Peter Thurling takes the family for a spin on Hobart’s new Clarence Foreshore Trail.
The ship the Beagle carried naturalist Charles Darwin to Hobart in 1836. While in town he explored the eastern shore of the Derwent as a likely location to discover new species of plants and animals along the foreshore and in the foothills. This walk is commemorated by the Clarence City Council with the Charles Darwin Trail which closely follows the route he took almost 200 years ago.
The riverside section of this trail also makes up a significant part of the Clarence Foreshore Trail (CFT). Although the city of Hobart is very different to that which greeted Darwin in 1836, the CFT still allows Hobart’s citizens and visitors to ride alongside peaceful bays, thick she-oak forests and tree lined parklands that afford beautiful views over the river Derwent, the city of Hobart and beyond to Mt Wellington.
The CFT, which stretches from the suburb of Tranmere in the South, through Howrah, Bellerive and Lindisfarne all the way to the suburb of Geilston Bay in the North, is a shared path and a major component of Hobart’s bicycle infrastructure. During the week the CFT is thick with commuters on their way to work but it is on the weekend that the trail really comes alive with people of all ages making use of it in various ways for fun and fitness.
My family is lucky enough to live in the beachside suburb of Howrah through which the CFT meanders. My two daughters are just starting their cycling journey and the CFT affords them a great environment in which to learn to ride with high quality asphalt or cement path for most of its distance. There are a few hard packed gravel sections, notably over the headland between Howrah and Bellerive beaches and along a short section of the foreshore at Geilston Bay (to avoid this section, riders can use Derwent and Musgrove Avenues) but the full length of the trail can easily be ridden on a road bike with thin tyres.
the CFT affords … a great environment in which to learn to ride with high quality asphalt or cement path for most of its distance
The CFT provides great distractions for families along its 15 kilometre length; two beautiful beaches, Howrah and Bellerive, that provide opportunities for swimming in summer and beach combing in winter; historic buildings and ruins for the kids to explore; cafes and restaurants to satisfy even biking related hunger; and numerous playgrounds suitable for kids (and kids-at-heart) of all ages to have adventures in. There are also many toilets and BBQ areas along its length.
If riding the Clarence Foreshore Trail from south to north, you can ride to the start point just off Howrah Road, where there is also a car park if you are bringing your bike from further afield. There are many other access points to the CFT and many that also include car parking. Heading north from Howrah Road, riders first past the extensive series of children’s play equipment and BBQ areas at Wentworth Park. This park is very popular for kids’ birthday parties and those enjoying the sunshine at Howrah Beach.
The section between Howrah and Bellerive Beaches is hard packed gravel and twists its way up over the headland affording beautiful views over Howrah Beach, Tranmere, South Arm and out into Storm Bay. Riding behind the dunes alongside Bellerive Beach riders then pass Bellerive Oval, home to cricket matches in the summer and AFL games in the winter. The CFT is a fantastic way to access the oval on busy match days without having to look for a car park.
Overlooking Bellerive on the top of the bluff, just up the (steep) hill from the CFT, is the historic Kangaroo Bluff Battery. Built in the 1880s, and designed to provide a Defence for Hobart town against invading warships sailing up the Derwent, the Battery never fired a shot in anger. It was manned until the 1920s. The Battery is well preserved including the large 8-inch guns pointing outward watchfully over the river. Its many stone lined passageways and moats are fascinating for children and history buffs alike.
Riders then meander through Bellerive marina where there are numerous options for refreshment, including fish and chip shops, bakeries, and cafes and, if the sun is over the yardarm, a pub. This is a great place to enjoy the sunshine while doing some people watching. If riding the CFT on a Saturday in the summer months, the Bellerive Community Farmer’s Market may also be in full swing.
Riders continue around Kangaroo Bay, which is currently undergoing a revitalisation including improved bicycle and pedestrian access, sports facilities, public spaces as well as opportunities for commercial and residential developments. Having the CFT pass through its heart will allow easy access to these facilities.
Around Rosny headland riders will, at times, be mistaken into thinking they are miles from anywhere due to the thick tunnel like she-oaks that closely line the path along this section. This section of the trail includes the only significant hill. It’s a relatively steep section, to be ridden with care, but it only climbs 40m so it’s over quickly and you can carry its momentum all the way to Montague Bay.
Montague Bay affords a view of the Tasman Bridge through a memorial commemorating the Tasman Bridge disaster. The bulk ore carrier Lake Illawarra crashed into the Bridge in early 1975 bringing down a section of roadway, cutting the City of Hobart in two and killing 12 people. Montague Bay Park is also a good spot to stop for a swing.
Riders from Hobart’s Western Shore can access the Clarence Foreshore Trail at Montague Bay after they have used the shared path over the Tasman Bridge. The bridge links the Clarence Foreshore Trail to the Intercity Cycleway making it a busy spot for commuting and recreational cyclists alike.
From here riders continue north under the Tasman Bridge and along the Rose Bay and Lindisfarne foreshore before arriving at Simmons Park. Simmons Park in Lindisfarne is the newest children’s playground to be developed by the Clarence City Council. The park is a kid’s paradise and includes a large climbing net with crow’s nest and slide, a large basket swing for bigger kids as well as swings and climbing equipment more suited to smaller children and toddlers.
The park includes a toddler bike path where kids can learn on their balance bike before eventually joining older siblings on the CFT. The park is set within native landscaping providing opportunities for imaginative nature-based play. Simmons Park is also a great place to have a BBQ or kick a footy. There are shops and cafes close by in Lindisfarne village.
The last stretch for the CFT from Lindisfarne to Geilston Bay includes a section on a quiet street. The path along this section is close to the water’s edge and riders will look across the river to Hobart’s Botanical Gardens. This section finishes at Geilston Bay yacht club where there is a carpark, BBQ shelters and playground. Lindisfarne North Primary School on the south side of the bay has also recently built a small mountain bike track perfect for kids to learn some skills. For those more adventurous and with wide knobby tyres, Geilston Bay is also a starting point for mountain biking in the Shag Bay reserve and also into the Meehan Range.
The Clarence Foreshore Trail is a significant piece of bicycle infrastructure. It not only allows cyclists to commute in safe surrounds away from traffic but it links easily to town centres and other major facilities while providing access to parklands for recreation for the whole family.
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