My fifth ride of the eighth coffeeneuring challenge; each one different so far; back in Melbourne after and a bit of exploration – urban and riverside – then a coffee on the way home.
I’d had a hankering to go west and explore the Maribyrnong for a few weeks – partly after going over it on our , and partly after hearing a relation talk of his work on an engineering project out that way – it reminded me I rarely go out there and hadn’t seen much of that side of Melbourne for years.
From home to Caulfield along the new Djerring trail, continue west to St Kilda and on to Albert Park, then curve back towards the city and cross under the freeways to Docklands. Up until here I’d been wondering whether I’d get to cross the rivers, perhaps at the punt, or whether I’d just end up riding back down around the bay. North alongside Docklands, then curve around and follow the bike path beside Footscray roads towards… err, Footscray I guess. Very different from my memories of riding this way in late 1999 to get to the canoe club!
Over the Maribyrnong river and then follow the path as it spiralled down around and under, then upstream along the western bank past an amazing assortment of parks, houses, temples, new apartments buildings, the view across the river of Flemington racecourse, and wetlands. Not at all what I’d expected, and a very enjoyable ride.
Somewhere in Maribyrnong the path ends on this side and I backtracked a short way to the nearest bridge, then took my pick of the two signs; one says “Cyclists dismount” the other “Ride slowly” and crossed over.
The path then climbs up above the river above the cliffs that block its path, and where the river then curves away to the south west I turned off and followed a side path up along Steele Creek – the Steele Creek Trail.
Enjoyable as it was I couldn’t help but think that I was still heading north-west, away from the city, and that even if I headed back to the CBD home was 15 km further! Loathe to take the simple option and retrace my route I decided to head straight east, figuring I could skirt the airport and some major construction sites and get to Brunswick where at least I’d be on half-remembered ground and from there could make my way back to the outer circle trail or down to the Yarra and home via Scotchmans creek trail.
Two or three suburbs as the crow flies; Niddrie, Essendon, Brunswick, and then it was time to start thinking about coffee… and perhaps a little something for breakfast. I turned onto Sydney road and started slowly towards the city, carefully eyeing the places on the other side – the warm sunny side – of the street to find one open, but nothing doing. A few doors were starting to open as staff were getting ready for a 9 am start, but nothing much open yet. The first open place I found was Two Little Pigs so there was my choice made for me.
A lovely flat white, perhaps a bit small, but milky and warm and tasty and everything I’d expect from a coffee in the hipster capital of Melbourne… or have I missed something, perhaps Brunswick isn’t the it place any more. Sadly, the doughnut that was to go with it was not up to par, I suspect it had been sitting around since yesterday and was far too dry and crumbly – I should have had a bacon and egg roll, oh well, next time!
Coffee and doughnut/donut consumed, I think I’d have had another coffee if only the sun could reach around the building to my table, but as it was I was getting too cool. Back on the bike to start for home through more familiar territory, a spur of the moment decision was to head back towards the city then out to Richmond so stayed on Sydney road until it became Royal Parade, then used either it or the shared paths through Princes Park and past hospitals, university and construction sites all the way to the city and Elizabeth street. Out of curiosity I kept on into the CBD, then turned left up Latrobe street to get back out again, doing two sides of a triangle that I could have avoided if I’d really cared about it. Victoria street becomes Victoria Parade then crosses Punt road and becomes Victoria street again, old familiar shops in Richmond and Abbotsford line the sides, brand new shops and apartments filling in gaps and replacing some parts I remember. Thankfully the old Terminus Hotel is still there, dwarfed by the apartments either side.
Then duck up Walmer street and down the steep ramps to the riverside bike path – the Walmer street bridge still needs replacing just as it has for decades, multiple authorities still finger point, nothing much gets done, and the approaches are made even worse by the recent apartment construction and increasing number of people living in the area.
I’d been expecting a quieter ride once I got down to the river but somehow I stumbled head-on into a “major event” and had to ride through hundreds of runners & walkers participating in the Upstream Challenge on a 2m wide path! I rode downstream, they ran and walked up-stream, eventually I came out the other side near the Burnley gardens.
From there it’s just follow the river down to where Gardiners Creek trail joins, turn left and follow it home, dodging the silt and mud and debris left across the path from the flooding on.
Albert Park, Brunswick, Caulfield, Docklands, Essendon, Footscray, Maribyrnong, Niddrie, Port Melbourne, Richmond, St KildaImage Credit