Yarra River and Abbotsford Convent Bike Ride

A gorgeous bike tour of a convent, a waterfall, the Yarra River – and farm animals

Inner city charm and riverside bushland

In the early 20th century, factory workers from Collingwood would walk to the Yarra River to cool off at the Deep Rock Swimming Club. Nuns at the Abbotsford Convent and inmates of the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum might have heard the shouts of swimmers as they dived from the cliffs into the river. Today, the factories are speciality coffee shops, the convent is a cultural hub – and the swimming club and lunatic asylum are fading from living memory. This is an area alive with social history; enjoy it from the saddle of a Melbourne blue bike.

Kanes bridge is in the Yarra River, Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

Essential Information

  • Distance: 8.6km
  • Duration: 35 mins
  • Surface: Mostly off-road on sealed paths shared with pedestrians. First and last 1.5km is on on-road cycle paths.
  • Start: Yorkshire Brewery, Brewery Lane, off Wellington Street, Collingwood.
  • Finish: Yorkshire Brewery.
  • Eat/drink: Collingwood is legendary for its plethora of cafes selling speciality coffee. Head to Smith Street or Rokeby Street – or just explore.

You will need to be physically fit to take your blue bike down the 42 concrete steps from Gipps Street onto the Main Yarra Trail. An alternative route is described below for those who need it.

Riding a Melbourne Bike Share bicycle on a sunny day

Bike Ride Notes

From the Yorkshire Brewery, set off through the back streets of Collingwood, spotting street art as you go. Follow Gipps Street to the Yarra River, being extra careful when crossing busy Hoddle Street.

Gipps Street is significant for two reasons: it is illegal to swim in the river downstream from this point, and to get to the Main Yarra Trail from Gipps Street, you will need to wheel your blue bike down 42 concrete steps.

If you prefer not to attempt this (blue bikes are fairly heavy), then you’ll need to take the alternative route, taking a left at Nicholson Street before you get to the steps before taking a right into Marine Parade and following the road around to Yarra Street and taking a right down the steep hill to join the Main Yarra Trail.

The Main Yarra Trail follows the course of the river for a little while before opening out to present a bucolic scene. To your left is Abbotsford Convent, while all around you will see fields with farm animals. Cycle past horses, cows, and the odd peacock before passing the Collingwood Children’s Farm.

Following the farm, the trail rejoins the river. You’ll notice progressively more white water until you get to Dights Falls. This is actually a weir and manages the Yarra River’s water level for about 17km upstream.

Just past Dights Falls, the Merri Creek joins the Yarra River. This was - and still is - an important meeting place for the Traditional Owners of this land, the Wurundjeri people.

Continue on around the river bend. You’re now in Yarra Bend Park and you’ll soon see Deep Rock, home to the Deep Rock Swimming Club until the 1940s. Today the only swimmers are dogs; Yarra Bend is a popular off-lead dog walking area.

The Yarra trail continues to meander and you will soon see a sports oval on your left. This was once the site of the Yarra Bend Lunatic Asylum. All that remains now are a number of exotic trees (figs, elms and cypress) that were once part of the asylum’s garden.

When you come to Kane’s Bridge, cross the river. As you cross, you will see Studley Park Boathouse, a great place to hire a boat or stop for a cup of coffee. Take a left onto Boathouse Road and a right on to Yarra Boulevard. After five minutes, you will see Andrews Reserve on your right. Ride along the path through this Picnic Area and cross the bridge back to Gipps Street before making your way back through Collingwood to the Yorkshire Brewery to drop off your bicycle.

Riding a Melbourne Bike Share bicycle on a sunny day

Getting There and Away

The numbers 12 and 109 trams go to the corner of Wellington Street and Victoria Parade. It’s just 500m to the Yorkshire Brewery bike docking station from there. Alternatively, the number 86 tram goes to the corner of Gertrude Street and Smith Street. It’s also 500m from there to the Yorkshire Brewery.  

Riding a Melbourne Bike Share bicycle on a sunny day

An Easier Bike Ride

Abbotsford Convent there-and-back bike ride (complete in 16 minutes / 4.6km only)

If you just fancy an out-and-back ride with time to soak in your surroundings and have a coffee, then make the short bike ride to Abbotsford Convent. Enjoy the grounds, farm and eateries of this cultural hub before cycling back to the Yorkshire Brewery – all within your 45 minute bike share time limit. You can either go via the Gipps Street steps (if you can wheel your bike down and up the 42 steps) or navigate the backstreets of Collingwood. Check out the map for this alternative route.

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: