A short walk off the main trail in Westerfolds Park

Looking down from the Manor House at Westerfolds Park

(Walk notes by DWP)

Westerfolds park is one of an impressive series of Melbourne metropolitan parks all based around the Yarra River that extend from the city out to Eltham This short but enjoyable walk commences from the front of the manor house, now the MIA MIA Gallery and Café.

Walk up from any of the car parks to the native garden in front of the manor house. From here there is an extensive view of the park towards the river and beyond. Head down the grassy hill keeping the BBQ on the left towards a grassy path that cuts through the scrub avoiding a similar path that cuts right. Depending on weather and time of day a group of trees over to the left sometimes have eastern grey kangaroos resting in their shade. Follow the path towards a wooden bench at the first track junction and then continue straight ahead along the path as it meanders through trees crossing other trails along the way. Eventually the path veers towards the right through a treed area, again depending on time of day kangaroos or wallabies can often be observed in the open on the grassy paddocks well over on the left, then join the main trail again just before the observation deck for the river rapids at Kestrel Creek.

Follow the main trail for a short distance then after viewing the river from the observation deck take the path that cuts down to the right from the main path and meanders alongside the river through the bush area, rather than staying on the main trail. Eventually one emerges at a junction with the main trail descending rather steeply from the left. Do not follow the main path either left or right but cut across the trail and pick up a grassy track which heads slightly uphill for a short distance with the river down the steep slope to the right. Follow this path until it merges with a wide gravel track coming in from the left. Turn left and follow this gravel path until after a about a hundred metres or so it crosses the main trail once again. From the junction one can see the manor house up on the hill. Take the path across the paddock immediately opposite and head in a slightly uphill direction keeping the trees mentioned at the start of the walk on your right. Back at the wooden bench turn right and walk uphill to the starting point of the walk in front of the manor house.

A visit to the gallery and/or café is well worthwhile.

Distance about 3.6km
Time, with a dog, about 50 mins no breaks
Dogs to be retained on leash
Keep a sharp look out for snakes, which may pose a danger under certain conditions
Excellent chance of observing kangaroos.
Further information: Parks Victoria park notes

Access: Enter the park via the entrance in Fitzsimons Lane (Melway ref: 33 G2) just after entering there is a sharp turn to the left, which leads uphill to a number of car parking areas and trails.

Westerfolds Park is open every day, including weekends and public holidays, from 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM. During daylight saving the park is open from 8:30 AM to 8:00 PM every day, extending to 9:00 PM in the peak summer period.

On foot in Kyoto, Japan

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Kyoto was the ancient capital of Japan and is home to a large number of temples and shrines, several of which are World Heritage listed. These sites, combined with some well preserved areas and architecture make Kyoto an attractive city to visit; indeed tourism is a major part of the economy. For foreign visitors, the city’s proximity to Tokyo makes a short trip feasible and very worthwhile.

I found Kyoto to be, like Tokyo, an excellent place to explore on foot. The city tourist association produces a ‘Kyoto City Map’ which includes some recommended walks. I did three of them, described below, and can recommend them all. The three chosen take in all the major attractions of the city, including the Kiyomizudera Temple, the Golden and Silver pavilions and the Ryoan-ji stone garden.

I’ve scanned the relevant parts of the map for each walk – the walk routes are marked by a solid red line.

1. Kiyomizudera Temple and Gion, home of the Geishas

This walk takes in the very popular and World Heritage listed Kiyomizudera Temple as well as the district of Gion, traditional home of the Geishas and many other interesting and attractive temples. I found Kiyomizudera Temple lived up to its reputation – and it was very busy the day I was there (Saturday).

The walk could be started anywhere along the route, but the easiest access points are probably Keihan-Shijo station or walking/taxi to Kijomizudera Temple or Heian Jingu Shrine.

Kyoto Map #1

2. The Path of Philosophy

This walk takes in more temples including the excellent Ginkakuji Temple (Silver Pavilion). A large part of the route follows a path by one of the old canals called the “Path of Philosophy”. I found this section to be particularly atttractive.

The obvious points to start this walk are at either end – the southern end is easily walkable from the Heian Jingu shrine, the northern finish point of walk #1 and the northern end is served by a bus stop (Ginkakuji-michi).

Kyoto Map #2

3.The Ryoan-ji Stone Garden and the Golden Pavilion

This walk is based in the Kinkakuji/Uzumasa Area. The two major highlights are the Ryoan-ji Temple and its stone (dry) garden and the Golden Pavilion at Kinkakuji Temple (which is a replica, the original was burned down). I particularly like Japanese gardens, and both the Ryoan-ji and Kinkakuji Temples have fine examples that are worth exploring.

Access is via train to Uzumasa Koryuji station or cab. I took the train there and then hopped in a taxi at Kinkakuji Temple (there were plenty available) to return to my hotel.

Kyoto Map #3

Access to Kyoto: Probably the easiest way to get to Kyoto from Tokyo is via the Shinkansen (Bullet train), which takes between two and a half and three hours. If arriving from Tokyo airport on the JR train and continuing straight on to Kyoto, allow yourself plenty of time to change trains – it’s quite a walk from the airport express platforms to the Sanyo Shinkansen tracks that are used by the trains to Kyoto – it took me a bit over 20 mins to transfer and I was travelling fairly light.

Along the Eastlink Trail

Along the Eastlink TrailI’ve recently tried out part of the Eastlink Trail, a pedestrian/bike path that runs generally alongside the new Eastlink Motorway in Melbourne from Ringwood to Dandenong. It’s well worth a visit; I rode my bike, but it’s a wide and reasonably well-graded path and would be well suited to walking or running.

There are many access points to the trail, I started at Boronia Grove Reserve (Melway 48 K4) just next to the Eastern Freeway. The trail here is actually the Koonung Trail, it becomes the Eastlink Trail after it passes under Springvale Road. From here I rode down to Jells Park and back. The path is bitumen or concrete the whole way (with a couple of minor exceptions); most of the trail is newly built although following existing path alignments, but it also incorporates parts of the Dandenong Creek Trail which is in good condition as well.

Overall, a good experience. The trail has some pleasant bushland sections, particularly through the Mullum Mullum Creek area, where the road goes underground, and also the Dandenong Creek area leading into Jells Park. The sections alongside the road are not bad either and there’s some impressive engineering work to appreciate as well as some urban artwork pieces on which opinions will no doubt vary. One minor downside – there’s a few road crossings still required. The crossings of Whitehorse Road and Burwood Highway are a particular pain as both roads are very busy, and the setup of the crossings means you can’t get across in one traffic light cycle. Thankfully, these two crossings will be eventually eliminated by pedestrian bridges which are currently under construction, but a few other crossings will remain.

There are multiple attractive spots to stop and rest along the way, and refreshments are available by either moving off the trail briefly, or stopping at the cafe at Jells Park.

More information is available in the official brochure, which also includes a map.

On foot in Tokyo, Japan

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When visiting a new city, I’m a big fan of exploring on foot wherever possible. I’ve been fortunate to visit some great cities and will try and post some walk suggestions over the course of the next few weeks. To get started, here’s a few from Tokyo, Japan.

My first visit to Tokyo back in 2003 was not really planned – I’d cashed in some frequent flyer points, generated during my former sad life as a management consultant, for a trip to Europe. The ‘kangaroo’ route (via Singapore/Bangkok) was fully booked, but there were still seats going via Tokyo. I figured that if I was going that way, I may as well have a look around beyond the confines of the airport, so decided to stay over for a few days. I loved the place, and have been back several times since.

Described in Lonely Planet’s “Best of Tokyo” guide as an “engaging, bizarre, manic and totally fascinating maze-like cosmopolis,” Tokyo is a great place to experience on foot. It’s a large city, but the public transport system is very efficient, allowing easy access to the various neighbourhoods.

Here are some recommended walks – they’re only suggestions, part of the fun is exploring for yourself – and are offered from the perspective of an interested tourist; I’m by no means an expert.

1. A splendid Shinto Shrine and a magnificent view

The suggestion here is to catch the metro to Harajuku (Yamanote line) station and then walk through the peaceful grounds of Yoyogi-koen to visit Meiji-Jingu, a beautiful Shinto shrine. The shrine itself is a reconstruction, the original was destroyed during WWII. After exploring the shrine, visit the Meiji-jingu-gyoen, a peaceful park, and then walk north through the grounds to exit from the north passing under the Shuto Expressway no. 4.

From here continue northish towards Shinjuku; this section provides a good glimpse of city life. The final destination is the New York Bar & Grill on the 52nd floor of the Park Hyatt hotel, from which there are magnificent views.  A drink here is a fine way to finish off a day of sight-seeing. This hotel was used as one the main settings for Sofia Coppola’s 2003 film “Lost in Translation” – if you’ve seen the film you’ll probably recognise the New York Bar. From the Park Hyatt it’s a short walk to Shinjuku JR and metro stations.

The walk can be extended by walking north through the Shinjuku Chuo-koen and then turning right (east) past the Tokyo Metropolitan Government Offices (there’s a public observation deck in these buildings) and back to Shinjuku station.

2. The Imperial Palace

Start at Tokyo station (JR or metro) and walk east towards Wadakura Square. From here proceed south into the Imperial Palace outer gardens and just have a stroll and look around. If you’re fortunate enough to be visiting in Spring you should see some Cherry Blossoms. 

From the gardens proceed west and have a look at the Tokyo International Forum, before turning north back to the start.

Other areas worth visiting:

  • Ueno – take a walk around Ueno Park – there are temples to see as well as a concentration of museums and galleries. The Tokyo National Museum and Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art are both well worth visiting and both have a useful amount of information in English.
  • Asakusa – walk north from Asakusa subway station and visit Asakusa-koen and the Senso-ji shrine. Enter through Kaminari-mon (Thunder Gate) and proceed through a street of shops (Nakamise-dori) which is likely to be very busy, before entering the main temple area. Return to Asakusa subway station or alternatively take a Sumida-Gawa cruise.
  • Ginza – explore the stores in this area – if you’re a tech geek (I am) make sure you visit the Sony store.
  • Shibuya – a great place to people watch. The Starbucks across the road from the subway station provides a good location to do this.
  • Yebisu Garden Place – My main motivation for coming here was to visit the headquarters of Sapporo breweries and the attached Beer Museum to pay homage to their excellent product. Note that there’s no actual garden here – it’s a collection of shops and restaurants along with the aforementioned beer museum and the Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography.

Further afield:

For a description of a climb of Mt Fuji in September, click here.

For more on hiking (and climbing) in Japan, check out i-cjw’s blog.