Docklands and Southbank Bike Ride for Urban Explorers

Hire a blue bike and explore this waterside area still undergoing development

Riverside views and bizarre public art

In the 1980s, the Docklands area of Melbourne was in terminal decline after being replaced by more modern port facilities further west. After a period of decay, the area was redeveloped and the first new buildings – a sports stadium, apartments, office blocks and restaurants – opened in the early 2000s. Today, the area mixes modern architecture with pockets of industrial heritage. Enjoy them on this gentle bike tour.

Dozens of popular cafes and restaurants line along the Yarra River in Southbank, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Essential Information

  • Distance: 3.6km
  • Duration: 20 mins
  • Surface: Mostly off-road on sealed paths shared with pedestrians.
  • Start: Near corner of Newquay Promenade and Harbour Esplanade, Docklands.
  • Finish: Arts Centre Melbourne, St Kilda Road.
  • Eat/drink: There is no shortage of cafes and restaurants throughout this tour of Docklands and Southbank. Take your pick!
Riding a Melbourne Bike Share bicycle on a sunny day

Bike Ride Notes

From Newquay Promenade, head south along the wide walkway of Harbour Esplanade or the protected bicycle lane. On your left is the Marvel Stadium, which hosts AFL, soccer, cricket and other sports as well as music concerts.

As recently as 20 years ago everything around you was industrial wasteland. Docklands fell into disrepair in the 1980s as marine freight activity moved to container port facilities further west. The stadium was the first new building to be constructed and was completed in 2000.

Directly opposite the stadium, on your right, is a sculpture called ‘Cow up a tree’. The 8m-tall work of art may seem like a joke, but the artist John Kelly was inspired by floods in Gippsland, Victoria, and the Second World War. There are a number of other public sculptures on this bike tour; look out for them.

Continue south along Harbour Esplanade past Docklands Park on your right until you come to Navigation Drive. Turn right here and look out for Webb Bridge on your left. This cycle and pedestrian bridge cocooned in a steel lattice was designed by Denton Corker Marshall in collaboration with artist Robert Owen. It incorporates the remains of the former Webb Bridge into a work of art with a very practical use, linking Docklands with Southbank.

The bike tour continues along South Wharf Promenade under the road. You’re now in Southbank, another harbourside regeneration project, brimming with restaurants, apartment buildings – and a big shopping development in South Wharf DFO.

Cycle along South Wharf Promenade and you’ll soon come to the Polly Woodside, a tall ship built in Belfast in 1885. Over an 80-year sailing career, she carried cargo around the world before ending her days as a coal hulk in Melbourne. Restored in the 1970s, she is now open as a museum.  

South Wharf Promenade turns into Yarra Promenade when you cross Clarendon Street and pass the Crown entertainment complex. Continue across Queens Bridge Street and on your left you will see Sandridge Bridge. This pedestrian bridge is all that remains of the railway that once ran from Port Melbourne to Flinders Street Station on the north bank of the Yarra River. Today it holds sculptures representing the immigrants who once used the railway to arrive in Melbourne after disembarking from their ships.

Look up and to your right and you can see the Eureka Tower, the second tallest building in Australia, after Queensland’s Q1 building. You are now on Southbank Promenade. Continue past the restaurants and under Princes Bridge. Take a right when you get to the boathouse and another right up a slope. At the top of the slope you will see the Melbourne Arts Centre and a blue bike docking station.

Riding a Melbourne Bike Share bicycle on a sunny day

Getting There and Away

Newquay Prom is close to Southern Cross Station. Trams 35, 70 and 86 also stop at Central Pier, close to the bike share docking station.

From Arts Centre Melbourne, you can catch a train to anywhere in suburban Melbourne from Flinders Street Station, which is just the other side of Princes Bridge. Alternatively, a plethora of trams stop by the Arts Centre. Check out PTV (Public Transport Victoria) for routes.

Riding a Melbourne Bike Share bicycle on a sunny day

Extend Your Bike Ride

Royal Botanic Gardens and the Shrine (add 20 minutes / 5km)

This ride through the beautiful Royal Botanic Gardens is a huge contrast to the Docklands ride you’ve just completed. Extend your hire period at the Arts Centre docking station and head south (away from the Yarra River) on St Kilda Road. After about 100m take a left onto Linlithgow Avenue and an immediate right. You will see a trail running next to the road. This is the Tan Track, and it does a loop of the Royal Botanic Gardens. Cycle along the Tan until you come to the Shrine of Remembrance.

The Shrine was built in 1934 to honour those who served and died in the First World War. Today it is dedicated to all Victorians who have served in armed conflicts and peacekeeping operations in which Australia has participated. The building’s design is inspired by one of the seven wonders of the ancient world, the Mausoleum of Halicarnassus.

Retrace your path back to the Tan and continue along. You will eventually come out on Anderson Street. You will need to use the road at this point, but it is relatively quiet. Cycle downhill and take a left when you get to Alexandra Avenue and the Yarra River. You will see the Tan Track has become a dirt trail again. Leave the road and cycle along the Tan for another 1.5km until you come back to Linlithgow Avenue, from where you can return to the bike share docking station.

Interactive Map

Click on the icon on the top left of the map to select the parts of the route you want to complete and find out more information: