14 August, 2012

I feel the need...

Like most bloggers, I tend to keep an eye on my blog stats - which posts are most popular, how many hits I get in a day, week, month, that sort of thing. I am also able to get some idea of the type of search terms which lead people to my blog.
Some subjects arise fairly commonly - the presence of ghosts in historic buildings along the Barwon for example is often queried (strangely enough as I type this, the term "Buckley Falls haunted" has appeared - but as far as I'm aware, no it's not) whilst bunyips and murder also attract attention. Other topics are of interest at or for a particular time period - the recent furor over the impending axing of the ash trees along the river at Fyans Park is currently popular whilst there is always a rush of searches for pictures of the Barwon during the 1995 flood* whenever the river rises.
Another search which has cropped up a bit of late includes the term "the distance between" followed by the names of various bridges along the Barwon. That being the case, I thought it was time to answer the question for those of us who walk, run and ride along the Barwon River paths and want to know how far we've travelled.
Looking upstream at the Moorabool St, James Harrison and McIntyre Bridges
I have decided to take two approaches to the topic which may provide an interesting comparison. Firstly, today with a few spare hours I headed down to the river to walk the full circuit from Breakwater to Fyansford and back. In order to keep track of the kilometres I cover either whilst out running or on the netball court (hopefully somewhere over 50km/week), I use a Nike+ Sportband. This clever little device measures distance via a piezoelectric sensor in my shoe which transmits to a USB device on my wrist. Once finished, the data from the run/game is uploaded to the Nike website which keeps a record of my distance, pace and various other statistics. For a piece of equipment which costs around $90 and does not rely on GPS technology, it is remarkably accurate.
Today, for the sake of convenience, I started my walk at the end of Swanston Street which is roughly the closest point to my house. From there I headed towards Fyansford, crossed both rivers, made my way back down to Breakwater and from there back to Landy Field. Each time I passed under or crossed over a bridge, I noted the distance I had travelled. All up, a distance of about 18.5km.
Below is a table showing the distance between each of the bridges along the river trail as measured by my Sportband:


Total distance (km) from Landy Field

Distance (km) from previous bridge
Landy Field
Moorabool St Bridge
James Harrison Bridge
McIntyre Bridge
Princes Bridge (Shannon Ave)
Queen’s Park Bridge
(Intersection with track to “Cementies hill”)
Foot bridge across Moorabool River
Foot bridge across anabranch
Foot bridge across Barwon River
Queen’s Park Bridge
Princes Bridge (Shannon Ave)
McIntyre Bridge
James Harrison Bridge
Moorabool Street Bridge
New Breakwater Bridge
Old Breakwater Bridge
New Breakwater Bridge
Landy Field

In each case, the measurement was taken from the middle of whichever bridge I was passing under or crossing over. So now everyone can work out the distance of their chosen route give or take a few metres. Remember also to allow a couple of hundred metres when crossing Moorabool Street, Princes, Queen's Park or McIntyre Bridges as I didn't cross these on my walk today so their distances are not included in the charts.
Also, for quick reference, here are the approximate distances for a few of the commonly used loops not including the bridge crossings mentioned above:

Distance (km)
Moorabool St Bridge - Old Breakwater Bridge
Princes Bridge - Old Breakwater Bridge (covers most of the 10km Troop Loop)
Queen's Park Bridge-Old Breakwater Bridge
McIntyre Bridge-Old Breakwater Bridge (slightly further than the 6km Troop Loop)
Moorabool Street Bridge-Princes Bridge
Moorabool Street Bridge-Queen’s Park Bridge
Moorabool Street Bridge-Fyansford
Princes Bridge-Queen’s Park Bridge
Princes Bridge-Fyansford
Queen’s Park Bridge-Fyansford

Secondly, having done it the hard way, when I got home I cranked up Google Earth and made a few virtual measurements. Allowing for the fact that the Google Earth images were taken in 2008, well before the new Breakwater Bridge was built - resulting in a few changes to the walking track at that end - and also accounting for the fact that the exact route of the path is a little unclear in places due to tree cover, a measured distance of 18.57km is remarkably similar to that measured by the Sportband.
So, now we have a reasonable idea of the distances involved, however if you are out on the path without a handy blog post to help and want a rough idea of the distances involved, remember, the Geelong Half Marathon run by the Geelong Cross Country Association have kilometre markers most of the way round the track - they are the yellow numbers painted on the path.

Half marathon marker
You will not find markers for 1, 2 and 14km as the route for the half deviates off the track at these points, the marker for 5km has not yet been added to the newly sealed section of track and 7km is hiding behind the shed belonging to the Barwon Rowing Club, but does exist. The 21km marker whilst present for the event tends to disappear due to wear and tear throughout the year. In any case, these km markers can be used for a rough estimate of distance. And finally, the newly installed posts for the Troop Loop can also be used to calculate distance if you are running that section of the track.

*For the record, I happened to be in Geelong at the time, but being young and foolish, I didn't take any photos of the event. If anyone has any pictures of the '95 flood which they would like me to include in this blog please feel free to contact me and I will put them up. I'm sure there will be many who are interested!

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