At least it keeps us off the streets…
Just before 8am, we popped out onto Sydney Road, then took a little detour through Warr Park before heading up Albion Street to A Minor Place. We hadn’t been there since getting back to Australia this time around, so this was a long overdue breakfast! I had the tofu poke bowl and Dan had Henry’s White Beans with an egg. The white beans are a classic and have been on the menu since I used to come here to “work” on my PhD. They’re still excellent, as is the coffee (my breakfast was good overall, but some of the items were a little lacklustre). Absolutely stuffed with food, we joked we wouldn’t need to eat again until dinner with friends at the Cornish Arms.
East on Albion, then along one of Melbourne’s bluestone alleys to Allard Park and the oval. The idea of this route was to (a) keep off conventional streets and roads as much as possible and (b) make the loop into a ~15km walk by going the long way around any parks we encountered. So, around the oval we went, pleased to see the bocce pitch (field? court?) was still there. Up onto the little hill to survey Jones Park, the trees along the creek, the golden domes of the orthodox church. Then finally down to the Merri Creek path.
There were works on the path to the south, and the detour took us through Ceres, which offered lots to look at (gardens, chooks, sculpture) and some toilets for a quick pit stop. We enjoyed the new-to-us footbridge and viewing platform under Blyth Street, then crossed the creek to continue on the unsealed paths on the other side. There were a lot of signs warning for snakes. Attenzione serpenti! We didn’t see any serpenti. But we did see a kindergarten group doing activities, and were greeted enthusiastically by one of the kids (reminded me of the kid at the You Yangs!). It was really pleasant to follow the familiar-but-unfamiliar path along the creek. Apparently it was opened by Bob Hawke - now there’s some political history for you. (Politics was on our mind, as the federal election loomed. Thankfully the result wasn't terrible.)
The path loops under and back around on St Georges Road (NB: Australia doesn't use apostrophes in place names), and then a little while later we turned off onto the Capital City Trail. We hadn’t brought our raincoats, so when the light sprinkle started turning to drizzle, we sat under a picnic/BBQ shelter along with various evacuees of the play ground and a few fuzzy pigeons. We also spoke to my aunt, who has recently had surgery - everything went well, and she’s recovering nicely, which is great news.
Walking along Park Street reminded us of one time when we walked the whole Capital City Trail in a day - which remains, I believe, the furthest I’ve walked in a single day. As we got towards Lygon Street, I also recalled what the area looked like when I lived near Drummond Street in my second year in Melbourne, before we met. The trees have grown up so much, and places like the North Carlton Railway Neighbourhood House really enliven the green corridor.
At Princes Park, we strolled down and around the Carlton football ground (I think it’s called Ikon Oval at the moment) and enjoyed the autumnal colours of the deciduous trees. The weather was also suitably autumnal - occasionally chilly enough to pull my sleeves down and do up the zipper on my fleece, but five minutes later warm enough that I almost considered taking the jumper off altogether.
We didn’t go all the way into Royal Park this time, instead heading down another long bluestone alley into Brunswick West, then starting our extremely meandering route back north via Temple Park, Gilpin Park, Clifton Park and Clifton Park West, Brunswick Park and the Gillon Oval.
Somewhere in these parks, we both started flagging. I think the main issue was that we knew we were so close to home, but still had a few kilometres to walk before getting there! But of course, eventually we were done. We headed east along Hope Street (possibly our longest conventional street stretch of the whole walk), then north on the Upfield Bike Path to connect the loop. Despite having sworn I was too full for lunch, I managed a very hearty slice of toast before we crashed for an afternoon nap.
This was an easy walk, without a pack, over fairly flat terrain. My feet felt OK, though towards the end I opted to walk on the grass rather than the hard path where possible. I didn’t get any blisters, but probably would have if I’d kept going another 5km (especially if I hadn’t been able to dry out my socks a bit).
I got quite a sore lower back as I sometimes do, especially when I'm not carrying a pack. This is something I’m hoping might start to improve in future as a friend of mine offered me some free online Alexander Technique sessions after reading about this issue in a previous post. I'm enjoying the sessions and I’ve noticed I’m getting far less sore in my neck area, which is great. Two of the techniques I was given to try during the lesson before this walk were (1) to ask myself, “How can I do less?” and (2) to tell myself, “I am not walking” (when walking, or standing when standing), and see what changes occur in my body. It was quite interesting, and something I’m sure will continue to evolve!
This walk is on the lands of the Wurrundjeri people. This country was never ceded and it always was, and always will be, Aboriginal land.
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