Sydney cyclists have much to envy in Melbourne’s scenic Main Yarra Trail. Supposedly around 40km, the actual length will vary depending on your level of curiosity for exploring stray paths. Being a loop means you can start at the nearest point to where you are staying. It is entirely off-road and has a gently rolling gradient the whole way.
Our accommodation was across from Albert Park so that’s where my tour began on a cold but sunny winter morning. I wanted to visit a few nearby places before joining the Trai, like the Botanic Gardens and the Melbourne Cricket Ground.
Sydney rivalry often describes the Yarra in less than glowing terms but it is a remarkably clean and scenic river. At times it feels more like being in the countryside rather than only minutes from a capital city. After having one of the best coffees I can remember at a riverside café called Kanteen I hit the Trail with enthusiasm.
The Yarra is dotted with many bridges, some old and architecturally charming, others basic or just functionally modern. The river changes often from a pond-like quiet to a fast racing river.
The few hilltop lookouts are not difficult to climb, especially if on an ebike; the fabulous views are worth the effort.
The Trail goes through the city Dockside area which rivals Sydney’s Darling Harbour for colour and movement.
Overall, the Trail is reasonably well signposted, but don’t be surprised if you need to consult uncle Google or a passer-by. You can see on the Strava map that I wondered off-course a couple of times over the 50kms three and half hours tour. I could have completed the circuit in less time, but why would I want to? I’ll definitely be back to explore its variations and extensions.