Kangaroos grazing in paddocks, with Yellow-tailed black cockatoos flying noisily above. Billabongs. Towering gum trees. It’s the stuff dreams about Australia are made of, and for Melburnians, they’re literally just a bike ride away. Further afield in Victoria, the air just gets crisper and the options wider.
Still, you don’t need to go far from Melbourne’s CBD to feel like you’re in the bush; just hit the Main Yarra Trail. It follows the Yarra River 37km from Southbank to the train station at Eltham (handy if you want to head back to the city), taking you through Yarra Bend Park and Westerfolds Park, in Templestowe, on a mixture of sealed path and gravel (with an inconvenient set of steps thrown in at Gipps St). The trail is popular with walkers and runners too.
The Capital City Trail is a different beast, despite it following some of the same trail as Main Yarra Trail. It takes you under one of Melbourne’s toll roads, through graffiti-covered tunnels, besides train tracks and stations, through Docklands, and through some of Melbourne’s best cafe-abundant suburbs.
The Capital City Trail is 29km long and, in parts, follows the sometimes flooding Moonee Ponds Creek (this is also part of the 25km long Moonee Ponds Creek Trail, which starts at Docklands and joins the Western Ring Road Trail).
From the Capital City Trail/Main Yarra Trail, you can turn off to explore the Merri Creek Trail (near pretty Dights Falls, with its rapids and a weir). The Merri Creek Trail heads north, and, like the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail, joins the Western Ring Road Trail after 21km, though the most popular section of the trail finishes around Coburg Lake.
The only thing about Melbourne’s bike trails is that the signage is pretty damn awful, and at times you may seem to be on all four trails at the same time. The strangest thing? You probably are.
Victorian Mountain Bike Trails
With the rise of bikes that can take on more than roads, cyclists are happier to get dirty on different terrain, and you don’t have to leave the city to find some great Victorian Mountain Bike Trails.
Westgate Park is listed as one of Strava’s most popular Melbourne rides as ‘a mountain bike trail in the middle of the city’. Yarra Bend Park attracts a variety of offroad cyclists, too, mostly on the south side of the Yarra. Further out Bulleen way, north of the river, is about 5km of Yarra Flats single track.
Candlebark Park is popular out Warrandyte way, as is Plenty Gorge, and out of town you’ll discover off road joy at Lysterfield, Arthurs Seat, and You Yangs Regional Park. There’s 65km of purpose-built mountain bike trails in Forrest, a fantastic little town just off the Great Ocean Road that has transitioned from logging to the much more sustainable industry of bikes.
Victoria’s high country has mountains of trails: Falls Creek ski resort becomes mountain biking central each green season, with snowgums dotting its 40km of gravity trails. Up here, you’re in for a multi-mountain treat, starting at Bright with its Mystic Mountain Bike Park, then Mt Buller Bike Park, Mt Beauty Big Hill Mountain Bike Park, Beechworth with its CX park, and new tracks in Yackandandah - more on that here.