The Barwon River starts its life in the Otway Ranges joining the Moorabool River at Fyansford, before flowing through Lake Connewarre and entering the sea at Barwon Heads. This circuit takes in life around the river in Geelong, starting at Fyansford going down one side to the breakwater and then back on the other side. There is a lot going on and you will see it’s an integral part of Geelong’s charm and vibrancy.
There is a short trail at the start of the ride up to Buckleys Falls. Well worth a visit.
The undulating riverside path mostly on a paved surface. Plenty of people run, walk and ride along this trail. But it’s a long one and there is plenty of room, except perhaps in the section between the Shannon Avenue and Queens Park Road bridges where it’s narrower, twisting and more populated.
Geelong is 75 kilometers southwest of Melbourne on the Princes Freeway, taking the Geelong Ring Road at Corio North. The ride starts next to the Fyansford Hotel on the Hamilton Highway (Aberdeen Street) (B140) coming into Geelong from the Geelong Ring Road. It’s just over the river on your right. VicRoads Map: 454 B4.
Food and Drink
Apart from the Fyansford Hotel, there are shops close by all along this riverside path. Just before the Shannon Avenue bridge, you can head up Barrabool Road to the Highton shops. At the Moorabool Street bridge, there are shops in either direction. Best of all there is the Barwon Edge Boathouse cafe right on the path on the return leg about a kilometer past the Shannon Avenue bridge.
The Barwon River is integral to much of Geelong’s leisure, sporting, and natural life. As you will see, the river is popular for rowing, boating, and fishing. Many people use this fantastic trail constantly. Fyansford, where the ride commences, was one of the earliest places settled in Geelong by Captain Fyan the local police magistrate. He established a police camp here where the Moorabool River could be forded – and hence you have the name. The old buildings, including the pub, give you a sense of history here, but exploration further up the Barwon reveals even more.
The sidetrack to Buckley’s Falls will take you near to the weir and water race built to provide power to the still-standing Fyansford Paper Mill. Heading downstream again, the waters flow past the Queens Park Golf Club and under the old single-lane truss bridge. This bridge was recently replicated by a temporary bridge and entrance road constructed beside it for the 2010 UCI World Championship cycle race. This section of river is almost a gorge with houses built on the high banks on either side. It levels out as the river bends into the Highton area where you pass under the Shannon Avenue bridge.
From here on you’re coming into rowing territory where the river is wide and straight. The Head of the River rowing regatta, one of Australia’s premier rowing events, is held here. The race on the Barwon goes back to 1879. After passing under the Moorabool Street bridge you come to the Belmont Common with its wetlands and sporting facilities including another golf course, football ovals, athletics tracks and rowing clubrooms. The turn around is at the breakwater, once again constructed by Captain Fyan to stop the inflow of saltwater into the town’s freshwater river supply. Coming back up the other side you get another perspective of the river. Noteworthy are the bird rich lakes of Balyang Sanctuary at the Shannon Avenue bridge.
This environmentally rich area continues after the bridge on the riverside wetlands. Coming toward the end of the ride you might stop at the café before heading through Queens Park back to Fyansford.
- 0.0 This ride kicks off on the trail as it runs beside the large car park beside the pub. Head to the right.
- 0.2 Turn left into the car park and continue through back onto the trail.
- 0.5 Turn right and cross over the small bridge and then left.
- 0.7 Cross over this next bridge and turn to the right.
- 1.1 Cross over the bridge again and then turn to the left. You could detour to Buckley’s Falls turning right.
- 4.9 You rise up to a small car park beside the Barrabool Rd. You can find a shopping center not too far up here.
- 5.0 You go under the Shannon Ave bridge and meet another path that comes in from the right. Continue ahead.
- 5.4 The path divides. Either way is OK but the left branch beside the river is probably nicer.
- 5.5 The path morphs into a riverside road running beside the Barwon Valley Park that has playgrounds and picnic facilities. Continue along the road.
- 6.5 The path recommences passing under the pedestrian bridge; a short cut back if you want.
- 6.9 The path rejoins the road as you pass under the Princes Hwy bridge. Stay to the left as the road passes under the Moorabool St bridge continuing on to a boat launching car park.
- 7.3 Through the car park the trail continues on the right side into the sheoaks.
- 9.4 The trail reaches Breakwater Rd and returns on the other side. Crossing on the footpath you can see why they call it the breakwater. On the other side turn immediately left down the rough track where you will find the trail starting again, passing under the railway bridge.
- 11.5 You’re passing Landy Field athletics track and a small picnic area riding toward the rowing sheds that line this part of the river. On regatta days the track through here may be gated and you will have to detour around the back until you come back to the trail near the Moorabool St bridge.
- 12.3 You pass under the pedestrian bridge and the trail widens out leaving plenty of room for everybody.
- 13.4 The trail forks and you follow the path to the left crossing the small bridge. Not far ahead is Balyang Sanctuary, where there are toilets and picnic facilities, just before the Shannon Ave bridge that you will pass under.
- 14.8 This is where you will find the Barwon Edge café. The second ramp is probably the easiest to negotiate with bikes. From here on in the path is a bit twisty so take care not to fly into someone coming the other way. You will again pass under the Queens Park Rd bridge curve around the river before coming to a dip and then a rise.
- 18.1 At the fork in the path go to the left onto the rough track and then right up the small hill, which will take you back toward the start.
- 18.4 You are back in the car park and the end of the ride.
18.395 km / 11.43 mi
131 m / 430 ft
131 m / 430 ft
15 m / 50 ft