Discovering Melbourne on a saddle

16 09 2011

After a thoroughly enjoyable lunch at the Merchant, it was time for some of us, perhaps the foolhardy ones, to get on a saddle and work some of the calories (especially from the panna cotta) off. A few of us who chose to might perhaps have had illusions (or delusions) of riding in the footsteps (or would wheel tracks be more apt?) of Cadel Evans, who rode through the streets of the very same city just barely a month before, in celebration of his recently concluded successful Tour de France campaign.

The Yarra River. Melbourne is a very bicycle friendly city and an ideal location to explore on a bicycle saddle.

There are many possibilities to see Melbourne on a bicycle, including Share a Bike or better still with a guided bicycle tour.

Melbourne does, fortunately for the mere mortals who would have struggled up a 1 in 10 incline, does not present the challenges that a climb that Cadel and his colleagues would have relished that Le Tour is well known for. It is in fact a relatively flat and very bike friendly city and one that is perfect (weather permitting) for a pedal powered tour of, and this is what five bloggers found themselves doing with the with the highly rated Real Melbourne Bicycle Tours. The bicycle tours are run by a journalist Murray Johnson, can be customised, and offers a quick but comprehensive way of discovering Melbourne. Routes would typically take participants through the many backstreets, colourful markets, cosy cafes, hidden arcades, little bike paths and and narrow laneways. It provides participants with a quick appreciation of the lush gardens, magnificent architecture, some of the many cultural icons and most importantly (from a Singaporean’s viewpoint), the many gourmet treats that awaits discovery.

Murray Johnson getting the bloggers ready for the ride.

The 20 minute walk from the Rialto Towers to Federation Square where the Real Melbourne Bicycle Tours is run from, gave a chance for lunch to settle. And the five brave souls: Aussie Pete, Huang Kee Hong, Karen Lim, Eunice Khong and myself, soon found ourselves equipped with a helmet – a requirement for all cyclists and a bike. First stop was under the shade of a lemon-scented gum tree by the Yarra, where Murray extended a welcome by offering leaves from the gum tree as well as from a eucalyptus tree. The offering of leaves, was, as Murray mentioned a traditional greeting which extended the freedom of the land to visitors.

A briefing before setting off.

Not far from the spot were we had our welcome in the Birrarung Marr, a park by the Yarra, a three legged and two headed beast confronts us. It is of course not one that is alive, but is the Angel, a creation of local artist Deborah Halpern, best known for her works of public art. It is from this point that the pace picks up, we head up a ramp (which Murray advised was the steepest incline we were to face), to a link-way from where we got an excellent view of the Rod Laver Arena – home of the Australian Open. The link-way then leads us to the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) – home not just of cricket, but also of (Australian Rules) football, where a statue of Dennis Lillee – the renowned fast bowler greets us. The MCG with a capacity of more than 100,000 is one of the world’s largest sporting arenas and the largest in Australia. The MCG is home to the Melbourne Cricket Club (MCC) which Murray mentions has a 16 year wait for membership. A quick check on the MCC’s website reveals that there are as many as 210,000 people on the waiting list.

The Angel by Deborah Halpern at Birrarung Marr.

An angel on a bike? Karen Lim, winner of the Best Lifestyle Blog Award.

The Rod Laver Arena.

Statue of Dennis Lillee at the MCG.

The MCG is the home of the MCC which has a 16 year waiting list for membership.

The MCG is also home to football.

Other places of note that we passed on a fast but manageable (with a exception of a few huffs and puffs upslope) ride included the Fitzroy and Treasury Gardens, the imposing State Parliament House, the gorgeous Princess Theatre, the Bohemian streets of Fitzroy, and Melbourne’s little Italy – the neighbourhood of Carlton with the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens. It was in Carlton where a reward, in the form of a cappuccino and a sampling of cakes at Brunetti’s – an institution in Melbourne, awaited us, and all too soon, it was time to head back to Federation Square, which we did through peak hour traffic.

It was a short but thoroughly enjoyable ride through the streets and one that the next time I am in Melbourne, would certainly want to do again. Returning the bicycle and helmets, it was now time to take that short walk back to the hotel, and prepare for what was to be an exciting first evening in Melbourne.

Continuing on the bike tour.

Aussie Pete, winner of the Best WTH Blog Award.

The State Parliament House.

Princess Theatre.

St. Patrick’s Cathedral.


Down the very Bohemian Brunswick Street..

Another view of Brunswick Street.

The Royal Exhibition Building in Carlton.

A burger joint at the corner of Lygon and Faraday Streets.

Enjoying the reward at Brunetti’s.

Real Melbourne Bike Tours
@ Hire a Bike
Vault 14 at Federation Wharf, riverside level below Federation Square
Melbourne VIC 3000
Tel: 0417 339 203

This is a repost of my post on the omy Colours of Melbourne 2011: My Melbourne Experience site. You can vote for your favourite blogger at the My Melbourne Experience voting page. Voting period is from 15 September 2011 to 5 October 2011 and stand a chance to win prizes worth up to $3000 which include Jetstar travel vouchers and Crumpler limited edition laptop bags.