Cycle Melbourne, Road Ride, Maribyrnong River to Brimbank Park Loop
From the start at Docklands you can do a short version of this ride out and back on sealed, shared paths. Covering a distance of about 24km, it’s a flat and easy recreational ride suited to road bikes. The full ride though involves an additional 32km mostly over unsealed tracks better suited to mountain or hybrid bikes. It also involves some climbing as the terrain moves upwards to Brimbank Park. You can tailor the ride to suit your level of fitness or your available time. From Docklands, the shared path is easy to follow out along Footscray Road to the Maribyrnong River.
The Maribyrnong Trail follows the river on each bank for parts of the ride and you can sample both sides as you ride out and back. Originally known as the Saltwater River because of its tidal nature, the Maribyrnong River was at the centre of Melbourne’s industrial growth in the mid to late 1800s. The river has recovered from some serious environmental damage in the ensuing years, to enjoy its reputation as one of Melbourne’s favourite recreational waterways. You pass by Flemington Racecourse on the opposite bank, where, if you happen to be riding on the first Tuesday in November, you will see a lot of people getting excited about a horse race. The trail passes through Pipemakers Park where you can stop to visit Melbourne’s Living Museum of the West. This site was the location of several significant, and probably unpleasant, historical industrial enterprises including a railway engineering foundry, one of Australia’s earliest and largest meat canneries, the first meat freezing works and one of the first reinforced concrete pipe works in Australia.
Evidence of this history can be found in the surviving structures. Further on you zigzag up to Lily Street lookout where you get great views back to the city. The river does a large sweep around the former Department of Defence explosives factory immediately below the lookout, and you can see the route you’ll take to Brimbank Park. The trail then descends quickly and soon turns to an unsealed gravel track. Take care in the warmer months as snakes are active in this area. At around 16km the trail takes you past the historic tea gardens which were established in 1909. The area once included extensive gardens, kiosks and a dance hall. Visitors travelled upstream on riverboats from the Maribyrnong Road bridge to spend the day, but the gardens eventually closed in 1947.
This ride only takes in part of Brimbank Park before looping around and heading back down the Maribyrnong River. The trail around the park is on a sealed bitumen, shared path and there are toilets and taps as well as plenty of shady spots for a break before heading back.
By train, Southern Cross station is close to the start at Docklands. If you decide to start the ride in Brimbank Park, Keilor East, enter via Keilor Park Drive off the Western Ring Road.
Food and Drink
There are plenty of places to choose from in Docklands. Along the way, at Maribyrnong Road bridge, you can choose between the Angler’s Tavern and the Boathouse Café on opposite banks. The Leaping Lizard café is close to the trail in Brimbank Park. There are several water taps en route.
52.479 km / 32.609 mi
731 m / 2,398 ft
64 m / 211 ft