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Alfred Nicholas Gardens

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The Alfred Nicholas Gardens are a delight to visit all year, and are renowned for their picturesque waterfalls, water features and its iconic ornamental lake and boathouse. The gardens are located in Sherbrooke in the Dandenong Ranges.  The 13 acre property was originally owned by Alfred Nicholas, who purchased the property in 1929.  Nicholas made his fortune developing the first Australian Aspirin and named it ‘Aspro’  painkiller formula.

Nicholas had a dream of having the best gardens in all of Australasia and a dream home to match which he named Burnham Beeches.  This Estate was designed as an Art Deco masterpiece, & likened to the lines of an ocean liner.

The gardens were donated to the Shire of Sherbrooke in 1965 and were named the ‘Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens’, which are currently managed by Parks Victoria.

Alfred Nicholas  (1881-1937)

Alfred Nicholas with his brother George developed the Aspro painkiller formula.  Becoming the first to officially patent the formula after it was lost from general use after the First World War.

Nicholas purchased the property around 1929, and had grand visions to build a dream home with gardens to match.  60 workers were hired to clear the grounds, and Alfred traveled to many parts of Victoria and overseas to look for established trees to populate his gardens.  Designing it with a lake, rock pools, and numerous ornamental designs. Nicholas hired an expert gardener by the name of Percival to help with the creation of his prized garden.  150 trees were then shipped from England to Melbourne and then on to the gardens.

The gardens were a sense of pride to Nicholas, but sadly Alfred Nicholas never got to see the full extent of his legacy.  When he passed away in 1937, the gardens were still not complete.  His widow Isobel was then left to look after the property.  Which resulted in the gardens falling into a state of deterioration.

Visit the gardens

Take a self-guided tour and explore the Alfred Nichols Gardens.  The gardens itself are now owned and operated by Parks Victoria. Significant restorations were undertaken in the late 1990’s, which transformed the Alfred Nicholas gardens into the place that we know and love today.

At the top of the gardens you will find several moss-covered ponds, next to the mansion.  These ponds have small bridges crossing.  Throughout the park is an abundance of wildlife, with a blend of native and exotic trees including mountain ash, ginkgoes, maples and liquid ambers.

Towards the bottom of the park you will find a waterfall that empties into an ornamental lake with a small boathouse that reflects over the lake.  There are walking trails around this lake with several bridges crossings to give you a view of the lake from all angles. And park benches which you can rest and take in the beauty of the gardens.

The park is great to visit all year round.  

The walk down to the lake and boathouse is downhill.  Be mindful that the paths are quite steep.  A high level of fitness will be required if you want to explore deep into the gardens.

Burnham Beeches

The Burnham Beeches Estate was named after the English National Forest of Beech trees in the county of Buckinghamshire, near where Nicholas’s United Kingdom Aspro factory was located.

Alfred Nicholas Gardens
Photo taken in 1947. Image courtesy of State Library of Victoria

Norris’s design was for a three-storey mansion in the Art Deco style, which was completed in 1933. The lines are said to be reminiscent of an ocean liner. The zig-zag motif was used as decoration on the decorative wrought-iron work and the balcony balustrades. The exterior of the house was of reinforced concrete, painted white.

The house has had a number of owners during the years.  In 1941, during World War II, the house was loaned as a children’s hospital. After the war from 1948 -1950 it was redecorated by Nicholas’s widow who lived there on and off for several years before moving to their Toorak house in Melbourne in 1954.  The house has been used as a hotel a research facility in the 1950’s, with new extensions added to it in the 1950’s and 1980’s.

The Estate was most recently purchased in 2010, and is currently in the process of being upgraded and refurbished to modern standards.

Alfred Nicholas Gardens

  • Moderate to high level of fitness required
  • Toilet facilities available
  • Great for picnics
  • Great photo opportunities
  • Dogs allowed


1A Sherbrooke Road
Sherbrooke, VIC

Daily operating hours:

 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily

Car parking is available directly opposite the garden entrance.

The garden may close during dangerous weather conditions, high fire risk. Check current conditions on the day of your planned visit to confirm it is open.



Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun

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Located just 38 km east of Melbourne is Lysterfield Lake.  This is one of Melbourne’s most popular mountain bike parks which was really put on the map when it hosted the 2006 Commonwealth Games.  Some of the tracks that were specially built for the games still remain today, and are just as hard.

With a rise of popularity in gravel grinding.  It’s a wonder that many road bike riders haven’t realised that many places such as Lysterfield Lake and the You Yangs.  Places which are traditionally seen as mountain bikes only parks, actually have some great fire trails which you can easily ride a road bike on.

Today Geert and Brad came out with me to explore some of the wonders that this park holds.
Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun
Trig Point

We were treated to yet another beautiful crisp winter’s morning.  The sun was yet to rise and we hit the trails with our lights lighting up the path in front of us.  The park his home to quite a large population of Kangaroos, and for much of the ride we were dancing in and around them.  It was unpredictable which direction they would choose to hop off onto.

We were lucky see some of the mothers with their joey’s poking their little heads out of their pouch.

We made our way up to Trig Point.  The highest point at Lysterfield Lake, and the 3.2 km climb is quite a challenging one.  This climb has a nasty bite towards the top with the gradient going upward of 18% on very loose gravel.  And very little traction.  I’ve climbed it enough times to know all you can do is suck it up and pretend there’s no pain.

We were treated to magnificent views up top, and of course more Kangaroos.

From here we descended down to the Churchill National Park.  I prefer riding around here as the climbing is very steep, and usually you get the place to yourself.  We made our way around the only flat part of the park.  My intention was to take them up Bellbird track.  Which is quite challenging, but felt they could do it.  Next to this climb is the “Link Track”.  This is a climb that I’ve always avoided like the plague as it’s just too hard to climb (see image below).  I’ve only been up there once in the 50 odd times I’ve ridden around this park.

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun

One of the guys pointed out the crazy track that goes up the side of the hill, and could hear WTF!  I couldn’t help it, and made a change in plan.  At the last second I swung my arm out and turned up this insanely steep path that’s quite corrugated and littered with loose gravel.

I won’t repeat what was said behind me.  Suffice to say they left a nice tip in the swear jar.


This climb scares me and I was only expecting to get halfway before jumping off to walk.  The boys, were sitting on my wheel and guess I figured if they could do it then I had to keep climbing.  Halfway up I was feeling ok, and looked over my shoulder and had dropped them somewhat.  I kept gliding and suddenly I had a feeling that I was going to do it.  I chucked a quick glance over my shoulder, and noticed that Geert & Brad had gotten off to walk.  Can imagine that they weren’t liking me at the moment.

The peak couldn’t come quick enough, and a major relief to crest the climb.

With limited time we only had time to do one more climb, so being me.  I picked the hardest one I could think of.  The Powerlines climb is over 1 km in distance averaging over 11%.  Given a third of the climb only averages around 5%, you can imagine how steep this sucka is.  Given that the path is quite rutted in places, and a tonne of loose rocks which offer nothing in the way of traction.

This climb has hurt me every single time I’ve climbed it.

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun
Powerlines climb

Long story short, Geert & Brad got off to walk and I got cursed more.

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun

Maybe it wasn’t the best of experiences, but I’m sure they’ll be back for more!


It was a shame that I had to get home to head off to work.  But even a short ride is a good ride.

Both Lysterfield Lake & the Churchill National park have some amazing fire trails which are really enjoyable to ride.  Just keep an eye out for those Kangaroos.  We ended up seeing over 100 on our ride.

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun

If you want to plan around Lysterfield Lake or Churchill National Park I have put together a number of pieces on all of the best climbs.  Please click on the links below:

Click here for link to my Strava Activity.

Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun
Why let mountain bikers have all of the fun

Nasu: Summer in Andalusia

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Nasu: Summer in Andalusia is a 2003 Japanese Anime film set during the Vuelta a Espana.  One of the three European Grand Tours, which is a punishing three week race that makes its way around Spain.

Pepe Benengeli is a Spanish pro-continental rider racing for the Pao Pao Beer squad.  Pepe is a Domestique who does what he’s told.  He is one of the weaker riders in the peleton, who relies on tenacity and hard work to get to the finish line.  This film revolves around a stage in the Vuelta a Espana.  Which is set to finish in the small town of Andalusia, where Pepe grew-up.  Not somewhere that he ever planned to return to.

As fate has it, he rides on the day where his brother is getting married to Pepe’s ex-girlfriend Carmen (awkward).  Pepe focuses on the race to distract him from these mixed emotions he’s going through.  Managing to make the breakaway, where he’s directed to protect the teams no# 1 rider.  Pepe accidentally overhears a conversation between team sponsor and the sports director.  To his shock he learns that his sponsor intends to fire him after the race.

Nasu: Summer in Andalusia
Pepe Benengeli

Given he has nothing to lose, he disregards his instructions and sets out to win the race against all odds.

Whilst only a short film, this film has a good story line.  The film starts at a bar in the middle of nowhere.  They’re eagerly trying to set up their T.V in order to watch the race which will soon pass right in front of the bar.  The film then moves in between his hometown and the race, which is quite realistic for an animated film.

Nasu: Summer in Andalusia

  • Running time:  47 minutes
  • Country:           Japan
  • Language:        Japanese (English subbed)
  • Click here to view this film on Youtube
Nasu: Summer in Andalusia
Nasu: Summer in Andalusia

Mount Tanglefoot

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Distance:  8.6 km
Average Gradient:  4%
Elevation gained:  352 meters
Surface:  Gravel
Traffic: Minimal
Category 1

Click here for link to the Strava segment.

Mount Tanglefoot is located in the Toolangi State Forest, approximately 10 km north of Healesville.  There is a fair bit of climbing to get to the base of this climb with the choice of climbing this from either Chum Creek Road or Myers Creek Road.

Mount Tanglefoot

Whilst this road is relatively free of gravel, if you were to give this one a go expect a bumpy ride.  There are quite a few corrugated sections all throughout the climb.  A CX or Mountain bike would be advised.  The road is wide enough to allow two cars to pass, however the edges of the road aren’t suitable to ride a bike on.  It’s easy to find a riding line, but you’ll want to ride as far into the middle road as you can.

Mount Tanglefoot
Start of the climb

Mount Tanglefoot climb

The climb starts at the intersection of Sylvia Creek Road and Myers Creek Road.

This climb takes you through the Toolangi State Forest and to either side of the road is a forest of tall Mountain Ash and tree-fern.  This area receives a fair amount of rain and is always stunning.  This is a climb of two parts.  The climb begins with the steepest section, with the first 800 meters averaging close to 10%.

The road eventually flattens out until you pass the Wirrawilla Rainforest car park around the 4.6 km mark where from here there is solid climbing until you reach the peak.  Overall this section offers a fairly consistent gradient, and is by far the most scenic part of the climb.

Mount Tanglefoot

On the far side of the climb is a campsite, and the area offers some challenging hikes.  Mount Tanglefoot has also inspired Yarra Ridge (wine) to produce a nice Shiraz which they named after the mountain.  If you head to the bottle shop first, maybe you can celebrate in style at the top.

Mount Tanglefoot
Mount Tanglefoot

A Mount Riddell of a ride

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I lover riding over the winter months! There’s a certain appeal that gets me out of my nice warm bed to get out on the bike. I was invited by Brad Lyell to do a climb called Mount Riddell in Healesville. This was a climb that I knew nothing about and looked it up on Strava. The segment said that it was 6 km in length with an average gradient of 10%.

I’m down!

A Mount Riddell of a ride

There wasn’t all that much information online about Mount Riddell. All I found out was that it’s a mountain within the Yarra Ranges National Park to the east of Healesville, and offered a number of challenging hiking trails.  Sitting at an altitude of 815 meters above sea level.

We parked at Healesville Sanctuary and made our way across to Mount Riddell. I’ve done some pretty intimidating climbs over the years, and hate to admit that this one looked very scary.

A Mount Riddell of a ride

When we hit the base of the climb, the road rose sharply in front of us. It just kept getting steeper and steeper and steeper. Finally peaking at 21%. Whilst this first pinch was only 400 meters in length. I was wondering what the next 5 km was going to be like.

At the top of the pinch, we came to a gate and had to pass our bikes over. We then enjoyed the briefest of descents. This was going to be the last respite we had until we hit the top.

A Mount Riddell of a ride

The first part of the climb wasn’t too bad. The gradient generally sat between 8 – 10%, and we knew this was going to be tough. Trying to soft pedal as much as possible.

When we hit the second hairpin I screamed out “f#@k me”. A minute later Brad rounded the bend and heard him yell “oh crap!”.

A Mount Riddell of a ride

The road went skywards and rarely dipped below 18% from here for the final 2 km. It peaked at a ridiculous 23% at one point. Every corner we came to we hoped for some respite. It never happened. I had brought along my SLR and a change of clothes for the wet weather up top. My backpack weighed close to 7kg & weighed me down heavily. My whole body was screaming and many times I wanted to jump off my bike and walk. I thought about the toughest climbs that I’ve ever done.  Mast Gully Road.  Terry’s Avenue.  Mount Baw Baw.  Mount Hotham.  This was easily the most brutal. Grinding up such an incredibly steep gradient over such a sustained time on gravel would bring most riders to tears.

I couldn’t believe that I got up in one piece and almost collapsed in a heap. It was a bit disappointing that the climb didn’t come out at the peak. Finishing at a picnic area at 780 meters above sea level. There was no view, just a feeling of immense pain.

That was truly brutal!!!!!!

A Mount Riddell of a ride

Being suckers for punishment we continued on and found some hiking tracks with the aim of getting up to Mount Donna Buang. The path we chose was pretty rough with a tonne of debris everywhere.  We descended for about 4 km and boy was it cold.

We then started to climb and climb and climb. 10 km of undulating climbing all up with some incredibly steep pinches going up to 21%. We hit the mist, and the path was covered in lots of wet branches, bark and wet rocks. There was very little traction and I was screaming in pain climbing up extremely steep gradients.  With a backpack which seemed to be getting heavier and heavier the further we climbed.

A Mount Riddell of a ride

With the wet mist, it got and colder the closer we got to the peak of Donna. This was one of the most remarkable areas that I’ve ever ridden through, but I can’t remember much. I cracked big time and ended up walking several incredibly steep sections along the way.

We ended out on Don Road and in 25 km climbed a ridiculous 1,500 vertical, which included 7 km of descents, and took us almost four hours to do. Whilst I’ve done rides before with such crazy vertical. They’ve always been on the bitumen and there is no comparison to the difficulties we faced on this ride. We ended up riding less than 50 km.

Easily the hardest short ride that I’ve ever done.

A Mount Riddell of a ride

The descent was just as hard. It was absolutely freezing and took all of my resolve ignoring the cold. Brad regretted bringing fingerless gloves. I wore two pairs of really warm gloves and my hands went numb. I can only imagine what he must have gone through.

This one hurt something chronic and I had to ask myself what is the Riddell of why we climb?

When I work out the answer I’ll let you know.

And no. The answer is not ‘42’.

Ted Ryko

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Edward Reichenbach, ‘Ryko’ (26 September 1892 – 2 September 1968)

Ted Ryko grew up on a farm at Glenlee in Quensland and left school as a child to work for his uncle’s engineering business.  Part of his job involved cycling around Victoria to deliver parts or fix machinery. Ted started to enter long-distance cycling competitions, and set his sights on one of the countries most dangerous crossings.  In May 1914, aged 21 years of age.  Ryko, with his mate John Fahey set-off from the Adelaide Post Office, with the intent on breaking Albert McDonald’s cycling record from Adelaide to Darwin. Ted was quite a talented photographer, and planned to use the trip as an opportunity to photograph some of the remote and isolated places along the route.

Ted Ryko
Image courtesy of Northern Territory Library

Trans-continental crossing

Disaster struck when Fahey sprained his ankle just before the Northern Territory border.  A decision was made for him to stop and rest with Ryko continuing on alone.  Ryko followed the old Ghan railway to Oodnadatta, then camel tracks beyond and along the maintenance tracks for the Overland Telegraph line.

The ride was not easy.  One night at Barrow Creek an animal got tangled in his water bag and dislodged the siphon hose.  Ted was then left with no water, and survived by moistening his lips from a tiny bottle of olive oil which saved his life.  He was thankful that this lady from Sydney had given him this advice before leaving.

Ryko learned a number of survival tricks along the way.  At the Finke his lighter and matches had become wet and he couldn’t light a fire.  He sprinkled some carbine on the grass, poured water on it and fired his revolver into the gas which lit it.

Saving him from freezing to death.
Ted Ryko
Image courtesy of Northern Territory Library

Even stopping to take a number of photographs along the way. Ryko broke the record when he reached Darwin in 28 days and seven minutes, covering 3,000 km of very inhospitable terrain.  Finishing at the site of the old Darwin Post Office.

Ted had been inspired to do the ride by Albert McDonald who Ted said “He was a great sport.  I was almost sorry to take the honour of the record away from him”.

Ryko opened a photograph shop in Cavenagh Street, Darwin where he sold postcard prints of his photographs.  These he sold for fourpence each. He developed and printed his films in a studio at the back. Ryko didn’t remain in Darwin very long.  In December 1915 he sold the business and resumed his nomadic lifestyle back on his bike.  Extensively travelling across the Northern Territory, to focus on his photography, and documenting Australia’s remote wilderness. He often would visit the Mary and Alligator Rivers, near Kakadu.  Where he would photograph the Buffalo shooting camps.  Ted Ryko would return to Darwin every few months to develop, print and sell his work.

Ted Ryko
Image courtesy of Northern Territory Library

The Spy

During the First World War Military Intelligence became suspicious of anyone who might have connections to Germany.  Although Ryko was born in Australia, his parents were of German heritage, and he was suspected of being a German spy.  Government officials imagined that the travel and photography that Ryko did may have been on behalf of the German government.  His name was eventually cleared, but by 1917 he had already left the Northern Territory and did not return to the Top End for nearly forty years.

Ted Ryko
Image courtesy of Northern Territory Library

Life in Sydney

Ted Ryko moved to Sydney, where he suffered a nervous breakdown.  In 1919 Ryko was admitted to the Wahroong Home of Health.  Where he reportedly recovered from his breakdown.

In Sydney, his flat was robbed and his precious collections of negatives and prints were stolen. This was a massive blow to Ryko.  One which he had difficulty recovering from. His photographs were his life and also a source of income.

He managed to move on and fall in love, married and had a son but he remained restless. By the time of the Great Depression in the 1930’s.  Ryko was living on his own and struggling to earn a living amongst the many unemployed in the city.

Around the start of the Second World War Ryko found work with the Commonwealth Railways in remote Central Australia. Here he remained for nearly eighteen years before he retired home to Victoria. In his spare time working for the railways he pursued his passion for botany, seed collecting, conservation and astronomy.

Ted Ryko; a life well remembered

Ryko move to a retirement home in Nhill due to ill health.  He passed away on 2 September 1968 just shy of his 76th birthday.

Ted Ryko was an avid photographer and writer.  He not only documented his adventures.  But also documented the people, the history and the culture of the Northern Territory.  He was also one of the first Europeans to document Aboriginal culture, which helped to enrich the world’s understanding of these people.

His collection of images that was stolen has never resurfaced publically.  All of his photos which remain comes from the prints he sold and thankfully survived in private collections, museums, archives and libraries. Of the nearly three thousand photographs Ryko took in the Territory, only a couple of hundred are known to exist today.

Ted Ryko
Image courtesy of Northern Territory Library


Bulga Park Road climb (Tarra Valley)

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Distance: 12.3 km
Average Gradient: 4.1%
Elevation Gained: 517 meters
Surface: Gravel
Traffic: Non-existent
Category: 1

Click here for the link to the Strava segment.

Bulga Park Road takes you through the majestic Tarra Bulga National Park, which show cases some of the states best rainforest. ‘Bulga’ is an Aboriginal word, meaning ‘high place’ or ‘mountain’ and the word ‘Tarra’ comes from Strzelecki Ranges Aboriginal guide, Charlie Tarra.  The park is part of the Strzelecki Ranges which stretches across Gippsland for roughly 100 km. These ranges were named after the Polish explorer, Paul Strzelecki, who in 1840.  After climbing and naming Mount Kosciusko, Strzelecki set off to Gippsland to explore the ranges.  His party entered the north-eastern end of the ranges and struggled through the rugged country for 22 days. Finally emerging starved and exhausted at Western Port Bay.

Bulga Park Road climb

The climb commences at the junction of Bulga Park Road & Baxters Road (in front of the State School Reserve) in Macks Creek.

This is a climb of two parts with two short flattened out sections which spans Macks Creek (which unfortunately you can’t see from the climb).  The first 6 km has a soft sandy surface which may not offer the greatest of traction depending on weather conditions.  This first part takes you through a dense forest which has several sections which open off whcih offer amazing views of the valley to the right of the climb.  There is a mixture of long dead straights with switchbacks to mix up the climb.  For the majority the surface is dirt, however there are a few short rocky sections which are challenging to find a smooth riding line through.

Bulga Park Road climb

The second part of the climb takes you through the Tarra Bulga National Park which will take you on a journey through an ancient forest of Mountain ash, Sassafras, Myrtle Beech, Silver Wattle and Blackwood. These trees create a canopy that reaches as high as 60 meters. This can filter out as much as 95 percent of the light. The area has 33 different species of ferns, some growing as high as ten meters which are just incredible to see.

The road surface in the National Park is different.  This surface consists of hard packed dirt and rounded rocks which are a low risk for punctures.  This section of the climb offers much better traction, and has lots of sweeping bends which makes it much easier to break up your climb. Plus is alot easier on the eye.

Bulga Park Road climb
Bulga Park Road climb

This is a climb with a nice easy gradient, which will suit riders of all abilities, and an adventure down one of the roads less travelled, and a worthy addition to anyone’s bucket list.

The climb finishes at the town of Balook

Bulga Park Road climb at a glance

  • Long undulating climb
  • Breathtaking scenery
  • The area is a naturally damp rainforest and can experience tree debris lying across the road.  Expect damp, cold conditions
  • Heavy canopy which leads to poor drainage of the road (expect anything on this climb)
  • The National Park is home to a large number of wildlife
  • Toilet facilities available in Balook
  • Limited places to purchase food in this area; Café in Balook (limited opening times) & at the Tarra Valley Caravan Park (Tarra Valley Road). It is advised to bring adequate supplies with you
  • During summer this is a bushfire area
  • This is a logging area.  If you hear a truck come along it is advised to pull off the road to safely let them pass

About the Tarra Bulga National Park

The Tarra Bulga National Park was created when fifty acres was set aside in 1903.  This was later extended to eighty hectares. A separate 750 acres was reserved in the Tarra Valley in 1909 and the intervening land was purchased later. The Tarra Valley National Park (1230 hectares) was then declared in June, 1986.

During fire season

Tarra-Bulga National Park is in a fire district. Anyone entering parks and forests during the bushfire season needs to stay aware of forecast weather conditions. Check the Fire Danger Rating and for days of Total Fire Ban at or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

Further information for the Tarra Bulga National Park (on Parks Victoria website)

Bulga Park Road climb
Bulga Park Road climb

Bikes by Steve

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Steve Gardner is a friend of mine who I met many years ago.  He is a spray painter by trade.  Cyclist by life.  Combining these passions Steve has decided to start up his own business; custom spray painting bicycles.

I sat down with Steve to ask him about the new business venture he’s putting together.

Bikes by Steve

Steve has spent his life working in the auto re-finishing trade, and has worked in the industry a total of 23 years now.  He has a passion for riding and like many of us lives and dreams bikes and told me “After painting a couple of bikes for friends I could see a way I could make a difference with my skills.  Spray painting is both a hobby and a passion of mine, and there aren’t that many places in Melbourne where you can go to get a custom spray paint job on your bike.” – SG

Let’s face it, we want the best for our bikes, and getting a custom spray paint for your bike is the ultimate way of looking after the one you love.  Before contacting Steve, give some thought to what you want your dream bike to look like.  Once you’ve decided on the colour you want, then contact Steve to discuss your options.

Bikes by Steve

Steve only uses the highest quality sprays, predominately using PPG.  Ceramic clear is also an option.  The process involves a full rub down and removing any chips and scratches from the frame.  Applying a 2-Pac primer and multiple colours, logos stripes, etc. followed by a flow coat.  The end result is that you have a bike that all of your friends are envious about.

If you have a retro, steel or alloy frame, Steve can bring life back to your bike. He can reproduce any of the original colours and source original style decals. If paint removal is required these will be soda blasted. Re-chroming is also available.

Steve wants to do a job that he would be proud to call his own bike.

If you want to find out more then get in contact with Steve on 0404 883 214.

I want to provide a service for those that want something different from their friends.  Someone who wants the personal touch.  One who has a passion and love for their bike”. – SG

Bikes by Steve:

Bikes by Steve
Steve Gardner

Ridge Road “aka Five Ways climb” (Mount Dandenong)

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Distance:  2.2km
Average Gradient: 6%
Elevation Gain:  128 metres
Category:  4
Surface: Sealed
Traffic: Light

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Apart from being an incredibly challenging climb.  This climb is worth going out of your way to do as it takes you past two of the Dandenong’s best scenic lookouts.  At the base of this climb is the Kallorama Lookout.  Which can be accessed by the car park on the intersection of Five Ways on the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road (see image below).  This lookout offers spectacular views over the Silvan Reservoir, surrounding foothills and the Yarra Ranges off in the distance.  It is easily one of the best lookouts in the Dandenong Ranges, and worth getting your camera out for a shot or three.

Five Ways climb

Opposite the lookout is a Tea house (see image below), and the climb I’m looking at today is directly behind this on Ridge Road.  This is quite a popular climb which takes you all the way up to Sky High.  The highest point in the Dandenong Ranges.  This climb is steep right from the outset, averaging 14% over the first 500 metres.  This may sound daunting, however the road surface is quite good and it’s easy to find a good rhythm.

Five Ways climb
Base of the climb

This is a residential street.  However the houses blend beautifully into the environment and it will feel like you’re climbing through a forest.  When you pass Falls Road to the left hand side of the road, you can enjoy a brief respite as the road flattens for around 300 metres.  The road will start to head skywards again as you pass the Mount Dandenong Arboretum to the left side of the road.  As you leave suburbia and enter the heart of the Mount Dandenong National Park.  You may find yourself in the pain cave as most do.

You’ll love it!

Five Ways climb

The next 800 metres undulates with several pinches in excess of 10% until you pass the exit for Sky High (a one-way only road).  Continue up Ridge Road for 400 metres where you will enjoy a brief descent.  Then turn right onto Observatory Road.  Whilst this final pinch is only 300 metres long.  It’s one of those climbs that you’re always tired by the time you hit it.  This small stretch of road has dished out a lot of pain and it is always a relief once you reach the gates to Sky High.  It is always a remarkable experience as you ride up to the lookout looking over metropolitan Melbourne.

Five Ways climb

Cycling up to Sky High is one of the greatest experiences that you can do in the Dandenong Ranges and well worth a detour.  There’s a Café up top which serves a mean Coffee and a view to a kill.

Five Ways climb
Five Ways climb


A ride to Port Albert

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I was staying in the Tarra Bulga National Park and had to do a ride from rainforest to the sea. Port Albert was only about 34 km away. This is a beautiful seaside coastal fishing village within South Gippsland, off the Bass Strait, which is located just north-east of Wilsons Promontory and also close to ninety-mile beach. The town acts as a commercial fishing port, and is popular with fishers and surfers. And of course cyclists who love to see the sea.

I love exploring, and visiting little country towns. Normally I try to avoid a ride that I can’t do a loop on and which involved riding flat roads.  But my holidays can be quite exhausting, as I end up doing a tonne of driving, hiking and cycling.  So to plan an easy ride minimises the amount of damage that I do to myself.

A ride to Port Albert

When I woke up and stepped outside to see what the weather was like.  OMFG it was freezing!!!!

At little over 1 degree outside, I almost ran straight back to bed.  The only thing stopping me was that I knew I would regret not getting out to ride.  We were heading back to Melbourne in the afternoon, and this was my only chance to do this ride.  “Suck it up princess“.  I told myself.  Chucking on five layers of clothing.  My biggest worry was that I only brought shorts & my skinny little legs were going to freeze to death.  I wasn’t going to set any fashion trends but brought along a pair of footy socks which really don’t suit the bike.  But sure did keep me warm.

A ride to Port Albert

It was freezing and there was frost to either side of the road.  I had to descend down out of the Tarra valley and was shaking like a leaf. It remained under 3 degrees quite some time, but when it warmed up to 8 degrees, I was dressed like an Eskimo and sweated quite a bit.  The ride was supposed to be easy as most of it was flat.

I’m not a big fan of riding dead long straights, but was keen to see the sunrise at Port Albert which did not disapoint.

A ride to Port Albert

I pulled into Port Albert and took some photos and noticed that the wind suddenly picked up out of nowhere. It had been eerily still on my ride south.  With limited time, I hopped back on the bike and figured what direction the wind was coming from pretty quickly (northerly).  There’s something I’m less a fan of than riding dead long straight roads, but dead long straight roads into a headwind!

There is something inherintly evil about doing an out and back ride with no tailwind one way and a a headwind the other.

Not happy jan!

My body had already burned a tonne of energy trying to stay warm.  The fight against the headwind all the way back to the caravan park set me over the edge.  It was a really hard grind for what should have been a very easy ride.  I always take the good from the bad, and never regret a ride.

I can tell you, by the time I got back to Melbourne that night I was very, very exhausted!

Port Albert History

Port Albert is one of Victoria’s oldest sea ports, and had been established in 1841 by explorer Angus McMillan. The area was originally known as Seabank or Old Port, but was changed to New Leith when the town started developing. Later changing to Alberton and Port Albert in honour of Prince Albert of Saxe-Coburg and Gotha, the husband of Queen Victoria.  The Tarra Bulga National Park has some of the areas best riding in the area, and there is a couple of really good climbs up to Agnes Falls near the towns of Welshpool and Toora.

A ride to Port Albert
Don’t get caught speeding

Click here for the link to my Strava activity.

Ride stats:

  • Distance: 68 km
  • Elevation: 423 meters
  • Minimum temperature: 1 degree
  • Maximum temperature: 8 degrees
A ride to Port Albert
A ride to Port Albert