Saturday 2 November 2013

Melbourne Tan Track Running Route

Click here for route map  
Length 5.1 km (3.2 miles), terrain: mainly flat, one hill

Melbourne Running Routes:
Best Melbourne Running Routes Overview
Fitzroy Gardens
Yarra River at CBD
Tan Track
Yarra Bend Trail
Albert Park Lake / St. Kilda Beach
For more running routes, see Route List.

The Tan Track is definitely Melbourne, Australia's most popular running route. Located right across the river from the Central Business District (CBD), it's central and easy to get to, and it winds its way past some of the city's most inspiring sights.
Tan Track runners
The Tan Track circles two adjacent parks: the King's Domain and the Botanical Gardens. These are located right on the Yarra River, and they touch upon further parks and sights, including the old observatory, the Shrine of Remembrance veterans' memorial and Government House, home to the governor of Victoria.

NOTE: see the Destinations Tips page for tips about spending your free time in this great town!
The run is fairly short, but includes the challenge of a hill, and the large number of runners will keep you running your fastest.

At first, I thought "Tan Track" referred to the color of the sandy path: it certainly does LOOK tan. But then someone told me that "tan" is really just a short term for the Bo-TAN-ical Gardens, as in "Let's run around the tan". Australians have a knack for shortening anything annoyingly long.
Federation Square, looking towards Flinders Street Station
Most Melbourne visitors stay in hotels in the CBD, so I lengthened the route a bit by having it start at Federation Square, right across from Flinders Street Station, the liveliest spot in downtown. It's just across the river from the Tan Track. So the normal 3.5-km distance was lengthened to 5.1-km.

So, if you're ready, "Let's run around the tan!"

At Federation Square, face the old train station, then turn left and run over the bridge, to the south bank of the Yarra. You are on St. Kilda Road. After the bridge, you'll see the parkland opening up to your left side. But don't run down into the park quite yet. First, cross the highway, Route 2, that goes under St. Kilda Road.
Run between those busts towards the King's Domain!
After you pass the highway going into the tunnel below you, turn left at the first entrance into the park. This is Victoria Gardens. You'll see two white busts flanking either side of a sidewalk heading southeast into the park. Take that sidewalk.
The pavilion: Just across the street you join the Tan Track
You'll go past a Victoria memorial on a mound to the the left and head to a street with a small classical pavilion. Cross that street here, and you'll find yourself on the Tan Track. Just turn left and follow this gravel path as it circles the King's Domain to the right side, along Alexandra Avenue. Most people run the track in this direction, clockwise.
First section of Tan Track along river
The path soon comes closer to the Yarra River, and lines the riverfront road to your left. This park is unfenced, and is mainly a rolling lawn with some trees, a music amphitheater and the governor's mansion on the hilltop.

After awhile, an iron fence will line the park along the right. This is the Botanical Garden, a paradise on earth, and well worth spending some quality time in. There is no admission charge.
View into the Botanical Garden from track
When you get to the end of the Botanical Garden, after about the 2-km mark, turn right on Anderson Street, running uphill. The tan is still to your right side. This is the hard part of the run, going uphill for about 400 meters. This part is not a gravel path, but a paved sidewalk.
Heading uphill along Anderson Street
At the top of the hill, you'll reach the southern end of the tan, where you turn right and continue running with the fence to your right side. The street here is Birdwood Avenue. The Tan Track turns "tan" again (packed sand instead of asphalt), and curves to the right, so that you are basically running northwest now.
Back downhill along Birdwook
After awhile, you will pass the old observatory buildings to the right and the Shrine of Remembrance to the left, a flat-topped pyramid as a veterans' memorial. After this, you're back in the King's Domain again.
The old observatory

And the Shrine of Remembrance
Just continue along the gravel path until you get back to the little pavilion where you originally joined the Tan Track. Now, cross the street again and follow your original path back northwest to St. Kilda Road and then cross the river to Federation Square.
Getting back to the pavilion: now head back to Federation Square

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