The Dandenong Ranges

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%

The Dirty Dandys ride

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There’s something special about bringing together a group of strangers and introducing them to new roads.  I put together this little event which included some of the Dandenong Ranges finest gravel climbs.  I invited a small number of riders to join me for a Dirty Dandys ride.  We had rain forecasted overnight.  It was supposed to dry up by the time the ride was due to start.  On the drive up it was raining quite heavily and just kept on raining.

I was really excited about this ride.  There were a number of riders who were travelling quite a distance just to eperience this ride.  All the way from the western suburbs, & one of the riders ventured all the way from the beach to join us.  There was going to be two groups with the second group due to meet us in the Basin car park at around 8:00 am.

Basin Olinda Road

The first group consisting of Adam, Geert & Fabian headed out to Old Coach Road.  This is a climb which I found so hard that I’ve only ever done it once.  Old Coach Road is a dead-end road, which then turns into a walking track.  Most riders are turned off venturing up it due to the dead-end sign (plus the fact its ridiculously steep).  Very few have done this climb.  When you get to the gate which leads onto the National Park, this is super steep and littered with really wet rocks and debris all over the path.  There was very little in the way in traction, and was really hard work to get up today.

The guys worked out pretty quickly that this wasn’t going to be an easy ride.

Climb no# 2 was up Basin Olinda Road which is easily the Dandenong’s most popular dirt climb.  Its a stunning road to climb which is easy to access and located right next to the start of the 1 in 20.  The road was wet and slightly muddy and everyone had to work overtime to climb.  It was great conditions to ride though.  We were treated to a low hanging mist on the second half of the climb. Things were going well until the skies really opened up on us.  I love riding when it rains, but these were conditions where the last place you wanted to be was on a bike.  As everyone crested the climb, we weren’t giving each other high fives.  Everyone went and huddled under the shelter next to the shops to hide from the rain.

Many were wondering whether to pull the plug and head home.

 

Not night time. 8:30 in the morning.

We descended down to Olinda Creek Road and made our way across to Silvan Road.  This is a climb which is 6.7 km in length with an average gradient of 5%.  I felt sorry for those sitting in the wheel of the rider in front of them.  The roads were wet and muddy and all they were doing was eating mud.  By now everyone was well and truly soaked to the skin.

Silvan Road is quite a hard one to climb.  The gradient is nice and easy down the bottom and steadily gets steeper until it hits you in the face at 13% in a number of places on the climb.  With rain adding to the misery there were a lot of riders in the pain cave on Silvan today.  Near the top is the R.J Hamer Arboretum Gardens and one of the finest lookouts in the Dandenong’s.  Today there wasn’t much in the way of a view, and there’s sill a bit of climbing to get to the top.  One of the riders spied a shelter, and the climb could wait.

Everyone agreed that it was a good time to shelter from the rain.

Image taken by Mesh Gammune

Everyone looked shell shocked. Soaked to the skin, yet somehow there were grins on the guys faces.  We had all traveled up some truly stunning roads, in conditions that most would not dare ride.  You want all your rides to be special, and sometimes it just happens.  There was 11 riders on the ride, and for most the course was completely new to them, and they didn’t quite know what to expect.

It was a bit daunting the fact that we weren’t even halfway through the ride.  There was still five climbs to go.

Brad Akers in his VeloOne kit

Warwick Farm Road was next.  I don’t know how it was possible but it started to rain harder.  A few of the riders were physically shaking.  One of the guys came up to me and said;

we’re having a great ride but the conditions are just too bad.  We’ll have to finish this up“.

Warwick Farm Road was now set to be the final climb of the day.  We weren’t even half way through the course, but I was relieved that we were going to be pulling the plug.  I would hate for any of the guys to get sick after a ride like this.  There was some very exhausted looking riders at the top of this climb.  Some were still able to smile.  Then my ears perked up when I heard my favorite words.

One more climb!

Down the base of Perrins Creek Road is a dirt climb up Coonara Road.  Its this great little 2 km climb with a fairly consistent gradient which joins onto one of the Dandenong Ranges most iconic climbs.  The Wall.  Earning itself the nickname of being “the Dirty Wall“.  I have climbed Coonara Road a number of times, but today it was at its most stunning.  The road is surrounded to either side by imposing Mountain Ash, and ancient ferns which can grow over 10 meters in height.

The mud was being thrown around thick & fast.

This was definately going to be the last climb for the day.  If any of the riders had energy left this climb was guaranteed to suck the life out of them.  At little over 5 km in length, this is a climb which many underestimate, and is quite a difficult climb to do.

Coonara Road

From here everyon headed back down to the Basin for a Coffee except for Geert Vercruysse “aka Geert the vert”.  He was loving the conditions and kept on riding.  Geert headed down Falls Road, past the National Rhododendrom Gardens and then up to climb Olinda Creek Road.

Overall this had been an incredibly hard ride.  But not all bad experiences are bad and a ride like this, even though it was hell may turn out to be one of the most memorable rides of the year.  The forecast had given everyone false hope that the ride would be dry.  Instead, it rained on us for 3 and a half hours straight.

Has the weatherman ever told you stories that just make you laugh?

-The Strangers, Always the Sun.

It was wet, cold and very muddy which was the story of the day.  A number of riders got back to the Basin and started to shake uncontrollably.  Everyone was soaked to the skin.  Covered in mud, and freezing cold.

Brad Akers commented: “How good was that ride!  Really didn’t want it to end

Sing Ling commented “Ain’t no sunshine in the hills, only rain and mud. Lots of mud“.

Mark Skinner said “S0 many great climbs and due to the cold we were praying for climbs ha ha

A big thankyou

A massive thank you to Mesh Gammune who drove as a support car & course photographer.  Taking some very incredible photos on the day.

A big thanks to everyone who helped out with this ride.  During the week my young son gave me the flu and I was knocked for six.  I was forced to pull out of this ride at the very last minute.  I witnessed a truly epic ride and gave Mesh some company in the support car.  Even though I didn’t get to ride I had an incredible day, and hope to put together another ride like this one at some point in the future.

The Dirty Dandys ride

If you want to learn more about the dirt roads of the Dandenong Ranges click here.  Some of the best roads out there are the one’s you are yet to ride on.

Image taken by Mesh Gammune

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 Everest

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Sherbrooke Road is one of the most stunning roads in the Dandenong Ranges. It’s a very popular tourist destination with places such as Grant’s picnic ground, the Alfred Nicholas Memorial Gardens & George Tindale Memorial Gardens.  With some of the Dandenong Ranges most popular wedding venues such as Poets lane and Marybrooke Manor, this road attracts a large number of tourist traffic.

No one has been crazy enough to Everest this road up until now due to the traffic.

Four riders, led by Adam Dawson organised to Everest Sherbrooke Road in the early hours of the morning on Saturday 29 April.  Adam convinced his mates David Louis, Andrew Coveney and Fabian Ariano to come and do their first Everest. This was Adam’s second Everest after he Eversted one of the Dandenong’s steepest climbs “Kia Ora Parade” last Haloween.

This narrow climb up Sherbrooke Road is quite steep. The first km twists and winds its way up to the township of Sherbrooke, averaging around 9%. Boasting one of the finest 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.

This turned out to be quite a challenging Everest. It rained relentlessly throughout the morning, soaking everyone to the skin. This caused the descent to be quite slippery, and everyone had their hands on their brakes on a road which never fully dried out. This cost time and energy spent braking extra hard into the corners. Adam said “A very wet day out on the bike. Unbelievable physical strength and mental fortitude on display from everyone.” When the rain eased up, the traffic set in, and there are only several points where cars could safely pass. More often than not cars would cut across the middle lane, regardless of whether a blind corner was up ahead.

Andrew commented that “between sunset to when I finished at 1:20 am there was only 2 laps when I wasn’t passed by a car”.

Fabian had Garmin issues, and Adam somehow copped four punctures. This cost him a tone of time.  No matter what was thrown everyone stood tall.  No one appeared to struggle on what is a tough little climb.  There was strength amongst the group, and everyone pulled out the ride of their lives.

The ride of the day easily went to Andrew. Not only did he have to battle the traffic, and the wet and cold miserable conditions. Andrew had a horrendous run of bad luck. After two major mechanicals his wheel bearing went. There was an O-ring missing from his front assembly which he thought let water get into the bearing killing it. Given its only 2,000 km old I won’t voice some of the colorful language used. This almost derailed his Everesting attempt, and at one point Andrew was forced to change over to a Mountain bike, whilst desperate repairs were being done to his bike. Through grit and determination he pushed through this and Andrew finished hours after everyone else finished at 1:20 am in the wee hours of the morning.

Sherbrooke Road is one of the last icons of the Dandenong Ranges to be Everested.  Their story is one of legend and each of the four riders can be very proud of what they ahieved. All up there have been over 1,600 Eversts completed, with the Dandenong Ranges still holding the record for the most concentrated amount of Everests in the one area. There have been over 30 separate climbs Everested in and around the Dandenong Ranges, proving its popularity.

Congratulations to all the riders and support crew that came along for the ride. I hope you can find the time to give them all Kudos as they all deserved it for such an incredible ride.

David Louis

  • Distance: 221 km
  • Elevation: 9,052 vertical
  • Riding time:  15 hours 13 minutes
  • Overall time:     18 hours 5 minutes

Link to his Strava activity.

Comments:

  • Noel Eastwood You can wear that grey strip proudly now. Congratulations
  • Clint Woodward Always knew you’d knock one of these out one day, congratulations David 🎉
  • Mr. T. Mighty impressive lads!! I think the decent would’ve been just as exhausting. Not an easy task on that road with the moss and traffic playing havoc. Congrats to all you blokes; David, Andrew, Fabian and Adam.

Adam Dawson

  • Distance: 244 km
  • Elevation: 10,039 vertical
  • Riding time:  17 hours 17 mins
  • Overall time:     20 hours 49 mins

Link to his Strava activity.

Comments:

  • Clint Woodward Nice combo to hit 10000m on and another Nongs icon ticked off. Great work!
  • Adrian Dickinson Well done Adam. Great achievement. ..way better you than me 🙂
  • Paula McGovern Any excuse Adam not to change nappies!!!!

Andrew Coveney

  • Distance: 213 km
  • Elevation: 8,848 vertical
  • Riding time:  16 hours 40 mins
  • Overall time:     22 hours 59 mins

Link to his Strava activity.

Comments:

  • Adam Dawson Unstoppable. I would have chucked it in at halfway with the luck you were having.
  • John Van Seters Now that’s one heck of an effort after all the mechanicalls thrown at you, well done Andrew, that’d some grit and determination!
  • Martin English Maaaaaate!! This is amazing!! Well done you mad determined bastard!!

Fabian Ariano

  • Distance: 223 km
  • Elevation: 8,920 vertical
  • Riding time:  16 hours 9 mins
  • Overall time:     18 hours 27 mins

Link to his Strava activity.

Comments:

  • David louis Congrats Fabian – was a pleasure riding with you yesterday. Unbelievably strong all day!
  • Derek Rothsay Fabulous Fabian, well done, but 8920 m horizontal would have been easier…
  • Boyd Williams Giddy Up. Magnificent effort Fabian and crew.

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.

A ride to Red Rock

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I was staying at a Caravan Park in Colac West.  A short ride to the north was the Red Rock Reserve.  This site has seen many violent volcanic eruptions.  These 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.

It was easy to convince my wife to go up to Red Rock Reserve to watch the sunset.

Meeting the family up there on the bike took a little longer.

Open farmland lay ahead of me as I was racing the setting sun.  My shoulder had that familiar ache which has been part of my life since the end of lat year.  There was a slight headwind to make things interesting.

It was just over 11 km to get to the base of the climb which whilst only short, turned out to be a good climb.  I am still struggling with climbing due to my injured shoulder which was a bit of a shame to have to crawl up a climb which would normally be my bread and butter.  It was a great feeling to make it to the top and the views were simply incredible.  Red Rock overlook Lake Corangamite and you could see the whole horizon in front of you.

My wife gave me a few minutes head start and with a nice tailwind pushing me home I opened the throttle.  I lasted 9 km before being overtaken.  Maybe if I were in shape…..

 

The greatest feeling I get whilst riding is getting out there and exploring the unknown.  I will be spending three days around Colac and are hoping to extensively explore the area.

To be continued……

Click here for a link to my Strava Activity.

William Ricketts Sanctuary

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William Ricketts Sanctuary is one of the most inspiring and tranquil places In the Dandenong Ranges.  The sanctuary is set in amongst a stunning rain forest.  Visitors have a chance to wander the grounds and to discover all of the amazing sculptures.  These are carved into rocks and tree trunks that line the paths that run throughout the sanctuary.  This is a place of quiet reflection and wonder.  With over 90 different sculptures depicting the Aboriginal people engaging with the Earth.

About William Rickett

William Rickett (1898 – 1993) was an Australian potter and sculptor of the arts and crafts.  He spent much of his life creating a sanctuary in the Dandenong Ranges.  William found this to be a place for quiet reflection and to replenish the spirit. He was a firm believer that all Australians should adopt Aboriginal philosophies.  Respecting the spirituality of the mother earth and all things in the natural world. Some of his works throughout the grounds depict his feelings on the devastation of white man.  Their destruction of the natural environment.

From 1949 to 1960 William made frequent trips to Central Australia.  Where he lived with the Pitjantjatjara and Arrernte Aboriginal people.   Their traditions and culture helped to inspired many of his sculptures. Later in life, William Ricketts sold the sanctuary to the Victorian Government in the 1960’s who turned it into a public park.

William Ricketts continued to live at the sanctuary developing his art.  Living there until his death in 1993.

William Ricketts Sanctuary

The Sanctuary is a must visit, and is one of the Dandenong Ranges most popular tourist attractions.  Many travelers come from all across the globe to visit this Internationally renown Sanctuary.

Address:

1,402 Mount Dandenong Tourist Road,
Mount Dandenong

Operating Hours:

William Ricketts Sanctuary is open daily from 10:00 am to 4:30 pm daily (except Christmas Day).

Entry is free

Parking:

Disability and short-term drop-off parking is available directly in front of the sanctuary.   The main carpark is located directly across the Mount Dandenong Tourist Road. Visitors need to take extreme caution when crossing the road.

Enquiries

Phone: (03) 9751 1300

Email: info@parks.vic.gov.au

Everesting tips and advice

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The Hitchikers guide to an Everest

If you choose to do an Everest, then prepare yourself to possibly undertake the hardest experience of your life! It’s a pretty simple concept. You go up the hill, then down the hill, up the hill, then down the hill……..

How successful you are can be determined by your preparation. You need to:

  •  Realistically work out how long you will need to complete your Everest
  •  Have more than enough food to last through the ride
  •  Put togeher a nutritional plan
  •  Have more than enough fluids to last through the ride
  •  Bring a charger to ensure that your Garmin lasts the distance
  •  Bring additional comforts to make the ride more enjoyable, i.e. change of kits, music etc.
  •  Have adequate lighting for any night stint
  •  Work out how many laps you will do in-between breaks

On the day time can really fly, particularly on your breaks. You find you don’t really rest much when you stop.  You’re constantly doing something.  Such as topping up water, eating, changing clothes, going to the toilet etc. It is important to set-up your car so that everything is nicely organised. The quicker you can get in & out of your pit stop.  The more successful your ride will be.  If everything’s cluttered, then you can also find yourself feeling cluttered.

What sort of hill should you look for?

Here are some things to look for when selecting your Everest:

  • Is there a place you can go to a Toilet? You may know a great back street climb, but it’s no good to you unless you can take a dump in someone’s front yard
  • How narrow is the road? (the closer cars need to be to pass you the more uncomfortable the day will be, and the higher the risk that one of them may hit you which will end your Everest pretty quickly)
  • Is there any wildlife that you need to keep an eye out for?
  • What is the road surface like?
  • Does your climb experience fog? You should be mindful of fog when there is no wind, and this is where it is important to know your climb in all sorts of conditions
  • What is the traffic like? If you can pick a climb with virtually no traffic, you will be doing yourself a major favour
  • Is there a good place to park your car at either end of your climb? I personally prefer to park at the top, but it’s a personal choice
  • Are there shops nearby?
  • Do you get reception for your phone?
  • How well shaded is the climb?
  • Is the wind likely to affect your climb?
  • Does your climb experience abnormal temperatures? i.e. does it get really cold overnight?

Tips for making your Everest easier:

  • Know how long your Everest will realistically take. If you’re working out your average lap time, don’t use stats of when you are climbing fresh. You really need to know what pace you will ride on exhausted legs & go from there.
  • Get a feeling for your climb. Go and do a lot of repeats before you Everest it.  I can guarantee after doing an Everest you will know every bump in the road
  • Don’t trust the weatherman! Pack extra clothing for any contingency
  • Avoid social media. It may help improve your spirits getting support from others while you are riding, but this will cost you time, and anyone could easily spend hours texting, facebooking, Instagraming, commenting on Strava etc.
  • If you have friends ride with you, don’t stop riding! When they say goodbye, you could easily spend 10 – 20 minutes reminiscing, and if you get to the stage where you’ve been on the bike for 20 hours, then every minute wasted will hurt more & more
  • Change your kit at least once during your Everest. May cost you a couple of minutes, but in the later part of your ride when you’re exhausted, the extra comfort will be worth it
  • Don’t stop riding. Sounds pretty straight forward, but later on, you will get really exhausted and may feel like taking more & more breaks. For every minute spent off the bike in the later part of your ride adds exhaustion so be smart and try & ride through it
  • Make sure you keep eating & drinking though out the day
  • Keep your car neat & tidy
  • Most important is to stay positive throughout.  You need to be as enthusiastic on lap 60 as you are on lap 6

Preparing for an Everest:

Originally I believed the best training for an Everest was to climb as many hills as I could. I was staggered to see a number of non-climbers.  Who only would climb around 2,000 vertical per week complete an Everest. In hindsight I’ve found that the endurance & pre-preparation is key to an Everest. The choice of your climb is also paramount to your success. Obviously the steeper the hill.  The shorter the distance.  Then again you need to be able to climb really steep hills easily.  Or you pick an easy climb,& then you’re looking at doing a ride of over 300 km’s, which is exhausting by itself.

The hardest part of an Everest is by getting your head around doing repeats. I came up with a training ride which I swear by. If you have to do say 60 repeats of a 6km hill it would be impossible to train for that specifically. Instead I would recommend to pick a short back street climb, around 300 – 500 metres of equal.  Preferably a little steeper gradient & then go & knock out over 60 repeats of that short hill. The benefit of this will be to get your head around doing 60 repeats.  This will also give you an idea of how much vertical you can push yourself to do before needing a break.  As a bonus it will give you an idea of what sorts of foods your body will crave when knocking out repeats.

At the end of the day it’s only a ride

If you commit to doing an Everesting, it will be one of the hardest things you’ve ever done.  There is no such thing as an easy Everest. There are dangers involved which could prevent you from finishing.  You need to be aware that your safety is worth more than finishing an Everest.  You should never be scared to pull the pin. It’s much better to fail at 8,000vm, than to go through to the end & screw up your knee.  Then not being able to ride for the following 6 months. Not everyone will be able to complete an Everest.  For those that do you will be seen as completely badass! Make sure you plan well, train appropriately & make the most of your Everest.

Everesting 101

The Drive home

Most riders end up driving themselves to and from their elected Everest.  No one can really foresee how they will feel after torturing themselves for 8,848 meters.  Please be mindful of fatigue on the way home.  If you’re too tired to drive, then pull over and have a power nap.  Please try to get home safely!

Everesting

Head to the Everesting Website to find out more: