"The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity" - Dorothy Parker
Trailblazing in Manningham
Living in Manningham has its ups and downs. Its undulating roads and paths are a fitness fanatic's dream - and a railway engineer's nightmare, which may explain why there isn't a tram or train line in the municipality (has anyone else realised that "Smart Bus" is "Sub Trams" backwards?) and why car ownership rates are high. Thankfully, the area offers refuge to leisure cyclists and pedestrians from its challenging roads, in the form of an impressive number of open spaces, parks and off-road paths.
Mullum Mullum Creek Linear Park is one of Manningham's more level tracts of parkland, with a picturesque trail which meanders alongside the watercourse after which it is named. 18.5 kilometres in length, the Mullum Mullum Creek Trail starts in Templestowe, at the confluence of the Yarra River and Mullum Mullum Creek, and ends at Highland Avenue in Croydon. Popular with dog-walkers and exercisers, the path through the linear park flirts with nature, whilst being within a ball throw of residential real estate for sections of its boundaries.
The best views from the Trail are afforded from the occasional bridge spanning the creek. Expect to hear the cackle of kookaburras and sulphur-crested cockatoos, and listen for the croaks of delightfully-named amphibians such as the Growling Grass frog and Pobblebonk frog. I've spotted Australian Wood Ducks a few times - it still surprises me to see them perching in trees.
I've even seen a snake on the trail, at close range. It may have been a Common Copperhead, though I can't be certain - it didn't stop to chat. The snake shot across the path in front of me as I cycled the lower section of the trail. It was so close I almost ran over it. I think it's safe to say that snake sightings are comparatively rare, and that you're much more likely to catch glimpses of feathered or furred fauna. It's thought that Mullum Mullum means place of many large birds, after all.
The completion of the Mullum Mullum Creek Trail has been a long time coming. Stage One, a 2.2km stretch of pathway linking Heidelberg-Warrandyte Road in Donvale to Reynolds Road, was the first section of the trail to open, in 1994. This was followed by the completion of five other stages, one forging north to the Yarra River, and the rest pushing south to join the EastLink Trail. Stage 3a, connecting Heads Road, in Donvale, to the EastLink Trail further south, was finished in 2013.
Until this year, there was a 1.3 kilometre gap in the Trail, between Park Road and Heads Road. Now at long last, 24 years after the first section opened, the final link in the chain has been forged and the completed Trail is ready to be revealed. The new section has a 2.5 metre-wide concrete surface and includes three bridges, a 40-metre ramp to span a valley and several boardwalks along its length.
The Four Trails Circuit overview (image courtesy of Manningham Council)
The official opening of the Mullum Mullum Creek Trail is taking place from 10.45am on Sunday 16th September. A community walk along the Trail has been organised, culminating in a free barbecue at Heads Road.
Arguably the most exciting consequence of the Trail being completed is that it's now possible to utilise a 42-kilometre circuit of continuous off-road footpath, as the Mullum Mullum Creek Trail is connected to three others: the EastLink, Main Yarra and Koonung.
I love the idea of a suburban, circular trail and wish there were more of them. I'm wondering whether plans are afoot to name this significant loop, now that the MMCT is at last finished. If I might throw my hat into the ring, I quite like the sound of "The Four Trails Circuit"...what say you?