Melbournians are never short on beautiful places to go for a walk. It’s just a matter of seeking them out. This just got even easier with the recent release of a book by local hiker Julie Mundy, titled Melbourne’s Best Bush, Bay & City Walks.
The backpack-sized book features 44 walks, accompanied by some beautiful photos, ranging from short city strolls to longer walks in coastal and suburban parks.
While most other walking books focus mainly on longer bushwalks, Julie has included walks ranging from 1.5 km to 10.5 km. All walks are easily accessible from Melbourne and the majority are accessible via public transport, using the supplied directions.
I don’t see this as being a competitor to other walking books that are currently on the market, such as the excellent series by Open Spaces Publishing. It is probably more suited to a less “hardcore-hiker” audience, or to people who just like to do a variety of different walks and would use it in addition to their other walking books.
Walks are organised by area, but can also be located via the numbers on a couple of very handy maps at the front of the book. Breakout boxes alongside each walk focus on flora, fauna and local history. Many of the walks are followed by a “Make a day of it” section, advising of other interesting things you could do to before and after your walk.
So as I’ve mentioned this isn’t a book that is aimed at the “hardcore”, but Melbourne’s Best Bush, Bay & City Walks is very well put together and thorough walking guide. I’m looking forward to getting out there with it in my backpack, to check out some areas in my own backyard that I’ve never seen before.
Melbourne’s Best Bush, Bay & City Walks is available from all good bookstores and online retailers, or directly from Woodslane Publishing.
Julie Mundy provided a copy of Melbourne’s Best Bush, Bay & City Walks for review, but this has no influence on my opinions. She has also been kind enough to donate two copies for me to give away to Bushwalking Blog readers. Keep reading to find out how to win.
I thought Bushwalking Blog readers might be interested to know a bit more about the lady behind the book, so I asked Julie to answer a few questions for us via e-mail…
It sounds like you’ve travelled quite extensively… Have you done a lot of hiking world-wide?
Yes – I have been incredibly lucky. I really started walking while backpacking in my early twenties – it was a great way to see places and people up close and also it was free – a bonus as a poor backpacker!
I did a lot of walking in Asia, Turkey, the UK and Europe. Then I lived for a decade in the UK, and spent probably every second weekend out enjoying all the public footpaths which England has to offer, with regular weekend trips up to the west coast of Scotland, which is one of my favourite walking destinations. I felt very lucky being in the middle of it all in the UK – it is relatively cheap to get to lots of other places, so all of Europe opens up to you as well.
My work has always involved travel, so I have been lucky to keep up the opportunity to visit and walk in some amazing places. I still have an extremely long bucket list of places I want to return to walk, though! Top of my wish list is the ‘W’ walk at Torres del Paine in Patagonia, but I will have to keep saving my pennies for that one.
Could you tell us about your favourite international hike?
That’s a tough one, but a two week, off-path trek in Iceland, which included the Vatnajokull Glacier, right at the start of the season was pretty mind-blowing – it made me think that this is what the world must have looked like when it was just being created.
There was also a fabulous, though very tough, trek to the limsetone Pinnacles in Gunung Mulu national park in Sawarak (Malaysian Borneo), and a ten day walk into and around the Knoydart Peninsula in the West Coast of Scotland – I loved that one some much that I went back 3 times: including once to get married on the mountain there!
What about your favourite hike on home turf?
I am a fan of multi-day walks, though since I have had kids, they have been few and far between. I love them because you can really unwind and allow your body and mind to get into the rhythm of the walk.
In January, I did the Overland Track which is something I have wanted to do for many years, and it certainly didn’t disappoint me – the extraordinary vegetation and the side trip up Mt Ossa was a real highlight. Two years ago, I did the Great Ocean Walk, and I thought that was another really world class walk – so varied and interesting.
I am really just starting to explore walking in Australia, after so long away, and there is just so much! The Larapinta Track looks amazing, and I am hoping to walk that in the next few years. In the meantime the books are giving me such a wonderful opportunity to get out and walk locally – and I am relearning the sights and smells of the bush all over again.
Do you have a favourite walk from the book?
This is like being asked which child I love the most – impossible question! I don’t think there was one I did which I didn’t enjoy – in fact, as I was walking the last 3 or 4, I got quite down in the dumps as I thought I wouldn’t have an excuse to get out in the middle of the week and go for a wander any more!
For the city ones though, I do like the Laneways (surprises around every corner) and also the one around Parliament Hill, which very few people go to, but which is full of beauty and history. I really enjoyed the RJ Hamer Aboretum walk, in the Dandenongs – for it’s magnificent mature trees, and the You Yangs East West Walk for its wild bush haven right in the middle of that barren western plain. But to be honest, I liked all of them for one reason or another – hope that shows in the book!
How did you find yourself putting this book together?
Right time and right place to be honest – I decided to reduce my ‘corporate’ workload to better accommodate my family commitments, and I had the incredibly lucky opportunity to submit a sample walk to Woodslane Press, who were at that time looking to expand their national walking series to Melbourne. I have always walked, and loved to walk, love maps (yes, I’m a bit of a nerd), enjoyed photos and have done a bit of writing here and there, so it all just came together in one fortuitous moment..
How did you choose which walks made the cut?
That was pretty arbitrary in some ways – we obviously wanted to include the ‘classics’ for visitors to Melbourne, but we also wanted a wide representation of what Melbourne had to offer – which is so much: cityscapes, rivers, parklands, beaches and bush, and good regional representation for locals. I leaned towards circular walks wherever possible as it’s just easier for walkers logistically. I do try and keep in mind my target audience, which is less hard-core bushwalkers and more recreational walkers, families and older couples.
Where there was a wide choice of wonderful walks (for example, in the Dandenongs), I tried to choose interesting and representative walks – because of course, ‘Best’ is entirely subjective and there is no way it could be comprehensive, so I am sure that readers will look at the book and think there are lots of other walks which could be included – and they are right! Hopefully poeple will just use these as a taster of certain areas, be exicited by what they see and start exploring other walks themselves, perhaps even moving on to the longer Glenn Tempest, John Chapman and Neil Fahey walks!
You’re currently working on some follow-up books… Can you give us an idea of what to expect? And when to expect them?
I am mid way through the next guidebook, which is Best Walks of Geelong, the Bellarine and the Brisbane Ranges – this should be published in August, and am concurrently working on Best Walks of the Great Ocean Road and the Otways, which should be out in time for Christmas. I also have Best Walks of Ballarat and the Goldfields planned for the first half of next year. In the meantime, I am working on a different type of guidebook: Melbourne for Dogs, which should be out in time for Christmas this year, and will have details of off leash areas, walks for dogs, dog-friendly cafes, accommodation, boarding kennels and so on.
What comes next Julie? Do you have any plans for when these books are finished?
I’ve decided to have a crack at working almost full time on writing walks books – before my knees give out!! It fits in with my family commitments at the moment, and I am also just really enjoying it after more than 20 years full time in the business world. I have to keep pinching myself when I am out walking mid week, and saying ‘I’m not skiving off, I’m working!” I feel really very lucky to be doing this right now.
One more thing – My gear addiction is such that I can’t interview anyone without asking… Do you have a piece of gear that you wouldn’t leave home without?
So hard to choose one! Well, for overnighters, I would have to say my old MacPac Cirrus backpack – they don’t make it anymore, but it was one of the first women-specific backpacks and it fits me like a glove. And my Terra Nova Quasar tent, I love it to death and it has kept me cosy and dry in appalling conditions for two decades. For just a normal walk, it’s a toss up between my poles (told you my knees were crook!) and my lovely lightweight, super breathable lurid green MacPac Event jacket – which has just replaced my trusty lurid purple Karrimor Goretex after about 18 years.
Thanks to Julie for agreeing to be interviewed (and of course for the giveaways). If any of you are like me, you’ll be green with envy after reading that hiking is her full-time job. Try not to hold it against her.
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This competition has now closed – Please refer to winner announcement.
Have you checked out Melbourne’s Best Bush, Bay & City Walks? If you have anything to say, please leave a comment below.