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Western Coastal Bike Trail


A series of bike trails cross Melbourne and extend as far as the Dandenongs. Most of the trails are about 10 km, which could take about two hours to complete. The trails are usually linked, and you can extend your tour if you like. Some sections are still under construction, including sections of the capital city bike trail.

In May, 1998 I walked a section of the Western Coastal bike trail in the early hours of a Saturday morning. I took a bus to the terminus at Williamstown and joined the bike trail near Williamstown Beach.

There were a couple of hardy souls swimming in the calm waters of the bay, outnumbered in fact by the cargo ships we could see moving along the horizon. The beach was in pretty good condition, except for the odd bit of human remains like plastic bottle tops.

Williamstown Beach, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia - photograph, image, wtown10.jpg - 10534 Bytes

Williamstown Beach, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Williamstown Botanic Gardens, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia - photograph, image wtown09.jpg - 29799 Bytes

Williamstown Botanic Gardens, Melbourne

Bike riders skirt the half-moon shaped beach and ride along the shared footway (walkers and riders). Near the beach, behind a shady reserve is the paling fence of Williamstown Botanic Gardens. These gardens, established in 1860 are small, and the carefully tended plantings and gravel paths feel quite formal. In pride of place is a statue of a MLA in his frock coat. Elected in 1891 he impressed the locals enough to earn a white marble statue of himself. My footsteps startled a rabbit, I don't know if he or she was supposed to be there. The park is for foot traffic only.

Continuing alongside the coastal reserves I saw plenty of dogs out exercising their owners. The lawns were green and lush, and the windswept trees looked wonderful against the blues of the bay and the sky. All along the way were picnic tables and benches. The range of styles creates a gallery of furniture design, from almost formal settings to a very sculptural unit with cantilevered benches.

A fort (Fort Gellibrand) was supposed to be one of the features of the bike trail. It may have been that fenced establishment with the big guns, but I couldn't find any signs. Guessed I missed it.

Williamstown, Western coastal bike trail, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia - photograph, image, wtown08.jpg - 28201 Bytes

Williamstown, Western coastal bike trail, Melbourne, Victoria

On and off I lost track of the trail, it isn't a continuous asphalt track, but since it follows the coastline and I tend to drop down to Willy (Williamstown) for fish and chips at the Strand (free plug) I didn't panic too much. (For those of you new to my tales, I have no sense of direction, so if I can find my way anyone can).

Williamstown timeball tower, melbourne, victoria, Australia, Photograph by Ali Kayn, image - wtown07.jpg - 15102 Bytes

The Timeball tower was historically interesting: until 1929 it was used by seafarers to synchronize their chronometers. I would have liked a bit more information about how it worked though. Beside it is an old anchor (c.1820) which was recovered from the bay in 1990. A mooring anchor, one fluke has been forced up against the shank of the anchor. This is to prevent holing the ship as the tide goes out. In the mid 1800s five penal hulks were permanently moored in the bay. This may have been the anchor for one of them.

Williamstown, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia, photograph, mooring anchor - by ali kayn wtown06.jpg - 23722 Bytes

mooring anchor, Williamstown, Victoria, Australia