parkrun tourism @ portland

We were down in Portland last weekend for the Winter Solstice Run and were very happy to be able to make it a double run weekend with a visit to Portland parkrun.

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Like all of the country parkruns we’ve visited, this one was super friendly. One of the beautiful things about small parkruns is that they notice when you’re a visitor and we were spotted straight away! We were welcomed warmly and had the course explained to us before briefing. We then huddled together for the formalities (in the freezing cold morning) before gathering at the start line and heading out.

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The course follows the path around the lagoon including a boardwalk and, eventually, brings you back past the start to the turn around point. And then – back you go! While I thought it would be slightly disconcerting to pass the finish area twice, it wasn’t so bad and the scenery made up for it – very pretty and picturesque. The weather was very ordinary but the parkrun magic worked with us having only a sprinkling of rain during the actual event with it bucketing down not long after we finished.

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We then took their recommendation for a breakfast venue and headed to the Port of Call cafe. Taking a table in the window to enjoy the view (and laugh at the weather which was alternating hail and rain), we were again overwhelmed with the friendliness of this parkrun with multiple invitations to come up and join them at the group table. And their recommendation was spot on – breakfast was great and the coffee delicious. Exactly what we needed to warm us up.

In my quest to ‘tick off’ all the Victorian parkruns, there are those that are great but that I am happy to just do once, particularly when they’re a fair drive from home. Portland is not one of them and I would happily travel down to this one again for the welcome, the course and the all round hospitality shown. If there were parkrun awards, this would definitely be a top contender for the friendliest – well done to the event team, volunteers and all the parkrunners involved. See you again, but possibly when it’s a little bit warmer 🙂

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parkrun tourism @ Bairnsdale

My husband and I have recently celebrated 17 years of marriage and, indicative of how much we’ve changed over that time, our first consideration when choosing options for a weekend away was somewhere with a parkrun we hadn’t already done. Having not done any in Gippsland (and, to be honest, having never really been over that side of the state), we opted for Bairnsdale.

The course at Bairnsdale is very easy to find and with a perfect undercover area and toilets, along with ample parking. It’s an easy to follow out and back with the added bonus of permanent signage along the way (which always makes me jealous – would love that for the 2 parkruns which I call home).

We gathered for a brief briefing where celebrations were shared – it was a young man’s 100th run, a very impressive achievement from a junior parkrunner who had managed to clock up some tourist runs in that tally as well. And with the congratulations done, we set off.

The path is fairly narrow but wide enough for the turnout of runners and walkers and the grass at the start gives room for people to find their spot and spread out a bit. It is concrete most of the way but had a coating of autumnal leaves in certain spots which were lovely and soft to run on. The scenery is gorgeous – along the river and through a variety of areas including a section where the bats were snoozing in the trees overhead. The turnaround point is again clearly marked and there is a marshal at the boat ramp to offer encouragement and keep everyone safe. While there were some small inclines, it’s a mostly flat course and, on the day we were there, had a mix of speedy runners and walkers, along with quite a few families which is always lovely to see.

Having finished, we headed off for breakfast and chose the delicious Mr D cafe although it looked there were quite a few great options in town – country towns have certainly come a long way since I lived in one!

I can definitely recommend this parkrun not just as a place to visit but Bairnsdale as a place for a weekend away. We stayed at an apartment in Paynesville and visited some of the sites around which were even more beautiful on a Wintery weekend. It might have taken us a while to get here but I’m glad we visited. Thanks to the team at Bairnsdale parkrun for the warm welcome!

parkrun tourism @ Gardiners Creek

I have a soft spot for Deakin University as I’ve been a student there for 3 different courses so I was very interested when Gardiners Creek parkrun started up, right next door to the Burwood campus. Despite having been to campus many times, I hadn’t really paid any attention to the area around it so was looking forward to checking it out.

Finding this one is very easy – it’s just off the Burwood Highway, tucked behind Deakin. Due to this connection, parking is incredibly easy, with a multi-storey car park across from the start area. At the back of this, you’ll also find the toilets which are clean and sparkling (I may have a bit of toilet envy as the ones where I’m RD are of the ‘long drop’ variety!).

We were welcomed and briefed, including about the slightly amended course due to some work taking place in the park. And then we gathered at the start line and were off. Despite there being quite a few parkrunners, I was pretty much on my own at the back as I was walking this one and there weren’t many doing the same. Thank goodness for the tail walker 🙂

The course is a loop out from the start line then back past it before heading in the opposite direction to the turn around point. There were signs, markings and marshals making it all a lot easier. You actually loop back on the other side of the creek and see the starting area across the way but you don’t really notice that you’re so close. It’s a very scenic park – another suburban gem tucked away. The surface you run on is more trail than path and very easy on the feet.

And then I turned around and headed back towards the finish, arriving just before the tail walker. My husband was there waiting for me, feeling very pleased with himself as the flat course had gifted him a PB.

This is another fabulous parkrun to welcome to the family – a great course with top facilities. The only negative? That it was a week my friend Wendy wasn’t there! Looks like I’ll have to come back for a second visit 😁.

parkrun tourism @ euroa

I consider myself a fairly well travelled person but am constantly surprised by the places I haven’t been. Euroa being one of them. It’s not that I was overlooking it intentionally, it’s just that the Hume Highway has a convenient way of providing a speedy, seamless way to zip past without dropping in for coffee.

So today we rectified that, getting up at 4.30am and heading up (and off) the Hume for Euroa parkrun launch. A 5 hour round trip for a 5km is possibly a little extreme but I’ve been at this parkrun thing for so long, I’ve forgotten what other people do with their Saturdays.

We arrived and had plenty of time to catch up with our extended running family, many of whom we hadn’t seen since the last launch.

During the briefing, we were welcomed by both the Event Ambassador and Event Directors and given an introduction to the course and what to expect. More importantly, we were given a beautiful introduction to what parkrun is all about, how big a family it is and how welcome all were, regardless of how long you intended to be out enjoying the course, which would have set the scene so well for all of the first timers in attendance.

Then it was time to ditch our layers and begin. I will confess, I found the start of the course vaguely confusing but just followed everyone else and had no issues. We started on the grass due to the increased number of parkrunners for the launch then headed under a bridge, around and back over it before completing a loop and then along the track to the halfway point. The surface is a mix of grass, concrete and trail and was very easy to run on with lots of cones, chalk markings and friendly marshals to guide us on the way.

Once you’ve gone around the big tree at the halfway point, it’s back the way you’ve come and I was very grateful to have marshals and cones there to help as I didn’t trust myself to remember what we did at the start enough to run it in reverse. And, in what felt like no time at all, I was running back along the path and down through the flags.

To celebrate the launch, we were treated to a free breakfast barbecue provided by a local community group then wandered the farmer’s market before moving on to second breakfast in the Main Street with many great looking cafes to choose from.

So Euroa, I’m sorry it’s taken so long to get there but you were worth the wait. This is a gorgeous little parkrun with a beautiful course and a great sense of community. Well done to the event team for a fabulous launch and for being so welcoming to both new parkrunners and all of us visitors. I’ll be sure to detour for coffee next time we’re heading up the Hume 🙂

parkrun tourism @ Ocean Grove

It used to be the case that there was only one choice for a parkrun around these parts – luckily a lovely one but just the one. This is certainly no longer the case with yet another local event joining the parkrun family this morning – Ocean Grove.

Parking was plentiful down at the boat ramp (where the toilets are) and we warmed up by walking to the start, not too far away. We were greeted at the start area by stunning blue skies and a perfectly crisp morning, absolutely ideal running conditions. We were welcomed, briefed and moved off toward the start line, ready to run. With over 200 people in attendance, we all knew it would be a bit tight but, from where I was, everyone was being conscious and courteous of those they were sharing the course with.

The Ocean Grove course runs along a gravel path beside the water with stunning views all the way. You start in the middle of the course and run an out and back loop, past the start and then on an out and back loop in the other direction before doing it all again. It’s fairly flat, easy on the feet and, luckily, as scenic as you could hope for which will distract you from the part where you have to run past the finish line multiple times. With all the loops, there is also ample opportunity to see and cheer others on the course, especially today with familiar faces at the launch.

I crossed the finish line to friendly faces and encouraging cheers then, barcode scanned, we headed off for breakfast and coffee (both of which Ocean Grove does very well).

Congratulations to the team at Ocean Grove for a great launch and a welcoming and friendly atmosphere that I’m sure will see this one being a favourite for locals and visitors.

parkrun tourism @ Bright

It took almost no convincing to get me to try out Bright parkrun. I’ve adored Bright and the surrounding countryside for a long time and need no excuse to spend time there. It’s an all season kind of town with something to do year round but Autumn in Bright is my favourite with the leaves doing their dramatic colour thing and leaping from the trees in colossal numbers.

Bright parkrun is located just outside of Bright at Mystic Plantation (Mystic Landing) along the bike trail to Wandiligong. It was very easy to find, helped along by the flags by the side of the road (which also happen to denote the finish line). This morning, there were quite a few parkrun visitors as well as enthusiastic locals who hadn’t been scared off by full on weather predictions (or the thunderstorm during the night).

We gathered, were briefed (with the myriad of tourists welcomed heartily) and given an outline of the course – an easy to follow out and back along the rail trail. And then, we were off.

The course is a sealed path all the way and mostly flat (Strava told me it was slightly uphill going out and slightly downhill coming back but I barely noticed when running it). It is definitely a scenic one with Mystic Mountain rising up from the start, a creek flowing nearby along the run and greenery everywhere you look. In typical Bright fashion, you also are treated to some autumnal leaves on the path but these just added to the atmosphere. If it seems I’m paying a bit more attention to reviewing things underfoot than usual then it’s true – this was my first parkrun since spraining my ankle and I was very careful to watch out for anything that might jump out and trip me up like the hole that got me 7 weeks ago. (I’m happy to say there was nothing menacing on the path and I returned in one piece.)

For those not easing back into it like I was this morning, this would be a PB kind of course – mostly flat and with a beautiful clear and straight sprint for the finish in the last kilometre. We were welcomed back and scanned in by the friendly and efficient volunteer team.

We followed up our efforts by heading back into Bright for some breakfast (be warned – it’ll probably be hard to choose with sooooo many delicious looking options) and then, reluctantly, hit the road to come home. Don’t worry Bright, we’ll be back. And, if you’re smart, you’ll add it to the list too. 😄❄️

Disclaimer: This is absolutely not the finish line for parkrun. We were being cheeky and muscling in on the finish for the Buffalo Stampede which also was being run in and around Bright this weekend and which was within sight of our breakfast table 😂

parkrun tourism @ nhill

With parkruns springing up all over Victoria, visiting some of those further away from home can be a challenge. So we were keen to make the most of the Easter long weekend and the opportunity to cut through some kilometres on Good Friday. Nhill was our chosen spot – a few hours down the highway and, even more fortunately, kind of on the way to visit relatives for the remainder of the weekend.

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After camping overnight, we were up early and arrived by 7.30am at Nhill parkrun, easily finding where we needed to be thanks to the parkrun flags that were already set up. As the clock ticked closer to 8am, there were predictions that visitors might outnumber locals but I think it just fell in favour of the locals by the time briefing started. The welcome for both sets was equally as warm. Despite being new, this is clearly an event with a big sense of community and a lot of heart, where all are welcomed, regardless of where you’re from, whether you’ve attended before or what your speed is.

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Very brief briefing done, we gathered at the start line and were off. The track is easy to follow and has cones to indicate the couple of turns that you need to take. Initially, the track is gravel and rock but then becomes grass before a long stretch of soft dirt around the lake. It was equal parts beautiful and challenging – although it was flat, I found the soft dirt stretched me a bit, possibly due to my still healing sprained ankle.

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The turnaround point was clearly marked then it was back the same way to the start….so you could turn around and do it all again. I like this when visiting tourist courses as it gives me a lap to look at the course and another lap to take some pictures. And I certainly took some pictures here. The sun was rising on the other side of the lake, bathing it in bright light which cut through the gentle layer of fog sitting on the water – an absolutely stunning way to spend the morning. Being a double out and back, there were also ample opportunities for smiles, cheers and high-fives from fellow parkrunners and this friendly bunch didn’t disappoint.

I managed to complete a relatively quick parkwalk, finishing 15th overall, 7th female and 1st in my age group. Unlikely that I’ll ever find another parkrun small enough to top those statistics so I shall just enjoy them 🙂

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Once we were done, the pressing issue of breakfast was our next priority and we took a browse in town, finding the Olivia Rose cafe and having a delicious meal to set us up for the rest of our day’s travels. There are some gems of attractions in the area so, if you’re visiting, don’t rush off.

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Pink lake, just up the road from Nhill