Urban walks: Walks in Hong Kong

Walking is a great way to discover and experience Hong Kong. It’s a compact city so getting around on foot is easy although the streets can get very crowded at times. Following are a couple of walks that I have done and would recommend.

1. Dragon’s Back

Perhaps best described as an urban hike, this 8.5km trail (which is also section 8 of the Hong Kong Trail) provides fantastic views and a quiet retreat from the hustle and bustle of Hong Kong. The trail takes its name from an exposed ridge path between Shek O Peak and Wan Cham Shan that undulates and supposedly looks like a dragon’s backbone.

I really enjoyed this walk – the first section is reasonably exposed and a bit strenuous, but rewards your effort with great views including a magnificent 360 degree panorama from Shek O Peak. The second half or so is a delightful ramble through Shek O Country Park which includes shaded forest sections before descending to Tai Long Wan village.

Access:
From MTR Shau Kei Wan Station Exit A3, take bus 9 at Shau Kei Wan Bus Terminus to To Tei Wan, Shek O Road. Watch out for the stop – I almost missed it and if you do, you’ll have to get a bus back the other way as the road here is narrow and there is no footpath. Click here for Google street view that shows the start of the walk and bus stop on the left. At the end of the walk, walk along Big Wave Bay road back to Shek O Road and pick up bus 9 back to Shau Kei Wan.

For a map click here.

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2. Peak walk and Pinewood Battery

One of my favourite urban walks – a stroll around part of the Peak Circle walk that provides simply magnificent views of Victoria Harbour, followed by a walk in Lung Fu Shan Country Park and descent via Hatton Rd via the now deserted Pinewood Battery, which provides a look at a bit of Hong Kong history, before finishing at the University of Hong Kong.

The last time I did this walk I had rather grey weather, but the views are always impressive. Taking the Peak Tram (a funicular) up to the Peak is well worthwhile. If you don’t want to walk down via Pinewood Battery you can always complete the full circle of the Peak, about 3.5km in total.

Access:
From MTR Central station Exit J2 and walk to the Lower Terminus of the Peak Tram on Garden Road for the ride up to The Peak. The walk commences at Lugard Rd. At the end of the walk take bus 13 from Kotewall Road back to Central.

For a map click here.

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For more information visit the Hong Kong Tourism website. There are pages for city walks and hikes.

Fairfield Park to City via Main Yarra Trail

Walk notes by DWP

This is the third and final section of the walk commencing in Eltham following the Main Yarra Trail. Again, easy walking or riding along mainly bitumen & gravel surfaced tracks with numerous attractive rest or picnic spots.

For access to this section of the Trail enter the car park at Fairfield Park from Heidelberg Road and pick up the path at the easily identifiable signs indicating Main Yarra Trail & Capital City Trail via Dights Falls to Federation Square.

After a few minutes walking around the edge of the Fairfield oval the path crosses Yarra Bend Road. On the other side of the road continue along the path as it meanders along the top bank of the deep gouge formed by the Merri Creek. There is a viewing platform part way along that is worth a brief visit. Pass under the Eastern Freeway overpass and then cross the bridge on the right over Merri Creek where it joins the Yarra River to enter Dights Falls Park and where the Merri Creek Trail and Main Yarra / Capital City Trail merge. This is an ideal spot for a break, to watch and listen to the falls and enjoy the pleasant and peaceful surroundings.

After your break continue along the path as it follows the bank of the Yarra River and passes by the Abbotsford Convent and Collingwood Children’s Farm, an excellent spot for a cup of coffee, snack or meal depending on the time of day.

Continue along the path until Gipps Street Bridge. Cross the bridge and either join the main trail along the side of Yarra Boulevard or preferably follow the path through the trees along the bank of the river eventually merging with the main trail just south of Dickinson Reserve. Follow the main trail a little further until the footbridge is reached leading to Walmer Street Richmond. After crossing the bridge stay on the path that follows the bank of the river and enjoy the very attractive scenery and unexpected tranquillity of the surroundings as you pass through Hawthorn heading towards Burnley.

The path continues to meander alongside the river and Yarra Boulevard for some while eventually passing under Swan Street and Monash Freeway just after which the Gardiners Creek Path joins the trail from the left.

Just before reaching the Grange Road roundabout and bridge one has to choose to either continue along the riverside path to Federation Square via the Burnley Boardwalk, Yarra Park, Olympic Park and Flinders Park or cross over the Mac Robertson Bridge and then follow the Main Yarra Trail as it snakes its way to Southbank sandwiched between Alexandra Avenue and the river.

Following the main trail across the bridge allows the opportunity to visit Herring Island in the Yarra River, Como Park and the Royal Botanic Gardens before completing the final section of the walk to Southbank and St Kilda Road. Flinders St rail station is just a few minutes walk across Princes Bridge.

Overall another pleasant generally undemanding walk mainly following the banks of the Yarra River with numerous rest spots and access points for shortening the walk or ride if required. Although relatively peaceful during the early part of the walk it is impossible to escape the intensity of traffic noise as one approaches the Monash Freeway and also along Alexandra Avenue on a busy day which can detract somewhat from the overall enjoyment of the environs.

Start – Fairfield Park
Finish – Southbank or Federation Square, St Kilda Road, Melbourne
Fairfield Station rail connection and off-street parking available at Fairfield Park
City – Parking restrictions apply. Distance Approx 16 Kms

Main Yarra Trail previous sections:

Eltham to Heidelberg

Heidelberg to Fairfield

The following documents (pdf) show all bike trails in the City of Yarra, including the Fairfield to City portion of the Main Yarra Trail:

Map p.1

Map p.2

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Brisbane CityWalk, Queensland

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This was my first visit to Brisbane for leisure rather than work, and I found this walk, along with a visit to the Maritime Museum (which is passed along the route), to be most enjoyable, helped no doubt by some fabulous weather. Highly recommended for visitors to Brisbane – it takes in some lovely parks and attractive heritage buildings.

A detailed route description and map can be found here. The walk officially starts at the Brisbane Information Centre in Queen St Mall, but you could start it anywhere along the route. Allow 2-3 hours for the walk itself, longer if you stop off at any of the attractions along the way.

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Heidelberg Gardens to Fairfield via Main Yarra Trail

Walk notes by DWP

This is a continuation of the earlier walk from Eltham Lower Park to Heidelberg Gardens following the main Yarra Trail. Again, easy walking or riding along mainly bitumen & gravel surfaced tracks with numerous attractive rest or picnic spots. Of added interest is that this route shares part of the “Heidelberg School Artists Trail” with a number of prominent signboards displaying paintings by various artists.

On leaving Heidelberg Gardens head along the signposted path to Heidelberg Park then cross Beverley Road walk past the Banyule Shared Path sign and follow the easily identifiable Main Yarra Trail.

After a few minutes the path emerges on the footpath at the very busy Banksia St. Turn left past the ‘Greenery’ plant nursery and garden supplies and follow the path as it drops sharply under the road bridge to join the Yarra River. The path then passes through some trees and emerges into open parkland situated between the ‘The Boulevard’ and the river. It is in this section where a number of the paintings referred to above will be noticed some of which are located just off the main path.

Eventually the Trail swings around to follow the river and pass under the Burke Road Bridge. A short while after, cross the pedestrian/cycle bridge to the signpost at the junction of the Main Yarra and Koonung Trails. Turn right at this sign in the direction indicated for the Chandler Highway and the City.

Follow the Trail as it loops around through the trees and after a short walk the Trail is unavoidably forced to follow an unpleasant section squeezed artificially between the Eastern Freeway and the grounds of the Kew Golf Club. Unfortunately no alternative path is available. Eventually however after reaching and passing over Belford Road the path, after Willow Grove, drops down into more open parkland, shielded somewhat by noise barriers, from the incessant roar of the traffic on the freeway.

If walking it is possible to leave the main trail and head along the worn path through the very attractive grassed area alongside the riverbank until it joins up once again with the main bitumen trail below the Chandler Highway Bridge not far from Guide Dogs Victoria.

Follow the path under the Bridge to a junction. Here a choice can be made to either follow the Main Yarra Trail up the steps and then right along Yarra Boulevard or alternatively, if walking, taking the path to the right through the trees along the river bank towards Fairfield Park.

It is well worthwhile however to climb up the steps and follow the Trail along the Yarra Boulevard as it gives the opportunity to visit the ‘Wurundjeri Spur Lookout’ to have a brief rest and enjoy the impressive views of Melbourne city skyline. After taking in the view of the city turn right and make your way down the path that leads to the pipe bridge over the Yarra river at Fairfield. The Fairfield Park boathouse can be seen across the river and it’s pleasant setting offers an ideal spot for a relaxing drink or a meal.

After crossing the pipe bridge walk up the path past the Kayak club to join the Capital City Trail in Fairfield Park the finishing point for the walk.

Fairfield rail station is just a 15 minutes walk through the park, right along Heidelberg Road and then left at Station Street.

Overall a pleasant generally undemanding walk mainly following the banks of the Yarra River with numerous rest spots and access points for shortening the walk or ride if required. The one negative aspect of the walk being that of the background noise from the Eastern Freeway.

Start – Heidelberg Gardens
Finish – Fairfield Park
Off Street parking either end & local stations
Distance Approx 10.5 Kms

On foot in Sydney: Bondi Beach to Watsons Bay

Another great walk in Sydney – an 8km ramble from the iconic Bondi Beach to Watsons Bay via some great parkland and coastline with tremendous views.

The walk commences at Bondi Beach and proceeds to the eastern end of the beach, where Campbell Parade is joined. Not long thereafter this becomes Military Road and the next part is a rather steep upward slog until Pindan street is reached on the right as Military Road curves sharply to the left. Follow Pindan Street to the end and then turn right into Raleigh Street which leads into Raleigh Reserve. (You could skip this whole section by catching a no. 380 bus which travels along Military Road, and getting off near Pindan or Raleigh Streets.)

The walk then follows the impressive coastline, dropping back to Military Rd on a couple of occasions where private property blocks the way along the coastline. On the second occasion, cross Military Rd into Dudley Page Park and take in the fine view of Sydney Harbour before leaving the park along some old steps in the north-east corner and then crossing back over Military Rd into Lancaster Road and soon rejoining the coastline.

At Oceanview Avenue, don’t go back to Military Rd, but instead take a right into Ray St; where this road curves to the left there is a path that follows a wooden boardwalk and steps that go around Diamond Bay. A short road walk is then required along Marne Street and Jensen Avenue before reaching Christison Park. (If you click on the Google map below, check out the message to Google written on the basketball court at the north end…)

Immediately after Christison Park is Macquarie Lighthouse (first lighthouse in Australia). The lighthouse reserve is private property, but you can get a good look at the lighthouse from the path. From here it’s pretty much downhill through some pleasant remnants of bushland at Signal Hill Reserve to where the path again meets Military Road at the Gap. At this point you can catch a bus back to Dover Heights or the City, walk downhill through Robertsons Park to Watsons Bay and catch a ferry or have a beer at the pub, or if feeling energetic, enter The Gap Park and take the steepish clifftop path to a nice vantage point.

All in all, I found this a very enjoyable walk on a warm Sydney afternoon – highly recommended.

Walk date: 30 Jan 2010
Distance/level: About 8kms, took me around 2 hours, easy/moderate
Map: Not required – see Google Map below for outline of route.
My rating: A

Access: Bondi Beach can be accessed via bus from Circular Quay (routes 333 or 380), or train to Bondi Junction and then bus (routes X84, 333, 380, 381 or 382). If you want to start the walk at Raleigh reserve, bus no.380 is the one that continues along Military Road. This is also the bus that can be taken at the end of the walk to return to the CBD, but if you’re going back to Circular Quay, I’d recommend taking the ferry from Watsons Bay instead.

Further resources:
Official NSW Walks site for this walk
Map of applicable bus routes (pdf)

The route on the map below was hand plotted is intended as a general guide only

View Bondi Beach to Watsons Bay in a larger map

Eltham Lower Park to Heidelberg Gardens via Main Yarra Trail, Melbourne

Notes by DWP

This is a continuation of an earlier walk along Diamond Creek Trail in May 2009. Again, easy walking or riding along mainly bitumen & gravel surfaced tracks with numerous attractive rest or picnic spots.

Take the cycle path just to the right of the main gated entrance to Eltham Lower Park past the children’s play area. The path skirts the edge of the park and eventually joins Homestead Rd. Follow the road and turn right at the entrance drive to the now demolished Leinster Farm. A short steep downhill stretch brings you to the new bridge spanning the Yarra River.

Alternatively if walking rather than riding follow the path left after entering the park and walk along the roadway past the main station of the miniature railway. This roadway ends at a parking area and a path follows the creek and past the Eltham Pony club eventually leading to the viewing platform over the Yarra River. Continue on the path to the new bridge. Cross the bridge (note that dogs must be on a leash) and then turn right when you join the Main Yarra Trail in Candlebark Park.

The path meanders through Candlebark Park passing under the electrical transmission lines before arriving at the Kiwains Lane parking area adjacent to the river and Fitzimmons Lane overpass.

Follow the path under the overpass, entering Westerfolds Park and then continue past the Kayak launching area. Rather than following the main bitumen trail drop down to the unmade path that meanders alongside the river, keeping an eye open for snakes if walking this route during warmer months. This path is a welcome change from the sometimes-feverish activity on the main trail and eventually emerges from the bush just before the rapids observation platform.

After a visit to the viewing platform one can once again join an unmade path following the bank of the river otherwise follow the main bitumen Trail. At the top of the ensuing incline on the main trail carry on downhill towards the river, not along the left fork towards Templestowe.

The path along the edge of the river emerges half way down this hill to allow you to join the main trail again before it crosses a bridge over the river. After a short time there is another steep descent followed by the inevitable pull uphill towards Odyssey House.

Do not cross the next bridge over the river that leads towards Finns Reserve but continue along the main trail towards its junction with Bonds Road. Cross the road and follow the trail as it makes its way past the Rosanna Golf course emerging eventually from the tree-lined path at the sports ovals at Banyule Flats Reserve. You will pass, on this section, the junction where the Plenty River Trail joins the Main Yarra Trail from the right.

Either follow the wetlands walking path or the more circuitous main trail if cycling. Both routes give scenic views across the very attractive billabong in the wetlands.

The trail then enters Warringal Park from where you can cross Beverley Road into Heidelberg Park. Follow the signposts, to either Burgundy St shops or Heidelberg Station, passing through the pleasant surroundings of Heidelberg Gardens that offers an ideal spot for a quiet picnic despite the frenetic traffic on the nearby streets.

A pleasant generally undemanding walk with a few short hills mainly following the banks of the Yarra River with numerous rest spots and access points for shortening the walk or ride if required.

Start – Eltham Lower Park
Finish – Heidelberg Gardens
Off Street parking either end
Distance Approx 11 Km

On foot in Sydney: Spit to Manly

Approaching Manly on the Spit to Manly walk in Sydney, Australia

This is an absolutely terrific walk in Sydney that starts at the Spit Bridge and wends its way along the foreshore of Sydney harbour to Manly. There are tremendous views of the harbour, secluded beaches and attractive bushland tracks. Thoroughly recommended, and at 9.5 km an easy/moderate walk. There are plenty of spots to rest along the way, and Manly itself is worth exploring and provides lots of options for refreshments. A trip on the ferry from Manly to Circular Quay is also very worthwhile.

The walk commences at the Spit (as in ‘sandspit’) Bridge in north Sydney. Access to here if you are a visitor to the city is probably easiest by bus or taxi. The walk starts at the eastern side of the bridge in a clearing and then basically follows the foreshore for the next 3-4 hours. The path is generally well marked – it’s also pretty hard to get lost, if it looks like you’ve lost the track, just retrace your steps until you locate it again.

The official site for the walk is here.

Walk date: June 13, 2009
Time/level: Around 3-4 hours, easy/moderate, approx. 9.5km
Map: not required
My rating: A+

After completing the walk and a couple of beers at the Bavarian beer cafe I took the ferry to Circular Quay. It was early evening and the  light was superb allowing for some nice photos of a couple of Sydney icons.