Freelance writer exploring Melbourne and beyond. If you enjoy the following article click on the Like button, Facebook it to your friends or subscribe. I'll update you with yummy and often free events. Like my photos? I instagram @redbagwilltravel
The latest news from my doctor wasn't the usual demanding walk 30 minutes a day but the more gentle chiding: "Two and half hours a week cumulative will do it."
So I set the cardio app on my android and launched forth with the seconds ticking.
A good start was to reacquaint myself with one of my favourite walks.
Some will travel miles out of the town to enjoy nature but I believe that joyful walks can be found in the city and suburbs if you know where to look. Plus being a true Melburnian it is difficult to be far away from good coffee.
My journey started at Whitehorse Road, Deepdene but not before a spot of breakfast and a coffee. At the Whitehorse Road Entrance to the Anniversary Rail Trail is the nursery cafe and gift shop Town and Country.
A few years ago this was the place to be seen and I once had coffee opposite Geoffrey Rush who lives locally when he is in town.
While this place has lost its gloss everything is still passable, Grinders coffee and a range of quiches, sandwiches and salads. Plus in summer there is a lovely canopy of vine leaves over the Grecian columned entry.
The main advantage of this eatery are the amenities. This coffee shop is right smack bang on the side of the trail. There is plenty of room to park bikes if you happen to be a rider or dog owners can sit outside with a water bowl provided for their canines. Plus there is a car park right next door where you can leave your car while you do your walk.
Kick started by caffeine I hit the trail.
No matter how many times I walk this path I feel reinvigorated. It is a piece of history, a glimpse into community life and a patch of nature that changes with the seasons.
As the history boards tell you along the way, this was once a railway line for the Deepdene Dasher, a little steam train, that plied the line between Deepdene and Ashburton until 1924. It was the last passenger steam train in suburban Melbourne.
The scene itself is quite English because of the gardens attached to some of the huge period home above you. Their flora has escaped down the embankments so there are a lot of self seeded English trees and flowers peeping through. Every now and again you spot a lily, a jonquil or a fluorescent pink geranium poking through amidst the weeds.
Scary at night but this is daytime and there is a world to observe. Scenes are either touching or absurd. A middle-aged man whizzes past on his bike, somewhere he is plugged into a phone and he is yelling at the top of this voice. "Of course I'm in the office." A couple carries their grocery bags home, a mundane sight amidst all those exercising.
A couple pushes a matriarch along in her wheelchair. She is tucked in like a baby with a rug up to her chin. "That's a pretty coat," she says as she is trundled past me. Compliments are obviously her way of saying hello to strangers. And how rewarding that she can still enjoy this lovely walk.
There are dads on their kids' skateboards and fit mums jogging behind their cycling youngsters. Grandfathers race their little grandchildren in an unfair challenge. It is nice they can still beat someone in the family.
Most people have a pooch of some kind or another and there is an off lead section near Canterbury Road. Some dogs are almost as tall as their owners while other pampered pets wear tiny waistcoats to ward off the chilly air.
People tinkle their bicycle bells to alert you that they are overtaking you. Or yell out in loud voices "Ding, ding". Tiny tots say excuse me, not thinking they could go in single file and move around you. But this is a nice area and their manners are impeccable.
The great thing about this path is that you don't have to cross any roads. Like the trains of yesteryear you simply barge through in tunnels built under the roads.
In the tunnels you can see the handiwork of bored teenagers. But even this graffiti is somehow charming.
After a few kilometres, the track opens out onto open playing fields. Dads and tots kick footballs, mothers chat at the playground. Along the way someone has built a makeshift swing under an old tree.
A woman sees me taking photos of flowers and asks whether I am an artist taking images as the basis for a future painting. I explain that I am a writer recording images to go with words.
"I paint," she tells me as we now walk along together. "I have chronic heath problems," she went on to explain. "I died on an operating table but they somehow brought me back. Now I walk an hour every day and treasure every second."