The Main Yarra Trail and Diamond Creek Path are one of the most scenic Melbourne bike paths, taking you through bushland all the way from Eltham to the city. It is our favourite Melbourne bike day trip.
The Yarra is one of the most cherished Melbourne icons. It has been the dreaming path for the Wurundjeri tribe, fresh water for settlers, and muse and subject for the painters of the Heidelberg School.
For us it is a winding green corridor of park and bushland that takes us from the inner suburbs right into the bushy Melbourne edges - almost untouched by traffic and noise.
The ride from Eltham to Fairfield is 22km, slightly easier downhill, but generally flat, following the gentle flow of the Yarra. You can do an easy one-way trip from (or to) Eltham railway station, connect to the Capital City Trail, or follow the remaining 18km of the Main Yarra Trail to the Melbourne CBD. Or you can ride it both ways.
Closer to the city the bike trail is sealed and takes you along sports grounds, golf courses and the suburbs on the edge of the parklands. Further upstream, it is compacted dirt through typical Australian bush, Wattles and Eucalypts. The bike path hasn't even got a coffee shop! Ideal for a picnic lunch!
Mostly, it is the beauty of the bush and the Yarra that makes this bike trail so attractive. A favourite spot is the Yarra suspension bridge near Templestowe. From this we were able to spot a couple of platypus frolicking in the stream below. And that is quite a treat!
Just south of Eltham is the Diamond Valley Railway, a quirky delight for the young at heart. It is a fantastically laid out miniature railway with around 2km of winding tracks, tunnels, bush and a myriad puffing trains, including authentic drivers, whistles and railway crossings. Lot of love has gone into this and it's well worth a ride - not just for kids. It is cheap and operates on Sundays and holidays.
For a bit more culture, part of the Heidelberg School Artists trail follows the Main Yarra Trail. You get to view the late 1800's Yarra-scapes through the eyes of painters of the Heidelberg School, Australia's first significant art movement. Replicas of paintings by artists such as Arthur Streeton and Tom Roberts are displayed in their actual locations along the path in Templestowe, Bulleen, Eltham and Diamond Creek. It made us realise how the landscapes have changed! Many of these spots are now much more green and overgrown than they were in the 1890s!
For another culture stop, you can cross the Yarra at Banksia Street, Bulleen, and visit the Heide Museum of Modern Art and the homestead of John and Sunday Reed. This is where the likes of Joseph Boyd, Albert Tucker and Sydney Nolan used to hang out and produce a lot of their work - an interesting aesthetic side trip, including caf and expansive parklands dotted with original sculptures.
The Diamond Creek Path continues past Eltham for another 7km to Diamond Creek. Along this stretch you can visit the Edendale Community Farm, an environmental education centre where you can find out all about environmentally sustainable practices.
To start at Eltham, take the train to Eltham station. Follow the path besides the train line back for about 500m until you get to the Diamond Creek. Take a left turn to take you south towards the Yarra - or a right turn up to Diamond Creek. To ride to the city, follow the Diamond Creek Path southwards. It ends at the Yarra. After crossing the river, turn right. You are now on the Main Yarra Trail towards the city, which is very well sign posted.Here is a Google map of the Main Yarra Bike Trail.
From the other end, the Main Yarra Trail and the Capitial City Trail will take you to the Fairfield Boathouse. Cross the Yarra via the suspension bridge there and follow the bike trail signs through the hilly Yarra Bends. The path then follows the Eastern Freeway until just before Burke Road, where it takes you northeast along the left side of the Yarra. The trail crosses the river at Templestowe. To turn off to Eltham, look out for the Diamond Creek path north of Templestowe. For a bit of extra riding, the Main Yarra Trail continues for another 3km past the Diamond Creek turn. Various paths join the Yarra Trail along the way. Some intersections are not that well sign posted. We find the map app on our phone very useful to make sure that we stay on the right path.
Enjoy our photo gallery of the Main Yarra trail.
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