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Australia's greatest urban runs

Australia's greatest urban runs (Photo: Lonely Planet Images)

You don't have to get out into the bush to get active and see fantastic scenery. Throughout Australia's big cities, there are plenty of fantastic jogging routes that get you away from the traffic.

Whether they follow riverbanks and coastlines or create obvious circuits through big parks, our cities are home to some great exercise option, so there's really no excuse for piling on the pounds while on a city break in Oz. Just dig out the trainers, and enjoy.

Sydney

It may be better known as the Bondi to Coogee Walk, but try telling that to the hordes of joggers that puff and pant their way along it every weekend. The five to eight kilometres (depending on where you measure it from) is the perfect way to take in the marvellous coastline of eastern Sydney.

Starting at Bondi, the route hugs cliff faces as it makes its way past Tamarama, Bronte and Clovelly beaches and winds towards the end point at Coogee.

There's a fair bit of uphill and downhill, but the views of the headlands, sandy stretches and the Tasman Sea are well worth the extra bit of sweat.

But for those who can't quite cope with doing it all in one go, there's always the option of stopping off for a swim on the way. In fact, it's perfectly possible to make a morning of it — running, swimming and making use of the cunningly placed exercise benches en route.

Melbourne

The dream of driving a Formula One car in the Australian Grand Prix may be just that; a dream but the race track itself is available for general public use when Lewis Hamilton and co disappear elsewhere.

The circuit is on the public roads of Albert Park in South Melbourne, and it makes for a ready-made running track, passing by the park's lake, gardens and trees. Those wanting to take things a little further can veer off the circuit and stretch their legs along the bayside promenade, either along the beach at St Kilda, or in the other direction towards Port Melbourne.

Meanwhile, if you're feeling extra sporty, it's possible to do a few laps of Albert Park and finish at the Melbourne Sports and Aquatic Centre.

Brisbane

In the past 30 years, the Brisbane River has had a tremendous makeover. It's been transformed from being a dirty eyesore into the attractive focus of the city. And it's around both banks of the river that a jogging and cycling circuit has been drawn out. Turn up in the evening and you'll encounter plenty of fellow fitness enthusiasts attempting to burn off the pounds.

Distances are marked on the path, so joggers can plan exactly how far they want to go, and it's well designed to avoid roads and other impediments. The route passes by Brisbane's botanic gardens, then through the grounds of the Queensland University of Technology, over the pedestrian-only Goodwill Bridge. It then goes through the gorgeously landscaped South Bank parklands, with its pagodas, beach and flower displays.

Canberra

There are plenty of routes in Canberra, most of which revolve around the city's centrepiece: Lake Burley Griffin. It's too big to try and run all the way round (and, besides, it turns into wetlands at one point), but there are some great stretches. There's an obvious triangle, utilising the two bridges over the lake (Commonwealth Avenue and Kings Avenue), but perhaps a better spot is the parkland on the south side of the lake.

A special exercise circuit has been set up in Stirling Park, and the sheer leafiness makes it a joy to jog through. The track repeatedly brushes the shoreline, and it's surprisingly quiet.

Perth

If you're after variety, then Kings Park is the place to go — there are plenty of tracks criss-crossing each other, so you can veer off in whatever direction you choose. Beats that soulless feeling of doing laps, anyway, and it's truly one of the world's great urban parks.

But for a longer, definite route, it's best to follow the Swan River as it makes its way down to Fremantle and the Indian Ocean. Pathways, public space and parkland line much of the way, and the views of the city are fantastic if you look back.

It's best to go via the north bank of the river, rather than the south, as it's far easier to navigate and better designed for runners and walkers.

Adelaide

Central Adelaide is surrounded by parks, so it's not difficult to find a bit of space where you can go jogging and do the odd lap. However, the best defined track runs alongside the River Torrens. It's possible to do a six kilometre route, there and back, taking the track on either side of the river between Adelaide and North Adelaide. It's tremendously pretty, and the hardcore among us can always extend the route by nipping into the Botanic Gardens.

Hobart

In the Tasmanian capital, keen joggers should head to the Queen's Domain and the adjoining Botanic Gardens. Skirt the perimeter, and it's about six kilometres in all. On the way, you'll trot alongside the Derwent River, go past the TCA cricket ground and loop around the cenotaph.

Know any more places great for city runs? Have your say using the comments form below.

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