Cardinia Aqueduct Trail

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Cardinia Aqueduct Trail
Location:   Upper Beaconsfield – Pakenham
Distance:   5km one way
Surface:     Generally smooth dirt or gravel track
Access:       Parking access from Officer Road or Thewlis Road
Dogs Allowed

Thewlis Road entrance

The Cardinia Aqueduct Trail is set in the foothills of the Dandenong Ranges.  It is an excellent recreational trail suitable for bike riders, walkers, horse riders and joggers. Feel the serenity and tranquility as you make your way through grassy woodlands.  Wet gully forests and tall Eucalyptus trees. The trail begins in Pakenham, and follows a disused section of the Bunyip main race Aqueduct and maintenance track.  This is a trail which is steeped with history.  Playing a major role in the rural and urban development of providing water to the Mornington Peninsula.

The trail ends near Dickie Road in Officer.

The Cardinia Aqueduct Trail

The Aqueduct trail is 5 kilometers in length.  You will find the surface is generally smooth dirt with some gravel.  Overall the trail is fairly flat throughout with one steep section to the west of Officer Road.  The trail has a pretty good surface and is suitable to ride a road bike on.  And is a popular trail for walkers, horse riders, bike riders and joggers and even suitable to push a pram along.  If you’re travelling by car you can’t access the start or end points of this trail.  You will need to backtrack to complete a full lap of the trail.  Many people will just come along to do a small section of the trail instead.

At a glance

  • Easy walking on level trail
  • Suitable for prams
  • Dogs allowed (on leash)
  • No toileting facilities
  • Parking available on Officer Road & Thewlis Road
  • Located 57km south east of Melbourne (easy access from the M1)
  • Road crossings at Officer & Thewlis Road (take care when crossing the road)
Map courtesy of Cardinia government website


The trail is quite isolated, so make sure that you bring adequate supplies as there are no shops along the trail. The trail is a 10km return trip, and if you are doing the Aqueduct trail by bike.  I can offer some additional climbs around the area which are great to bike/hike.  Click on the links below to read about some of the great local gravel roads:

If you’re feeling adventurous, you can find some steep hiking trails to the north of the Aqueduct Trail.


Cardinia Aqueduct Trail

Cardinia Cycling

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The Shire of Cardinia is located to the south-east of the Melbourne, and the south-eastern side of the Dandenong Ranges.  This area is renown for its rolling hills, and stunning scenery, and has some great places you can stop off to eat along the way.  You will also find one of the best selection of gravel roads in and around Metropolitan Melbourne.  If you’re interested in riding this great area the Cardinia Climbers are the best to approach.  The Cardinia Climbers have several group rides each week & also organise regular social rides .  They’re a great bunch of guys who would be quite happy to point you in the right direction:

Cardinia Cycling

Please click on the links below to be directed to the climb write-ups.


Link to climb write-up Location Distance Gradient % Category
O’Neil Road Beacconsfield 3.2 km 3.3 4
Payne Road Beacconsfield 2.4 km 4 4
Old Coach Road Berwick 400 metres 11.5 4
Cardinia Reservoir Cardinia Reservoir 1.1 km 7.5 4
Elephant Rock Emerald N/A N/A N/A
Churchill Park Drive Endeavour Hills 1.1 km 4.6 5
Halleur Road (gravel) Harkaway 1.5 km 5 4
Robinson Road Harkaway 4.3 km 3 4
Bessie Creek Road Nar Nar Goon North 5.3 km 3 4
A’Beckett Road Narre Warren North 1.4 km 6.3 4
Baileys Road Narre Warren North 1.8 km 4 5
Dickie Road (gravel)
Officer Road Officer 2 km 5 4
Thewlis (North)
Thewlis (South)
Cardinia Aqueduct Trail Pakenham 5 km N/A N/A
Leppit Road Pakenham 900 metres 9.4 4
Bourkes Creek Road (gravel) Pakenham Upper 2.3 km 4 4
Shelton Road (gravel) Pakenham Upper 1.4 km 7.8 4
Foott Road (gravel) Upper Beaconsfield 1.4 km 7.1 4
Berglund Road (gravel) Upper Beaconsfield 1.1 km 11 3
Police Academy Hill Wheelers Hill 300 metres 12 4
Cardinia Cycling at its best

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Adding new climbs

If you’d like to see a new climb added to the Cardinia area, please get in touch.  There are a world of great climbs out there that we all would love to discover at some stage.

Thewlis North (Officer ) gravel

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Distance: 800 metres
Average Gradient: 12%
Elevation gain: 100 metres
Traffic: Light traffic
Terrain: Farmland
Category: 4
Road Surface: Loose gravel

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

The Toomuc Valley is easily one of Cardinia’s most scenic areas to ride in. If you venture off the main road and onto the gravel, it also boasts some of Cardinia’s most challenging climbs.  Next to Berglund Road, Thewlis is arguably the most challenging climb in the area.  Not only is it super steep but has a lot of loose gravel and you’ll be fighting for traction all the way up.

Don’t be ashamed if you need to get off and walk up this climb.

There is a short steep pinch to enter Thewlis before the road flattens out over the next 50 metres.

There is a 90 degree left hand turn and once you come round the bend you may wish you hadn’t. The road rises straight up and over the next 300 metres averages a whopping 16%, with the final 200 metres barely dipping below 10%.

The road flattens out as you reach the intersection of Bathe Road, but if you’re like me & you don’t consider you’ve finished a climb until you’ve climbed as high as you possibly can, then turn right onto Bathe Road where there is a really steep pinch of about 200 metres to contend with till you can finally celebrate.

A climb like this is incredibly challenging, and when the majority of riders average less than 10kmph you know you’re in for a battle. You may only ever do a climb like this once, but getting to the top of such a difficult climb is like a rite of passage to consider yourself a climber.  Yes it is hard, but then it’s good to test the depths of your abilities.

Do or do not. There is no try


Thewlis North at a glance

  • Loose gravel surface (offers little in the way of traction)
  • No line markings
  • Stunning views looking back towards the Toomuc Valley
  • Super steep gradient which gets steeper towards the top
View from the top

How to get there

Thewlis Road is located approximately 60 km south-east of Melbourne, and accessed of Toomuc Valley Road.

Gordon Road (Pakenham)

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Distance: 2.1 km
Average Gradient: 7%
Elevation gain: 142 metres
Traffic:Light traffic
Terrain: Gravel
Category: 3

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Gordon Road offers one of Cardinia’s most challenging gravel climbs & would recommend it to the pure hill junkies & gravel grinders.  Its 7% average is highly deceptive as the road flattens, and it does so quite often on this climb.  You may find that your legs after climbing such difficult pinches need the rest & can shut down on the flattened out sections. With the gradient peaking at 15% & the majority of this climb well and truly in excess of 10%.  This is a f#@ng hard climb to get up.  I won’t sugar coat it for you.

Gordon Road (Pakenham) climb

There is quite a bit of loose gravel on the road, and its can be a challenge to find a racing line.  This can be ridden on a Road Bike.  However would more recommend for you to use a CX or MTB.  There are usually sections which are corrugated and expect a bumpy ride in places

This is a climb which you’ve got to be strong & willing to push yourself to the limit.  Any sign of weakness & this one will really screw you over.

The road is narrow & is a tight squeeze if a car comes along hopefully you can find a riding line to the left hand side of the road.

If you’re looking for an excuse to head out to this climb.  Consider doing it on the way up to Bessie Creek Road, which is one of the areas best gravel climbs.

Bessie Creek Road climb

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Bessie Creek Road
Location: Nar Nar Goon North
Distance: 5.3km
Gradient: 3%
Category: 4
Elevation: 163 metres
Surface: Gravel
Traffic: Minimal

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Located a little south of Gembrook off the beaten track is this great gravel road to climb called Bessie Creek Road.  I would have to say that this is one of the Dandenong Ranges best best kept secrets.  Its a stunning climb which will take you through some of the Dandenong’s best cool temperate rain forest.

Bessie Creek Road climb

After you pass the turn-off for Mt Eirene Road.  The road turns to gravel.  With the climb starting approximately 500 meters down the road. The surface of this climb is hard packed dirt, with loose gravel.  Expect the odd corrugated and bumpy sections of road.  Overall Bessie Creek Road is usually in good condition to ride (don’t quote me though).  What will draw you to this climb is the scenery.  Bessie Creek Road is surrounded by some simply stunning Rain forest.

The Bessie Creek Road climb.  Which takes you towards Mount Burnett.  Is 5.3 km in length.  And has a steady gradient that rarely pushes over 5%.  Its a real pleasure to climb and easy to find a steady rhythm.  This is a climb which is suitable to ride on your Road Bike.  If you were a smart rider, you will always bring a spare or two.

This is one of the hidden gems in the south eastern side of the Dandenong’s.  If you love a sense of adventure go out of your comfort zone to give this climb a go.  You won’t regret it.

What to expect

  • Wide road
  • No traffic
  • Consistent gradient
  • Stunning rain forest
  • Suitable for a Road bike

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Cardinia Reservoir scenic climb

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Distance: 1.1 km
Gradient: 7.5%
Elevation: 89 metres
Surface: Average
Traffic: Non-existant

Here is a link to the Strava segment here

The Cardinia Reservoir Park offers some of the best views Cardinia has to offer.  And is a great scenic detour for cyclists. The park is situated only a short ride from Emerald (8 km’s).  You can drop in for a scenic cruise.  And test yourself against one of the areas toughest climbs which runs parallel to the Dam Wall.  

The climb commences opposite Duffy’s Picnic Ground

Start of the climb

The road rises sharply and you’ll be pushing gradients of around 10% pretty quickly.  There is a downhill descent leading up to the climb which gives you a good running start.

I’m not going to sugar coat this one.  It will really hurt and I can guarantee your legs won’t like it.

700 metres into the climb you will come to the Spillway carpark to the left side of the road.  The road flattens out here.  Brace yourself as the last 200 metres is quite nasty with gradients peaking at around 15%.  The climb finishes when you reach the gates at the end of the road.


Cardinia Reservoir was built back in 1970 & took 3 years to complete.  The Reservoir was built due to water shortages throughout the 60’s.  This was due to the expanding population in the South Eastern suburbs of Melbourne.  The Cardinia Reservoir has the capacity to hold 287,000 Megalitres.

If you visit the park I would highly recommend that you ride across the Dam Wall.  This offers spectacular views over the Cardinia Reservoir.  This path can be accessed from the lookout Car park.  Which is at the main entrance or by the Spillway Car park at the Southern end.  This is a walking track, so be prepared to give way to walkers.  You will find the path is quite wide and there should be plenty of room to share the path.

Dam wall walk

The Cardinia Reservoir has a dense forest.  And a large population of Eastern Grey Kangaroos.  There’s a good chance that you will see a few on your ride.


Dickie Road (Officer)

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Distance: 3 km
Average Gradient: 5%
Elevation gain: 145 metres
Traffic: Light traffic
Terrain: Gravel
Road Surface: Poor

Click here for link to Strava segment

Cardinia has some truly amazing gravel climbs.  This climb takes you through to the picturesque Toomuc Valley.  Passing one of Melbourne’s best Mountain Bike tracks at the “GWS Scout Camp”, as well as passing the EA Owen Conservation Reserve.  This is quite a tough climb as the surface of Dickie Road is rough and course.  Which makes what is already a very challenging climb into something well beyond that.

The climb starts just after you pass the GWS Anderson Scout Camp.  You’ll notice the road going skyward, and a sensible rider might just turn around and take the soft way home….


The first km has several pinches in excess of 15% and averages over 8%.

You will find it hard to find a rhythm as the gradient constantly changes throughout this climb.

The next 1.5 km’s is quite undulating, and quite challenging with some steep pinches along the way.


The road is wide enough for a vehicle to pass you.  Make sure you pick a good line when being overtaken.  The  as the side of the road can be a bit rough.


As you can see from the photos there is a fair bit of gravel on the road.  This climb is more suited for a Mountain Bike or CX.  The last 600 metres is quite challenging, with the gradient peaking at over 15%.

You’re legs will be cursing you and screaming out “you’re a dick!”

It is a welcome relief to see the Yellow T-intersection sign which will signify the end of the climb.

It is a very challenging, and a willy long climb.  Please make sure that you don’t make any jokes about its name!

Dickie Road (Officer)

At a glance:

  • Long undulating climb
  • Heavy gravel
  • Not suitable for road bikes
  • Very little traffic

Old Coach Road Berwick

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Distance: 400 metres
Average Gradient: 11.5%
Elevation gain: 48 metres
Traffic:Light traffic
Road Surface: Good

Click here for link to the Strava segment.


Old Coach Road

Start of the climb at the corner of Old Coach Road and Harkaway Road.

Old Coach Road is a dead end back street on the outskirts of the town Berwick, which is located in Cardinia.  This climb looks brutal, feels brutal, and honestly is quite brutal.  One thing going for this climb are the views at the top which are quite impressive.

Regardless of how you tackle this one you will be gasping for breath by the top.  Although only 400 metres in length.  This climb starts at 3%.  Getting steeper until it peaks at 24% right near the top. There are 360 degree views from the top of the surrounding area which make the climb more worthwhile.

Start of the climb:  Corner of Harkaway Road and Old Coach Road

End of the climb: When your heart gives out, or you reach the flattened out bit.  Whichever comes first.

What to expect

  • Local traffic only
  • Very wide road and plenty of space for cars to overtake
  • Smooth road surface
  • Impressive views of the surrounding areas from above

On the far side of the climb, the road turns to dirt and eventually becomes a dead end road.  The other side is just as steep as the paved side, and if you’re game drop down and give it a crack.  Its certainly not for the feint hearted.

Cardinia has a great variety of amazing climbs to try out. If you want to find out where the best places are to climb then click on this link.  I have profiled a number of amazing climbs both sealed and on dirt within the shire of Cardinia.

Thank you so much for reading.


Berglund Road (Beaconsfield Upper)

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Distance: 1.1 km
Average Gradient: 11%
Maximum Gradient: 30%
Elevation gain: 123 metres
Terrain: Rural

Road Surface: Gravel

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Warning: this has gradients peaking at 30%. Do not attempt this climb unless you are confident to climb climbs such as Mast Gully Road, Terry’s Avenue or Invermay Road, or don’t mind walking your bike up a hill

Berglund Road

BFucking shit program

Berglund Road climb

The climb up Berglund Road lies within the picturesque Toomuc Valley in Cardinia.  It is one truly brutal climb which is suited for a CX or a MTB.  Be prepared for the possibility that you may need to get off and walk your bike up this climb.  Berglund Road is one of the most difficult climbs you will find within a 50 km radius of the Melbourne CBD.

The climb starts about 1km into Berglund Road, and starts just after you pass the steep ascent climb on the left hand side of the road.

Berglund Road

Fucking shit cprogram
There is about 100 metres of climbing before you hit the apex of the corner and averages just under 10%.

Berglund Road

Fucking shit program
Prepare yourself, the climb around the corner has made a number of grown men cry, & no one’s going to think less of you if you have to get off and walk.

Berglund Road

Fucking shit program

The next 300 metres is crazy as you’ll be pushing gradients between 15% – 18% on loose gravel.

Berglund Road

Fucking shit program

Welcome to Hell

It will look like you’re coming to a dip in the road, but that’s just an illusion.  The road is about to get steeper.  You will see that the road was paved.  That was due to the fact that it was just too steep for cars to get up this pinch on gravel.

Berglund Road

Fucking shit program
The last 100 metres averages 18%, but if you have a look at your Garmin you will see yourself hitting pinches of 30% through there.  You’ll find the road is rough, and good luck getting up this final pinch.

Berglund Road

Fucking shit program
The road flattens out thankfully and turns to gravel again. Enjoy the rest whilst it lasts.

Berglund Road

Fucking shit program

If your legs weren’t tired before then this pinch.  With gradients that peak at 13% will really test you and there is about 200 more metres of grinding up the loose gravel.

Berglund Road

Fucking shit program

You’ll come to some houses and the road flattens out.

 Berglund Road

Fucking shit program

Of course the roads just pucking with you.  With another 200 metres of climbing at up to 12% gradient this undulating climb will throw everything at you.

This is truly one extremely difficult undulating climb.  If you take the road all the way to Split Rock Road, it is 3.3km’s @ 5%.  Link to segment here.

Berglund Road

Fucking shit program


Berglund Road
Berglund Road

How to get to Berglund Road

Berglund Road is located 56 km east of Melbourne.  Take the M1 Freeway & exit at Pakenham before heading north up Toomuc Valley Road.

A’Beckett Road (Narre Warren North)

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Distance: 1.4km

Average Gradient: 6.3%
Elevation gain: 90 metres
Category: 4
Traffic: Minimal
Terrain: Residential/Rural

Road Surface: Good

A’Beckett Road is a climb in Narre Warren North.

Click here for link to Strava segment.

do it 
A'beckett Road

A’beckett Road climb

The climb starts to rise as you near the intersection of A’Beckett Road & Bailey’s Road.  Ramping up quite considerably.  The next 400 metres is quite steep as you climb through the residential part of Narre Warren North.

Start of the climb
The road is dead straight at this point, and little respite in sight.

As you approach Kennedy Avenue to the right side the road, A’beckett Road peaks at 13%.  Ahead you will see the road dip.  Visually this is misleading as you can hit a lull feeling that you’re about to receive some respite.  Its an optical illusion as the climb only dips down to 6%.  Ramping back up to 10% shortly after.

A'beckett Road

The climb goes from residential to rural in a manner of metres.  And you start to climb through farmland, and this climb can be quite dramatic in parts.

A'beckett Road
Keep an eye to the left of the road for some impressive views

There’s a slight bend to the right of the road, and the climb hits 11% into the corner.  Thankfully it drops back down to 6% before the main part of the climb finishes at Pit Court.  The hard part of the climb is 1.4 km’s @ 6%.

A'beckett Road

Extended Climb

Click here for link to Strava segment.

If you want to add some extra vertical to this climb.  Start the climb at the corner of Memorial Drive & Main Street.  You can cheekily get a rolling start at this climb.

A'beckett Road
Alternative start to the climb

I prefer starting from here as you get to ride through the Avenue of Honour which commemorates World War 1.

A'beckett Road
Avenue of Honour
This section is 4% gradient for 300 metres.  Turn right onto A’Beckett Road (you’ll need to check for vehicles).  Where the road flattens out for the next couple of hundred metres.

After you finish the climb, over the next 400 metres you have a slight descent.  To your left you can catch glimpses of the hills of the southern part of the Dandenong’s, and Lysterfield Lake.  You can get a chance for a good photo through here.  There are 300 metres left to climb, which does not go over 5%.  A’Beckett Road joins onto Harkaway Road.


A'beckett Road
End of the road
Unfortunately there is only a narrow ledge in parts, and there is very little shade throughout the climb.  This is a challenging climb due to the constant changes in elevation.


At the base of A’beckett Road is an incredible Bakery called Pane Difiore Bakery. Which is located at the Narre Warren North Village Centre.  This climb is worth doing just to visit this Bakery.
Click here for a link to the Bakeries Facebook page.



A'beckett Road

A'beckett Road

A'beckett Road