Cycling to Melbourne Airport
I had heard rumours of a way to get to Melbourne Airport by bike. Earlier this year, I decided to try it out. Turns out that this is possible – but only just.
Route 1 – via Moonee Ponds Creek Trail
If you are coming from the north or east of Melbourne, this route will probably be the most suitable. This is the one that I used on my inbound leg.
It involves using the little-known section of the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail that continues north from the M80 Ring Road Trail. Bikes can then enter the Airport via an access road from the east (see the map above for details).
North of Willowbrook Reserve in Westmeadows is the least-populated length of a metropolitan trail that I have seen. For this entire area up to Melbourne Airport, I did not see a single person.
The low usage of this route shows more the further out you travel. Paved surfaces turn to gravel or dirt, the smoothness deteriorates and you feel more and more like you are in the countryside. This was underscored for me when I came across this abandoned car that had been left in the middle of the path in Attwood.
From this point at the entrance to the Woodlands Historic Park, the route becomes less legible. You have to continue along the main path around the western part of the Park where there is a fork in the Moonee Ponds Creek Trail. There is also a bench at this point which gives you a wonderful view of aircraft taking off and landing from both runways.
Continuing down this path brings you to Marker Road. This is effectively a service track for navigation aids built and maintained by Melbourne Airport for Runway 09/27 (the east-west runway). The surface is very rough to the point where it requires dismounting in some places.
After a steep climb and a short ride along a much smoother surface at the top of the hill, Marker Road intersects with the southbound off-ramp from Sunbury Road into Melbourne Airport. From here, you can ride all the way to the terminals and car parking building where the bicycle parking is located (see below). Otherwise, there are footpaths along most of the roads where you can walk your bike if the traffic is too hairy.
The main advantage of this route is that it is almost entirely off-road, but the degree to which this is true will depend on your trip origin. You should also be prepared for at least some on-road riding through the Airport surrounds. There are footpaths in some places where you can walk your bike if that proves too hairy to negotiate.
Route 2 – via Airport Drive
Another way to travel to and from the Airport by bike is using the network of shared paths that have been recently built to the south of the main terminal area. While there are some gaps, the paths are generally well-signed and in good condition.
The easiest way to access the beginning of the route is to use the shared path heading north-west along Steele Creek from the M80/Ring Road Trail in Tullamarine. You can then either try cycling down Sharps Road and Keilor Park Drive (not recommended) or take some side streets (Tullamarine Park Road and Assembly Drive) to the intersection of Sharps Road and Airport Drive. Following this shared path along Airport Drive will take you right into the Airport
Route 3 – via Melrose Drive
If you are a confident on-road cyclist and want the most direct route to the Airport from the CBD, then Melrose Drive is a third option to consider. I did not try this entire route by myself as I don’t fancy trying to ride down most of the arterial roads that this would involve. But if you are willing to give it a try, it is theoretically possible.
From the city, you can ride along these roads (in sequential order from south to north):
- Elizabeth Street
- Flemington Road
- Mount Alexander Road
- Keilor Road
- Matthews Avenue
- Melrose Drive
(Here is a map for those who are interested)
As for bicycle facilities at the Airport, there are very few.
The Melbourne Airport website describes the bike parking location as ‘on the ground floor of the T1/T2/T3 carpark’. This is not terribly useful as the carpark is huge.
When I arrived, none of the employees that I asked in the carpark had any idea about bicycle parking and there was no signage.
It took me about 20 minutes of cycling randomly around the carpark but I did eventually discover the bike rack. If you are playing at home, it is located on the ground floor just inside one of the entrances to the T1/T2/T3 multi-storey carpark structure directly opposite the terminals.
I have since added its location to OpenStreetMap so that others can hopefully find it as well.
Have you cycled to Melbourne Airport before? Let me know in the comments below!
Join the discussion and tell us your opinion.
You can also combine Melrose Drive with Moonee Ponds Creek to get a more direct route. Melrose Drive is reached from MPC via Boeing Rd and Mascoma St. Melrose drive is surprisingly not too bad to ride on. Personally I always follow MPC all the way because it’s so nice to be off-road amongst the river redgums and to see the latest installment in the war between the trail bike riders and Parks Victoria who try to keep them out of Woodlands Park. The trail bikes are winning, by the way, they always do, everywhere.
The Steeles Crk route would be massively out of the way if coming from the Moonee Ponds Crk side, but useful if coming from the west. It also exemplifies the lack of connectivity of bike routes, with the Airport Drive shared path coming within a kilometer of the ring road path, but not quite joining up. That km of Airport drive has no footpath and looks pretty deadly, also I couldn’t see any connection there with the Steeles Crk path on Google Street View.
On entering the airport on my folding bicycle, I use Concorde Close to reach the passenger terminals, fold up my bicycle and hand it over to the oversized luggage handler.
Thanks Nik. Yes there are quite a lot of alternative routes depending on where you are coming from. Less confident riders would also probably appreciate as much off-road path as possible. The Airport Drive path was pretty frustrating – I had to ride on the road for a bit there and it was not a pleasant experience.
Thanks for this post, It’s great that you’re able to publish these helpful guides to navigating Melbourne without a car. I have cycled from the Airport to my destination in the Northern Suburbs a couple of times. Walked that distance once and have also walked to Kealba a few times. The Kealba walk is really nice. Cycling from the Airport is great the cycle paths along Western Ring Road are quite picturesque. The most difficult thing for me has been getting free of the spiderweb of busy roads closest to the airport. I tend to get a bit lost finding my way to the beginning of the cycle path. I have also caught the public bus from the airport to Broadmeadows then on to Macorna Street Watsonia. An easy and pleasant journey for travelers on a tight budget. I’ve thrown in a link to my blog post of my most recent ride from Airport https://balandaeyes.blogspot.com/2018/01/forage-abundance.html
Thanks – looks like you’re pretty experienced at doing that too! It’s good that there are quite a few parts of Melbourne where using buses and bikes is a viable option to get to and from the Airport.
Hi there, I was out for a run this morning, it looks like Marker Road has been closed off with a large fence now, meaning you probably can’t easily come via Woodlands anymore.
How weird is that? It’s publicly accessible from both sides! Which side is supposed to be restricted?
I was coming from the airport and the road is closed at the large fuel tanks. The gate is visible on the most recent google streetview. I ran a few km north on Sunbury Rd and the fence just kept going.
Some time ago Marker Rd was closed and you have to use the smaller road which runs parallel to the west. I see on 2021 street view there is a gate but it looks easy to go around on foot or with a bike. I will check it out next time I’m riding to Woodlands.
I flew to Sydney a year or so ago and had no problems getting in and out of the airport that way.
Thanks both, will await an update 🙂
I checked the other day and nothing has changed around the fuel tanks, it’s more accessible than previously because the small gap at the last gate can now be bypassed.
Here’s the summary, coming from the airport end:
1. Head for Marker road, starting along the Sunbury Rd exit from the airport.
2. turn into the road that services the fuel tanks
3. about 5 years ago, to make space for new, much larger tanks, the through road was fenced of and you now divert left (closer to Sunbury road), passing by a yellow swinging gate, which has two posts designed to allowed peds/bikes to pass easily.
4. Continue to the end about 100m, go a bit right and there is an old gate which you can now by-pass to the left.
5. You then enter the rough road shown in Phillip’s photo above. This has had some grading and new gravel on the worst section and is considerably improved.
6. Overall it looks like care has gone into making this route accessible for riders and walkers/runners.
7. after crossing MP creek, about 3/4 of the way up the hill take the rough track which curves off to the right, reaching the bandicoot reserve bounday, continue to the right to follow MP trail towards Melbourne, or turn left to go to Woodlands Homestead for a pie or devonshire tea (recommended)
Going towards the airport:
1. following MP creek trail as described by Phillip (I usually find people using the “deserted” part of the trail, so it depends on time of day and weather).
2. Important to take a right at -37.67485525940031, 144.87520114487018
3. Chicane is difficult for cargo bikes.
4. Climb the hill until you see the inundated quarry, continuing through the chicane and on under the weird overpass.
5. Turn left to follow the bandicoot reserve fence.
6. Take a left fork about 45° which points to the left of the disused telecom tower
7. this brings you into the rough road which runs down to MP creek
8. After crossing the creek, road veers left and you ride around the old gate, from there you are on the asphalt all the way to the airport.
Thanks! I’ll be more persistent next time!
That’s great, thank you very much for the update