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Canberra to Melbourne continued...

Graham Smith's picture
Cycling on the Bass Coast Rail Trail. Cycle Traveller

Page 12

... Continued. Click here to go back to Days 1-8.

Day 9: Edge of Gippsland: Bruthen to Hollands Landing via Bairnsdale

Distance: 80km | Difficulty: Medium

The first 30km of the day are on the East Gippsland Rail Trail, where the riding from Bruthen through to the sizeable town of Bairnsdale is very pleasant. The trail passes through a mix of quiet rural and bushland areas and the surface is much better than the previous day. We stock up in Bairnsdale with maps, information and an early lunch at the bakery. Realising it would be too far to the next town (Sale) in a strong headwind, we divert to the tiny, stark coastal settlement of Hollands Landing and set up our tents in the near empty caravan park adjacent to the coastal lake and lagoons. Although it is a 10km side-track, it is a better option for us than pushing into a strengthening wind. The Hollands Landing campground is very rundown and basic, but the owner is welcoming and helpful. Other than a boat ramp and navigation light, there is not much at Hollands Landing other than tea-tree wetlands. Thankfully, there is protection from the wind. A campground kitchen is good to prepare meals in.

Accommodation:  Hollands Landing campground

Day 10: Sailing into Sale: Hollands Landing to Sale

Distance: 35km | Difficulty: Easy

Cycling Canberra to Melbourne. View to the Strezlecki Ranges. Cycle TravellerAn early start from Hollands Landing before the wind begins in earnest has us in Sale by lunchtime with an enjoyable, steady ride. Sale is a fairly spread out town, and it takes some time to reach the central part. The Central Bakery is one of the first downtown buildings we come across. It looked good and was good. Several pies later we move on to the local Information Centre. Rather than push on into another strong headwind, we decide to call it an early day and we book into a cabin at the caravan park next to the Information Centre. Sale is a very pleasant town and a good place to stay.

Accommodation:  Sale Caravan Park cabin

Day 11: A Century-Plus Day: Sale to Port Welshpool

Distance: 109km | Difficulty: Medium

An excellent early morning start with a clear sky and no wind. We exit town past the Port of Sale on a local bike trail toward the historic swinging bridge. From there we ride onto the South Gippsland Highway to Yarram. The road is a bit busy near Sale, but has a wide shoulder for most of the way. Top riding conditions allow us to make 70km through the green, damp countryside to the tidy little town of Yarram by lunchtime and the relatively fast ride is fun. Beyond Yarram in the afternoon the conditions are as good as in the morning with more traffic, less shoulder and strengthening wind. Still, we make it to Port Welshpool in good time and book into a cabin to stay out of the wind and cold.We have clear views from Port Welshpool across to Wilson's Promontory, which is the most southern point of mainland Australia.

Accommodation: Port Welshpool Caravan Park cabin

Day 12: Superb Rail Trail: Port Welshpool to Inverloch

Distance: 88km | Difficulty: Hard

Cycling Inverloch to Cowes. Cycle TravellerToday's ride starts with a short back track to Welshpool from the cabin stay at Port Welshpool and then on to Toora. The traffic is heavier than expected and the road shoulder inadequate. It is not too bad, but nor is it a section of road I'd recommend to other riders. It is best avoided. From Toora to Foster, both traffic and shoulder improve. Both Toora and Foster are pleasant towns. At Foster, we ride onto the Great Southern Rail Trail – the best section of rail trail we have ridden with lovely views all the way. From Foster to Fish Creek it is then on to Buffalo where we have lunch and push on by back roads (not rail trail) to Inverloch. The land is rolling, dairy country; very lush, very green but moderately hilly with a light prevailing westerly wind. At Inverloch, feeling fairly well fatigued, we book in to a Big-4 foreshore campsite, grab a pizza and a beer and call it an early night. It is one of the mildest nights we've had, so it is pleasant camping with no wind and a temperature of 8-10°C.

Accommodation:  Inverloch Big 4 Caravan Park Foreshore campground

Day 13: Off the Mainland: Inverloch to Cowes

Distance: 67km | Difficulty: Easy

We decamp very early, call into Inverloch for a bakery breakfast then head for Cape Paterson via a very quiet, very scenic coastal road. From Cape Paterson, it is a quick ride to Wonthaggi and morning tea at Megabites Cafe. From Wonthaggi we pick up the Bass Rail Trail through to Anderson. This is an easy, enjoyable 16km ride. From the Anderson end of the trail, progress is slightly tricky as the road to San Remo, though short and double-laned, is busy with an uphill start. Nevertheless, in a reasonably short time we make it to San Remo, across the Phillip Island bridge on the separate bike-way and then onto the excellent Phillip Island bikeways through to Cowes and our caravan park cabin accommodation. From Cowes, we plan to catch the ferry across to the outer southern suburbs of Melbourne and then follow the Bay Trail to central Melbourne.

Accommodation:  Cowes Phillip Island Amaroo Caravan Park Cabin

Day 14: Big Smoke: Cowes to Mentone via Stony Point Ferry

Bike path into Melbourne. Cycle Traveller

Distance: 62km | Difficulty: Easy

As planned, we catch the morning ferry from Phillip Island (Cowes) to Stony Point. There are quite a few cyclists on the ferry, which costs about $16 including the bike. From Stony Point we find a route mostly by bikeways and back streets across the peninsula to Frankston where we have lunch. The views across Port Phillip Bay are grand. From Frankston we are definitely in the outer suburbs of Melbourne and we push on to Mentone, mostly on bikeways. We've only got 30km to go, but with a day up our sleeve we decide to stop and find accommodation in a motel rather than go further into the city.

Accommodation: Motel in Mentone

Day 15: The other Lake: Mentone to Melbourne

Distance: 35km | Difficulty: Easy

Coming into Melbourne around Port Phillip Bay on a Saturday morning is an interesting experience. We discover that from 6am to 10am on Saturday mornings, road lanes are closed to cars and dedicated to cycling. Before we know it, we are merging, complete with panniers, into a stream of pelotons. All good fun, and in no time we are in Albert Park on the shore of the lake. The Canberra to Melbourne route is very doable and we make it relatively easily with 15 days cycling, covering a bit more than 1,000 km. From Albert Park Lake we find South Melbourne Market and then Southbank in the city where we meet family for a couple of rest days in Melbourne.

Accommodation: Motel in Southbank

Route review

No question that this ride was excellent. The general route offers variety, challenges, views, accessibility and choice. 
I would highly recommend it to well equipped, well prepared, experienced cycle tourers.

Cycling Barry Way. View from Suggan Buggan to Buchan. Cycle TravellerHighlights: The Barry Way, the Snowy River and the Gelantipy area were highlights – remote, rugged and beautiful. The Bruthen microbrewery was a most memorable eating and drinking place. The Great Southern Rail Trail and the Bay Trail into Melbourne were enjoyable.

Avoid: Yarram to Welshpool on the South Gippsland Highway was the only section of road on the tour which was uncomfortably busy, did not have a good shoulder lane and which I would be very reluctant to cycle again. The map shows there are roads which by-pass most of this section. They would be time-consuming to find and to follow, but worth it.

So So: We made side-trips and stayed at Hollands Landing and Port Welshpool for convenience and to avoid the wind, however, neither have much to recommend them and aren't really worth the backtracking. A better alternative would be to stop at one of the other towns along south Gippsland route.

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Images from top: 1. Bass Coast Rail Trail. 2. View to the Strezlecki Range. 3. Sea views from Inverloch to Cowes. 4. Along the bike paths towards Melbourne city centre. 5. View of the mountains from Suggan Buggan to Buchan.

Graham Smith is an experienced bicycle tourer. He first shared a more detailed version of this route on his Crazy Guy On A Bike blog.

Comments

Looks like a great ride. For anyone else considering something like this, a shorter route back from Bairnsdale, with some nice rail trails, is: Sale (via Bengwordern Rd), Traralgon (via Gippsland Plains Rail Trail), Moe (via Moe-Yallourn Rail Trail), Noojee, Yarra Junction (very hilly), Lilydale (via Lilydale-Warburton Rail Trail), Croydon, then bike paths to the centre. Something like this: http://bit.ly/1hhbWZo, about 330km. Lots of nice towns along the way.

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