Melbourne is a cyclist's city, and what better way to get to know it than by pedal power. Vanessa Murray explored Victoria Harbour by bicycle, and made this point-to-point guide on how to make the most of a two-wheeled adventure.
1. INTO VICTORIA HARBOUR
The Capital City Trail runs along Harbour Esplanade and borders the eastern end of Victoria Harbour, hemming it in like a zipper made of tarmac. You can enter Victoria Harbour via Bourke Street or Collins Street; both have on-road bicycle lanes. (I take Collins Street.) Take care when turning, as pedestrians use the Capital City Trail, too. Note that there are several areas where cycling is not allowed, or only allowed for families with children under twelve. No problem! One of bicycling’s many beauties is that finding a park is easy, and in Victoria Harbour it’s positively encouraged. There are sequences of half-moon-shaped
bike-parking stands everywhere – thirsty riders will spot the occasional drinking fountain too.
2. DOWN COLLINS STREET TO NORTH WHARF ROAD
You’ll want to park your bike and wander almost as soon as you hit Collins Street, as a cluster of curious artworks, including Duncan Stemler’s Blowhole, beckon from Docklands Park South. Stop, lock (or wander with bike) and take it all in. Back on the green bitumen cycling path, eye-catching examples of modern architecture, like the plant-pod, leaf-pattern and river-washedstone-inspired geometrical facade of the Exo apartments, demand attention. There are more sculptural forms to absorb a little further along on the left or western side, too, and you’ll see hints of the Yarra River in between, buffered by a tidy row of young eucalypts that mark the edge of the road. Breathe deeply and inhale their scent; if the wind is coming in the right direction you’ll get a hint of salty air wafting in over the top of the cranes and construction sites up ahead, where the Yarra River and the harbour meet. As Collins Street tapers into North Wharf Road all but the hardiest of cyclists will want to veer right and cycle back up Collins Street. Like the tram, the bike path finishes here. Some roads are closed, and there are a few construction fences to negotiate too.
3. VEER LEFT INTO BOURKE STREET, THEN LEFT INTO CUMBERLAND STREET
Here you’ll get your first glimpse of Victoria Harbour proper, and the magnificent d’Albora marinas that nestle at its southern edge, cradling a range of recreational boats. Sure, the view is intriguing, but don’t forget to keep your eyes on the road! There is the chance of light vehicle traffic here, and some cobblestoned sections of ground too.
4. ALONG VICTORIA HARBOUR PROMENADE
Another disembark, park and/or wander opportunity, here Etihad Stadium dominates the eastern skyline, with the Melbourne Star Observation Wheel and a line-up of skyscrapers standing sentinel in the northern distance. A view like this is the perfect excuse for a coffee, snack or lunch break, and there are several options close at hand. Why not take yours al fresco, enjoying the succulent gardens bristling in the wind and watching the water in the harbour shift and glisten in front of you.
5. UP MERCHANT STREET,LEFT INTO COLLINS STREET
Time to get back on two wheels again. We cycle slowly up Merchant Street, taking note of New Energy Physiotherapy, Nail Safari and Man, What a Fuss! – after all, a cyclist never knows when they’ll need a treatment or pamper. We look left, then right, then left again before crossing bustling Bourke Street, tackling Merchant Street’s gentle incline then swinging left into Collins Street.
6. LEFT AGAIN INTO KARLSRUHE LANE, THEN FOLLOW YOUR NOSE
Cycling lends itself to curiosity, so I simply headed north with the end goal of a right turn into Bourke Street. Here, one street doglegs into another and a pleasant village-feel overcomes the Harbour, with the grassy, inviting oval of Victoria Green at its heart. You might have to occasionally walk your bike, but hey! Two legs, two wheels … it’s all part of the fun.
Trip Time: Approximately 25 minutes
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