Updated: Apr 2, 2022
If you are looking for a great hike to take the whole family on then look no further than this great evening day hike along the banks of the Yarra river in Yarra Bend Park, right in the heart of Melbourne.
The hikes starting point is the Wurundjeri Spur Lookout, you will link up with the bike path that connects to the main road and follow that down until you reach it's end, after you reach the end of that path you may see a set of wooden gates, pass through the gates and turn left to join the main path you will be following for the hike. Make sure to keep on this track as it winds around the river, at some points it can become a little tight so make sure to be careful not to fall over or push past anyone at a tight spot. After passing under the several bridges that cross the Yarra river, proceed down to the right when the path splits into two, this path should carry on through all the way to the end of the hike at Bellbird Park Picnic Ground.
This Mini urban hike is perfect for small kids as it has very flat terrain along the way and is not very long either, to keep younger kids engaged in the walk you can watch the bats take flight every night around dusk. Dusk is the best time to do the walk as you will get to view over 30,000 bats wake up from their sleep and take to the sky, the walk can be done at whatever speed you like and you will have the opportunity to take breaks at the many info signs that have been placed all along the trail to look at some of the history to the area. A few metres from the end of the hike is a viewing platform that gives you the best spot to view Yarra’s famous fruit bats as they take off, the trail is not hard to follow and from this lookout it will only be a few metres until the end of the track.
Though the bats at this park may look plentiful, they are actually listed as a threatened species, even if the population in the park is booming. The national Fruit Bat population has seen large reductions in population over the last hundred years caused by habitat destruction and the clearing of forests around the country, this destruction removed lots of the food sources that these bats relied on for survival helping to worsen the trend. Despite being called fruit bats they actually don't eat fruit, instead they like nectar and blossoms that can be found in the local areas around Melbourne, the bats population is at its peak around summer time and can be as big as 50,000 but during the winter time the population shrinks to 10,000 to 5,000 bats.
This hike may be short but is a great evening of fun for everyone involved, the bats are brilliant to watch take off and show us a great example of how to help save a species.
Where: Yarra Bend Park
Distance: 3KM (one way)
Packing: Day Hike Packing Guide
Travel Time: 20 minutes (from Melbourne CBD)
Starting Point: Wurundjeri Spur Lookout
Finishing Point: Bellbird Park Picnic Ground
Duration: 30 to 90 minutes (time to look at bats)
Difficulty: Easy – Light
Written by Josh Welch