The Australian state of Victoria boasts some of the best cycling in Australia.

But drilling down another level, which are the best towns and regions for a Victoria cycling holiday/mini break?

In this article, Chris Grabyn, who lives in Melbourne, shares his favourite cycling destinations in Victoria. You’ll find them listed in order of distance from Melbourne. He also provides a useful overview of Victoria’s racing scene and information on Victoria’s cycling clubs.

Enjoy!

We plan to add more detailed cycling guides on some of the regions mentioned below over the next months. These will include information on cycling routes, where to stay and more – so do check back!

 

1. Where is Victoria, Australia?

Victoria sits in the southeast corner of Australia.

Map showing location of Victoria

Victoria, shown shaded red, within Australia


It’s the second-smallest state and is bordered by New South Wales to the north and South Australia to the west.

 

2. Overview of cycling Victoria, Australia

Victoria is the most densely populated state in Australia and most of its 7 million population are concentrated in and around Melbourne, in the south central part of the state. Three quarters of the population of Victoria live in Melbourne – and its bike-friendly vibe and strong cycling infrastructure sets the tone for the rest of the state.

Victoria might be a small state by Australian standards, but it encompasses a range of different landscapes. In the southeast, there are wet, temperate climates of Gippsland while to the north are the Victorian alpine areas which rise to almost 2,000 m. There are also semi-arid plains to the west and northwest of the state.

Victoria offers all the possible riding you could hope for. From commuting with the ever improving networks of paths and cycle lanes in Melbourne to truly epic road cycling. Whether your passion is road, mountain, CX, BMX, gravel or exploring, Victoria has you covered.

This article will focus on road cycling – but a quick note that if you’re looking for off-road leisure options, there are a number of fantastic established rail trails through regional Victoria such as the Great Victorian Rail Trail (134kms), Goldfields Track (210km), Bellarine Rail Trail (32km), East Gippsland Rail Trail (94km and Murray to Mountains (116km). So if you want to get under the skin of the state on a bicycle, there are many options available.

 

3. Six best bases for cyclists in Victoria

Here’s my pick of the best parts of Victoria for cyclists. These are all areas my wife, Carol, and I have ridden in many times and would recommend to cyclist friends visiting Victoria.

 

1. Melbourne

Cyclist overlooking oceanPt Nepean, Greater Melbourne
Cyclist by river in MelbourneYarra River, Melbourne

Given it’s a huge city,  Melbourne isn’t the best place you can go cycling in Victoria. However, it has got a strong bike culture and there are some great bike rides around Melbourne if you know where to look.

Dannednong Ranges

The Dandenongs is a mountain range that starts in the eastern suburbs of Melbourne and is home to Melbourne’s most iconic climb, the “1in20”. While the 1in20 is far from being an epic alpine climb, it’s a 6.5km sprint at 5% along a beautiful stretch of road. The Dandenongs has a genuine 7-8 climbs that range from 3 to 7 kilometres long. They’re not Alpine standard, but they’re absolutely stunning and provide a great training ground for Melbourne’s mountain goats during winter.

Beach Road

The other iconic road biking route in Melbourne is the infamous Beach Road, a 25 kilometre stretch of road that runs south east away from Melbourne along the bay. It’s a scenic route and a leisurely ride that is particularly cycle friendly on weekends. On a nice weather day, you’ll see literally thousands cruising it.

Arthurs Seat

Arthurs Seat is a destination climb for Melbourne cyclists and is around a 170 kilometre return ride from the city that takes you along the bay the whole way. The climb itself is only 3km at 8.5%, but the views from the top and during the climb are stunning, as the lower slopes literally fall into the bay. It has been the summit finish to a number of pro events.

Bike paths in Melbourne

Melbourne also has a decent network of paved bike lanes and cycling trails to explore the city. There are also a few lovely roads, notably Yarra Boulevard.

A bit further afield

Mt Macedon is about 1 hour’s drive from the city or around 170km return ride. It’s not a huge mountain but has three distinct ways to climb it.

Mt Baw Baw is a 2 hour drive from Melbourne but I felt compelled to include it here as it is ranked the #1 most difficult climb in Australia. A stunningly beautiful (and quiet) place to ride a bike it also has a sting in the tale that is the final 6.5km of the climb at an average 12.5%!

Major cycling climbs in/around Melbourne

The Dandenong Ranges, Arthurs Seat, Mt Macedon. Mt Baw Baw (HC)

Major cycling events

Around the Bay in a Day (October)

Non cycling attractions

It’s Melbourne!

 

2. Surf Coast and Otways

Bike at sunsetBarwon Heads Bridge, Barwon Heads (Surf Coast and home of Cadel Evans)
Surf Coast, Victoria, AustraliaPt Addis, Surf Coast (view is of Anglesea or the coastline of the Great Ocean Road)

The Surf Coast and Otways is a beautiful coastal region of Victoria.

It’s home to the UCI Cadel Evans Road Race and hosted the 2010 UCI Road World Championships.

There are numerous scenic loop bike route options from all the major towns in the area that can take in the Bellarine Peninsula and stunning beaches, rolling hills and farmland and the rain forests of the Otways – not to mention the Great Ocean Road.

The region has a rather flat topography, so there are not a lot of road bike climbing options, but you will still rack up the vertical meters with lots of lumps.

Climbs to note are

  • Mount Sabine which can be tackled from the Skenes Creek on the coast or inland from Forrest
  • Benwerrin from Lorne on the coast or from Deans Marsh inland 
  • Challambra which is the iconic climb in the Cadel Evans Road Race – what it lacks in length it (only 800m) it makes up with punch with it averaging just shy of 10% with an 18% kicker at the end. 

There is also fun to be had by those who enjoy gravel and mountain biking – top destinations in the area are The You Yangs, Anglesea and Lorne.

Cycling Victoria Australia Another shot of gorgeous Barwon River, Barwon Heads
Cyclist at a lighthouse in Victoria Australia Spit Point Lighthouse, Aireys Inlet, Great Ocean Road

Distance from Melbourne to Geelong

West of Melbourne, 75 kilometres (1 hour drive (approx))

Main towns

Geelong, Torquay, Lorne

Major cycling climbs

Mt Sabine, Benwerrin, Challambra

Major cycling events

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Peoples Ride, Geelong – held on the same course as the UCI road race and the morning of the women’s elite road race (late January/early February)

Great Ocean & Otway Classic, Torquay (April)

Amy’s Great Ocean Road Grand Fondo, Lorne – UCI Grand Fondo World Champs qualifier (October)

Non cycling attractions

Bellarine Peninsula, Bellarine Wine Region, Geelong Waterfront, surf beaches (Bells Beach – one of the most famous surf beaches in the world), the Great Ocean Road, the 12 Apostles, waterfalls, bushwalking, trekking, historic Queenscliff and its steam railway, cafes and restaurants.

3. Yarra Ranges

Cyclist in Yarra Ranges AustraliaNicholl Lookout, Yarra Ranges (climbing Lake Mountain)
View of Reefton Spur, Yarra RangesReefton Spur, Yarra Ranges

The Yarra Ranges are technically part of the High Country (see below). However, I’ve listed them separately as they are a long way away from the region discussed below and are just an hour or so’s drive from Melbourne.

The Yarra Ranges are best ridden from Warburton or Marysville as both are beautiful small villages and both have HC climbs starting from the town.

Healesville is the largest town in the region and there are plenty of options for excellent Victorian cycling climbs and loops. The region is also super popular with the gravel fraternity.

Distance from Melbourne to Warburton

East of Melbourne, 80 kilometres (1.5 hour drive (approx))

Main towns

Warburton, Healesville, Marysville

Major cycling climbs

Mt Donnabuang (HC), Lake Mountain (HC)(from Marysville), Lake Mountain (HC)(from Reefton), KingLake

Major cycling events

Giro della Donna (late March/early April)

Non cycling attractions

Yarra Valley wine region, breweries, distilleries, cafés, restaurants, bakeries, bush walking, hiking, Healesville Sanctuary (zoo).

4. Gippsland

Tidal River, GippslandTidal River, Wilsons Promontory, Gippsland
Dargo Hotel, Gippsland, VictoriaDargo Hotel, Dargo, Gippsland (right at the base of the second hardest climb in Australia)

Gippsland is the area I’ve ridden in least, but what I have done has been stunning.

From the rolling green pastures of the Strezlecki Ranges, and the rugged beauty of the coastline, our rides here have been amazing.

We have ridden on Phillip Island and it offers a great loop, although not overly long (mid 70s km).

We have also done numerous loops from Inverloch and never ridden the same loop twice yet – and mostly all done on quiet country roads.

I think the crown jewel is a ride that would take you down into Wilson Promontory. This is Victoria’s southernmost tip and is a stunning national park.

The weather can be a challenge in this neck of the woods, so you need to pick your time carefully. The best time of year is late November to May.

And it would be remiss not to mention the Dargo Climb – rated #2 in Australia. It is very remote and over an hour’s drive from Bairnsdale – but you are met with a lovely little village with a great pub and general store at the base of this epic 20km climb. I recently did it in March and it’s well worth ticking off if you are in the area.

Cycling in Gippsland, Victoria, AustraliaWilsons Promontory, Gippsland
Cycling in Gippsland, Victoria, AustraliaNear Darby Saddle, Wilsons Promontory, Gippsland

Distance from Melbourne to Inverloch

South East of Melbourne, 150 kilometres (2 hour drive (approx))

Main towns

Inverloch, Bairnsdale Lakes, Enterance, Wonthaggi, Cowes

Major cycling climbs

Dargo (HC), Mt Misery

Major cycling events

Bass Coast Cycle Challenge (October)

Non cycling attractions

Wilsons Promontory, Phillip Island, Phillip Island Penguin Parade, surf beaches, wineries, historical villages, Great Lakes, fishing, walks.

 

5. The Grampians

Cyclist in the Grampians, VictoriaBoroka Lookout, The Grampians
Bike in front of mountain, Grampians, AustraliaMt Sturgeon, The Grampians

The Grampians are a stunning and hugely underrated cycling destination in Victoria.

They offer quality cycling and some great climbing

There are a couple of climbs that start in Halls Gap, which is where you probably will be staying when you visit the area. They are Boroka Lookout, Mt Victory and Sundial.

Mt William is the crown jewel for the climbers – a 12 kilometre long HC climb that has a nasty sting in the tail with the last couple of kilometres averaging near 13%, with a max of 28%. It’s ranked the 8th hardest climb in the country.

The other major climbs are at Boroka lookout 15kms long and Mt Victory – 13km from Halls Gaps and 11km from the west.

If you get out early you are rewarded with quiet roads, light winds (especially inside the mountain range) and wildlife spotting – you will see wallabies, kangaroos, emus and deer, and maybe even a goat (I’ve only even seen one).

Riding later in the morning the traffic does increase thus scaring the wildlife away from the roads.

There are also some great loop and in and out rides in the Grampians that cater from 30km up to 180km.

Distance from Melbourne to Halls Gap

West of Melbourne, 250 kilometres (3 hour drive (approx))

Main towns

Halls Gap, Stawell, Dunkeld

Major cycling climbs

Mt William (HC), Boroka Lookout, Mt Victory, Sundial

Major cycling events

The ACE ride (October)

Non cycling attractions

Stunning bush walks and hiking, waterfalls (including the largest in Victoria – which you can ride to if you fancy 380 steps in cleats), wineries, Aboriginal culture, wildlife, zoo, rock climbing and abseiling, watersports, fishing.

 

6. High Country Alpine Region

Bicycle at Mt Hotham, VictoriaMt Hotham, Victorian High Country (Australia’s highest paved road)
Cyclist in Victorian High Country, AustraliaMt Buffalo, Victorian High Country

Last, but absolutely not least is Victoria’s High Country Alpine region. In fact this is probably my personal favourite part of Victoria for cycling as it’s got some of the most incredible climbs and cycling routes.

Bright is the epicentre of the Victorian Alps. It’s a beautiful town on the Oven Rivers that can be visited any time of year. There are an array of loops and routes to ride from Bright, including Mount Buffalo, Mount Hotham, Falls Creek and Tawonga Gaps.

Mount Beauty is a lovely smaller town that sits in a valley between Falls Creek and Tawonga Gap.

Mansfield has less options but is equally stunning and is where you would stay to ride Mt Buller (check out my short video of riding in the snow up Mt Buller in late spring!)

All the towns listed below have road, gravel and mountain bike options available.

Distance from Melbourne to Bright

North East of Melbourne, 320 kilometres (3.5 hour drive (approx))

Main towns

Bright, Mansfield, Mount Beauty, Beechworth

Major cycling climbs

Mt Buffalo (HC), Mt Hotham (HC), Falls Creek (HC), Tawonga Gap, Mt Buller (HC), Dinner Plain (HC)

Note: Dinner Plain is a 40km+ climb from a small town called Omeo. It is essentially the eastern side of the Mt Hotham climb but is very different and finishes about 10km east from the Mt Hotham summit.

Major cycling events

Alpine Classic, Bright (January)

Peaks Challenge Falls Creek, Falls Creek (March)- read our article on the Peaks Challenge Falls Creek event here.

Non cycling attractions

King Valley wine region, wineries, breweries, quality local produce, hiking, trekking, quality restaurants and cafés, historic towns.

 

4. Cycling events in Victoria

Cadel Evans Road Race start line, GeelongCadel Evans Road Race start line, Geelong
Cyclist at Mt Buffalo, Victorian High CountryMt Buffalo, Victorian High Country

The history of cycle racing in Victoria stretches back to pre 1900s and its continuing popularity has been fuelled by famous cyclists such as Cadel Evans, Simon Gerrans and Matthew Lloyd who all come from this part of Australia.

Well-known cycling events in Victoria such as the Herald Sun Tour and Great Victorian Bike Ride, also help win hearts and minds.

Here are a few notes on the best-known cycling events in Victoria.

 

1. Pro races/with a pro connection

 

Herald Sun tour

The Herald Sun Tour has been a fixture on the professional Australian cycling calendar since 1952. It gained UCI rating in 2005. It’s a race that takes the riders through regional Victoria and the streets of Melbourne and boasts a winners list with the likes of Chris Froome, Esteban Chaves and Sir Bradley Wiggins.

Melbourne to Warrnambool

The Melbourne to Warrnambool is Australia’s oldest one day race and the second oldest in the world! It is 265km in length and forms part of Australia’s National Road Series, attracting Australia’s elite cycling talent.

Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and People’s Ride

The Cadel Evans Great Ocean Road Race and People’s Ride take place in Geelong in late January or early February – so it can be hot! It’s a rare opportunity for us amateurs to ride a course the same as the pros and even on the same day. Taking place just after the Tour Down Under, the world’s top cyclists and teams are on show.

 

2. Amateurs only

 

Great Victorian Bike Ride

The Great Victorian Bike Ride is a rolling cycling festival taking more than 3,000 keen participants on up to nine days of camaraderie, camping and cycling through some of the most picturesque pockets of Victoria. It’s been running since 1884. The ride changes routes each year and had a record participation of 8,100 riders in 2004.

Amy’s Great Ocean Road Gran Fondo

Amy’s Great Ocean Road Grand Fondo is a ride open to cyclists of all abilities and ages. Held in Lorne on fully closed roads, it definitely has its hat in the ring as one of the most beautiful courses as it crosses the Otways Ranges rain forests twice. It also takes in over 40km of the absolutely spectacular and world renowned Great Ocean Road. This event is a qualifying event for the UCI Grand Fondo World Championships, giving budding amateurs to wear their national colours on the world stage.

Peaks Challenge Falls Creek

Peaks Challenge Falls Creek is a brutal Alpine gran fondo and a personal favourite of mine. 235km in length and over 4,500m in vertical gain, it takes in two HC climbs in Mt Hotham and Falls Creek. Mt Hotham is the highest sealed road in Australia – it is one hard yet immensely rewarding day on the bike. If that’s not tough enough on its own, there is a looming time cut off that ends with a 13hr total time – fall behind that rolling cut off and you are out.

Starting just before dawn on the top of Falls Creek in single digit temps, the ride can run into temps in the mid-30s and higher in the valleys then drop back to single digits for the finish back atop Fall Creek.

Interested? Read our in-depth article on Peaks Challenge.

 

5. Victoria cycling clubs

There are over 50 registered cycling clubs in Victoria and to race in VRS events and above you need to be affiliated with a club.

Clubs like St Kilda Cycling Club hold bunch rides open to non-members and also provide skills learning and café rides.

If you looking for a club while in the area, try this very handy tool.

 

A big thank you to Chris for sharing these insights. We hope they provide a useful starting point for planning your next cycling tour of Victoria!

 

Have you been cycling in Victoria, Australia?

Which are your favourite regions and rides? Share your tips below!

 

Chris Grabyn

Chris Grabyn is an Aussie who was born in Geelong, Victoria, and now lives in Melbourne with his wife Carol (also pictured here). He was a late comer to road cycling but is now making up for lost time and is a fan of the big climbs.

He’s an avid traveler who combines a passion for cycling and traveling – holiday plans now always include the bike. He’s ridden in eight different countries and even has a bike permanently stashed in Ireland.

Check out Chris’ excellent Instagram account here.

The contents of this website are provided for general information purposes only. It is not intended to amount to advice and you should not rely on it. You should carry out your own due diligence and take professional advice. We make no representations, warranties or guarantees, whether express or implied, that the content on our website is accurate, complete or up to date. If you use any information or content on this website, download from, or otherwise obtain content or services through our website, it is entirely at your own discretion and risk. Epic Road Rides Ltd disclaims all liability and responsibility arising from any reliance placed on the information and content on this website. Find out more here.

Leave your comment

  • (will not be published)

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.