Julie is the author of a number of guidebooks, including 'Melbourne's Best Bush Bay and City Walks' & 'Melbourne for Dogs' (with RSPCA). Read more of her adventures at her walks blog: walksmelbourne.com
Published March 31st 2013
A great track for bicycles/dogs/humans
If you fancy getting away from the crowds of the usual Bayside Cycle/Walking Trail which runs from St Kilda south along the bay, try heading in the opposite direction, west towards the sunset. Part of the 23km Hobson's Bay Coastal Trail, the Foreshore Trail is a fantastic stretch of around 8km which goes from the end of Williamstown Beach (with easy parking at the carpark beside Gloucester Reserve (Melways 55 K11) all the way through to Altona Beach.
Along the way, pass by the Jawbone Marine Sanctuary (with optional detours through the conservation areas for walkers) and Williamstown Wetlands, replete with salt water lakes, wooden bridges and birdhides to observe the prolific waterfowl. Further along, the walk becomes more isolated as it goes through JT Gray Reserve, once the site of Melbourne's first infectious diseases hospital - intriguingly known as Cut-Paw-Paw Sanatorium, which was built in 1884 following an outbreak of smallpox. From here, the Trail follows along the banks of Kororoit Creek, passing anglers clubhouses and in front of Altona's not so pretty industrial area. Keep your eyes to the left on the creek and all the wading waterbirds, instead, and you'll be past before you know it.
You soon cross the Racecourse Road ford and head into Altona Coastal Park, originally home to Altona Racecourse, though now just wrecked remnants of the grandstand remain of this once illustrious track. Passing the Pines Scout camp, the Trail takes you to the extensive low tide sandflats beside PA Burns Reserve - where you can let your dogs off leash for them to go wild in this really popular dog beach. A quaint pedestrian bridge takes you further past the Altona Yacht club and the Foreshore Trail then follows beside the Esplanade and Altona Beach to the Pier.
'Where did you say the cycle path was?' off PA Burns Reserve, Seaholme
The Trail is of good concrete and is almost entirely flat, with just one short, gentle incline. It's perfect for family cycles, walks and on-leash dog walks, with an off-leash park at either end to let your dogs really stretch their legs. The entire Trail is shared use, so keep an eye out for cycles/pedestrians. If your dog is on-lead, the Trail reserve is wide enough and the grass cut so that you can walk away from the cycle path itself, avoiding potential collisions. Take plenty of water and a hat, as there is little shade along the way, and no cafes until you reach Altona.