Cycle Melbourne, Road Ride, EastLink Trail
The core of this ride along the EastLink tollway on a good concrete surface makes it easy to traverse the busy eastern suburbs with limited inter-action with motor vehicles. Most intersections are well defined for cyclists. The start along Mullum Mullum Creek Trail and the presence of parks and reserves along the ride temper the commanding presence of the tollway and give the ride a more rural feel than you would imagine for this route.
This ride starts at Croydon railway station with a short section on-road to the upper reaches of Mullum Mullum Creek Trail. This well compacted gravel path follows the creek through a naturally landscaped linear park in Ringwood until it joins the EastLink Trail. Once you’re on the trail the urban landscape changes dramatically as the distinctive shapes and forms of the EastLink’s architecture are introduced. Bold colours and forms can be seen bordering the tollway as you head south on the trail. Coloured sound screens and bridges, public sculptures and spaghetti like highway intersections all add to the effect.
Although they are on the tollway, some distance from the trail, look for the giant feeding bird and the hotel that isn’t. The tollway’s impact is offset by landscaping and several parks along the route. For a break it is definitely worth detouring in to Jells Park for its café, sweeping lawns and great views across the lake to the Dandenong Ranges. On a smaller scale Oakwood Park, at the major intersection of the tollway, Princes Highway and Heatherton Road resembles an amphitheatre, with an area of wetlands, a viewing platform and picnic area against a backdrop of the major intersection.
Although the EastLink Trail is relatively new, with a good, wide path, bikes take second place to cars at intersections. Busy intersections feature lights, underpasses or bridges which are good for cyclists, but you need to be careful at big, multi-lane intersections which involve multiple traffic light crossings. Signage is good along the trail, but with a couple of gaps and the intertwining of this trail with the Dandenong Creek Trail may cause confusion too. Follow the ride log to ensure smooth progress. Towards the end of the ride you straight line beside the National Water Sports Centre which was developed to international standards in 1988 for Melbourne’s unsuccessful Olympic bid. Skiers, speed boats or rowers may give you some activity to watch.
At the end of this ride if you’ve still got some energy you could cross Patterson River to the north and ride the Beacon Cove to Carrum Trail in reverse to the city or vary the return ride to Croydon, in part, by following the Dandenong Creek Trail.
The best way to do this ride is take the train to Croydon station on the Lilydale line. If travelling by car, parking is available at the station, but is busy during the week.
Food and Drink
There are local shops at the start and finish and only a couple of locations along the way. Water taps en route are scarce. A good deviation is to ride into Jells Park at 20.6km where there are taps, toilets and a café. Otherwise be prepared to carry what you need.
43.355 km / 26.939 mi
511 m / 1,677 ft
157 m / 514 ft