Fairfield Park to City via Main Yarra Trail

Walk notes by DWP

This is the third and final section of the walk commencing in Eltham following the Main Yarra Trail. Again, easy walking or riding along mainly bitumen & gravel surfaced tracks with numerous attractive rest or picnic spots.

For access to this section of the Trail enter the car park at Fairfield Park from Heidelberg Road and pick up the path at the easily identifiable signs indicating Main Yarra Trail & Capital City Trail via Dights Falls to Federation Square.

After a few minutes walking around the edge of the Fairfield oval the path crosses Yarra Bend Road. On the other side of the road continue along the path as it meanders along the top bank of the deep gouge formed by the Merri Creek. There is a viewing platform part way along that is worth a brief visit. Pass under the Eastern Freeway overpass and then cross the bridge on the right over Merri Creek where it joins the Yarra River to enter Dights Falls Park and where the Merri Creek Trail and Main Yarra / Capital City Trail merge. This is an ideal spot for a break, to watch and listen to the falls and enjoy the pleasant and peaceful surroundings.

After your break continue along the path as it follows the bank of the Yarra River and passes by the Abbotsford Convent and Collingwood Children’s Farm, an excellent spot for a cup of coffee, snack or meal depending on the time of day.

Continue along the path until Gipps Street Bridge. Cross the bridge and either join the main trail along the side of Yarra Boulevard or preferably follow the path through the trees along the bank of the river eventually merging with the main trail just south of Dickinson Reserve. Follow the main trail a little further until the footbridge is reached leading to Walmer Street Richmond. After crossing the bridge stay on the path that follows the bank of the river and enjoy the very attractive scenery and unexpected tranquillity of the surroundings as you pass through Hawthorn heading towards Burnley.

The path continues to meander alongside the river and Yarra Boulevard for some while eventually passing under Swan Street and Monash Freeway just after which the Gardiners Creek Path joins the trail from the left.

Just before reaching the Grange Road roundabout and bridge one has to choose to either continue along the riverside path to Federation Square via the Burnley Boardwalk, Yarra Park, Olympic Park and Flinders Park or cross over the Mac Robertson Bridge and then follow the Main Yarra Trail as it snakes its way to Southbank sandwiched between Alexandra Avenue and the river.

Following the main trail across the bridge allows the opportunity to visit Herring Island in the Yarra River, Como Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens before completing the final section of the walk to Southbank and St Kilda Road. Flinders St rail station is just a few minutes walk across Princes Bridge.

Overall another pleasant generally undemanding walk mainly following the banks of the Yarra River with numerous rest spots and access points for shortening the walk or ride if required. Although relatively peaceful during the early part of the walk it is impossible to escape the intensity of traffic noise as one approaches the Monash Freeway and also along Alexandra Avenue on a busy day which can detract somewhat from the overall enjoyment of the environs.

Start – Fairfield Park
Finish – Southbank or Federation Square, St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Fairfield Station rail connection and off-street parking available at Fairfield Park
City – Parking restrictions apply. Distance Approx 16 Kms

Main Yarra Trail previous sections:

Eltham to Heidelberg

Heidelberg to Fairfield

The following documents (pdf) show all bike trails in the City of Yarra, including the Fairfield to City portion of the Main Yarra Trail:

Map p.1

Map p.2

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Heidelberg Gardens to Fairfield via Main Yarra Trail

Walk notes by DWP

This is a continuation of the earlier walk from Eltham Lower Park to Heidelberg Gardens following the main Yarra Trail. Again, easy walking or riding along mainly bitumen & gravel surfaced tracks with numerous attractive rest or picnic spots. Of added interest is that this route shares part of the “Heidelberg School Artists Trail” with a number of prominent signboards displaying paintings by various artists.

On leaving Heidelberg Gardens head along the signposted path to Heidelberg Park then cross Beverley Road walk past the Banyule Shared Path sign and follow the easily identifiable Main Yarra Trail.

After a few minutes the path emerges on the footpath at the very busy Banksia St. Turn left past the ‘Greenery’ plant nursery and garden supplies and follow the path as it drops sharply under the road bridge to join the Yarra River. The path then passes through some trees and emerges into open parkland situated between the ‘The Boulevard’ and the river. It is in this section where a number of the paintings referred to above will be noticed some of which are located just off the main path.

Eventually the Trail swings around to follow the river and pass under the Burke Road Bridge. A short while after, cross the pedestrian/cycle bridge to the signpost at the junction of the Main Yarra and Koonung Trails. Turn right at this sign in the direction indicated for the Chandler Highway and the City.

Follow the Trail as it loops around through the trees and after a short walk the Trail is unavoidably forced to follow an unpleasant section squeezed artificially between the Eastern Freeway and the grounds of the Kew Golf Club. Unfortunately no alternative path is available. Eventually however after reaching and passing over Belford Road the path, after Willow Grove, drops down into more open parkland, shielded somewhat by noise barriers, from the incessant roar of the traffic on the freeway.

If walking it is possible to leave the main trail and head along the worn path through the very attractive grassed area alongside the riverbank until it joins up once again with the main bitumen trail below the Chandler Highway Bridge not far from Guide Dogs Victoria.

Follow the path under the Bridge to a junction. Here a choice can be made to either follow the Main Yarra Trail up the steps and then right along Yarra Boulevard or alternatively, if walking, taking the path to the right through the trees along the river bank towards Fairfield Park.

It is well worthwhile however to climb up the steps and follow the Trail along the Yarra Boulevard as it gives the opportunity to visit the ‘Wurundjeri Spur Lookout’ to have a brief rest and enjoy the impressive views of Melbourne city skyline. After taking in the view of the city turn right and make your way down the path that leads to the pipe bridge over the Yarra river at Fairfield. The Fairfield Park boathouse can be seen across the river and it’s pleasant setting offers an ideal spot for a relaxing drink or a meal.

After crossing the pipe bridge walk up the path past the Kayak club to join the Capital City Trail in Fairfield Park the finishing point for the walk.

Fairfield rail station is just a 15 minutes walk through the park, right along Heidelberg Road and then left at Station Street.

Overall a pleasant generally undemanding walk mainly following the banks of the Yarra River with numerous rest spots and access points for shortening the walk or ride if required. The one negative aspect of the walk being that of the background noise from the Eastern Freeway.

Start – Heidelberg Gardens
Finish – Fairfield Park
Off Street parking either end & local stations
Distance Approx 10.5 Kms

Eltham Lower Park to Heidelberg Gardens via Main Yarra Trail, Melbourne

Notes by DWP

This is a continuation of an earlier walk along Diamond Creek Trail in May 2009. Again, easy walking or riding along mainly bitumen & gravel surfaced tracks with numerous attractive rest or picnic spots.

Take the cycle path just to the right of the main gated entrance to Eltham Lower Park past the children’s play area. The path skirts the edge of the park and eventually joins Homestead Rd. Follow the road and turn right at the entrance drive to the now demolished Leinster Farm. A short steep downhill stretch brings you to the new bridge spanning the Yarra River.

Alternatively if walking rather than riding follow the path left after entering the park and walk along the roadway past the main station of the miniature railway. This roadway ends at a parking area and a path follows the creek and past the Eltham Pony club eventually leading to the viewing platform over the Yarra River. Continue on the path to the new bridge. Cross the bridge (note that dogs must be on a leash) and then turn right when you join the Main Yarra Trail in Candlebark Park.

The path meanders through Candlebark Park passing under the electrical transmission lines before arriving at the Kiwains Lane parking area adjacent to the river and Fitzimmons Lane overpass.

Follow the path under the overpass, entering Westerfolds Park and then continue past the Kayak launching area. Rather than following the main bitumen trail drop down to the unmade path that meanders alongside the river, keeping an eye open for snakes if walking this route during warmer months. This path is a welcome change from the sometimes-feverish activity on the main trail and eventually emerges from the bush just before the rapids observation platform.

After a visit to the viewing platform one can once again join an unmade path following the bank of the river otherwise follow the main bitumen Trail. At the top of the ensuing incline on the main trail carry on downhill towards the river, not along the left fork towards Templestowe.

The path along the edge of the river emerges half way down this hill to allow you to join the main trail again before it crosses a bridge over the river. After a short time there is another steep descent followed by the inevitable pull uphill towards Odyssey House.

Do not cross the next bridge over the river that leads towards Finns Reserve but continue along the main trail towards its junction with Bonds Road. Cross the road and follow the trail as it makes its way past the Rosanna Golf course emerging eventually from the tree-lined path at the sports ovals at Banyule Flats Reserve. You will pass, on this section, the junction where the Plenty River Trail joins the Main Yarra Trail from the right.

Either follow the wetlands walking path or the more circuitous main trail if cycling. Both routes give scenic views across the very attractive billabong in the wetlands.

The trail then enters Warringal Park from where you can cross Beverley Road into Heidelberg Park. Follow the signposts, to either Burgundy St shops or Heidelberg Station, passing through the pleasant surroundings of Heidelberg Gardens that offers an ideal spot for a quiet picnic despite the frenetic traffic on the nearby streets.

A pleasant generally undemanding walk with a few short hills mainly following the banks of the Yarra River with numerous rest spots and access points for shortening the walk or ride if required.

Start – Eltham Lower Park
Finish – Heidelberg Gardens
Off Street parking either end
Distance Approx 11 Km

Diamond Creek Trail, Melbourne

On the Diamond Creek TrailThis bike walk/ride commences at Diamond Creek railway station. It can be taken as an out and back walk/ride, or alternatively could be finished at Eltham Station, with Diamond Creek a short train ride away.

Leaving Diamond Creek railway station cross the car park and walk along Station St to Gipson St and join the Diamond Creek Trail adjoining a small lake in Nillumbik Park.

Follow the trail through the park until it reaches Chute St.  For safety it is recommend that you cross the busy main road at the pedestrian crossing. Cross over and join the trail once again entering Diamond Creek Reserve at the corner of Diamond St.

Follow the trail, which skirts Diamond Creek and eventually reaches open farm and grassed land. On reaching Allendale Road turn left over the narrow bridge and join the Trail on the south side of the road. The Trail now passes through river flats and stands of eucalypts and wattles edging the creek.

After passing through Eltham North Reserve you reach Edendale Community Farm/Environment Centre and if time permits a visit is well worthwhile. After leaving Edendale the trail follows a rather unattractive section adjacent to the railway line and Railway Parade. This section requires caution when crossing the main railway line twice before finally arriving at Eltham Station.

Pass through the Park Gates at Diamond St and follow the trail through Andrew Park and Eltham Central Park. The trail continues under the ‘National Trust’ classified old trestle Railway Bridge before entering the attractive Alistair Knox Park.

Continue along the trail passing under the Bridge St underpass alongside the creek through Eltham Town Park and the adjacent Susan St sports reserve. After passing under Brougham Road continue past Eltham Leisure Centre on the right and follow Bell St heading towards Barak Bushland. Alternatively turn left over the pedestrian bridge at the corner of Withers Way and Bell St. This part of the trail runs alongside the Main Road and passes through Wingrove Park eventually joining the Barak Bushland Loop at a pedestrian underpass on the right just after crossing the bridge over the creek.

Follow the shared path alongside the main road until you reach the gates into Eltham Lower Park after passing the miniature railway station of Pine Creek. The trail winds its way through the park passing the sports ovals eventually arriving at Homestead Rd. A short but steep descent towards the river Yarra gives access to a new bridge which links to Candlebark Park and the main Yarra Trail. From here make your way back to the entrance to the park and then back towards Eltham station.

As an alternative if walking it is highly recommended that instead of following the main trail turn left after entering the park and walk along the roadway past the main station of the miniature railway. This roadway ends at a parking area and a path follows the creek and past the Eltham Pony club eventually leading to Lenister Farm and a viewing platform over the Yarra River. After taking a break at this very tranquil spot follow the path adjacent to the river until it meets the main cycle trail at the new bridge mentioned earlier.

Walk back to the parking area at the entrance to the park to return to Eltham Station along one of the routes described to catch a train.

Ride date – May 2009
Distance Approx 10 Km
Easy walking or riding along mainly flat concrete, bitumen & gravel surfaced tracks with numerous attractive rest or picnic spots.

A short walk off the main trail in Westerfolds Park

Looking down from the Manor House at Westerfolds Park

(Walk notes by DWP)

Westerfolds park is one of an impressive series of Melbourne metropolitan parks all based around the Yarra River that extend from the city out to Eltham This short but enjoyable walk commences from the front of the manor house, now the MIA MIA Gallery and Café.

Walk up from any of the car parks to the native garden in front of the manor house. From here there is an extensive view of the park towards the river and beyond. Head down the grassy hill keeping the BBQ on the left towards a grassy path that cuts through the scrub avoiding a similar path that cuts right. Depending on weather and time of day a group of trees over to the left sometimes have eastern grey kangaroos resting in their shade. Follow the path towards a wooden bench at the first track junction and then continue straight ahead along the path as it meanders through trees crossing other trails along the way. Eventually the path veers towards the right through a treed area, again depending on time of day kangaroos or wallabies can often be observed in the open on the grassy paddocks well over on the left, then join the main trail again just before the observation deck for the river rapids at Kestrel Creek.

Follow the main trail for a short distance then after viewing the river from the observation deck take the path that cuts down to the right from the main path and meanders alongside the river through the bush area, rather than staying on the main trail. Eventually one emerges at a junction with the main trail descending rather steeply from the left. Do not follow the main path either left or right but cut across the trail and pick up a grassy track which heads slightly uphill for a short distance with the river down the steep slope to the right. Follow this path until it merges with a wide gravel track coming in from the left. Turn left and follow this gravel path until after a about a hundred metres or so it crosses the main trail once again. From the junction one can see the manor house up on the hill. Take the path across the paddock immediately opposite and head in a slightly uphill direction keeping the trees mentioned at the start of the walk on your right. Back at the wooden bench turn right and walk uphill to the starting point of the walk in front of the manor house.

A visit to the gallery and/or café is well worthwhile.

Distance about 3.6km
Time, with a dog, about 50 mins no breaks
Dogs to be retained on leash
Keep a sharp look out for snakes, which may pose a danger under certain conditions
Excellent chance of observing kangaroos.
Further information: Parks Victoria park notes

Access: Enter the park via the entrance in Fitzsimons Lane (Melway ref: 33 G2) just after entering there is a sharp turn to the left, which leads uphill to a number of car parking areas and trails.

Westerfolds Park is open every day, including weekends and public holidays, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. During daylight saving the park is open from 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM every day, extending to 9:00 PM in the peak summer period.

Along the Eastlink Trail

Along the Eastlink TrailI’ve recently tried out part of the Eastlink Trail, a pedestrian/bike path that runs generally alongside the new Eastlink Motorway in Melbourne from Ringwood to Dandenong. It’s well worth a visit; I rode my bike, but it’s a wide and reasonably well-graded path and would be well suited to walking or running.

There are many access points to the trail, I started at Boronia Grove Reserve (Melway 48 K4) just next to the Eastern Freeway. The trail here is actually the Koonung Trail, it becomes the Eastlink Trail after it passes under Springvale Road. From here I rode down to Jells Park and back. The path is bitumen or concrete the whole way (with a couple of minor exceptions); most of the trail is newly built although following existing path alignments, but it also incorporates parts of the Dandenong Creek Trail which is in good condition as well.

Overall, a good experience. The trail has some pleasant bushland sections, particularly through the Mullum Mullum Creek area, where the road goes underground, and also the Dandenong Creek area leading into Jells Park. The sections alongside the road are not bad either and there’s some impressive engineering work to appreciate as well as some urban artwork pieces on which opinions will no doubt vary. One minor downside – there’s a few road crossings still required. The crossings of Whitehorse Road and Burwood Highway are a particular pain as both roads are very busy, and the setup of the crossings means you can’t get across in one traffic light cycle. Thankfully, these two crossings will be eventually eliminated by pedestrian bridges which are currently under construction, but a few other crossings will remain.

There are multiple attractive spots to stop and rest along the way, and refreshments are available by either moving off the trail briefly, or stopping at the cafe at Jells Park.

More information is available in the official brochure, which also includes a map.

Walks in Melbourne – Yarra Bend Park Ramble

View of city from Wills St picnic area

This circular walk starts at Studley Park boathouse in Melbourne’s inner east suburbs, and provides a pleasant 9km ramble through Yarra Bend and nearby parks, passing two boathouses and a former asylum, with many great views of the city.

Start at the parking area at Studley Park Boathouse (Melway 2D, F8) and walk up the hill back to Yarra Boulevard. At this point turn left and follow Yarra Boulevard until a turn-off to a picnic area downhill to the left. At this point cross over and follow a path uphill to the Wills St Picnic area where there are fine views of the city. From the picnic area continue towards a gate that provides entry into the Willsmere apartments complex. Go through the gate which crosses a small basketball court, and have a quick look at the main, heritage listed, Willsmere building.

Converted into private residential apartments in the early 90’s the main building was formerly the Willsmere Hospital and before that the Kew Lunatic Asylum. It features an impressive facade, two large towers and mansard roofs. The front section with a view of the city was for paying customers – there are wings behind which were used for the rest of the patients. A section of one wing, behind the door in the library, was left as-is as part of the re-development agreement. This section houses a small museum and is occasionally opened up to the public along with the grounds (check with the National Trust for any opening dates).

Return to the entrance gate, and then turn north-west along a dirt path that runs through a lovely wooded area in front of the Willsmere complex.

Follow this path until it emerges on to a grassed area and a sealed path that curves to the right, uphill, towards an old oak and the remains of the former Willsmere dairy. Leave the formed track at this point and pass to the left of the old dairy along a dirt track that turns left downhill and soon reaches Yarra Boulevard. Cross the road, taking particular care to check right for cars or bikes racing down the hill and then turn right along the footpath up the hill. The roads turns to the left and soon heads downhill to a roundabout and a bridge over the Eastern Freeway.

Keep following the path over the freeway and up to the crest of the hill. At this point the “Main Yarra Trail” is reached; turn left and follow the spur downhill to the Fairfield pipe bridge. Cross the bridge, noting the Fairfield Boat House to the right, and follow the path up to the right before reaching a turnoff to the left, just before the car park. Turn here as the track double-backs on itself before turning to the right and then crossing Yarra Bend road. Follow the track as it curves left, above the Merri Creek to the right. Keep following the track as it passes a lookout to the right and then eventually drops downhill to pass underneath the Eastern Freeway.

The track reaches a pedestrian bridge over Merri Creek. Cross here to have a look at Dights Falls and remains of an old mill and weir. Return across the bridge and follow the path as it follows the bank of the Yarra, initially at river level and then climbing high above to eventually meet Yarra Bend road. Here, turn immediately to the right down a dirt track through an avenue of European trees. Follow this track, again by the banks of the Yarra until it climbs to meet Kanes Bridge. Cross here back to the starting point.

Refreshments are available at both the Fairfield and Studley Park Boathouses. Row boats can also be hired at Studley Park Boathouse, which has very pleasant surroundings for a picnic.

View map (in Google Maps)

Yarra Bend Park ramble (kmz file) for use in Google Earth.

Walks in Melbourne – Petty’s Orchard

This walk, which also makes a good run, starts at Westerfolds Park in the northern suburbs. Westerfolds is part of an impressive series of urban parks all based around the Yarra River. The walk takes in part of the “Main Yarra Trail” a bike riding/walking track that travels about 35km from Eltham to the City centre, all off-road.

Start at the parking area next to the main road bridge over the Yarra. If approaching from the south, the turn-off is just before the bridge (the side road curves underneath the bridge to the parking area on the other side – google maps doesn’t show this turn-off but it is there), from the north it is immediately after crossing the bridge. The walk commences east uphill to Candlebark park, continues to Petty’s Orchard, an ‘antique’ apple orchard (i.e. growing varieties that are no longer produced commercially), before turning back at Tikalara park.

The track is very easy to follow and total distance is about 6.3km. The route could be extended by continuing on at Tikalara park, or taking the bridge over the Yarra and then doing a circuit of Eltham Lower park, or perhaps a ride on the miniature railway there.

View map (in Google Maps)

Click here for a kmz file for use in Google Earth.