Dandenong’s

West Gate Bridge climb

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The Westgate Bridge is considered a bucket list climb as cyclists only have two opportunities to climb this iconic bridge each year.  The Westgate Bridge is part of the M1 Freeway, and usually cyclists are prohibited from using the bridge.  MS Australia (MS Melbourne cycle) and Bicycle Network (Around the bay in a day) have special permission to close off two lanes of the bridge for their events, which are amongst Australia’s biggest recreation rides.  Attracting riders from all around the country.

The irony of this climb is that both events are quite flat and tend to attract non-climbers, and those that love a bit of vertical may not know what they’re missing out on.  These events, you are always guaranteed to see carnage as riders drop off left right and center.  Whilst only a short climb, you need to pay it respect as it’s quite a tough climb.  The winds out on the bridge can be ferocious.  Hate to break it to you but if the wind isn’t behind you this can be one extremely difficult climb.

Image taken by Steve Burns

The Westgate Bridge once offered some of the best views of the city and surrounding suburbs.  Since anti-suicide fencing was erected to both sides of the bridge, there isn’t much of a view to be seen.

West Gate Bridge climb

  • The climb to either side of the bridge is quite steep
  • Try to get a good run-up leading up to the climb
  • Do your homework before the event to determine which way the winds are blowing
  • The road surface is usually in good shape, but keep an eye on the road just in case
  • Both events attract thousands of riders.  If you don’t want to get caught stuck behind slow climbers, you will need to try to position yourself at the front of the group leading up to the climb
  • What goes up must come down, and you’re guaranteed a fast and furious descent down the far side of the bridge.  Keep an eye on your speedo as you can get booked for speeding.
Image by Claudio Jofré Larenas

City side

Distance:  1.5 km
Average Gradient:  4%
Maximum Gradient:  7%

Click here for the link to the Strava segment.

Western side

Distance:  1 km
Average Gradient:  4%
Maximum Gradient:  7%

Click here for the link to the Strava segment.

About the bridge

The Westgate Bridge took 10 years to build (1968 – 1978), and drivers were charged a toll to pay off the cost of the bridge.  Overall 10 million dollars was raised through these tolls, until 1985 where it became free to drive across.

The Westgate Bridge spans over the Yarra River and is a vital link between the CBD and Melbourne’s western suburbs.  The bridge is 2.5 km in length and rises up to 58 meters above sea level.  The Westgate Bridge is Australia’s third longest bridge.

Cycling to Sky High

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Sky High is the highest point in the Dandenong Ranges and is nothing short of breathtaking.  First established as a survey point in 1861, Sky High is now one of the Dandenong Ranges premiere tourist attractions.  The lookout overlooks the Dandenong Ranges National Park and offers a number of attractions such as a hedge maze. Café, BBQ and picnic areas, hiking, formal gardens and a spectacular views across Melbourne’s eastern suburbs.

Enjoy a ride up to Sky High

Cycling to Sky High is quite popular amongst cyclists.  It is the highest point cyclists can climb in the Dandenong Ranges.  At 633 meters above sea level, no matter how hard your climb to the top was.  The views will always make it worthwhile.  Sky High offers cyclists a great place to stop for a rest, toilet break, or to enjoy a meal up at the Bistro.

Make sure you get your camera out.  A climb up to Sky High wouldn’t be complete without getting a selfie or a photo of your bike at the Sky High lookout.

Sky High is located off Ridge Road and you can climb it from either Olinda or Kallorama.  There is an entry fee to the car park.  Thankfully the toll operator usually turns a blind eye to cyclists.

Things to do @ Sky High

  • Enjoy the spectacular views day or night
  • Dine at Sky High Bistro & Restaurant.  Open for breakfast, lunch and dinner 7 days a week (see
    website for opening times)
  • The lawns overlooking the panoramic views offer picnic and BBQ facilities and provide an ideal spot
    for family picnics
  • Have a wander through the English Garden
  • Go for a hike through the Dandenong Ranges National Park
  • Make a wish at the wishing tree (next to the English garden)
  • Visit Percy Possum’s House, the Giant’s Chair and the Australia Tree
  • Explore the SkyHigh Maze (entry fees apply)

          Adults $6
Children (under 12) & Seniors $4
Family ticket (2 adults, 2 children) $16

Notes

  • Dogs must be on a leash
  • Public toilet facilities available
  • No ball games allowed
  • Do alcohol allowed to be brought into Sky High

Location

 26 Observatory Road
Mount Dandenong 3767, View Map

Contact: (03) 9751 0443

Open daily

 Entry Fee:

$5 per car

Link to Sky High Facebook

Click here for Sky High Website

If you’re looking for ways you can climb up to Sky High, click on the links below for suggested Strava segments:

The 1 in 20 to Sky High

Distance:  13.6 km @ 3%

The Wall to Sky High

Distance:  10.7 km @ 3%

Montrose to Sky High

Distance:  7.9 km @ 5%

The Full Monty (Inverness to Sky High)

Distance:  7.4 km @ 6.6%

Terry’s Avenue to Sky High

Distance:  13 km @ 3%

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.

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

Address:

1A Sherbrooke Road
Sherbrooke, VIC

Daily operating hours:

 10:00 am to 5:00 pm daily

 Emailinfo@parks.vic.gov.au

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.

Sources

  • http://adb.anu.edu.au/biography/nicholas-alfred-michael-7836

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.

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.

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!

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.

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

 

The National Rhododendron Gardens

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The National Rhododendron Gardens are located in Olinda in the Dandenong Ranges.  They are host to an unparalleled variety of brilliantly colored blooms.  Mainly Rhododendrons, Azaleas, Camellias, Cherries and Daffodils.  The gardens were established in 1960 by the Australian Rhododendron society, and are now owned and operated by Parks Victoria.

Visit the gardens and take a self-guided tour across the 103 acres of scenic botanic gardens.  The National Rhododendron Garden has many different paths to be explored.  With a number of tracks criss-crossing throughout the gardens.  Most of the paths are sealed, whilst others aren’t.  Plan ahead as a number of the paths are quite steep.  You will need to posses a high level of fitness if you want to explore deep into the gardens.  For those less mobile, there is a short 25-minute tour of the gardens via a small bus for a small fee.

The National Rhododendron Gardens have a number of attractions.   The site feature two ornamental lakes. Beside each lake is a pagoda in which one can rest and take in the serenity of the gardens.  There is a historical telephone booth, and several lookouts where you can see amazing panoramic views of the Yarra Ranges.

When to go?

Thankfully seasonal changes ensure the gardens are a delight all year around.  The best times are in the autumn and in spring.

The National Rhododendron Gardens at a glance:

  • Toilet facilities available
  • Café onsite
  • Great for picnics
  • Great photo opportunities
  • No dogs allowed
Address:

The Georgian Road,
Olinda, Victoria

Daily operating hours:

10:00 am – 5:00 pm (last entry 4:30 pm)

Not open Christmas day

Parking

There is limited parking at the National Rhododendron Gardens.  Additional parking available at both the Olinda Recreation Reserve.  This is on the corner of The Georgian Road and Olinda-Monbulk Road.  And the former Olinda Golf Course site on the Olinda-Monbulk Road. Both these sites are within a two minute walk to the gardens.

 Contact:

Phone: 131 963

Emailinfo@parks.vic.gov.au

The garden maybe closed if there are dangerous weather conditions.  High fire risk or for major works. Check current conditions on the day of your planned visit to confirm it is open.

National Rhododendron Gardens

The Crescent (Sassafras)

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Length: 3.3 km
Height gain: 167 metres
Average gradient: 5%
Surface: Rough
Terrain: Forest/Residential
Traffic: Light

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

The Crescent has always been one of my favourite climbs in the Dandenong’s.  There’s something special about this climb that makes it such a pleasure to climb.  Its a climb that can easily lull you into a false sense of security.  The first 2.6 km offers a fairly easy climb through some of the Dandenong Ranges National most stunning Rain forest.  This climb has a nice surprise with the last 700 meters ramping up, and one final pinch which is quite nasty!

The climb begins at the intersection of Perrins Creek Road, and this climb which has two parts.  The first section of the climb is 2.6 km in length with an average gradient of 5%.  The road surface is quite course.  Even though the average gradient is quite an easy gradient to climb, you have to work for it.  It’s easy to be caught up in the serenity and tranquility that this climb has to offer.

Be mindful that part two has a real bite to it!


What I like most about this climb is the finish.  The last 1.4 km just gets steeper & steeper.  With 700 meters to go the road seriously ramps up as you enter the residential part of the Crescent.  This is where the road gets skyward until it hits you in the face with the final 200 meters of the climb averaging well in excess of 10%.  After 3 km of climbing your legs might not like you at this point.  You will need your granny gear to get up this one and if you’ve cooked yourself before you’ve hit this one, good luck!

The final pinch

History of Sassafras

Sassafras was originally called Sassafras Gully.  After the damp, hilly terrain and trees that grew in the area.  Sassafras Gully was open for small scale farming in 1893 where 500 ten-acre farms were put up for sale.  Little in the way of a township was established.  With only a Post Office (established in 1894), store, school (open in 1894) and a Mechanics hall.  In the early 1900’s tourism began to grow which helped the town to develop.  Around 1918 thirteen guest houses were built attracting a number of weekenders.  This made Sassafras one of the leading resorts in the Dandenong Ranges.  Around this time two churches & additional shops were built around the township.

Image courtesy of State Library Victoria

Today Sassafras is one of the Dandenong’s oldest and most popular towns.  Featuring a diverse collection of Cafes, Antique and craft shops.  It is very popular amongst cyclists who may stop to catch their breath after climbing one of the Dandenong’s most iconic climbs the 1 in 20.

The Crescent (Sassafras)

How to get there

The Dandenong Ranges are located approximately 45 km east of Melbourne.  The Crescent is located just of the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road in Sassafras.

Public transport

Train services available to the Dandenong Ranges, either using the Belgrave or Lilydale lines. Click here for Public Transport Victoria for train timetable.

During fire season

The Dandenong Ranges are 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 www.cfa.vic.gov.au or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.

Emerald Lake Park

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Length: 1.3 km
Height gain: 74 metres
Average gradient: 5.3%
Surface: Sealed
Terrain: Residential
Traffic: Light

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

There is a great little 1.3km climb out from the Emerald Lake.  Which offers stunning views of Lake Treganowan along the way.  The Emerald Lake Park is a beautiful place to visit and quite a popular tourist destinations and is home to one of the true icons of the Dandenong Ranges; “Puffing Billy”.  The town of Emerald is quite popular with cyclists.  Given the volume of bikes always parked out the front of the Emerald bakery.  It’s a theory that cyclists mainly visit Emerald to satisfy a sweet tooth at the Emerald Bakery…….

One of the best Bakeries in all of Melbourne I might add.

Emerald Lake Road is quite narrow, but is fairly straight and its easy for vehicles to see past you to overtake safely.  The climb begins just after you pass the Duck sign  (see picture below).  The first part is quite a steep pinch and has a couple of speed humps to throw your chi out before making it to the toll booth.

Start of the climb

The gradient flattens out to around 6%, until you’re about 500 metres into the climb.  The road dips slightly for about 100 metres.  You can really put the foot down and hammer it through this section.  Hold something in reserve as the final pinch out to the main road is quite nasty.  Peaking at close to 14% & a lot harder than it looks.  It’s one of those pinches where you’re lungs and legs will be on fire.

This isn’t a long or an overly difficult climb, but one that I would highly recommend to make a short detour to visit the Emerald Lake Park.  It’s an amazing place to visit, and well worth the visit.

History

The Emerald Lake Park was originally part of the historic Nobelius Nursery.  Which came into operation in the 1890’s. Fruit & ornamental trees were planted.  In 1941 the Lake was opened as a public park, and today is one of the most popular parks in the Dandenong’s. Set within the hillside and native bushlands, discover all Emerald Lake Park has to offer.  There’s a number of activities which cater for the whole family.  Paddle boat rides, model railway display, a Café, free B.B.Q facilities, Puffing Billy, hiking tracks, a seasonal wading pool or bring along the fishing rod as there is an abundance of Rainbow Trout within its waters.

 

The Dandenong Ranges steepest climbs

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For the mountain goats  who love their climbs to be super steep.  Have you ever wondered what the steepest climbs in the Dandenong Ranges are?  Would it be Terry’s Avenue, Mast Gully Road or perhaps Inverness instead?

I have put together a list of 10 of The Dandenong Ranges steepest climbs, on sealed roads.  Each climb has a gradient which will peak in excess of 20% and anyone who can get up one of these deserves the utmost respect.

 

Kia Ora Parade (Upper Ferntree Gully)

Distance: 400 metres
Average gradient:  15%
Maximum gradient:  24%

Click here for link to the write-up
Click here for link to Strava segment.

Kia Ora Parade offers the steepest start to any climb in the Dandenong Ranges with a pinch that hits 24% at its base. Ironically, Kia Ora is a Maori word for greeting, or welcome.  On this street it means pain.

Roma Parade (Upwey)

Distance: 200 metres
Average gradient: 23%
Maximum gradient: 24%

Click here for climb write-up
Click here for link to Strava segment

This is one of the hardest short climbs that you can do in the Dandenong Ranges.  This climb starts at the base of the court, and given the steepness of the gradient, you have to do this one from a standing start.  The only way to climb this is by riding sideways just to clip in on this one without falling flat on your arse.  Whilst only 200 metres in length, the gradient never dips under 20% and this is one scary little climb.

Mast Gully Road (Upwey)

Distance: 1.5 km
Average gradient: 13.5%
Maximum gradient:  27%

Click here for link to climb write-up
Click here for link to Strava segment

Mast Gully Road was named due to the fact that trees were felled in order to make mast poles for sailing ships.  Mast Gully is rated as one of the hardest climbs in the Dandenong Ranges.  Offering one of the hardest ends to a climb in the Ranges, which peaks at a scary 27%.  This climb will test every fibre of your body and is a battle of body and mind against Mast Gully Road.

Lacy Street (Selby)

Distance: 400 metres
Average gradient: 17%
Maximum gradient: 32%

Click here for climb write-up
Click here for link to Strava segment

There is the Charlotta Tye Memorial Church located appropriately at the base of the climb.  You may need to pray to get up this one.  The majority of this climb is gravel, which is super steep and super bumpy.  When you come around the first bend.  There’s a small stretch of road which was so steep that they needed to pave it.  The paved section is quite botchy and peaks at over 32%.

Terry’s Avenue (Belgrave)

Distance: 3.2 km
Average gradient:  8%
Maximum gradient:  20%

Click here for climb write-up
Click here for link to Strava segment.

This road is made up of two separate climbs, with a descent in-between.  Both climbs would make the top ten of this list.  Terry’s Avenue is one of the nastiest looking climbs in the Dandenong’s.  The first pinch out of Belgrave is on the wrong side of 20% and continues skywards for 800 metres.  This is considered one of the hardest climbs in the Dandenong Ranges.  Which has brought tears to many a poor fool who’s had to get off and walk their bikes up this monster.

Invermay Road (Monbulk)

Distance: 1.1 km
Average gradient: 10%
Maximum gradient:  24%

Click here for climb write-up
Click here for link to Strava segment.

Also known as “Inver(dis)may” this climb is beauty and the beast rolled into one.  There are some truly incredible views which if you’re lucky will distract you from the pain that you’re in.  There is a short pinch half-way up this climb which averages close 20% for 300 metres that will bring tears to your eyes.

Hughes Street (Upwey)

Distance:  1.8 km
Average gradient: 8%
Maximum gradient:  24%

Click here for climb write-up
Click here for link to Strava segment.

You’ll need a Hughes effort to get up this super steep backstreet.  This climb takes you through the quiet suburbia through Upwey and out through the Dandenong Ranges National Park.

The whole climb is tough, but there’s one small section that will be etched into your mind forever.  The pinch past Olivette Avenue is pure evil.  200 metres @ 17%, and enough to put fear in even the toughest of climbers.

McCarthy Road (Monbulk)

Distance:  500 metres
Average gradient:  22%
Maximum gradient:  24%

Click here for climb write-up
Click here for link to Strava segment.

If anyone bothered to place a call to the Guiness Book of Records, this road could well and truly break a record.  With an average of 22% for 500 metres.  McCarthy has arguably one of the steepest average gradients for a residential climb in Australia.  If you’re averaging over 6 km/h on this sucker you’re doing well.

Inverness Road (Mount Evelyn)

Distance:  2.5 km
Average gradient:  9%
Maximum gradient:  27%

Click here for link to climb write-up
Click here for link to Strava segment.

Inverness Road is part of the Crucifix, and considered the toughest of the four ascents.  It has arguably the toughest finish to any climb in the Dandenong Ranges. You’ve got to climb over 2.5 km of insane climbing to get to the steepest part of this climb.  Which peaks at 27%.  Not for the feint hearted.

Talaskia Avenue (Upper Ferntree Gully)

Distance:  100 metres
Average gradient:  17%
Maximum gradient:  33%

Click here for climb write-up
Click here for link to Strava segment.

If you go and look at this climb I can assure you will think twice about climbing it.  Whilst only short this climb peaks at 33%, and offers the Dandenong Ranges steepest paved road.  This climb is conveniently located next to the Angliss Hospital.  It’s comforting to know that if you fall on a climb like this you won’t have far to get yourself to hospital…..

What do you consider the Dandenong Ranges steepest climbs

Click on the links below to be directed to the write-up.

Sherbrooke Road (Kallista)

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Distance: 1.1 km
Average Gradient: 8%
Elevation gained: 93 meters
Surface: Sealed
Traffic:  Heavy

Click here for link to the Strava segment.

This climb takes you through the majestic Sherbrooke Forest, and is one of the most scenic climbs you can do in the Dandenong Ranges. The highlight of the climb is its impressive hairpin, which was once known as the Devil’s Elbow. Whilst narrow, Sherbrooke Road has one of the best road surfaces the Dandeong’s has to offer. Offering stunning scenery, this climb is a pleasure to do all year round.

Start of the climb: The roundabout at Sherbrooke Road and Monbulk Road, Kallista

As you hit the base of this climb, the road continues straight for the first 250 meters before making a sharp left-hand turn and twists and winds its way up to the township of Sherbrooke.

This road is quite steep, with much of the climb sitting about 10% in gradient. Whilst only short, this is a climb which if you don’t pace yourself right, it will hurt you.

Boasting one of the best hairpins in the Dandenong Ranges.  This climb takes you through the Sherbrooke Forest, and is simply stunning. Its only downside is that you always expect to see water which trickles onto the road. This can be treacherous on the descent

End of the climb: Shortly after you pass the George Tindale Memorial Gardens on Braeside Avenue, Sherbrooke

Best time to climb

With a large number of tourist attractions off this road, it can experience very heavy traffic. It is best to climb during non-peak times and early on weekends.

The descent

Use caution when descending. This is quite a technical high speed descent, with a very tight hairpin which can be difficult to negotiate. Shortly after the hairpin, there is a particular corner which always has water running across the road. You should take caution when descending this road and ride within your abilities.

Sherbrooke forest

Sherbrooke forest covers the southern area of the Dandenong Ranges. From Selby in the south to Sherbrooke in the north. This area covers 800 hectares in total. The dominating feature of the forest is the tall Mountain Ash forest. In the mid 1850’s this area was declared a timber reserve and the whole area was laid barren. Much of the forest has since regrown and the Mountain Ash tree are the world’s tallest flowering plants, growing some 100 meters tall and can live up to 500 years. They also offer the perfect habitat for wildlife such as the Lyrebird, Ring-tailed and Brush-tailed Possums.

In 1958 the Sherbrooke Forest was declared a park, which was then included in the Dandenong Ranges National Park in 1987.

Local attractions

Sherbrooke Forest offers some of the Dandenong Ranges best hikes, including a hike to the Sherbrooke Falls which are best to view after it rains. Sherbrooke Road also offers some of the best gardens in the Dandenong Ranges.  These include the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens & George Tindale Memorial Gardens.

Sherbrooke is also renown as one of Melbourne’s most popular wedding venues with venues such as Poet’s lane and Marybrooke Manor.

The Devils Elbow

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The Devils Elbow
Location: Upper Ferntree Gully
Length: 5.1 km
Average Gradient: 8%
Total Ascent: 415 meters
Climb Category: 3
Finish: One Tree Hill Road – Ferny Creek

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

– The expression “Devils Elbow” has been used since at least the 1860’s to describe a difficult bend or curve in a road or river.

The Devils Elbows is considered the gateway to the Dandenong Ranges.  And one of the true icons for climbing enthusiasts. The climb is deceptively steep.  And includes two sharp hairpins as it winds its way through the Dandenong Ranges National Park.  Which passes by the 1,000 Steps which is the Dandenong’s most popular walk.

The Devils Elbow climb

The traditional start to the climb starts at the corner of Burwood Highway and Mount Dandenong Tourist Road. However there is a fair bit of climbing up the Burwood Highway to get to the start.  The Devil’s Elbow takes you up the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road until you reach Churchill Drive. Here you make a left turn onto this road until you reach One Tree Hill Road.  Make a right hand turn for the final part of this climb. The gradient drops on One Tree Hill.  However the final stretch is undulating.  Which can be quite challenging!  Depending on how much fuel you’ve got left in your tank to get to the top of this climb.  This climb is one of the Dandenong Ranges most iconic climbs.  Also one of the most difficult.

Churchill Drive

The Devils Elbow offers a really good challenge.  Riders are rewarded with great views as you move from the steep slopes of Mount Dandenong.  To the wet temperature forest of One Tree Hill which provides a welcome relief on hot days.

The Devils Elbow is part of one of the Dandenong Ranges biggest challenge rides; the Crucifix.  Which challenges riders to take on the 1 in 20, The Wall, Inverness Avenue and the Devil’s Elbow in the one ride. It doesn’t matter which order you do this challenge.  Just that you survive it!

The Devils Elbow

Plan your ride

Public transport

Train services available to “Upper Ferntree Gully” train station.  From the train station there is an easy 500 metre climb to the official start of the Devil’s Elbow climb.  Click here for Public Transport Victoria for train timetable.

Parking
  • The Devil’s Elbow has ample parking available at the Upper Ferntree Gully Train station on Burwood Highway.
  • Alternatively there is car parking available off Dawson Street, Upper Ferntree Gully
Toilets

Public toilets are available at the Upper Ferntree Gully trainstation.

How to get there

Upper Ferntree Gully is located approximately 39 km east of Melbourne and accessed off the Burwood Highway.  The traditional start to the climb starts at the corner of Burwood Highway and Mount Dandenong Tourist Road, shortly after you pass under the railway bridge.