planet! Melbourne is one of Australia’s most bicycle-friendly cities, so we had a hard time choosing our top 5 cycle routes. Familiarise yourselves with the rules of the bike roads and get riding:
1. Maribyrnong River Trail: 28km
Stretching from Southbank to Brimbank Park, this relatively easy route meanders past historic ships, towering temples and peaceful wetlands. Race the Black Swans and Pink-eared Ducks through Footscray, survey the magnificent skyline from the Lily St lookout and crawl through cliffs towards a picturesque picnic spot. The Cycle Saloon is appropriately situated on the Pipemakers Park stretch, where you can revamp and fix up any ailments at the shared community workshop.
2. Capital City Trail: 29km
A seriously worthwhile way to discover some of Melbourne’s natural, culinary, sporting and cultural scenes. Wind through and around the heart of the city in one big adventurous loop, starting and ending in Southbank. Spot a Kookaburra from beside the Royal Botanic Gardens, hear the cheers from next to the MCG, and revel in the majestic architecture of Como House. Sculpture parks, boathouses, museums and zoos line the Capital City Trail, with countless opportunities to stop and further explore the sights, smells and sounds of the bustling city.
3. Bayside Trail: 18km
Stretching all the way from Brighton to Williamstown (with an extra 27km from Carrum to Brighton for those whose thighs are a bit stronger), this trail frames the bay with a flat and easy ride filled with ocean views and seagulls in the path. Grab a coffee in St Kilda before you continue past craft markets, cake shops, F1 race tracks and harbours, to the wide and serene Yarra River. Pedal past the Spotwood Scienceworks and pause to board the majestic HMAS Castlemaine, before crossing the road in Williamstown for a scoop of vegemite toast ice cream from The Ice Cream Shoppe.
4. Main Yarra Trail: 33km
Follow the Yarra from Templestowe to Southbank for a good 5 hours between red gums, billabongs, miniature railways, buildings and street lamps. Enjoy a beautiful variety of bush and city landscapes – from the calls of the wild, to the hooting and buzzing of Melbourne’s outskirts. If you look carefully at the Yarra suspension bridge near Templestowe, you might even spot a platypus!
5. Federation Trail: 23km
From Spotswood to Werribee, the Federation Trail is a favourite of the West. The path used to be a maintenance track for Melbourne’s first outfall sewer, which is now over a century old. Wind through picturesque scenes of outer suburbia, including a tunnel (tunnels are cool), an RAAF Williams base, an open-range zoo and a creek or two. Watch out for snakes!
If Attenborough can do it, so can we. Get yourself a snazzy polka-dot helmet and get riding.