Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Devonshire Tease
A short ride linking the Fairfield and Studley Park boathouses to Dights Falls, intended as an enjoyable entrée for families with budding mountain bikers in their midst. On some parts of this ride it’s hard to believe you are in the middle of a major city. The introductory nature of the ride is enhanced by having sections of gravel, dirt and bitumen. The hill at 0.7km is not as daunting as it used to be but can develop deep channels after rain.
Once you drop away from the Fairfield Boathouse and under the Fairfield Pipeline Bridge, it’s like being in the middle of the bush. There is a lot of tree cover and even in summer the Yarra seems to help keep the air temperature down. This is definitely the sweetest part of the ride. As you climb away from the river, the roar of the Eastern Freeway brings you back to reality. You then pass the site that once was Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum, established in 1848. You should be able to see one of the asylum’s bluestone gate pillars on the right, before you cross the freeway on Yarra Bend Road.
After passing the Yarra Bend Golf Course you cross Kane’s Bridge for a short gravel loop in Studley Park. The Studley Park Boathouse is the oldest public boathouse on the Yarra, having been established in 1863 and is worth a visit before you head back over the bridge towards Dights Falls, where an enterprising flour miller in 1841 built a weir on a natural rock bar to provide power. The mill remains were restored in 1996 and, more recently, the falls themselves have had a major makeover to allow spawning fish to travel upstream. The ride then joins the Main Yarra Trail where a singletrack on the left will keep you off the bitumen most of the way back to the finish if you so desire. Food is available at the start, middle and end of this ride for those who need encouragement. Contrary to appearances, the Fairfield Boathouse was built 45 years after the Studley Park one but received a full ‘retro’ renovation in 1985 after being derelict for a number of years. Devonshire teas and big fry-ups from the outdoor kitchen are specialities of the house.
The ride is about 9km (20 minutes) by car northeast of Melbourne’s CBD, starting in the Fairfield Park Boathouse car park.
Car: Follow Heidelberg Road until you see signs for the Fairfield Park Boathouse near Jeffrey Street (Melway 30 J12). Enter car park and look for toilets, our start point.
Train: Catch the Hurstbridge train as far as Fairfield. A short ride down Station Street will take you close to the start of this ride.
Food and Drink
Available at the start, middle and end. How about morning tea at the Studley Park Boathouse, halfway around this ride, and lunch at Fairfield Boathouse after you’ve finished? There are seats and picnic tables along the way if you want to bring food but we don’t recommend getting your drinking water from the Yarra.
To catch a glimpse of Melbourne’s grey-headed flying fox colony, go straight ahead at the 0.7km mark, instead of uphill, and under the freeway (for a second time) and you might be lucky enough to see these noisy bats roosting in the gum trees on the river bank near the Yarra Bend Golf Course boundary fence.
7.4 km / 4.598 mi
93 m / 306 ft
38 m / 124 ft