Yarra Valley cycling

Mount Tanglefoot

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Distance:  8.6 km
Average Gradient:  4%
Elevation gained:  352 meters
Surface:  Gravel
Traffic: Minimal
Category 1

Click here for link to the Strava segment.

Mount Tanglefoot is located in the Toolangi State Forest, approximately 10 km north of Healesville.  There is a fair bit of climbing to get to the base of this climb with the choice of climbing this from either Chum Creek Road or Myers Creek Road.

Whilst this road is relatively free of gravel, if you were to give this one a go expect a bumpy ride.  There are quite a few corrugated sections all throughout the climb.  A CX or Mountain bike would be advised.  The road is wide enough to allow two cars to pass, however the edges of the road aren’t suitable to ride a bike on.  It’s easy to find a riding line, but you’ll want to ride as far into the middle road as you can.

Start of the climb

Mount Tanglefoot climb

The climb starts at the intersection of Sylvia Creek Road and Myers Creek Road.

This climb takes you through the Toolangi State Forest and to either side of the road is a forest of tall Mountain Ash and tree-fern.  This area receives a fair amount of rain and is always stunning.  This is a climb of two parts.  The climb begins with the steepest section, with the first 800 meters averaging close to 10%.

The road eventually flattens out until you pass the Wirrawilla Rainforest car park around the 4.6 km mark where from here there is solid climbing until you reach the peak.  Overall this section offers a fairly consistent gradient, and is by far the most scenic part of the climb.

On the far side of the climb is a campsite, and the area offers some challenging hikes.  Mount Tanglefoot has also inspired Yarra Ridge (wine) to produce a nice Shiraz which they named after the mountain.  If you head to the bottle shop first, maybe you can celebrate in style at the top.

Mount Tanglefoot

Chum Creek Road

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Length: 8 km
Average Gradient: 4%
Total Ascent: 295m
Climb Category: 3

Click here for link to the Strava segment.

Chum Creek is located a little upstream from Healesville.  The name originated as ‘New Chum Creek’.  This was a reference to traces of gold found in the creek in 1859.  By 1860 Chum Creek was a village, however due to the creation of tracks to the distant Gippsland and Yarra Valley goldfields, the main settlement was formed at Healesville.

Beginning of the climb

Chum Creek Road climb

The Chum Creek Road climb begins at the corner of Heath Road and Healesville-Kinglake Road (see photo above)

The climb up Chum Creek Road offers a gentle consistent gradient, which meanders its way up towards Toolangi through Paul’s Range State Forest.  To either side of the road is a dense forest of spectacular tree ferns, Mountain Ash, and native gums which offers protection from the wind and offers shade on a really hot day.  This is a climb which is as much a pleasure to cruise up as it is to smash yourself against.

From Healesville the road undulates a bit until you reach the start of the climb proper.  This is a good chance to warm your legs up.  Pretty much the gradient fluctuates between 3 -5% and is a climb which is easy to find your rhythm, with the road turning left, then right then right then left as it winds its way gently up the hill.

When you are nearing the end of this climb, the forest opens out into grassing pastures and you’ll pass open farmlands.  The road straightens up and the gradient dips which is a good enough excuse to get out of your seat to have a sprint to the finish the climb strong.

The climb ends at Healesville-Kinglake Road and Myers Creek Road

If you want to continue climbing then turn right onto Myers Creek Road where there is a further 3.4 km of climbing with an average gradient of 3%.

What to expect

  • Stunning scenery
  • Gentle gradient
  • Windy roads suited as a race circuit
  • Chum Creek Road is very popular with Motorcyclists.
  • If you want to celebrate at the top there is the Toolangi Pub

Directions:

53 km north-east of Melbourne (and immediately north-west of Healesville)

Mount Donna Buang (Warburton)

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Mount Donna Buang
Distance: 16.8 km
Average gradient: 6%
Elevation gain: 1,084 meters
Category: HC
Surface: Sealed

Click here for link to Strava segment

About

Mount Donna Buang is a Mountain in the southern part of the Great Dividing Range. It is located in Warburton and is one of Victoria’s most popular Mountain climbs to ride. The drive is only around 90 minutes from Melbourne.  Which takes you through the beautiful Yarra Valley.

View of Mount Donna Buang from the Visitor centre

Mount Donna Buang

Mount Donna Buang is 16.8km in length and has an average gradient of 6.4%. The climb can be broken down into two sections. The first section up to Cement Creek is 7km in length, averaging 7%. This section is quite challenging as the road gets steeper and steeper as you near Cement Creek.  And peaks at over 12% just before the junction. It is always a welcome relief when you reach Cement Creek.  Which offers a small flattened section before turning left onto the turn-off for the Mount Donna Buang summit.

Base of the climb

You are able to ease into a steady rhythm over the next 8.5km.  There is a fairly consistent gradient snaking its way up. Make sure you save some energy for the last km which averages close to 10%.

The ride

A high level of fitness is required to make the ascent to the top of Mount Donna Buang. You will climb though magnificent forest, which has a diverse eco-system. This includes 65 metre tall Mountain Ash trees.  Ancient Myrtle Beech Trees.  Ferns, Mosses & other plants which makes up this diverse Rainforest. Keep an eye out for Lyrebirds as you may see one to the side of the road.  Particularly in the cooler months. If you get lucky on a clear day you pass several lookouts.  Which offer stunning views of Warburton and the Yarra Valley.  These are a sight to behold.

Overall

The Yarra Valley is an amazing place to ride.  If you haven’t been out there we would highly recommend it. Test yourself against Mount Donna Buang, or cruise up & enjoy the scenery. If you’re adventurous you could try a bucket list challenge such as a trying for a double or triple Donna.

How to get there

Warburton is located approximately 72 km east of Melbourne on the Warburton Highway.

Mount Donna Buang at a glance

  • Can break climb into two parts
  • Expect to see tourist traffic
  • Well shaded during the summer months
  • Toilets at top
  • Lookout tower at top (not cleat friendly)
  • Rainforest lookout at Cement Creek
  • Picnic shelter which is good to shelter from the cold
  • Temperatures at top will always be colder than at the base. Bring adequate clothes to keep you warm on the descent
  • Please use extreme caution on the descent
Mount Donna Buang lookout tower

 

Cement Creek turnoff

 

The top of the climb

Dee Road (Millgrove)

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Distance:  1.5 km
Average Gradient: 10%
Maximum Gradient: 27%
Category: 3
Elevation gain: 155 metres
Terrain: Forest
Road Surface: Good (small section of gravel)

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

This climb is a pure Deelight for the hill junkies

Located beneath the forested mountains of Mount Donna Buang.  Ben Cairn and Mount Little Joe in Millgrove is a very scenic location and offers some challenging climbing.  And is guaranteed to Deestroy your legs.  The climb starts on a false flat leading up to the base of the climb.  Which begins just after you cross the bridge across the Dee River.

Dee Road climb

Before you get to the base of the climb you will need to cross an old wooden bridge.  Please use caution when crossing the bridge.  There are large cracks in-between the boards and can be slippery on a wet day.

The climb up Dee Road will take you up the lower slopes of the south-west side of Mount Donna Buang.  Through some stunning temperate rain forest.  It is as beautiful as it is hard.

You’ll want to save something in reserve.  This is one of those evil climbs that starts on a false flat & just keeps getting steeper and steeper and steeper and steeper.  Peaking at a ridiculous 27%.  You won’t need to look down at your Garmin to know that its steep!

The Dee Road climb takes you to one of the access car parks to the O’Shannassy Aqueduct Trail, and offers some incredible views from the top.  Just before you reach the top you will hit a short gravel section just before the car park.  This is easy to get across on a Road bike.

If you’re planning on riding the Aqueduct trail, you can do so on a Road bike.  However you will want to be running at least 28 mm tires.  It a great ride to out to the Mount Donna Buang Tourist Road from here.

Views from the Aqueduct car park

Skyline Road (Yarra Glen)

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Distance: 3.3 km
Gradient: 6%
Category: 3
Elevation: 209 meters
Surface: Good
Traffic: Heavy

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Enjoy a memorable experience as you are treated to one of the most scenic climbs the Yarra Valley has to offer.  Skyline Road  takes you to the heart of Christmas Hills and offers magnificent views of both the Yarra Ranges and the Dandenong Ranges.

Just under an hours drive from Melbourne, this is a climb that is well worth the trek.

Skyline Road climb

The climb begins in Yarra Glen.  This is a small country town which is situated a little north of the flood plain through which the Yarra River flows, and is set amongst the rolling hills of the Yarra Valley.  One of Australia’s most renowned winery regions.

The climb begins at the intersection of Steels Creek Road and Skyline Road.

The climb is steep but has consistent gradient which is easy to find your rhythm.

Keep an eye to the left as you will be treated to some magnificent views and hopefully distract you from the pain in your legs as this is quite a difficult climb.

The road is narrow and you’ll need to keep to the far left of the road.  This is an arterial road and you are likely to experience heavy traffic.

2.7 km into the climb flattens out & this is seen as the traditional end to the climb.  If you turn left into Skyline Road there is another 300 meters of climbing.  The road will turn to gravel and only about 50 meters up the road you’ll be treated to one of the finest views that you can see of the Yarra Valley.

Skyline Road

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Martyr Road (Warburton)

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Distance: 300 meters
Average Gradient: 19%
Elevation gain: 62 meters
Traffic:Light traffic
Surface: Sealed
Category:
4

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Martyr Road climb

With some of the Yarra Valleys best cycling.  Warburton has a bit for everyone and has rides that cater for riders of all abilities.  Hidden next to the Warburton Golf course is one of Victoria’s most difficult sealed back street climbs; Martyr Road.  This is a climb which has a gradient which sits uncomfortably around the 30% mark for what will seems a very, very, very long time.  For those who have attempted this climb.  The name “Martyr Road” will instill a sense of dread.   Whilst only 400 meters in length, Martyr Road has made many grown men cry. Many a riders has jumped (or fallen) off their bikes attempting to get to the top of this monster.

Photo taken by Ewan Hilsdon

The climb begins at the intersection of Martyr Road & Dammans Road.

If you’re trying to climb this hill on anything less than a compact “don’t bother!”.  The fact that you can’t see the top of the climb is quite daunting.  You’ll be wishing you had more gears.

Photo taken by Ewan Hilsdon

Mission Impossible

Every fibre of your body will be telling you to get off and walk.  You’ll have to fight body and mind.  You will need to use all of your climbing skills to get up Martyr Road.  Zig-zag, weave, scream in pain. Do whatever is necessary to grind your way to the top.  If you can get up Martyr’s in one piece you can pretty much get up anything.

Photo taken by Ewan Hilsdon

You’ll know when you reach the top. Hopefully its before the heart stops. One thing we will guarantee is that you will become drunk on oxygen at the top.

 

27 reasons to climb

Martyr’s has been featured in a number of events including Vertical K, Hells 500’s Ol’ Dirty, as well as the Climbing Cyclist Dirty Dozen series.

If you want more ideas on the best places to ride in and around Warburton click here.

At a glance:

  • One of Victoria’s steepest paved residential streets
  • Quite a wide road, and residents are not likely to park on the road for fear there car will roll down the hill
  • Adjoins the Warburton Golf Club

Descending:

You can choose to either descend Wellington Road (gravel) or descend back down Martyr Road.  Both of these are residentail streets with have incredibly steep gradients.  Please use extreme caution on the descent.

How to get there:

The town of Warburton is located approximately 77 km east of Melbourne.  As you enter the town turn left onto the first bridge, and then right onto Dammans Road.  Martyr Road is 400 meters on the left of the road.

Mount St Leanord (via Myers Creek Road)

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Distance: 12.5 km
Location: Healesville
Average Gradient: 7%
Elevation gain:  859 meters
Traffic:Light traffic
Surface: Sealed/Gravel
Category: HC

Here is a link to the Strava segment here:

Myers Creek Road is a very popular climb north of Healesville which follows the Myers Creek valley and is quite popular with recreational riders.  The climb takes you through the beauty of the Yarra Ranges National Park, and  through Paul’s Range State Forest. Hidden at the top of this climb is a 4WD track which is 3.3 km’s @ 10%.  This road will take you to the Mount St Leanord car park, which you can take to get to the summit of Mount St Leanord, 1,021 meters above sea level.  The climb from the base of Myers Creek Road, is arguably one of Victoria’s most difficult HC climbs.

Monda Road

The climb up Myers Creek Road is 8.5 km long.  It is quite challenging as the gradient continually fluctuates, and has quite a coarse road surface which makes you work that little extra harder.  It is a beautiful road to climb, continually twisting and winding its way up to Toolangi, with an average gradient of 6.5%, and a maximum gradient of 15%.  You will rarely have a long stretch of road ahead of you. The majority of the climb averages between 5 – 7%, but does not let up.

Once you reach the peak of this climb, turn right onto Monda Road, which is hard packed gravel.  After climbing for so long, your legs may be feeling a little bit tired.  The sight of an unsealed road which goes skywards is not a pleasant one.  The road kicks straight into 10% and and does not let up until you reach the top.

Myers Creek Road

Monda Road

This is a challenging climb as the gradient continually fluctuates slightly.  It has quite a coarse road surface makes you working that little harder.  The climbs average gradient is highly deceptive as the road will hit sections in excess of 15%.  Monda Road will feel a lot steeper than its average gradient suggests.

Monda Road is narrow, and 2 cars can just squeeze by. The climb up to the car park is 3.3 km’s in length with an average gradient of 10%. This climb should only be attempted by those who enjoy gravel grinding and feel comfortable with climbing steep roads such as Mast Gully Road and Terry’s Avenue. The climb is a real lung burner, but thankfully there aren’t too many long stretches.  This is a climb which you can break your climb up corner by corner. The last km does get a bit steeper, so hold something in reserve.  At the top of the climb the road flattens out and there is a makeshift parking lot for the Mt St Leonard lookout.

Turn-off from Myers Creek Road

Mount St Leanord

Next to the car park is a gate to your right.  If you push your bike through there is additional climbing to the top of Mount St Leonard lookout.  During the winter months this area does receive Snow, and can get quite muddy.  You should check weather conditions before attempting this climb over the winter months. Very few riders have attempted this climb, and you will feel a sense of achievement climbing such a difficult climb. Monda Road has a very consistent gradient.  Although the surface is fairly good for an unsealed road.  There are bumps and holes to negotiate through which makes it harder to get into a rythmn.  Due to the steepness of the gradient.   You will have to work with the bike to get traction which makes the last 3.3 km’s extremely hard.

The descent

This is a dangerous descent. As with all unsealed roads, the road surface can be damaged by the elements and care should be taken depending on the condition of the road. This descent is very steep, and care needs to be taken to avoid rocks and fissures in the road. There is just enough space for a car to pass you either way, however you will be pushed to the corner of the road which is not in good condition, and you risk puncturing your tires or losing control of the bike, and would advise to pull off the road and let vehicles safely pass you.

Mount St Leanord lookout tower

During the fire season the Mount St Leanord lookout tower provides an excellent lookout.  Forming an important role in the early detection of fire danger. The tower also houses a wealth of communications equipment. The original tower was in the form of a small cabin perched precariously on top of a sawn off tree (see image below) and held in place by wire and several cables. Access was by a long (scary) ladder.

This was replaced in 1949 by a steel structure.  In 1988 this tower was superseded by the present larger structure built by Telstra to a height of 37 metres.

 

Image courtesy Healesville Historical Society