A dense bushland trail just minutes outside of the city.
The seasons turn pretty quickly in Melbourne. Winter sneaks up brutally fast, and while the weather is at least predictable, the skies bring more rain clouds, which result in a sulky Josh. Those downcast eyes did spy a glimmer of gold on the forecast, however. 19° and sunny in June. I wasn’t going to let this rarity elude me. It may well be my last opportunity to enjoy Melbourne’s outdoors before I moved on. Time for a hike!
The Dight Falls Trail, at Yarra Bend Park, had been propped up near the top of my to-do list since I touched down in Melbourne. The trail ticked all the boxes; free, picturesque, close to the CBD and easily accessible via public transport. I was in!
From the city, I jumped on the early morning train to the suburb of Abbotsford, walked through the historic Victoria Park Football Oval, zipped through few residential streets, and arrived at Dight Falls. Now, typically when I hear the word ‘falls’, I envisage a thundering cascade of water splashing down jagged rocks; these falls were more of a tame trickle in comparison. Perhaps I’ve romanticised the word a little. Nevermind, the scenic views at Yarra Bend Park more than made up for my idealistic assumptions.
Despite the frosty a.m. start, I wasn’t the only one venturing out to make the most of the seasonally mild, but still fundamentally cool, conditions. A smattering of prams, dogs and bikes accompanied their owners weaving along the paved paths. While the unsealed sections of the trail included steady streams of walkers, joggers, BMX bikers and trail runners.
But by far the most memorable (and cutest) fellow pedestrians were a meandering preschool class, angelically warbling the ‘5 Little Ducks’ nursery rhyme. Enough to make even the most content bachelor clucky. I can only assume they’d been on a class trip to the nearby Collingwood Children’s Farm; a place I’d get the opportunity to visit a few days later with my nephew.
Maybe it was this unexpected ruffling of my paternal impulses over the next 30 minutes, but I totally lost my bearings. Admittedly, the trail isn’t spectacularly well signed, but as long as you follow the bends of the river, path permitting, you shouldn’t get lost. As a result, I sliced off a heap of the ‘recognised’ trail. There was supposed to be an old lunatic asylum along the path, but I was the only one driven crazy.
I’d suggest saving a map of the area to your phone before you start your trek. Also, make sure you’re wearing stable shoes, the unpaved sections are uneven, rocky and even slippery in some spots.
The path continued to curl around the river, passing roads, bushland, lookouts, a boathouse, parks and a plague of lycra-clad cyclists until it eventually spat me out back at the Dight Falls clearing. I’d suggest giving yourself a couple of good hours for the walk, especially if you’re inclined, like me, to stop for photos.