A short ride along Steele Creek Trail

Wednesday 28 October 2020. Who knew there was a vineyard in Keilor East? Not I, until I rode past Rose Creek Estate, whose improbable vines were spilling down the hillside towards Steele Creek. It was a warm, sunny Wednesday, and I was cycling the short but delightful Steele Creek Trail, a shared pathway that follows the creek between Essendon West and Keilor East. (Further, disarticulated sections of trail run ultimately to Keilor Park.) Having ridden along the Maribyrnong River Trail from Footscray, I turned onto the Steele Creek Trail in the Avondale Heights parklands, just in front of the Buckley St underpass. I skirted St. Bernard’s College and crossed Rosehill Rd, at which point the trail became shadier. It was here that I passed the vineyard. Presently I came to Valley Lake, a worthwhile diversion created when the old Niddrie basalt quarry – sited on the eastern edge of one of the world’s largest volcanic plains – was developed as an upscale housing estate. A large sculpture, apparently once known as ‘The Ornithologist’, now as ‘the Watcher’, rises from the lake, gazing afar through binoculars and providing an interesting talking point. I cycled partway around the lake and marvelled at the sheer cliff running along its western side. A photoshoot happened to be taking place in front of it as I rode along: a spectacular backdrop indeed. After my lakeside detour I continued along the trail to Keilor Rd, arriving via Spring Gully Reserve – one of a number of pause-worthy reserves along the route – and returned to the Maribyrnong River Trail via the quiet suburban streets of Niddrie, Essendon and Essendon West. The ride down the Afton St hill in Essendon West to the Maribyrnong River is nothing if not hair-raising.