Tag Archives: Melbourne

Fernshaw to Dom Dom Saddle return walk

For a great day walk with ups and downs to stretch the legs, about an hour out of Melbourne, the walk from Fernshaw to Dom Dom Saddle and back in the Yarra Ranges is well worth a look.

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Starting at the Fernshaw picnic ground beside the Watts River just outside Healesville on the way to Marysville, the track is well trodden and easy to follow. Although in some places large trees have come down across it after what must have been a massive blow so there’s a bit of scrambling required to get over them and through tangles of smashed limbs and branches.

The first part of the walk is pretty flat and winds through tree ferns and tall, straight mountain ash. You can hear the river somewhere amongst the trees. You then climb up and down a couple of steep, forested ridges to reach Dom Dom Saddle, another nice picnic area on the way to Marysville.

At about 20km long, the walk is a decent one for some huffing and puffing exercise and time out among the trees.

And we made it back to the car in time to stop off at Tarra Warra winery for some wine tasting on the way home. That’s one of the best bits about walking in the Yarra Ranges, the cellar doors to visit in the Yarra Valley on the way home.

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

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.

Sigh.

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.

Salomon Series, Anglesea

Last weekend I did the final Salomon Series trail run for 2014.

It was at Anglesea, a seaside town on the way to Victoria’s famous Great Ocean Road, about an hour and a half drive from Melbourne.

Again, I was doing the long course, which this time was 23km – a couple more than last month’s long course of 21km at Olinda in the Dandenongs.

And what a spectacular day it was for a run.

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The morning was cool with a chill breeze but the sun was shining and the sky was clear and blue.

It didn’t take long to warm up when the race started.

The first six or seven kilometres were along the firm compacted sand of the beach under tall cliffs topped with bush that we’d be running through on the way back to the finish.

The ocean was calm and the gentle breaking of the waves on the beach was a steady, hypnotic soundtrack that was a nice distraction from my huffing and puffing as I jogged along.

The course went over a set of rocks that slowed things down a bit as some runners were a bit unsure of the uneven, sharp surface, and then up a headland that took us into coastal scrub and along twisting, turning single trail.

I’m not ashamed to say but the first big climb was a tough one and I fast-walked much of it.

The course then took runners up and down through the bush until the final few kilometres had us running along the top of the cliffs we’d run under at the start.

The view out over the ocean was spectacular. The water was a deep blue and completely calm and flat. Anglesea’s houses in the distance were a magnet to the finish.

Finished!

Finished!

I crossed the line in two hours, 15 minutes and 19 seconds – faster than my time in the Olinda run, which was a couple of kilometres shorter, but hillier. I finished around the middle of my category.

Anyway, now that the Salomon Series is over, I’m kind of left wondering what to do next. I’ve got all this fitness now and need to do something with it.

A friend is suggesting the Melbourne Marathon in a few weeks. Hmmmm, maybe.

A walk in the Bunyip State Park

I’ve been looking for new places to walk around Melbourne and while scrolling around Google maps came across a big patch of green called Bunyip State Park.

A quick Google and I found the Parks Victoria notes for the park and it looked like a place worth checking out.

For those unfamiliar with what a bunyip is, a mythical Aboriginal creature, here’s what the Parks Victoria notes say:

The legend of the bunyip

Beware of the Bunyip, a dark furry animal with a round face, small ears and fiery eyes that glow in the dark!

 According to the Aboriginal people, the Bunyip or “Buneep” (as spelt on early maps which show the river, first cattle run and township) is a spirit that punishes bad people.

Local Aboriginal people believed the Bunyip lived in the swamps of the Bunyip River, and therefore avoided the area. Many early settlers, believing this story, never pitched their tents near a ‘Bunyip hole’. People were also careful not to make ripples when collecting water. This upset the Bunyip.

The park is about 65km out of Melbourne and about an hour drive from the city through outer suburbs, small towns, farmland and then forested bush.

We didn’t pick the best day for a walk unfortunately. It was cold, drizzly and the sky just low grey cloud. But it was possibly for the best as the track notes said the area is used by trail bike riders and as we didn’t see or hear any, maybe the weather had kept them away.

It looks like one of the main features of the park is a collection of large, smooth rocks called the Four Brothers Rocks. Apparently there’s a nice view from them but when we got there the cloud was still low and thick and we saw nothing but grey.

It would have been a nice spot for lunch but it was cold and the ground and rocks were wet and it was drizzling so we decided to carry on walking.

Anyway, we had a nice day wandering along foot tracks and dirt roads and I’m keen to go back and explore more. Plus the many tea houses with coffee and cake in the Dandenongs on the way home are another attraction and temptation.