The Marysville area skirts around the Vic Alpine region. It can get extremely cold out this way, and as much as this ride can be ridden all year around, we do want to mention the potential of snow cover through winter. Some roads are closed to tourists (bikes are ok) during winter too, which means any fallen trees won’t be cleared till later on. They can be an extra challenge to move past, but our group found some amusement in the task. Always check the weather report before heading out to Alpine areas, and make sure you pack accordingly. Weather can change in seconds when you’re on a mountain! This three day bikepacking trip is for an intermediate to advanced rider. There is a great deal of climbing in the first two days. You must be comfortable riding the long gravel climbs and long distances without too much trouble at a steady pace. Of course you can do this over a longer period of time, or just to do one leg as a day trip.
We kicked off early at 7:00am at the end of Bells Hill Road, Research. Plenty of parking available nearby if needed, or you can catch a train to Eltham and ride to the startline.
After a quick briefing we were on the road, and it wasn’t long before everyone was warmed up from the first of many rollers.
The first highlight for day one is Skyline Road. It’s a popular gravel stretch for cyclists and runs from Kangaroo Ground out towards Yarra Glen. As the name suggests, it does sit high with views of the surrounding ranges in parts. There are some very steep sections that will have most bikes losing traction, but they are short in length.
Descending into Dixon creek, our group then travelled through backroads of the Yarra Glen vineyards and onto Old Toolangi Road. This lovely, scenic gravel climb is the alternative to the sealed highway. It’s quiet, and the gradient friendly. Once again climbing back up the road pops out in Toolangi where our group stopped at the Toolangi Hotel for lunch. Unfortunately we were so ahead of schedule that we were too early for food. So we grabbed soft drinks and chips and got back on our way.
The next stretch to Buxton is a series of beautiful big tree forest roads, pine plantation and gravel tracks that will have all riders working hard. With wet weather some of these roads can get a little tacky, so care is needed on some of the descents.
Riders stay up high for sometime on Black Range Road, which is a wide gravel road that is surrounded by beautiful alpine pines. The rollers here are consistent until you reach Ure Road, and it’s a wonderful descent down into Buxton.
Buxton General Store is a great place to stop, home to the well known Buxton Burger. Most of our group stopped here for a quick refuel (mostly hot chips) and a regroup.
The last 10 kilometres into Marysville is a sealed low gradient climb.
We spent the night at the Marysville Caravan Park, with dinner booked at The Duck Inn.
The pub can get busy one the weekend, pays to book ahead.
Day 1- 110km / 3000 vm Research to Marysville
After a solid bakery raid in town for breakfast, riders will depart Marysville, heading up and around Lake Mountain on Lady Talbot Drive. This beautiful tourist road is a highlight of this course. A combination of smooth and rough gravel, this 23 kilometre climb back up into Alpine region will have people warmed up quickly. Again lots of big forest trees, fern gullies, and views of the surrounding mountains. There are a number of waterfalls through this stretch of road also if you have the time to adventure off the bike.
The road is closed to cars through Winter, so take care with any fallen trees that haven’t been cleared. We had plenty to climb over with our bikes.
We were then fortunate to have a little snow once we reached Mount Margaret Gap.
From here we turned off Lady Talbot onto Blue Range Road. After a length of rollers and small descents, it’s then a long descent off the mountain and into Rubicon.
After a little riding in sealed roads you’ll eventually make your way into Eildon, a good place to have lunch with a number of places to eat in town.
After lunch it’s into Skyline Road. Another highlight of this route, Skyline Road is a solid gravel climb back up onto the ridge line that surrounds Lake Eildon. Lots of wonderful scenic views of the lake, and plenty of photo opportunities.
Once on Maintangoon Road, riders will descend back down to Lake Eildon. Take care here as it’s a rough and fast descent on gravel. Traffic can frequent here too.
The days riding finishes with some sealed roads around Lake Eildon, taking you into Bonnie Doon. We stayed at the caravan park here and organised dinner down the road at Bonnie Doon Hotel.
DAY 2: 105 km / 2000 vm Marysville - Bonnie Doon
The last day is shorter and easier in comparison. Breakfast options are the roadhouse of a cafe, which seemed to not open when we were there. Riders then headed out onto the Great Victorian Rail Trail, riding towards Molesworth.
After crossing the main highway it’s onto the last main climb for the trip, Molesworth Dropmore Road. This climb is a gentle gradient over 15 kilometres. It’s gravel the entire length, but becomes sealed once you reach the top, and turn onto Highlands Road.
You’ll stay on this road the whole way into Seymour, with a few rollers as you slowly descend back down.
Take care of cars through here as it’s a busy road.
Once in Seymour you can catch a Vline train nearly every 90 minutes.
Seymour is a big town, plenty of major supermarkets if you need train snacks. Otherwise there is an amazing eatery called Gaffney's Pie Kitchen just across from the train station. Great pies and pasties.