Sightseeing Melbourne by Pedal
Set your sights east and follow the city's most natural feature - the Yarra River.
Forget the historic trams that trundle across the capital of the State of Victoria ferrying wide-eyed tourists and irritated commuters. Value your personal space and see the hidden sights of Melbourne the local way, by pedal. Armed with a hired pushbike from one of Melbourne’s busy bike shops, set your sights east and follow the city’s most natural feature – the Yarra River.
Measured at approximately 40 kilometres, the Main Yarra Trail starts from the Docklands in Port Melbourne and ends at Templestowe where the trail splits off leading to Eltham or Ringwood. This bike trail set with a difficulty rating of ‘easy’ can be accessed by everyone on surfaces that have a mixture of concrete, bitumen, gravel and boardwalk. Fantastic scenery to be enjoyed on the Main Yarra Trail includes spectacular river views, gorgeous open grassland and the promise of kangaroos in native bush dotted along the trail. However, the Main Yarra Trail has plenty of sightseeing opportunities on offer that you absolutely cannot miss.
Check Parks Victoria for closures and updates of route.
Start your tour at the Etihad Stadium next to the Harbour Esplanade and catch some ‘Aussie rules football’ that will have you thrilled with the intensity of the game. Then, check out the harbour and watch the globe-trotting cruise ships dock into port majestically. With 40 kilometres to cover, head south to cross the Yarra River to its south bank via the Webb Bridge that’s shaped to resemble a Koori Eel trap (Don’t feel scared if something smells fishy...). After admiring the view turn east and follow the Yarra Promenade to enjoy the riverside sights.
Stop for a coffee in continental Southbank as you undertake the European custom of people watching whilst sipping an iced coffee. Don’t be afraid to let their happy go lucky personalities rub off on you. There are plenty of places on the Southbank Promenade including exclusive arts and leisure precincts and you can enjoy the view of busy Flinders Street Station across the Yarra River, spilling out travellers on their way to work. Just be careful not to run them over…
Royal Botanic Gardens
Follow the Capital City Trail, hugging the south side of the Yarra River and you will see the sight of the 1956 Melbourne Olympic Parks across the river. If you are old enough to remember and be fit enough to cycle (well done!), you can cross over Swan Street Bridge from the trail shortly for a visit. Further south on the Capital City Trail, the Royal Botanic Gardens featuring exotic flora from around the world is free for the inquisitive visitor. Just don’t mess with the venus fly traps!
St Kilda and Albert Park Lake
If you want to quit now and head out to enjoy the young vibes of hipster restaurants and cafes, leave the trail and cycle to Albert Park Lake before attempting to circumnavigate the Grand Prix Circuit like Lewis Hamilton to fulfil your thrills. Afterwards, head south to St Kilda and relax with a cocktail or two in the bohemian streets, or the beaches should the weather be warm in the four-seasons-in-a-day weather!
Melbourne Cricket Ground
Alternatively, if you are looking to relax as you take in a local sport, the Melbourne Cricket Ground is your best bet at a short distance from the bike trails. Maybe you’ll catch a ball! Cross the river north on Punt Road Bridge and you should arrive at the Riverside Park where the ground is based. Always support the Australians in the Ashes competition; if not, you’re on your own!
Congratulations! If you are still on the trail the best is yet to come. Crossing the Cremorne Railway Bridge you’ll reach the north side of the Yarra River, follow the Main Yarra Trail alongside the Monash Freeway. The freeway has been built partially over the River Yarra and you get to ride on floating pontoons that give you a surreal experience of cycling over water, feeling like Jesus. If you are feeling saddle sore, try out your climbing skills at the artificial climbing wall next to the freeway support beam.
Yarra Bend Park
Following a lengthy bike trail alongside the Yarra River, you will reach Yarra Bend Park that is the largest area of native bush in Melbourne. Hosting the historic Fairfield Boathouse, you can partake in organised bush-walking and birdwatching tours in this beautiful untouched reserve. Or, if you are still feeling active, canoes and boats can be hired from the Studley Park Boathouse. Chill out with a picnic and watch the spectacular evening flight of the grey-headed flying foxes that can range to 30,000 in number during the summer! Who needs Batman!
Follow the Main Yarra Trail and enjoy the natural beauty in the suburbs of Melbourne until you reach the parklands of Templestowe where the trail forks into separate paths. Here you can celebrate your efforts with a coffee and watch kangaroos and other local wildlife venture out of the bush at dusk. Hopefully, you can ‘hop’ for joy!
If you are undertaking this trail, especially with a family, remember to follow these safety rules:
- Wear a bike helmet
- Check your bike is in working order before you start
- Carry a map of Melbourne
- Have water on you
- Give way to pedestrians on the trails
- Wear hi-vis clothing
But don’t forget, the first thing you should always remember is to have fun cycling and sightseeing in Melbourne.