Images courtesy of Andrew Clifforth photography.
If you’re looking for a grand adventure on the bike. Grand Ridge Road (GRR) is one of Victoria’s most spectacular tourist drives, and snakes its way along the ridge of the Strzelecki Ranges. Covering 135km from Seaview to Carrajung. This road provides stunning views through the La Trobe Valley, and to Bass Coast and Wilsons Prom to the south. Taking you through the heart of Gippsland, and through some of Gippsland’s finest gravel roads, which you will find between Mirboo to Carrajung.
1/3 of GRR is unsealed and given you will be confronted with two completely different types of road surfaces. Picking the right bike/tyre choices for a ride like this is imperative. The CX is the ideal bike for a ride like this, however if you do not have one. You could get away with either a Road Bike (running at least 28mm tyres) or a MTB. Just be aware that if you go the Road Bike, the gravel sections will be hard work, and if you go the MTB the sealed sections will be hard work.
For your consideration:
- What equipment do you have available?
- How much experience do you have with gravel grinding?
- What level is your fitness at?
- How much can you carry on your bike?
- Are you willing to go out and buy new components just for this ride?
You will find GRR an incredible road to cycle. Much of the time you’ll have the roads to yourself, and it’s a road that will offer countless challenges. It’s never flat, and has ever-changing scenery. From fern forests to rolling pastures, towering mountain ash to forestry plantations. If you ride down Grand Ridge Road you will feel like you’ve gone back in time. This road was built in a by-gone era, and is very easy on the eye.
GRR takes you through the Mount Worth State Park, and into Mirboo North. A town which is rich in history. Painted on the sides of local shops, throughout the town are these colourful murals depicting the history of the town. These are great to set your bike up against to get yourself a good #BAAW photo. If you do enjoy a Beer, then Mirboo North is home to the Grand Ridge Brewery. Here you can drop in and sample some of Gippsland’s finest Beers and Ales.
Mirboo North also is home to the Grand Ridge Rail Trail, which follows the original branch line from Morwell to Mirboo North, which was completed on 7 January 1886. The Rail Trail is 13km one way and is a gentle descent down to Boolarra. If you’re taking on GRR, I can highly recommend to do the Rail Trail as well. Its a real pleasure to ride, and as a bonus, bonus. If you’re a hill junky. There is a climb to the north of Boolarra which is incredibly brutal. Darlimulra Road peaks at 18%, and over the 1.5km climb, will rarely dip below 10% and one of those climbs that you have to ask yourself. ‘Do I really want to hurt myself getting up that thing?’
The final part of your journey through Grand Ridge Road will take you through the magnificent Tarra Bulga National park. This is one of Victoria’s most spectacular cool temperate rain forests. Covering 1,522 hectares and situated in the eastern part of the Strzelecki Ranges. The area was named after “Charlie Tarra” who was an Aborine guide who led Count Strezelecki and his party through Gippsland when they discovered the area in 1840. The National Park itself was originally given the Aboriginal name “Bulga”, which means “Mountain”. It is very popular with hikers and those that love the feel of a rainforest. The cool moist conditions provide the perfect environment for a rain forest. The park is well known for its giant Mountain Ash trees and lush fern gullies and ancient myrtle beeches.
You will rarely have the opportunity to ride such a beautiful road that offers stunning views throughout. You’ll find it just a delight to ride, and will offer you a adventure of a lifetime. Whether you ride a short section. Or take on the whole 135km you will be left with lasting memories.
Cycling Grand Ridge Road
Public Transport: V-Line Services run alongside the Princess Highway. Check out the PT Website for further details
Grand Ridge Road climb at a glance
- Lots of undulating climbing
- Long climbs at Mount Worth and Mount Tassie
- Breathtaking scenery
- Expect to see number of wildlife along the way
- Very little traffic
- Limited places to purchase food or water. Mirboo North, a 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
- Some areas along this road are used for logging. If you hear a truck come along it is advised to pull off the road to safely let them pass
As with all unsealed roads, the road surface can change depending on weather conditions. Take appropriate equipment, and some extra spares and make sure you take lots of photos along the way.
Should I ride East to West or West to East?
The hardest sections to ride are to the East over the gravel roads, however these are also the most scenic, and depends if you like to leave the best for last? One thing you should also take into consideration are the wind conditions. Melbourne rarely gets an Easterly wind, and will frequently have the wind come from the West. So if you start your ride from Seaview, you are more likely to have a tailwind.
Either way has its challenges, and can vouch that it’s harder than it looks.
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 www.cfa.vic.gov.au or call the VicEmergency Hotline on 1800 226 226.