“A Yarra Tour Upstream from Fairfield”, as reported to Victorian Amateur Canoe Association, by H De La Rue (written in about 1930)
"A cruise upstream on the River Yarra from Fairfield to Heidelberg Bridge is a delightful series of pleasant surprises in beauty and the number of bends in the river are an ever changing source of joy that removes any chance of monotony entering upon one’s spirit. This cruise may be a little bit far to go there and back in one day for the ordinary canoeist, but to many of the experienced paddlers this trip of approximately nine miles (or 18 Miles return) is just a happy day’s outing.
Leaving Fairfield, one soon approaches the Outer Circle Bridge, which has been the cause of much trouble recently. (Ed. This road bridge was many years in its planning and a lot of argument between councils as to who would foot the bill for construction)
The bridge, at present, is having all the decking removed in preparation for renewal and the making of a very necessary roadway to connect Fairfield and Kew. This stretch of the river is very picturesque and has a number of shady willows for rest in the summertime. On the right bank is a golf course and oftentimes golfers can be seen looking for a lost ball down to the water's edge. On the left past the bridge is the works of the paper mills, then passed a small boathouse and the Alphington Swimming Club pool is seen. After several more bends and the Willsmere swimming pool is passed and then through a small rapids and Chipperfield’s Floating Buffet and canoe sheds looms suddenly on the right. No canoeist passes by here on a hot day without calling in for a drink of the famous lemon squash which can be got here. There is nothing in Victoria to compare with this thirst quencher and it gives you new life and energy that will take you to Heidelberg Bridge in no time.
After covering three miles of the trip, the Darebin Creek comes into view on the left and opposite to a gravel bed. If the river is low, it is necessary to paddle up on the left hand side to ensure getting through without difficulty. In this stretch of the river an archway is formed overhead by tall gum trees that grow along the banks and half and a half mile further on is the Ivanhoe Swimming Club (now Wilson Reserve) and also a very sandy beach where you can walk three quarters of the way across the river and still keep your head above water. Here also is the home of the Ivanhoe Sea Scouts. Many sandy spots are now passed and fine swimming can be had at many of these parts if the weather is warm and the river inviting.
Four and a half miles from Fairfield is Glass Creek. This is on the right and around the bend on the left side is where the canoeists have passed many happy weekend camps. All the way upstream there is no difficult paddling. All snags have been removed by the Board of Works and canoeing is a pleasure in these stretches now. A few years ago in these parts, there were numerous snags and trees across the river that made navigation a difficulty.
A mile past Glass Creek we pass under the new Burke Road bridge encountering many sandy bends of the river and soon we pass Koonung Creek on our right. We are now in a very pretty stretch of river and drawing near to our first rapids Veitch’s rapids. These can be paddled through by an experienced paddler. They are only about nine inches deep and the water has a decided drop down through here and also flows at a very fast rate. Many will find it easier to hop into the water with shoes and socks removed and trousers rolled up and pull the canoe through climbing aboard again and paddling on through calm waters ahead.
A couple of 100 yards further on is what was nick-named ‘the timber yard’. This was a very difficult part to negotiate as the water was fast and the river was thick with huge trees with just enough room for a canoe to get through. This is easy to get through now although the water is flowing fairly fast and needs good use of the paddle. Many picturesque bends are passed and soon we pass under electric wires that convey light a private house near the river.
Then we come to Laidlaw’s Rapids about eight and a half miles from our starting point at Fairfield. Considerable energy will be needed to paddle the canoe through here as the water is fast and the riverbed is very rocky and only a little over a foot deep. You can get out on the riverbank here and tow your canoe around if necessary and safe. The hard work paddling the left bank is the one to get out on if doing this. Around the next bend brings us through more shallows which are easy to paddle through and here we see our objective, Heidelberg Bridge (see below, 1904), looming up in front of us a little further on. On the left bank, canoes can be lifted out and stored at Osborne's Cafe. Canoes can be left here for a very small charge and there is ample room under the house for the storage of all gear &canoes.
The nine miles from Fairfield have been covered and you will be glad to have made the trip for the scenery alone".