Melbourne – sorry – this is a long Post

The trip across Bass Strait was the smoothest we have ever had, so it was a quiet night.

MT 1 Aboard Ship

The Deck 9 bar before the music began.  The area smelt like an Aquarium – odd


On arrival we disembarked at 6.30am and started to drive through Melbourne heading for the northern suburb of Coburg.  The lady in the GPS waylaid us and sent us up City Link – a Toll Road.  It cost $17.40 for a 7 kilometre dash along it.  I recognised the road as part of the original way out to the airport which was not built as a toll road but was “given” to the company as part compensation for adding lanes a few years ago.  We escaped from it’s grip and arrived at the caravan park at 8am and, true to their word, we were able to book in early and park up in our allocated spot.  There was a frost in the air and on the grass but the sun was coming out and burning it away.

In the afternoon I set off on the Brompton to Velo Folding Bikes to have it’s mountain drive fitted.

MT 10 Rows of Bromptons

Rows of Bromptons at Velo Folding Bikes.

I was using a map printed from Google and after a while I detoured to join the Merri Creek Walk/Cycle Trail and get away from the traffic.

MT 2 Merri Creek

The Trail, as it’s name suggests, follows a creek and I was heading downstream towards the Melbourne CBD.  It turned out to be quite a busy trail with some cyclists and lots of dog and kiddie walkers on it.  I think it might be school holiday time in Victoria.  Some areas obviously flood in wet weather and numerous detours were signposted but not needed.  It may be a number of trails that have been linked together as the width of track continually varies as does the quality of the surface.

After a while, although the printed Google map was not as detailed as I found I needed and certainly it knew nothing about Merri Creek Trail, I reckoned I should get off it and turn right, cutting across to Nicholson Street (NS) and the bike shop.  On arrival at NS I found the buildings were numbered from 25.  I needed 753.  OK, now joining traffic and trams with sometimes cycling space and sometimes not, I pedalled up NS until it petered out after a tram turnaround and then another road name and the number 1 appeared.  To quote Peter Cook and Dudley Moore, “Funny, I thought”.    I spent the next hour or so cycling up and down numerous streets including the coffee mecca of Lygon Street trying to find other bits of NS hopefully containing number 753.

MT 3 Argh

My thoughts exactly

Eventually I gave up, assumed the Google map was wrong and returned to the caravan park having covered exactly 30 kilometres of mostly Melbourne traffic on arterial roads while learning the do’s and don’ts relating to bicycles and Trams.  I am still unsure of the turning right (across tram track) etiquette.

We then got the free park WiFi link happening and I found that NS does have several bits to it separated by other streets.  Why not?  However the first bit I came across is a long section that has two sets of numbers!  If I had cycled towards the City just 2 more blocks I would have found that the numbers gradually counted down to 1 and then began again at 800+ and included 753 – the bicycle shop.  How strange is that?  As yet I have found nobody who can explain why.  It just is.

On Tuesday we drove to the bike shop using the GPS (which seems to have forgotten all about toll roads now) and had the bike there by 8.00am ready for it’s surgery.  The car was then taken back to Coburg and left in the caravan park while we spent the rest of the day travelling on trams in and around the city.  Mrs C was delighted to find 2 pairs of proper quality shoes going for a bargain price at the Victoria Markets so the shoe cupboard in the caravan is now fully loaded.

MT 5 Cafe at QVM

In a Market cafe awaiting the appearance of Sue’s shoes


A long day.  we started by catching Tram 11 to the city and then we separated for our days activities.  I caught another tram (96) up to Velo Folding where they had my Brompton ready.

MT 4 Tram

Number 11 Tram before it filled with commuters.

On the way I visited a Telstra shop to get a new card for our prepay Internet modem.  This detour took around 1,5 hours due to the distance to walk and the incredibly slow processes involved in Telstra Shop work.  I exited with what should be a working portable WiFi connection to the Internet for use during the trip.

Collected the bike, paid up and headed for the Capital City Trail.  I thought I would cycle about ⅔ of it and then head north to Coburg.  The first part was OK through to Melbourne Zoo and then I got lost.  Pulling out the phone I found the Ride with GPS app was tracking me OK and pointed out where I slipped off course.  This was to occur a number of times during the ride and taking it’s advice I could backtrack and make good.

MT 6 Bike in river

Rusty old bike in water – Capital City Trail

The next section was very interesting as the trail runs under railways, highways and the Westgate Bridge.  So much to see – bridges, cars, power lines, trucks, trains, buses, cyclists, walkers, lurkers, unsavoury river views and old bikes thrown into the water. Not a bit like the ride from home out to Bishopsbourne.

MT 7 Bike Track

The trail then runs through Docklands.  I hadn’t expected anything much from this section and was very surprised to find that the multitude of new high rises overlook river views and marinas.  Lots of pedestrians out and flowing across the shared path so – look out.  The route goes on until it gets to Southbank where the pedestrian traffic is full on and cyclists have to take great care (but you do mutter “get out the way you *&^%ing idiot” sometimes).  Once under Flinders Street Bridge the trail immediately changes to an atmosphere of parks and rowing sheds, space and almost quietness. There are some moves to replace the sheds with “development” but any developer is taking on the top end of town as elite schools, businesses and citizen groups lease the sheds and really enjoy their rowing and really don’t want to move.  To get them out the offer would have to be mega-impressive.

The trail now follows the Yarra River upstream via the Yarra Trail past famous cricket, football and tennis stadia.  Very popular with joggers and cyclists and, as it is mostly a narrow track, care has to be taken.  Further up the walkers acquire dogs and/or prams both of which add more hazards the cyclist must avoid.  We then move through an exclusive area of terraced gardens leading down to the river from “manor houses” sited on high and flash looking Girls Schools c/w boat houses and ramps for launching their sculls.

MT 8 Yarra

Oh yes.  I could live here!  Just couldn’t afford the RATES let alone the purchase price of the houses.  Thank you for allowing the cycle path to traverse your patch and us to have a sticky at an exclusive lifestyle.

It was about at this point the newly fitted mountain drive began to sound like a bird.  The trail was very up and down with quite steep inclines.  I was getting tired so the lower gears were getting a work out and the chirruping began.  What to do?  Firstly work out if it was the drive.  This took a little while isolating the sounds (which came and went) to the drive and not other things on the bike.  BUGGER.  OK it has to go back to Velo Folding.  I looked at “Ride with GPS” on the phone and found it wasn’t too far to the shop and continued pedalling around the route squeaking away up the hills.  Sometimes walkers stared in surprise at the old fellow on a folding bike sounding like a Starling.  Sooner than expected I arrived at the Nicholson Street crossing where I began my Capital City Trail experience and took the bike back to Velo Folding.

The mechanic who fitted the drive eventually had a look and a ride and found nothing.  He thought I had mistaken the squeak in the seat springs as a drive problem.  I sent him out again and on his return – yes – he had heard the drive making noise.  The bike was left with him and I returned to the caravan, via trams 96 (back into the City) and 11 (out to Coburg), ready to get tired and emotional with a beer or three.