Posted by Elvira Griffith
15. Dec, 2011
If I had to describe this trail in one word, it would be wholesome. The Merri Creek by bicycle is a meandering treat for city-dwellers, stretching 21km from the Western Ring Road in Fawkner to the Yarra River in Clifton Hill. It’s an easy, safe ride, suitable for all confidence levels and easily accessible by public transport. Although generally well signed, it’s best to take a map along.
Willows, with their graceful swaying dance, are gradually being replaced by natives. The Merri Creek Management Committee work hard to restore, repair and refresh the creek, and it shows. Look carefully and you might spot a Sacred Kingfisher, turtle, or even a platypus. Coburg Lake Park hosts picnics for everyone, from cuddly couples and rowdy young things to veiled mamas watching their kids scrambling over the rocks in the shallows. The Coburg Olympic Pool, just downstream of the lake, is straight from your childhood – think large lawns, cool blue water, icy-poles and diving boards.
Roll on and you’ll pass the (now organic) Merri Creek Market Gardens, where urban farmers have grown veggies for over 150 years. Stop by the old fig tree opposite to go climbing for fresh, fragrant fruit in the summer. Further on you’ll see the Russian Orthodox Church of Brunswick, affectionately known to locals as the “Golden Onions” for its super-bling minarets. You’ll pass CERES Community Environment Park: part uber-hip way of the future, part daggy earnest dreamer. CERES is open daylight hours and has cafes, playgrounds, an eco-market and festivals galore.
Past CERES the track dips and follows the creek around through Fitzroy, Westgarth and finally in to Clifton Hill. Dights Falls, where the Merri flows into the Yarra, can be a trickle, or a glorious crashing wonder, depending on the rainfall. From here, you can continue along the Yarra Trail to the city, or ride up the hill to get to Clifton Hill Station. Or you can just sit still, listen to the kookaburras and let a smile fill you up.
The Merri Creek Trail is a soothing balm for urbanites. Cycling away from traffic allows the mind to slow, and to take in you surrounds at a human pace. Listening out for bird calls rather than car horns and smelling the dense honey of a eucalypt in blossom are welcome opportunities for reconnecting with the life of this land. So pack a picnic and get on ya’ bike!
Bicycle Victoria: www.bv.com.au
Merri Creek Management Committee www.mcmc.org.au/