Bicycle Network: Where to Ride
Maribyrnong River Trail
Approximately 28km in length, the Maribyrnong River Trail follows Melbourne's second great river, the Maribyrnong River from the city through to Brimbank Park.
Combined with the Taylors Creek Trail this trail makes for an easy ride linking together the Footscray Road off-road path, Docklands and the Melbourne city centre.
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Once outside the city, this is a surprisingly pretty ride with fantastic views of Melbourne’s skyline and the river, native bushland and many riverside parks. The trail is 28km long – 56km for a “there and back” ride – but you can shorten the distance at any time by simply turning around and heading back the way you came. The trail is mostly flat, making this an easy ride, although there are a couple of steep but short pinches. It should take 1.5 to 2 hours in each direction at a gentle pace. The surface is a combination of sealed and unsealed with very few road crossings, so it’s a good ride for kids or anybody else who isn’t comfortable riding in traffic.
The ride starts and finishes on Southbank, just over the Yarra River from Flinders St Station, although you could easily join (or leave) it at other points where it comes close to the train line, such as the Docklands, Kensington or Flemington. Head west along Southbank. There are often a lot of pedestrians along here so you will have to take it easy and ride carefully. Cross the Yarra at Webb Bridge – the one that’s shaped like an Koori eel trap – then follow the path north through Docklands Park, behind the Docklands Stadium and then alongside Footscray Rd until you reach the Maribyrnong River. From here you escape the noise of the traffic as you follow the trail along the river out to Brimbank Park.
It is difficult to believe that you are so close to the city centre as you ride through the many parklands that line the river banks. There’s the Newells Paddock Wetlands just over the river from Flemington Racecourse where you may see white-faced herons, swamp hens or black ducks. Further along is the newly formed Burndap Park plus the historic Pipemakers Park. This was once a pipe-making factory, but now houses Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West; there’s a visitor’s centre plus exhibitions, displays and special events.
You’ll climb up to a viewpoint near Lily St in Essendon West where you can look down on the old Department of Defence Explosives Factory and also see the Melbourne skyline. From here, the path turns into well-formed gravel. You will pass she-oaks and river red gums as well as many wattles and other eucalypts. The last 10km or so before the park is very picturesque with only the occasional bridge towering overhead to remind you that you’re in Melbourne and not country Victoria.
There’s a café at Brimbank Park where you can stop for lunch or bring your own picnic before retracing your route back to Melbourne.
Flinders St Station is in the centre of Melbourne city, just across the Yarra river from the starting point at Southbank.
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Go for your life - Maribyrnong River Trail
Only Melbourne - Maribyrnong River Trail
Melbourne Bicycle Touring Club - conducts rides every weekend.
This article is by Jon Miller and first appeared in the April-May 2007 edition of Ride On magazine.
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