Hiking Review: Abbotsford & the Main Yarra Trail

Once again, I was keen to find a hike within the urban area of Melbourne rather than something further afield. As it turns out, this week’s adventure from Abbotsford Convent, along the Andrews Reserve Trail and the Main Yarra Trail hardly constitutes a hike (at only 3.5km return and flat most of the way). But it was a nice walk so I think it still deserves a post of its own.

Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

I love the Abbotsford Convent and the area around it. What was historically a religious site complete with chapels and one of the largest convents in Australia has now been overtaken by cafes, a school, a contemporary art gallery and even a children’s farm. It’s a diverse group who frequent the convent and that’s why I love it so much. I love when new initiatives breathe new life into historic spaces (side note: my master’s thesis was pretty much on this exact topic so it is a personal interest of mine)

Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

So we began our walk at Abbotsford Convent. We parked in the carpark opposite, on St Heliers Street. We were there for a couple of hours and parking cost us $5AUD (£2.90, 3,30€).

Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

From there we headed toward the river where we started on the Main Yarra Trail. This end of the trail is particularly well-made and suitable for both walkers and cyclists.

Garden at Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Garden at Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Behind the convent you’re sure to see ponies and sheep as well as a couple of small vegetable patches. There’s a real community spirit in this place. When I think of Melbourne, I think of places like this that are all about doing something good while being innovative and interesting at the same time.

Sheep behind Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
Sheep behind Abbotsford Convent, Abbotsford, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Once you cross the bridge you arrive in Studley Park and you can either choose to walk along the Main Yarra Trail (well-made) or the lower track, the continuation of the Andrews Reserve Trail (a dirt track). We chose to walk on Andrews Reserve Trail then loop back on the Main Yarra Trail.

View of the Yarra River from the Andrews Reserve Trail, Kew, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
View of the Yarra River from the Andrews Reserve Trail, Kew, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

From the lower track you get views of the Yarra and can enjoy the tranquility. The track here is unmade and as it had rained the night before it was a little slippery. So take care when walking along it.

View from Main Yarra Trail, Studley Park, Kew, Victoria, AUSTRALIA
View from Main Yarra Trail, Studley Park, Kew, Victoria, AUSTRALIA

Once you loop back around onto the top track, you get great views of Richmond like this one.

When we returned to the Abbotsford Convent we ate at one of the cafes there, Lentil as Anything. It’s a not-for-profit initiative set up to help local homeless people and there are a few dotted around Melbourne. Basically people who can’t afford it, many homeless people, can eat for free and everyone else gets to choose how much to pay so there are no fixed prices, they do offer guidelines though to make it easier. $20 covers your meal, running costs and the meal of someone who can’t afford it. $10 covers just the cost of your meal. You can choose any amount and no one ever pressures you, just put in what you can personally afford and obviously if you have the money you should pay the full amount. I think it’s a really great initiative so whenever there’s one close by I’ll recommend eating there.


If you’re looking for other hikes close to Melbourne, try the Bay Trail or for hikes slightly further afield try Cape Woolamai or the Cathedral Ranges.

 

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