In 2011, Melbourne was voted the most liveable city (take that Sydney!) by The Economist. With the high cost of living, cycling can be an affordable alternative to public transport and the Melbourne Bike Share program allows you to hire bikes for less than $3/day or $8/week.
Melbourne has the wide streets of Los Angeles but flat topography allows for easy cycling. Designated bike lanes have been implemented in order to create a better and safer riding culture. Getting lost is daily routine for new cyclists but Travel Smart Victoria has maps available for print and download.
As part of this series, I will be exploring a few of the different trails that connect metropolitan Melbourne. These are all shared pedestrian/cycling routes, which allow easy non-stop cycling to Melbourne’s most exciting destinations. Be wary of potential detours that the trail may have as Melbourne is undergoing an extensive roadwork and transportation facelift. The Bicycle Network Victoria offers a very comprehensive guide to detours for each of the trails.
Capital City Trail
The Capital City Trail is a 30 km loop that wraps around the city, allowing you to ride from the Zoo, Abbotsford Convent, Federation Square and Docklands. Not quite ready for 30 km, I decide to do the Zoo to Federation Square portion of the trail totalling 21 km (approximately 1:45 hours).
The Zoo to Federation Square ride passes through Parkville, Fitzroy North, Clifton Hill, Abbotsford, Collingwood, Richmond and the CBD (Central Business District). As you ride along the Capital City Trail, you can hardly believe it’s Melbourne. The path is pristine and separated from the road, a plus for amateur cyclists. The trail goes through several parks and shopping districts making it easy to have a picnic lunch or grab a coffee along the way. On this adventure, I had four destinations in mind: the Abbotsford Convent, the Collingwood Children’s Farm, the Burnley Bouldering Wall and Federation Square.
First stop: The Abbotsford Convent
The Abbotsford Convent was first established as the Convent of the Good Shepherd, a Catholic institution, in 1803. Nowadays, the convent hosts a number of arts/culture workshops, several cafes, a slow food market, an art gallery and an open air cinema in the summer. It’s a respite in the bustling city and is open to the public all year round. One of the hidden gems of the convent is Lentils as Anything, an organic-vegan restaurant. It’s motto is ‘pay as you feel’ so you can anonymously donate whatever you’d like for the food that you eat. Surprised? The non-profit group is dedicated to promote generosity, trust, and social inclusion. All of the proceeds go toward training for young migrants and refugees. If Lentils as Anything is not your cup of tea, there are a few other cafes that serve equally delicious foods and coffee.
Second Stop: The Collingwood Children’s Farm
The Collingwood Children’s Farm is a great way to introduce city kids to livestock and gardening. It was first established in 1979 and is host to a number of gardens, cafes and several cute animals. It is open everyday from 9am to 5pm for a small entry fee. Enjoy the farm by going to the Saturday market, attending a workshop, or even by milking a cow! This is a great spot to take kids out on a weekend to teach them where their food comes from and to learn more about local produce.
Onto the next stop, the bouldering wall. With the beautiful scenery, you would never believe you were only about 6km away from the CBD.
Third Stop: The Burnley Bouldering Wall
The bouldering wall is open and free and was first conceived by Chris Shepherd in 1993. The site is managed by Parks Victoria and the Victoria Climbing Club, who also produce a guidebook for all that you need to know before you traverse the wall.
Onto the last destination, Federation Square. On the way, do stop along the riverside and take photos.
Final Destination: Federation Square
Federation Square is a great public space and houses the National Gallery of Victoria, the Australian Centre for the Moving Image museum, several bars/restaurants and the Tourist Information Centre. It is a great first stop when you arrive in Melbourne as its unusual architecture, open space, and riverside position make it a great spot for photos and a quick coffee.
Stay tuned for my next entry in my cycling series, when I explore the Merri Creek Trail.