Tuesday 17 April 2012

Melbourne - Australia

Flinders Street Station on Australia Day in the heart of Melbourne
Melbourne has a very much European feel compared to other cities in Australia. Set on the banks of the Yarra River, Sport is at the heart of almost everything.
Within a mile radius you have the Olympic Park, Rod Laver Arena and Melbourne Park (home of the the Australian Open Tennis), the gigantic MCG Stadium, Hisense Arena as well as countless training pitches and rowing clubs.
It's not difficult to see why Australians consistently contend for major honours across so many sports. 
One of the better cities for running as traffic is very minimal with such a well organised tram and train network. It is also extremely clean and has a really safe feel to it, unlike Rio or even Sydney.
I was staying in the city for two weeks and my hotel was located on the corner of Flinders Street and Spencer Street, close to the Etihad Stadium and the Melbourne Aquarium.

Some of the unique architecture in Melbourne on the banks of the Yarra river
As will become a trend with me and water, I was keen to take advantage of the close proximity to the Yarra River. I imagine it may have something to do with always living so close to the River Deben in Woodbridge - who knows!

Anyway, from the Aquarium on the North Bank of the Yarra, I followed the crazy busy river path towards Flinders Street Station and Federation Square, where the majority of tourists and students (for the free public wifi!!) congregate, day and night.

Unfortunately in Melbourne there is just one pathway for both pedestrians and cyclists and bizarrely some of platform exits feed out onto the walkway, creating a lot of congestion.
That said, it is a glorious run. It is a city which possesses some extravagant contemporary architecture but it just seems to work. Combined with the lazy pace of the river, there is plenty of motivation to keep going should the temptation to stop crop up.
The distance from Aquarium to Fed Square is 1.4km, all of which only metres from the water, something no doubt the UK Health & Safety officers would have nightmares about!
From Fed Square, the river meanders towards the hub of sporting activity in the city, with the route of my run taking in views of all the major sporting arenas and stadia.
The rest of the 4.6km route from Fed Square to Loys Paddock Reserve along the Yarra offers an escape from the abundance of tourists and this section of the Yarra is largely unoccupied.
At this point, I looped around back and headed towards the city centre. 1.6km into the return leg, I crossed over a footbridge away from the Yarra towards the MCG and AAMI Stadiums, through Riverside Park.

Each day I followed this route, there seemed to be a different sport being practiced in the park, from football, to Aussie Rules and what looked like both Rugby League and Union.
Upon exiting the park, I picked up Olympic Boulevard which runs alongside Hisense Arena, Rod Laver Arena and Melbourne Park.
The footpath picks up a footbridge that is designed to help deal with the crowds attending the MCG when in use, so I decided to follow this to mix up the route home, and the views from the bridge of both the MCG and the Eureka Tower (highest viewpoint in the Southern Hemisphere) are excellent.
The iconic entrance to Luna Park in St Kilda
From there the path leads to Fed Square and back to the Aquarium where I finished my run.

In total the route is 12.1km and very much flat. There's a mixture of gravel, sand and concrete paths, as well as grass in the park so there is a range of terrains.

As a huge sports fan, the views of the city and the various sporting venues make this a great route for anyone spending time in Melbourne.

Just watch out for the cyclists, these Aussies don't stop for nobody, especially a Pom!

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Start - Melbourne Aquarium, North Bank of the Yarra off Flinders Street
Journey - East along the bank of the river towards the Olympic Park and beyond. Loop back at the Nature Reserve and pick up the Riverside Park which neighbours AAMI Stadium. From there great views as you head back to the city past the major sporting venues. Back along the Yarra past Fed Square.
Finish - Melbourne Aquarium


  1. You missed the Tan! (http://www.onlymelbourne.com.au/melbourne_details.php?id=11442)

    It's the most famous running track in Melbourne, and you must have gone right past it.

    1. No way - Serves me right then for doing no research! Maybe next time...