Melbourne: Yarra Bends Park loop 22km

Some time ago, I was at the Mountain Design shop on Little Bourke Street to look for replacement boots. After walking 775km on the Camino and other hikes, the boots had clocked up much more milage than I could reasonably expect. Also, I only suffered one single blister during the whole of the Camino. So a new pair of exactly the same Mammut boots was my mission. Why change a winning formula?

Well, no luck with the boots. Mammut does not seem to manufacture those particular boots anymore.

However, chatting with the sales assistant, he suggested that you can bush walk the area around Yarra Bends for 20km or so. Yarra Bends being the closest area to metropolitan Melbourne where you can do that. I had my doubts that you could walk that far off surfaced streets so I consulted Goggle Maps and other online material.

It turned out that the sales assistant was right.

You can do 20km around Yarra Bends and Yarra River almost exclusively on bush tracks. But you do have to backtrack parts of it to make it a loop.

I didn’t make the hike a loop but I could have done so by walking back the last few kilometers to where I started from. Instead of returning the same way, I walked home instead. This actually made the total  walking distance longer.

This is how the day panned out. I started off by taking the tram to Richmond and along Victoria Street, getting off outside Victoria Gardens shopping centre where IKEA is. Stop 24 on the tram line.

You cross the bridge over Yarra River at the end of Burnley St and almost immediately you are on to this.

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An overcast and cool day made it perfect for walking. Yes, there were a few drops of rain falling here and there but nothing of worry. Yarra River and Melbourne skyline in the distance.

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On the other side of Yarra River, there was a pretty sophisticated camp setting in suburbia. I wondered what the story was here… It is suburbia after all.

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The Capital City Trail runs along the other side of Yarra River. I only walked it in the other direction a short while ago. Details refer Capital City Trail. Abbotsford Convent building to the right and…

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…Collingwood Childrens Zoo in front of it.

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A lot of the trail looked like the below. I am pointing the camera back to where I came from here.

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Dights Falls where Merri Creek flows into Yarra River. Again, my Capital City Trail hike followed that path you see across the water. Perhaps not the most impressive waterfall that you will ever see…

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This imposing cairn celebrates first white man’s discovery and settlement of the area around Dights Falls. The cairn is in an awkward out of the way place these days, not accessible by car.

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The people on the shore of Yarra River with the dog in the water almost looked like a yesteryear Australian bush painting.

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For a short little while and just before the descent to Studley Park, you had to walk on this. A locked gate later on prevents cars from driving in here so there were just me and a few cyclists around.

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Studley Park Boathouse then came into view. Today there was a bright huge lamp on down there and plenty of people around. Something was going on.

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Of course they were filming something. I found out that the “something” was Upper Middle Bogan for ABC TV.

One table with plenty of people around it, many young and blond, made me suspect that those were the actors. You can see them in the distance to the right below. Good Mrs suggested that I should join for a cameo. I declined as not being anywhere near blond enough.

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Studley Park and its boathouse is close to 5km from the beginning of the hike. That makes it a perfect spot for a break. After a cup of tea and a muffin outside Studley Park Boathouse, I continued my hike.

The message on the sign below is just a slight exaggeration. There is no way that you would call any of the flood damage here “severe”. Minimal flood damage in my view, which would not stop anybody in their tracks.

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The flood damage didn’t get any worse than what you see here below.

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A still and calm day which did not make a ripple on Yarra River here.

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Bell Bird Park has a huge flying fox colony (they didn’t seem to call them bats here). You could hear the noise from a distance and as you got closer, feel the smell as well.

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I couldn’t resist a couple of close up shots of some of the many flying foxes hanging upside down from the trees. There must be thousands and thousands of flying foxes in and around Bell Bird Park and along Yarra River.

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A sign in Bell Bird Park crushed some myths about flying foxes. For example, they will never attack you unless you approach one lying on the ground. That flying fox is likely to be either injured or sick and what animal would not get agitated then. And the smell is not from droppings but rather a scent to attract the opposite sex.

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At the 10km mark is this bridge connecting the Main Yarra Trail. And if you walk across it…

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…you will see Fairfield Boathouse, an obvious second stop as…

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…there is both a cafe and picnic tables for visitors like me bringing their own supplies.

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I returned over the bridge back to the other eastern / southern side of Yarra River after my break. So, after 10+km it is still a bush track though Yarra Bends Park. I can recall only one small section where you had to walk on a few surfaced suburban streets.

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At around 12.5km, it was all over. You exit Yarra Bends Park and you are back to paved suburban trails. Perfect for cycling but not what I was after today for my hike.

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What you can do here is walking up to Chandler Highway, cross this bridge and return along Yarra River on the other side.

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You first have to walk up these stairs to get up to the bridge.

The stairs have caused a lot of controversy. They form part of Main Yarra Trail which is very popular among cyclists. Having to push or pull your bike up or down stairs on a trail is never appreciated by cyclists. It is not like there is no space to build something on the side either.

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Over on the other side and returning, you can follow Yarra River up to a point.

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Then, it is no longer possible to walk along Yarra River. The residences here go all the way down to the water. You have to cross a bit of suburbia before arriving back at Fairfield Boathouse, which is now on the same side as you.

The below made me giggle. The house owner is selling horse manure!!?? In suburbia? Payment via an honesty system where you push you payment through that slot to the right. It couldn’t help thinking “horse sh*t”…

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Continuing walking along Yarra River on that other side, it appeared that the area underneath Eastern Freeway had once been grazing land. Just here there was once a working fence perhaps between two properties.

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Unfortunately, Yarra Bends Golf Course takes out a large chunk of land along Yarra River. Walking along the river on the northern side is no longer possible here and you have walk through Yarra Bends Park.

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Soon, we are approaching Studley Park Boathouse from the other side of Yarra River. Most of the film crew was now gone. There were only a few technicians there disassembling and packing up the last props.

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Crossing Kanes Bridge and you are back at the same side as Studley Park Boathouse.

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It is from here that I could have returned the same way that I had arrived, back to the tram stop. Instead, I decided to walk up to Studley Park Road, cross the bridge over to Johnston Street and walk home from there.

Although not exactly part of the bush walk, I couldn’t resist including a photo of street art. There were a few rather impressive pieces along the eastern part of Johnston Street. The one below looked particularly brilliant. Even the old power meter seemed to fit in.

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That concludes the tale for this time. I may include a seperate post of street art from the area because some of it is just stunning…

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