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

Thank you so much for reading.  If you want to keep up with all of the latest Dandenong Ranges articles.

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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.

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.

Leppit Road (Pakenham)

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Distance: 900 metres
Average Gradient: 9.4%
Elevation gain: 104 metres
Traffic: Light traffic
Terrain: Country
Road Surface: Good

Click here for link to the Strava segment.

Leppit Road

Leppit Road climb

Leppit Road passes through the beautiful Toomuc Valley which is an amazing area to ride through.  This is quite a quite climb which is also quite deceptive as there is a fairly consistent gradient of around 12% for most of it.  Until you near the top where it ramps up.  This climb offers many challenges and offers some truly amazing views near the top of the climb.

Leppit Road

The climb starts just after the intersection of Leppit Road & Hein Road.  You’ll figure this out for yourself ast he road goes skywards.

Leppit Road

The gradient will rarely drop below 10% and offers a fairly consistent 10 – 12% gradient through much of the climb.

Towards the top the road ramps up, and you will appreciate your Granny gear on this climb and wish you had more gears.

Leppit Road

After you pass White Lane on the left hand side, there are stunning views to the left of the road.

Leppit Road

The climb finishes at the corner of Bathe Road.

Leppit Road

For an extended climb continue onto Upper Beaconsfied.  Overall there is 3.9 km’s of undulating climbing at 4%.

Click here for link to the Strava segment.

Leppit Road at a glance

  • One of those nasty climbs that get steeper the higher you go
  • Narrow shoulder to the side of the road, which you will most likely find unrideable
  • Impressive views of the valley near the top of the climb on the left hand side
  • In the Toomuc Valle which offers some of Cardinia’s toughest climbs

How to get to the Toomuc Valley

The Toomuc Valley is located 56 km east of Melbourne.  Take the M1 Freeway & exit at Pakenham before heading north up Toomuc Valley Road, then turn left into Leppit Road.

Officer Road (Officer)

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Officer Road
Location: Officer
Distance: 2 km
Average Gradient: 5%
Maximum Gradient: 12%
Elevation gain: 104 metres
Traffic: Light traffic
Terrain: Forest
Road Surface: Average

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

To explore one of the roads less travelled make a detour down Officer Road in Officer.  This is one of the most iconic and scenic climbs that you can do in Cardinia, and is a regular feature of the Spider Bikes ride each Saturday.  If you haven’t experienced this climb is a must do.

Officer Road climb

The climb starts shortly after you pass the intersection of Peterson Road.

The road has quite a course surface which will get you working that little harder.  The first 600 meters of this climb is steeper than it looks.  Peaking at 9%.


Traffic is light.  But the road is quite narrow and if a car drives through please stay as far to the left as possible.


This is one of those climbs that you can truly appreciate the scenery.  Especially when the gradient eases up.  The highlight of the climb is this impressive hairpin.  From here the gradient eases up and the remainder of the climb is quite a pleasant gradient.

The final 400 meters of this climb is pretty easy.  The gradient remains between 1% – 3%.  If you want to pick up your sped.  Its easy to drop it down a few gears through here and get some good speed.  What I most like about the last part of this climb are there are quite a few switchbacks.  You can use this section to race, of to sit back and enjoy the views.

The climb finishes at the intersection of Officer Road & Leppit Road.


What to expect

  • Quite country road
  • Very narrow shoulder
  • Thick canopy overhead which helps to keep the temperature down
  • Stunning scenery
  • Impressive hairpin
Officer Road

How to get here

Officer is located 57 km east of Melbourne.  Access is off the M1 Princess Highway.

Thewlis Road South (gravel) Officer

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Distance: 1.2 km
Average Gradient: 8%
Elevation gain: 108 metres
Traffic:Light traffic
Terrain: Gravel
Category: 4
Road Surface: Poor

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Thewlis Road is one for the gravel grinders, and for the riders who enjoy a good challenge.  The climb takes you past the Cardinia Aqueduct Trail which is one of Cardinia’s most enjoyable hikes.  Treat yourselves to incredible views of the Toomuc Valley.  Over the peak of the climb, as you descend down the far side to visit a region steeped in history.

One of Cardinia’s most enjoyable regions to ride.

The climb starts near the corner of Browns Road & Thewlis Road.  The climb starts in earnest as you pass the bridge in front of the Cardinia Aqueduct Trail sign.  This is one truly brutal climb.  It just get steeper and steeper and steeper until the climb peaks at nearly 20%.  This is a granny gear climb and can guarantee that it will hurt.

The road is littered with a lot of loose gravel and a CX or Mountain Bike is advised.

At the top of Thewlis turn left into Bathe Road for another 200 metres of climbing up a short, sharp brutal pinch.

The History of the Toomuc Valley

Between Pakenham, Upper Beaconsfield and Upper Pakenham lies a beautiful little valley called the Toomuc Valley. This valley is rich in history and was once home to the largest Apple orchard in the Southern Hemisphere. The name Toomuc means “swamp” or “sluggishly flowing water”, and was named as the land to the south of the Toomuc creek was swampland.

What to expect

  • Short brutal climb peaking at nearly 20%
  • A very rough surface. Expect corrugations, loose gravel and during summer a fair amount of dust
  • Mountain bike or CX only
  • Very minimal traffic
  • Stunning views over the peak of the climb of the Toomuc Valley
  • Passes the Cardinia Aqueduct Trail

How to get there

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