Having lived now for a couple of weeks in our new place on the banks of the Merri creek, I have started riding my bike in to work along the Merri creek trail. It is roughly 10 kms and takes me around 45 mins each way. More than half of my route (around six km) is on the trail itself and while not every part looks like the photo above, much of it is green, sheltered and close enough to the creek for me to see its waters trickling by. Prior to the move, I’ve been riding along St Georges Road along the central bike path. While investigating new riding options, I was resistant to the creek route as it would add a kilometer or so to my journey due to its winds and turns.
Now that I’ve tried it, I wonder how I could have considered anything else. The six km along the creek passes far quicker than the other four. There is no car traffic in sight, hardly any other cyclists and only the occasional jogger or dog walker to contend with. Besides Normanby Avenue, there are no roads to cross until I reach North Fitzroy. On the way, I pass through an amazing variety of Australian bush and grasses, densely packed trees and green clearings. I pass bird-life and ducks, one of the last great willow trees along the creek in its yellow autumnal colors and incredibly enough at one point the golden minarets of a Russian othrodox church peeking over the eucalyptus tree-line like a dream.
The houses and apartments along the creek are modest. No building seems greater than two stories in height and most are set some distance back: the Merri Creek floods high and often enough that development is restricted. Further along north of Normanby Avenue, there are old warehouses and sports-grounds on the Preston side (and also the Islamic Museum of Australia and its trail side cafe) but the reserves along the creek widens out even more and at times the trees appear to extend much further than they do.
Towards the end of my route, the Harding Street suspension bridge complete with creaky boards and dodgy patches takes me back to my side. From the middle, I can see the Ceres market garden to the north, the only market garden remaining from the early 1900s when Chinese gardeners left-over from the gold-rush grew plots of vegetables and pushed their carts in to the Vic market.
And then, I am home.