Saturday dawns a glorious morning and with the Women’s Singles Final not till 7.30pm, Ed and I decide to hire some bikes and explore Melbourne on wheels. We head down to Southgate near Federation Square and spot signs for “Rentabike”. From our hotel, The Mercure on Swanston, this is only a 10 minute stroll.
With an ‘easy to follow’ map, yes even for females, outlining points of interest along the way we pick a route and head off. The biking is flat with bike tracks literally the whole way. We bike past our favourite place at the moment, Rod Laver Arena and head straight to the Royal Botanic Gardens.
From there we head to the Kings Domain which is home to the war memorial.
This is a poignant stop, important for Australians and New Zealanders and aptly adjacent to ANZAC Avenue.
We press on making our way to St Kilda Beach, via Albert Park Lake.
This is a significant water feature and it’s hard to believe it is so close to the CBD. It’s stunning. It’s home to many birds including protected swans who are tagged. This is a sporting smorgasbord, dotted around the water is a golf course, cricket club, hockey grounds, the Australian F1 Grand Prix pit lane and track, the Aquatic Centre, and another tennis centre. There are also a couple of function centres and we see wedding guests gathering on the outdoor balcony, overlooking the water.
We are very close to St Kilda thankfully because I’m starving. Not to be disappointed The Esplanade is buzzing and offers every food imaginable, we settle on kebabs, eating them on the beach.
The wind has picked up out here and the kite-surfers are having a field day.
We bike the whole way along the beach on the bike park, it is great fun and a lovely way to explore this part of Melbourne.
At the end of the beach by the Port of Melbourne, we meet up with the 109 tramline and this takes us all the way back to Southgate, past people’s back yards, joining up with the river again. Southbank is basking with people out enjoying the sun having drinks and coffees at the multitude of cafes and bars.
We drop the bikes off, wander back to the hotel for a shower and with our cheeks glowing from a days biking, we’re sitting in prime seats watching the Aussie Open Women’s Singles Final, where we meet Mum and Cea who have had a lovely day watching the junior and wheelchair finals.
The score doesn’t reflect the strong performance from Dominika Cibulkova over the hilariously funny Li Na. Li Na played incredible tennis and not to disappoint the quiet tennis player had us all in fits of laughter as she thanked her husband, now the most famous man in China, telling him he was great at mixing the drinks and stringing the rackets, in fact he was a good guy. Then she quickly added lucky you found me. I can’t help thinking tennis will soar in popularity in China after her win, what a fantastic ambassador and role model to young Chinese women and girls.