It's a blustery day in late July, and we're trying to beat an oncoming storm down to the end of the Frankston-Baxter Trail. I would say to the end of the line, but the Frankston-Baxter Trail doesn't follow the Stony Point Line all the way. It just ends, without ceremony, at Golf Links Road, on the border between Langwarrin South and Baxter.
The entire Frankston-Baxter Trail runs for roughly 7.5 km from Frankston Station (roughly) to Golf Links Road, but today we're just doing an easy 3 km (6 km return) from where the trail crosses the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, to its end.
It's a fairly smooth trail made of asphalt and concrete, with a few ups and downs. Perfect for kids on wheels, and dogs are allowed on-leash too. We might be stuck in the middle of a pandemic right now, but we can run this one together virtually, which means we can have as many people as we like, and everyone can walk, run, cycle, or skip at their own pace, and no one will get left behind.
Are we all ready? Let's go.
On the Langwarrin side of the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, the Frankston-Baxter Trail heads south.
Starting out at the bridge that crosses the Mornington Peninsula Freeway, we track alongside it for a little way, with the railway track nowhere in sight. There's a dam on our left, a busy freeway below us on our right, and we're travelling on a smooth, straight concrete path that looks a lot like the Peninsula Link Trail. A little way down the trail the smooth concrete will give way to rougher asphalt. If you look to your right at about this point, you'll see the bridge where the railway crosses the freeway, and our trail will take us alongside the tracks for the rest of the journey.
The railway is mostly fenced off at this end of the trail, but it isn't for the entire length. You might not see any trains today, because they don't run frequently, but just remember, if you are tempted to wander onto the tracks, that this is an active line, and the trains do run.
About 1.5 km into our journey you'll see a path leading off through the trees to the left. Across the road is one of the entrances to the Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve. The Frankston-Baxter Trail is a bit like that friend of yours who knows everyone and keeps bumping into them everywhere you go. "Have you met the Langwarrin Flora and Fauna Reserve?" "Oh, and here's my friend, the Peninsula Link Trail." "If we had gone that way, back in Frankston, then we could have met up with the Frankston Boardwalk and the Kananook Creek Walking Trail, or even gone down to Beauty Park."
Tempting as it is, we won't wander off on any of these detours today. Those storm clouds are looming.
The native plantings alongside the Frankston-Baxter Trail make it feel far from busy roads.
Then, just a little way further down the track, that relentless winter wind has blown the clouds clear and the path is bathed in sunshine. It's still cold, but the world is suddenly full of golden light as we round a corner through a tunnel of wattle in full bloom. Sorry hayfever sufferers.
2 km into our journey and we get to Robinsons Road. This is the only road we'll cross today. There's a bit of a car park, and no real crossing, so watch the little ones. The car park makes it a popular spot for people to access the trail.
Across the road, the trail gets a little hillier again. It's feeling much more like a country track beside an old abandoned railway line too. We're running parallel to busy McClelland Drive, but it's hidden behind a wall of trees to our left, and the properties across the railway line on our right are definitely getting larger. More hobby farms than suburban blocks. Above, the clouds are looking decidedly purple.
Storm clouds closing in on the Frankston-Baxter Trail.
Suddenly, we're at Golf Links Road. The End. The railway crosses the road, continuing on to Baxter Station about 1 km down the line, and eventually on to the end of the line at Stony Point Station. It even looks like there's a faint trail running beside it, but at this time of the year, it's more of a bog than a dirt track. It might be a good trail to explore in summer, but right now we had better hightail it home before those storm clouds burst.