The Red Rock Reserve is located 17 km north-west of Colac. It is a major Volcano site which has seen many violent volcanic eruptions that have resulted in the craters and lakes found in the area. Around 40 ‘eruption centres’ have been identified in and around the township of Alvie, near Colac. Some of these eruptions helped to form some of the biggest lakes in the area such as Lake Purdiguluc, Lake Werowrap and Lake Coragulac. Red Rock Reserve itself is made up of several large Maar craters, and a very popular tourist attraction.
The Red Rock Reserve was named after the distinctive outcrop of volcanic ash, and this reserve offers the choice of two very scenic climbs. Both offer impressive views of the surrounding areas, volcanic craters and lakes that the region is renowned for.
Start of the climb: corner of Red Rock Road Reserve and Corangamite Lake Road (Alvie).
Both climbs are the same distance and start from the same spot. Given they’re so short you should try to drop down and do both climbs in the one ride. Whichever climb you choose, they both have gradients which hit double-figures and are a lot harder than the average gradient suggests. Both climbs offer amazing views, including Lake Coragnamite which is the largest permanent salt water lake in Australia with a surface area of 25,160 hectares and lake Colac which is just as impressive with a surface area of 2,778 hectares and a circumference of 33 km. The views of the surrounding areas are just as impressive.
This is a climb which is perfect to go and watch either a sunrise or sunset.
Climb 1 (Western lookout)
Distance: 1.1 km
Average gradient: 3%
Click here for link to the Strava segment.
This is the most popular and easiest of the two lookouts. There is a short and sharp pinch leading up to the turn-off for the Soldier memorial. Followed by a 400 meter flattened out section. The last 300 meters is quite brutal leading up to the lookout car park. There are impressive views from the car park, and a set of stairs leads to a secondary lookout where you can take in 360 degree views of the surrounding area.
Climb 2 (Soldier memorial)
Distance: 1.1 km
Average gradient: 4%
Click here for link to the Strava segment.
This is the harder of the two climbs with the steepest gradients and little respite in-between. The turnoff for the soldier memorial is 850 meters to the left of the climb where you will find the gradient going well into the double figures and a real grind. This climb offers much more spectacular 360 degree views of the surrounding areas. The Soldier’s memorial signifies the end of the climb. As you can see in the photo above the road continues onto a second lookout. There is less than 50 meters of climbing to get up to that lookout and you will feel every single meter of it. That last pinch is brutal.
Red Rock Reserve climb
- Offers incredible views (photos are a must)
- Last erupted 8,000 years ago
- Use extreme caution if climbing on a windy day
- Soldiers memorial (south lookout)
- For the wine lovers, Red Rock Winery is located at the base of the climb
Start/end: Tallarook to Mansfield (extension to Alexandra)
Distance: 134 km
Surface: Fine gravel
Suitable for: Hybrids, touring bikes and mountain bikes
The Great Victorian Rail Trail officially opened in June 2012 and is the longest rail trail in Australia. It stretches 121 km from Mansfield, and along the Great Dividing Range past Yea to Tallarook. The trail follows the route of the former railway line, and includes a 13 km extension into Alexandra.
Escape to the great outdoors and explore central Victoria in the best possible fashion. The trail offer a safe and enjoyable way to experience the great outdoors and can be ridden by riders of all abilities. Its a journey which will not only take you back to nature. But will take you to a world where you will remember the simple pleasure of riding your bike. Away from the hustle & bustle from traffic, it is a pleasure to go cycling across the quiet open stretches of rail trail.
The highlight of the trail is Cheviot Tunnel which was originally built in 1899 at a cost of £88,661/2/11. There were many compications with the work delayed by accidents, floods and several industrial disputes. The tunnel runs through the Black Range at McLouglin’s Gap. Roughly half-way between Yea and Molesworth. The tunnel is over 200 meters in length. With the tunnel being built from an estimated 675,000 handmade bricks that were sourced locally from Quinlan’s pit in a nearby paddock. Just west of the tunnel.
Due to its length, its best to choose a small stretch of this trail to ride. If you want to do the whole trail you will most likely have to stay overnight, at one of the many towns along the trail. It will most likely take several days to make the return journey from Mansfield to Tallarook (or even vice versa). This trail has been an important boost to tourism to the area, and its refreshing to travel to distant towns that welcome cyclists with open arms.
The original railway line which was used to transport passengers and cargo between 1882 to the 1970’s.
Apart from the Bonnie-Doon bridge. Which opened in 2000, the first major stage of the rail trail opened in August 2010. The entire trail was opened by Autumn 2012. In January 2014, branding as the Great Victorian Rail Trail was completed.
The Great Victorian Rail Trail (at a glance)
- Australia’s longest rail trail
- Features the only tunnel on a rail trail in Victoria
- The long bridge crossing across Lake Eildon is a truly amazing experience
- There are several crossings of major rural highways (take extreme caution)
- The surface is either a bitumised granite, and compacted gravel
- Public transport options via V-Line stops at Tallarook Station.
Major access points are:
- Bonnie Doon
- Mansfield – Visitor Information Centre
- Alexandra – Old railway station
Please note that this rail trail was previously known as the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail.
Average Gradient: 6.2%
Elevation Gain: 147 metres
Surface: Gravel (rough)
Traffic: Very light
Click here for link to Strava segment:
The Horn is the most prominent peak in the Mount Buffalo National Park. At an elevation of 1,723 meters above sea level. Was the creation of an Earth fart. It was formed from molten rock that just couldn’t break through the Earth’s surface. A bubble cooled below its surface. Over time, the surface above eroded which exposed the granite and gave the Horn its imposing shape. Its striking boulders, rock formations and alpine vegetation.
The Horn climb
Start of the climb: shortly after the road turns to gravel
As soon as you enter the climb, the most dominating feature is the Horn up the road. This is your end game.
The road surface is quite poor, and is littered with lots of loose gravel. Depending on the time of year, it can be quite dusty on a hot summers day. The key to successfully getting to the peak in one piece is picking the right riding line. It is quite steep in parts and if you get trapped and have to ride over gravel. You may loose valuable time and energy. Or worse still have a puncture or two!
This climb is at a very high altitude and the vegetation is quite thin. This add to the dramatic scenery. This climb is made much easier by having a number of switchbacks & sweeping bends. You’ll find it quite easy to break the climb up section by section. There are some very steep sections but overall there is a fairly steady gradient.
As climbs go, this one of the best lookouts you are likely to see on a bike. The panoramic views from the south of the Horn are simply incredible.
End of the climb: the Horn carpark
The Horn is a striking granite peak, which is not unlike a horn of a Buffalo. This was the name it was given by the first European explorers at Mount Buffalo; Hume & Hovell. If you’ve got the time. There is a short, but steep walk up to the peak of the Horn. Up the top is a lookout which offers impressive 360 degree views. Allow up to 1.5 hours return to do this walk. Which involves some steep climbing up rock steps and over boulders. The experience you get from the views up top are indescribable.
Location: North East Victoria (approx. 250km from Melbourne)
Route: Wangaratta – Beechworth – Rutherglen – Bright – Myrtleford
Surface: Sealed (some sections with compact gravel)
Terrain: Farmland, bushland
Murray to Mountains Rail Trail
The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is one of the country’s finest rail trails. Offering views of some of Australia’s most spectacular mountain ranges. The trail follows the route of the former Bright Railway line. It’s a journey which will take you through a wide diversity of environments. Such as open farmland and natural bushland. The trail offers much diversity and is great for riders of all ages and fitness levels. A ride like this is all about the experience. Stopping along the way to take photos. And getting a chance to savour some of the high country’s finest gourmet produce. Renowned wines, and handcrafted beers in one of the many towns along the way.
The Murray to Mountains Rail trail is broken up into three main sections
- The longest section of trail is between Wangaratta to Bright. This is 85km in length, and has moderate grades as it follows the beautiful Ovens Valley. Which is a region which provides a variety of crops including tobacco, hops, berries, nuts and grapes. The trail also offers some amazing views of Mount Buffalo and surrounds, and includes two hills along the way.
- The section from Rutherglen to Wahgunyah is famous for its Wineries and is 9 km in length. The trail is quite flat and follows the Murray River.
- The section from Wangaratta to Oxley is 9 km in length, and as flat as a pancake. This region is famous for its farmland and gourmet including the Milawa Cheese factory. Which develops delicious Australian farmhouse cheeses which are inspired by European methods. All the cheeses are lovingly handmade and if you love your cheese. Is a must do!
The rail trail is not a point to point rail trail. There are several deviations you can choose from (see map below). Given the design. It’s a trail which is more suited to riding a particular section rather than attempt the whole trail in the one ride.
This is a must do trail
The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail is a trail which can be taken on by all types of riders. Its family friendly and quite safe to ride with kids of any age. The trail is sealed, and can be ridden on any type of bike. However is a bit course and you will want to be running at least a 28mm tyre. Whether you’re a weekend warrior. Or the type of rider that likes to tackle long-distance rides. This trail has something for everyone. Take a day or even a week to take on the whole trail. The rail trail is a great way for riders to experience the region, and to learn about its history. There are numerous historical buildings all along the route. The towns are as much of an attraction as the trail is itself, offering Cafes, wine and beers, and fresh produce.
In the 1850’s the high country was a major goldmining centre. The Beechworth line was constructed to service the area. This was one of the oldest railway lines in Australia, being built in 1875. The line was extended to Yackandandah in 1891. A second line was built between Everton to Myrtleford in 1883, and extended all the way to Bright in 1890. This line was popular in the early 20th century with tourists who used the line to visit Bright and the Mount Buffalo Chalet. The line was closed in 1977.
The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail follows the old railway tracks that serviced the area for over a century. Construction began in 1993. The Murray to Mountains Rail Trail has turned a disused corridor into a popular tourist attraction which attracts a lot of tourism to the area each year.
Wangaratta is a 250km drive from Melbourne (Hume Freeway). You can also access the Murray to Mountains rail trail through a number of other towns along the way.
VLine offers train services to Wangaratta (refer to VLine’s policy on carrying bikes.)
Distance: 3.9 km
Average Gradient: 6%
Elevation Gained: 232 meters
Traffic: Very light
Click here for Strava segment:
The Cathedral is a popular spot within the Mount Buffalo National Park for bush walking, rock climbing and photography. Thankfully there’s a truly remarkable climb to get to the base of the Cathedral from the plateau of Mount Buffalo. In the heartland of the Mount Buffalo National Park. The Cathedral climb offers some dramatic vegetation changes as you climb higher in altitude. From the Peppermint forests, through tall stands of alpine ash, snow gum woodlands and sub-alpine grasslands. All have characteristics to survive in the extreme and harsh conditions living so high up the mountainside. Whether you’re a nature lover or not. This is a very cool climb!
The climb begins at Lake Cantani and snakes its way up past Dingo Dell. A winter wonderland which during the colder times of the year is very popular among Tobogganists. This is a road which has all the characteristics of a great climb. Great scenery, lots of switchbacks and quite a consistent gradient which makes the climb quite pleasurable. The best part about this climb, even though it is quite short. Is the changes in the terrain which are quite dramatic and stunning. As you near the top to the Cathedral climb. The vegetation thins out and the views open up and you will pass a number of rock formations to either side of the road.
Off into the distance you will see your destination. The Cathedral. This is quite an imposing site. You won’t realize how big it is until you’re sitting in its shadow. The Cathedral climb finishes at the Cathedral picnic ground. If you continue on past the Cathedral there is quite a technical fast speed descent down to the base of the Horn.
Mount Buffalo is one of the Australia’s most popular climbs, and if you choose to do this climb from the base of Mount Buffalo, you will be faced with over 22 km of solid climbing just to get to the base of this climb. Good luck.
The Cathedral Hump (hike)
Distance: 2 km return
Time: 1 hour
Start/Finish: The Cathedral car park
We all love our cycling, but Mount Buffalo offers some of the best hikes you are likely to do. There is a hike from the Cathedral that you should add to your to do list:
This walk is short, sharp and brutal and follows a series of stone steps with switchback after switchback for approximately 500 meters, which will bring you to the base of The Cathedral. Huge boulders will towers overhead as the path veers left and continues up towards the Hump. This is the hill which lies next to the Cathedral and is higher. There is a steep climb up a rock gully which leads to the summit and offers amazing views over the Cathedral and most of the plateau and the Horn, and is a great spot to watch the sun set (bring a torch for the descent if you choose to do this)
Geologist Edward John Dunn described Mount Buffalo as the ‘Garden of the Gods’
Distance: 32.2 km
Elevation gain: 1,100 metres
Here is a link to the Strava segment here:
Sitting at an altitude of close to 1,800 metres above sea level. Charlotte Pass is the highest peak that cyclists can climb in Australia. This climb is a lot more challenging than its 3% average gradient suggests. The climb is open to the elements and you can face heavy winds and at altitude. With the air is much thinner which makes breathing more of a challenge. There is 7 km of descending along the way. Which makes the 3% average gradient very deceptive for how hard this climb truly is.
As you make your way up Kosziusko Road up to Charolette Pass. You will see Lake Jindabyne to your right. If you enjoy your fishing it would be tempting to stop & pull out a rod. This Lake has Australia’s largest population of Trout. The climb is long but offers a fairly consistent gradient. With not much in the way of challenging gradients, with several descents along the way. As you make your way up to the summit. The higher you climb the you’ll notice the roadside vegetation thinning and you will be surrounded by a barren scrub. Its an uninviting place, and on a windy day you’ll be barraged by winds on the treeless plains.
Charlotte Pass is Australia’s highest snow resort at 1,765 metres. It is located in the Kosciuszko National Park in the Snowy Mountains of New South Wales. And is recognised as Australia’s coldest location. The pass and village are named after Charlotte Adams. Who, was the first European woman to climb Mount Kosciuszko in 1881.
After Charlotte Pass, there is a further 9 kilometres of climbing leading to the summit of Mount Kosciuszko. This has been closed to traffic since 1982 due to environmental reasons.
This is a fantastic area to ride around it offers some very challenging climbs.
Average Gradient: 4%
Elevation gain: 191 metres
Traffic: Light traffic
Road Surface: Good
Click on link to Strava segment:
Glen Forbes Gap is located in the heartland of the Bass Coast, and is one the areas greatest climbs. This climb offers stunning views, great climbing and a chance to visit the roads less traveled.
The climb commences shortly after you pass the Glen Forbes playground on your right hand side.
The road has steep drops to the right hand side of the road and over the first 1.4km offers some simply stunning views.
As you enter the Gap there are steep cliffs to the left hand side of the road, and the Gap itself is heavily forrested. The road itself is narrow with no lines painted and drivers will often drive in the middle of the road, so listen out for the sound of a car. This is a road which isn’t used that much and you may be lucky to see a car on your travels.
If you look over your shoulder, you may be able to see stunning views of the valley.
This climb is a pleasure to ride with plenty of sweeping corners, and has a consistent gradient which is easy to find a good tempo on. After about 2.5km’s the gradient decreases and averages between 2 – 4%.
When you finish the climb out of Glen Forbes Gap, you’ll be confronted with this amazing Panoramic view of one of the many beautiful valleys that the Bass Coast has to offer, and a great place to pull over to get a photo.
On the far side of the climb is a 4.3km descent which is major fun. It’s fast speed with good sweeping corners that you can take at a fast speed, and the views to the right side of the road are unbelievable.
Location: 130km south-east of Melbourne
Distance: 16km one way
Surface: Fine gravel
Website: Click for link
Bass Coast Rail Trail
The Bass Coast Rail trail is a flat, gentle trail. Which is the only coastal rail trail in Victoria. The trail offers some truly stunning panoramic views of the Bass Strait. When you ride across the Bourne Creek Trestle Bridge at Kilcunda. This is a family friendly trail. It is appealing to riders of all abilities as the ride across the Kilkunda bridge is one of the best you can do in the state.
The Bass Coast Rail Trail is is a short trail. Which meanders through a variety of different terrain such as farmland. Coastal, bush land, historic coal mining reserves and rugged coastline. The trail follows the old Wonthaggi Train line which opened in 1910 and was used for the transport of coal from Kilcunda to Wonthaggi. As well as local agricultural produce, as well as for public transport. The line was closed in 1978.
Whilst only short. This is a great trail to ride with the highlight crossing the trestle bridge at Kilkunda. Offering amazing views of Phillip Island & the Bass Strait. This trail can be ridden by riders of all abilities.
The winds off the Bass Strait can be very strong and I wouldn’t recommend that you attempt this ride on a windy day
History of the Railway
In the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. The railways depended on black coal to fire its steam locomotives. A railway line was opened in 1910 with its primary purpose to serve the Wonthaggi State Coal Mine. The line also provided passenger and general goods services for the region.
This line was originally known as the “Powlett River railway”, and with the mine’s production growing rapidly with its peak in 1926. Producing 2,435 tons of coal per day. Victorian Railways was its primary customer, buying 90% of its production. By 1928, twelve return passenger services also ran on the line per week.
The introduction of diesel rail motors in the 1950’s reduced demand for black coal. Subsequently the mine closed in 1968. The line eventually closed on 4 December 1977.
Distance: 300 metres
Average Gradient: 18%
Elevation gain: 67 metres
Here is a link to the Strava segment here:
There is a 300 metre climb to the base of Lombard Street in San Fransisco & this short climb averages 18% & is one nasty piece of work. This is a fantasy climb as sadly Lombard Street is a one way street, and sadly traffic goes the wrong way (whether this would stop me……)
Lombard Street is 100 metres in length averaging 18% & is switchback after switchback. 8 in all. This road has the distinction of being “the crookedest street in the world”. The switchbacks design was first suggested by property owner Carl Henry in 1922. This was the only way possible to reduce the hill’s natural 27% grade. This road is one of the most famous tourist attractions in San Fransisco and is frequently crowded with tourists. You may recognise it from numerous Hollywood films such as Steve McQueens “Bullit”.
This would be a dream climb to claim to have done, and although I’m all about advocating climbs. Given the views from the top, this would make one of the worlds best short descents.
Next time you’re visiting San Fransisco check it out.
Distance: 7.6 km
Average Gradient: 6.5%
Elevation gained: 498 metres
Click here for link to Strava segment
Start of climb: Intersection of Bright-Tawonga Gap Road and Kiewa Valley Highway
The east side of Tawonga Gap. From Mount Beauty is the shorter and more brutal climb up to the Tawonga Gap lookout. Cyclists have been know to travel from all around the country to make the ascent up this amazing climb.
Tawonga Gap (Mount Beauty) climb
Overall this climb has a fairly steady gradient with slight elevation changes though out. Given its length and average gradient, it’s important to find that sweet spot and stick to it. This is a climb which is quite unforgiving if you cook yourself too early. The climb twists and winds its way up the eastern slope of Tawonga Gap. And features a number of hairpins which are deceptively steep. The best part of this climb are the valley views to the right-hand side of the road. You will pass several lookouts on the way up. It is tempting to pull over to get a photo or two.
End of climb: Tawonga Gap Lookout
Tawonga Gap Lookout
The Tawonga Gap lookout is at 750 m above sea level. The lookout overlooks the beautiful Kiewa Valley and the Kiewa River with Mount Bogong off in the distance. This is Victoria’s highest peak at 1986 meters above sea level. In the distance, across the valley is Mount Emu at 1361 metres. During the winter months (May-August), please remember this area is the Victorian Alps. You need to check weather conditions before attempting this climb.
Kiewa Valley Highway was opened on 19th March 1896. The road was built so that farmers were able to move their produce to Bright. This steep and windy road was built by hand. Contractors had to use pick & shovels and had to wheelbarrow away all the debris. Much blood, sweat & tears went into the construction of this road. If you find yourself suffering on this climb, spare a thought for the poor workers that built this road.
Click here if you want to read more about the history of the region.
Tawonga Gap (Mount Beauty) is a climb which has been featured in events such as Peaks Challenge ride.