I never thought my most enjoyable city experience would involve some form of exercise, but as I continue to explore new places, the more I find myself seeking out alternative transport options.
Melbourne has impressed me as a city of diversity, from the new and old architecture, the multi-cultural flavours, the trams, the sport, and of course, the weather. For now, the weather has been fabulous, but I am assured that this is just luck, and am encouraged to make the most of it whilst it lasts. So make the most of it we have.
Anne and I have incorporated cycling into our daily life over the past few years, and added it as a “must do” activity to most of our holidays in recent years, so it was a no brainer to consider cycling along the Yarra River during our current visit to Melbourne. The tourist information centre was great, providing us three options for bike rental. The Melbourne “Blue Bike” system, “Rentabike” on Federation Square, or “Freddy’s” down on Batman Park. We chose Freddy’s, as it was only $25 each to rent a bike, helmet and lock for the entire day. Just a note – our entire day doesn’t get started at present till about 11am! We are making the most of our time out from work. The lovely thing about Freddy’s was the family connections. Whilst we didn’t meet Freddy, his Dad was minding the shop when we picked up the bike and his mum and baby niece met us on our return – how nice is that?
Melbourne is very “flat”, and thus a great location to pedal. Our city tour took us east along the southern side of the Yarra, through Southgate and down past the rowing sheds beyond St Kilda Road. We crossed over the river adjacent to the major sporting centres and explored Rod Laver Arena, AAMI Park and Melbourne’s beloved “G” (The Melbourne Cricket Ground). We’ve been to the “G” once before to experience our very first (and only) AFL Game – Geelong v Collingwood. If you have never been to the “G” or an AFL game, I encourage you to do it – what an amazing venue creating an exciting atmosphere – you don’t need to be into sport to enjoy it.
Our ride continued along the Yarra, culminating with lunch on the trendy and hip, Chapel Street. We re-traced our path and delivered the bikes safely back to Freddy’s mum. Next time I want to cycle around Albert Park, the home of Australia’s F1 Grand Prix and along the beach at St Kilda.
About 7.5km from Melbourne’s CBD is Fairfield Canoe Club, one of only two canoe clubs along the Yarra, and it was here where we finished our day of pedals and paddles. Our very good friend Mick has been involved with the club for many years and invited us to join him in a late afternoon paddle, to enjoy the lingering autumn afternoon sun and the last of daylight savings. We were joined by Mary Jo, Ed, and our daughter for this leisurely activity. What struck me most was the serenity of the river, thankfully hidden away from the residential and commercial developments which continue to spread their tentacles toward the bushy river banks. It is apparent that the local planning laws have prevailed, protecting the river’s natural beauty from the encroaching urbanisation. It will remain accessible for all to enjoy.
I enjoyed my day of pedalling and paddling along the Yarra and look forward to many more opportunities to explore our cities and enjoy the natural beauty upon which they have been built.