Exploring Melbourne’s bike paths

With the recent birth of my wonderful, adorable daughter – our first child – there hasn’t been much time or opportunity for adventurous pursuits outside the city.

While neighbourhood pram walks have replaced hikes through the bush, I’ve discovered the planning for those short walks can be just as intense as organising a multi-day walk. Do we have spare nappies, changes of clothes, wipes? Does our route pass shops, toilets, parks? Are there shortcuts to get home in case of emergencies? What’s the weather going to do?

Anyway, every now and then my wonderful wife gives me a day off from parenting duty to indulge in some outdoorsy stuff with friends. I’ve been using that time to explore Melbourne’s extensive network of bike paths. And I’ve been wonderfully surprised with what I’ve found.

Long trails that twist and turn, up and down through bush-lined creeks and watercourses, snake through parks and past sports ovals and change from concrete to gravel to single track. The paths are long and can be linked up to create long circuit rides that take you to far flung parts of the city you may never normally see.

Below is a quick video of a big ride a friend and I did recently. Headed out on the Scotchman’s Creek trail to Jells Park and Eastlink, along the Dandenong Creek trail, out to Paterson Lakes, then back via Beach Road – 83km on mountain bikes. Good times.


Where we went.

Big ride

Wilsons Promontory Lighthouse video

About this time last year I went for a walk with a friend to stay at the Wilsons Promontory lighthouse keeper cottages. I wrote about it here.


It was one of the nicest walks I’ve done. The cottages are an amazing place to stay. I’ve finally gotten around to sorting out a video I made walking around the cottages.



A Cyclist’s Lament

A very First World complaint today. Maybe even Seinfeld-esque.

What’s the deal with slow riders you’ve overtaken who creep up to the front of a group of cyclists stopped at a stop light and then need to be overtaken all over again when the light turns green?

I don’t get it.

I’m all for people riding bikes to work. The more the better. But surely there’s got to be some etiquette. I’m not approaching this in a “I’m a faster rider, I’m better, get out of my way” manner. If I’ve been passed and I catch up to my overtakers at some lights, I line up behind them. They’re faster, so let them go ahead.

I look at it from a safety perspective. Overtaking someone can involve risks – you have to swing out of the bike lane into the traffic lane; you have to look behind to see if any cars are coming up behind (and in the process take your eyes off what’s happening in front of you); if there are cars coming, judge their speed to check you’ve got time to overtake; maintain your patience to ensure you don’t make a stupid decision. So if you’ve already done all this overtaking a slower rider, it’s a pain to have to do it all over again after they’ve wriggled their way ahead of you while you’re stopped at red lights.

Sigh. Anyway, as I said, First World problem. But one that irks me as I see it as yet another example of  people failing to consider others and the increasing selfishness of society. Maybe I’m just getting old …

A Cyclist’s Lament

Bike riders ignoring red lights – I’ve whinged about this before. How can bike riders expect car drivers to respect our right to be on the road if they see cyclists ignoring red lights? Or breaking any road rule for that matter.

The red light running is annoying me so much now that I’ve taken to shouting out at cyclists who ride through them – puffing permitting. I’m getting grumpier in my old age.

How hard is it to stop at a red light? Will your day really be ruined by stopping for a minute or so? Is getting a head start or pedalling through really worth risking your life for? I just don’t understand the mentality.

It’s not hard. Look, here are some riders doing the right thing below.

Riders stopped at a traffic light on St Kilda Rd

Riders stopped at a traffic light on St Kilda Rd

I ride 13km to work every day into the city in Melbourne along St Kilda Rd – the main thoroughfare for riders heading into the CBD from the south with a dedicated lane – and am amazed by the red light runners. St Kilda Rd is also extremely busy with traffic.

The other day I was stopped at a red light at a pedestrian crossing and a woman on a road bike went racing past. The pedestrians had passed and the crossing was clear but it was still a red light. She obviously thought road rules didn’t apply to her.

I shouted after her “red light rider!” About a hundred metres further up the road she had to stop at another red light at an intersection. So she certainly didn’t save herself any time by not stopping at the pedestrian crossing. When I stopped beside her I turned and said “you know you went through a red light back there”. And her response was “it’s a great conversation starter”. I was dumbfounded. No “yeah I didn’t see it in time”, or “oops, thanks for letting me know”. She saw it was a red light and wilfully decided she was going to ride through it. Where’s a traffic cop when you need them?

Unfortunately I wasn’t quick witted enough to say something like “yeah, pretty stupid way to start a conversation”, or “yeah, pretty good way to get yourself hit by a car”, or “yeah, thanks for giving bike riders a bad reputation by breaking the road rules”. I just shook my head, looked at the road ahead and then pedalled on when the lights turned green.


A day walk on Paul Range

This is a short day walk I did a couple of months ago. I came across its description on the where2walk website. Its main attraction for me was that it was in the Yarra Valley, only about an hour drive from home in Melbourne and littered with wineries to visit on the way home.

The walk was okay. Nice views of the valley. It was all on fire trails and dirt roads which isn’t really much fun because you can’t really feel like you’re in the bush when you’re walking along a road. Being passed by some motorbike riders and 4 wheel drives doesn’t help. But at least I was out of the city and amongst some trees. It wasn’t a great walk but the exercise was nice.

And of course stopping at a couple of cellar doors on the way home. The first one was Yarrawood. They have a nice cafe there and the best Devonshire tea I’ve ever had. Huge scones and very generous with the jam and cream.

Pure deliciousness

Pure indulgent deliciousness

I also tried Long Gully Estate. A great little cellar door hidden up a small valley up a narrow dirt road.

Wombat State Forest MTB ride – video

A few weeks ago, before the weather in Melbourne turned cold, grey and rainy, I went for a ride on the mountain bike trails in Wombat State Forest.

The last time I rode out here was a couple of years ago when I did the Wombat 50 MTB race (I wasn’t racing. Just happy to finish) so I’d forgotten what to expect.

What I got was 19km of fast and flowing single track that weaved its way through the forest. There was lots of opportunity for speed down gentle descents while the ascents weren’t too long or taxing.

Great fun.

And as a bonus, Woodend, a nice town off the highway is just a 10 minute drive away. So after a few hours of pedalling the trails, there was time for a reward treat of coffee and cake at one of Woodend’s cafes.

It’s better to watch the video it in HD – less blurry. Not the most exciting edit but still feeling my way through and exploring the GoPro editing software.

Mountain biking at the Buxton MTB complex

About an hour-and-a-half drive east of Melbourne, past the turn off to Marysville, is the Buxton mountain bike complex.

It’s a seven-and-a-bit kilometre loop of single track of up and down and twisting and turning through scrubby forest and tree ferns.

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And it’s great fun.

There are also linking side tracks to explore when going around a second and third time.

In the wet it’s a bit slippy and, being the fraidy cat I am about falling off, I take it a bit slow. But in the dry it’s a blast. Especially the twisting downhill sections and the track’s sloping berms.