Bicycle Network: Ride a Trail
Map and trail notes
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- Simon Vincett
- Capital City Trail
- Melbourne local, Yarra local, Moreland local, Moonee Valley local, Darebin local, Boroondara local
Here are three ways to enjoy the Capital City Trail: Riverside riding, Zip to the Zoo and Destination Docklands. You can also ride the 30km loop in one go or ride shorter sections as you like
Start: Federation Square
Arrive: Collingwood Childrens Farm and Abbotsford Convent
Time: 1 hour
• Absolute riverside riding
• MCG and Olympic Park precinct
• Abbotsford Convent
• Collingwood Childrens Farm
Look out for
• Access to MacRobertson Bridge if you travel on the alternative trail on the south side of the river
• The ramp up to the bridge across the river at Walmer St, Richmond
• Three flights of steps from the bridge to river level at Gipps St, Abbotsford
• Kanteen café opposite Herring Island
• Collingwood Childrens Farm café
• Abbotsford Convent eateries
From Federation Square roll down to the riverside to head left as you face the river. If you’ve trained in to Flinders St Station, take the Elizabeth St exit left to the bank of the Yarra and head left. You’ll soon pass Fed Square into the open space of Birrarung Marr with the riverside trail stretching ahead.
The southern bank
If you decide to ride on the southern bank, following a visit to the National Gallery of Victoria or the Royal Botanic Gardens for instance, you will need to cross over to the northern side at some stage. The easiest place to cross is the elegant bicycle and pedestrian-only Morell Bridge. Alternatively, you can ride to the end of the path on the southern bank, which loops under and crosses MacRobertson Bridge. There are signs here directing riders to dismount and walk along the narrow footpath.
The MCG and Olympic Park precinct
To visit the Melbourne Cricket Ground and Olympic Park precinct, don’t duck under the Swan St Bridge but cross Batman Ave and ride the bike lane along Swan Street. For the MCG, after Hisense Arena turn left towards the tall footbridge that takes you over the train lines.
When riding along the northern bank as you approach MacRobertson Bridge things can get a little confusing. The trail does not go over the freeway. Instead, take the right hand turn running parallel to the freeway. Extra points if you can see the very small ‘Yarra Trail’ sign pointing to the right.
Walmer St bridge
Beneath the Walmer St bridge there is a fork in the path. Take the left-hand branch and follow the path as it zigzags up the wooden structure to street level, then cross over the Yarra. There is a short but very steep climb just over the bridge but then the trail turns left and enters Yarra Bend Park. It’s as if you’re on a trail in the bush, rather than a city path.
Gipps St steps
After you ride over Collins Bridge, turn left immediately to the top of the Gipps St steps. You will need to dismount and walk down the steps to river level. Put you bike wheel in the channel to the right of the steps, squeeze the brakes and slide down each of the sets of steps.
Zip to the Zoo
Start: Abbotsford Convent
Arrive: Melbourne Zoo
Time: 40 mins
• Dights Falls for a picnic
• Parks and playgrounds
• Melbourne Zoo
Look out for
• Steep descent to pass under Heidelberg Road
• Current detour through Westgarth to avoid railway works (August 2009)
• Traffic at road crossings in section between Merri Creek Trail and Upfield Path
• Natural Tucker Bakery, on Nicholson St
• The Melbourne Zoo take-away food outlets
From the Abbotsford Convent, take the signs for the Collingwood Childrens Farm to pick up the Trail.
Dights Falls is a pleasant place to stop. Melbourne’s first flour mill, owned by John Dight, was built here in the 1840s. It is now one of Melbourne’s oldest industrial sites.
Here the Trail turns left and north alongside the Merri Creek. Do not take the bridge across the Creek. Stay on the western or left side to pass underneath the Eastern Freeway.
Turn right at the top of the hill as the trail enters Quarries Park, skirting Ramsden Reserve and then heads back towards the Creek.
Watch out for the very steep descent as the trail passes underneath Heidelberg Road. In this section a couple of low-level bridges cross Merri Creek. These bridges are often under water after heavy rain. If this is the case, do not attempt to cross them but follow the blue and yellow flood diversion markers around the flooded section. This is the same route as the current detour described below.
Current detour through Westgarth
Current rail duplication works (as at August 2009) at Clifton Hill Station necessitate a detour from the trail.
Just after crossing the first low-level bridge just after the Heidelberg Rd underpass, there is a sign with a map explaining the detour. At the sign, turn right off the path on to Walker Street. Take the first right on to Ross St and follow this up the hill to Westgarth St where you turn left. Westgarth St can be quite busy but there is an on-road bike lane. Follow Westgarth St over High St and take the first left into McLachlan Street.
This takes you to a small bridge over the Merri Creek to rejoin the trail at the underpass beneath Rushall Station. On the other side, turn right, to head west toward the Zoo.
Playgrounds, history and crossings
There are many road crossings along this part of the Trail. The busiest crossings have traffic signals but take care. Any young ones in your group will be interested in the many playgrounds in this section.
This was also the alignment of the old Inner Circle rail line. As you ride along you will see old railway tracks in some places as well as parts of other railway infrastructure. The remains of the North Fitzroy Station can be seen; North Carlton Station has been converted into a community centre.
Royal Park Station
The Trail passes the Upfield Path joining from the right just before it reaches Royal Park Station. Just across the road from the station is the Melbourne Zoo.
Start: Melbourne Zoo
• Docklands sights, shops and eateries
• Melbourne Aquarium
• Etihad Stadium
Look out for
• The hairpin bend at the bottom of the ramp from Flemington Station
• Flooding under low-level bridges following heavy rain
• Crossing Footscray Road
• False paths in Docklands – they can be confusing
• The link to Docklands from Fed Square – it’s tricky to navigate
• Fishbar Fish and Chippery at New Quay in Docklands
• Food court at Waterfront City in Docklands
• Stylish waterside restaurants dotted across Docklands
From the Zoo carpark, cross the tracks to Royal Park Station and follow Poplar Rd around to the left. When you have crossed the tram tracks look out for the Trail which heads off to your left on the other side of the road.
Continue on through Royal Park and on to the bridge over Manningham St and Mt Alexander Rd to Flemington Station.
Follow the zig-zag station-access ramp down to street level at Mt Alexander Road. Perform a U-turn and keeping the water on your right follow the Trail downstream under the freeway. The trail passes under low-level bridges at Macauley Rd, Arden St and Dynon St on its way to Docklands. After heavy rain, these can be flooded so you will have to detour via the road crossings at these points.
Crossing Footscray Rd
The trail intersects with busy Footscray Rd at the same point as the Citylink exit ramp, which means lots of traffic. First you must turn right and cross the Citylink ramp at the traffic lights. Then you have to swing to the left and wait on the traffic island for the lights to change on Footscray Rd before crossing to the south side where you turn left towards all the big buildings.
Turn left and follow the bike path alongside Footscray Rd towards the city and into Docklands. Victoria Harbour will be on your right and Etihad Stadium on your left.
To Docklands from Federation Square
Ride down to the river and head right to pass under Princes Bridge. Take the higher path when it splits and cross to Southbank via the larger, second bridge. In this busy area take care sharing the path with pedestrians.
After the sailing ship the Polly Woodside ride over the unnamed bridge to the north bank. Head away from the river to find a pedestrian crossing of Docklands Hwy to proceed into Docklands.
To Federation Square from Docklands
After crossing Bourke St beside the colourful NAB bulding, do not continue straight ahead but turn towards the city instead and then veer immediately right after the tram tracks.
Continue to the lights and dismount to cross at two sets of pedestrian lights to get to the footpath on the other side of Collins St. Now continue in the direction you came from Docklands. At Docklands Hwy, cross and head towards the river to cross the unnamed bridge.
Now on the south bank of the Yarra, pass the sailing ship the Polly Woodside and travel carefully past pedestrians alongside the river. Cross to the north bank by the angled bridge with large figures dancing above it. Continue on the north bank to the gravel expanse of Birrarung Marr and turn back up the ramp to Federation Square.
Links to Docklands from the Capital City Trail will improve with continued development of the precinct.