In Melbourne I was staying in what looked like a rough neighborhood. Apparently it’s just rundown looking because it’s hipsterville and they like it that way. There were a couple of pluses to where I was staying: 1. I got to take a ton of pictures of awesome street art like the one above. 2. It was only two blocks from the climbing gym where I found my ride to The Grampians (double score!). 3. It was less than a half-mile to a great running spot.

Nobody at the hostel knew of any good running spots, but luckily I had free wifi there (first hostel in Australia with free wifi – one of the only good things I can say about this hostel) so I was able to look at our location on Google maps. As I’ve learned in my last couple weeks of traveling, the most likely spots for long bike/running trails are along waterfronts. Only a few streets up from where I was staying I could see that there was a reserve for the Yarra River called Yarra Bend Park, so I made my way over there early one morning.

Running along this river reminded me so much of my early morning runs in Sacramento – only with parrots and wallabies instead of coyotes and sandhill cranes. It was a fantastic 9-mile run that ended with me getting a little turned around (I have NO sense of direction). There were only a couple of other runners on the trail, but I think that was more indicative of it being a weekday than of runners not frequenting the park. I think this was one of my favorite runs of the trip so far and definitely saved Melbourne in my eyes. I loved that there was a view of the cityscape from the trail and really enjoyed the juxtaposition of the busy city with a beautiful nature area. Plus, there were rainbow-colored parrots. Did I mention the parrots?

P.S. One big bummer about Melbourne was finding out that there was a Marathon the weekend I was heading to Tasmania. I would have loved to do another race in a big city (races sure beat long runs, yes?).