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Adelaide Oval to the MCG via the Great Ocean Road

David Lloyd's picture
Giant Lobster, Kingston. Cycle touring on the Great Ocean Road. Cycle Traveller.

I can’t believe we had lived in Adelaide most of our lives and had never seen the Great Ocean Road. We now live on the Gold Coast and have decided that it’s time. Deb’s flying back to Adelaide and I’m setting off in the car to our place at Maslin Beach with the Merida cross bike on the rack. We’ve broken the bicycle touring route into 17 stages, so most days I will only be riding about 70km over two to three hours in the morning.

Deb will drive to the next town ahead of me with my gear and we can spend the days checking out the local towns and doing some walking as well I hope. I will probably need a cold beer or two as well, I would imagine. So here it goes.

 

Bike route 1980119 - powered by Bikemap

The ride: Adelaide Oval to the MCG
Days: 17
Distance: 1,171km
Cumulative climbing: 5,220m
 

Stage 1. Adelaide Oval to Maslin Beach: 46.12km, 2hrs 5mins

Reality has set in that this is going to be a great ride in all conditions. It’s a fairly cold Adelaide day in October with a stiff south-westerly blowing, which turns out to be a head or cross wind most of the way. It rains down Brighton Road for about half an hour and the sun comes out for about the last third, just as I reach the coast. It’s nice to be cycling. The ride itself is a really good start and a reminder of how beautiful the mid-south coast of South Australia is. I stay the night at our place in Maslin Beach.

Stage 2. Maslin to Langhorne Creek: 68.83km, 2hrs 51mins

Cool morning, light breeze. Start out through McLaren Vale, Kangarilla, Meadows and Strathalbyn on my way to Langhorne Creek. Just a beautiful ride with the country green, spring flowers blooming and creeks flowing. I cycle past vineyards, dairy farms, olive groves, and natural bushland. The highlight is the kangaroo that comes along for a hop for about 500m. It is like he wants to come along for a while, it is a magic moment. Great ride, good roads, a few hills, really enjoyable. 

Stage 3. Langhorne Creek to Meningie: 79.9km 3hrs 1min

Another great ride. Seems slightly uphill with a head to cross wind until I reach Wellington and get on the ferry across the Murray. Great to see the river flowing and looking magnificent again. I have a tail wind the whole 46km from the ferry to Meningie on a good safe road. The countryside is green and lush with good surface water in all the paddocks along the way. Coming into Meningie, Lake Albert is full and beautiful. Talking to the locals, it is a great turn around as the water starts to flow down the Murray and into the lower lakes. We stay at the Lake Albert Motel, Meningie.

Stage 4. Meningie to Kingston: 147km, 5hrs 48mins

A bloody long way to ride a bike, but enjoyable all the same. There are really only two small towns along the way at Policemen Point and Salt Creek. Salt Creek is at the 60km mark and I stop for a pasty and a drink before doing the next 90km. This ride is stunning, travelling the length of the Coorong in all its natural beauty. This is the longest leg that I will ride on this trip and it did sort me out a bit, but I finish strong all the same. We stay at the Econolodge Kingston (Lobster Motor Inn).

Stage 5. Kingston to Robe: 44.3km, 1hr 33mins

A sprint really after yesterday. It’s perhaps the best ride I have ever done. Natural scrub, vines, pine forest, just beautiful country. Relatively flat ride, they call one hilly part Mount Benson, but I would call it a small hill. Robe is a great place; it is one of those places that has a pulse and attitude in a beautiful seaside setting. I think charming is a better way to describe it. Accommodation is at the Guichen Bay Motel, Robe.

The Sir Donald Bradman Stand at the Adelaide Oval. Cycle TravellerStage 6. Robe to Millicent: 82.4km, 2hrs 54mins

I wake to thunder and rain, but that passes before I leave at 7.30am. I feel more confident with every ride, recovering well and feeling stronger. Another great country ride with good, well signed roads. We stay at the Somerset Hotel, Millicent.

Stage 7. Millicent to Port MacDonnell: 78.6km, 3hrs 6mins

It’s a lovely clear morning. I take the tourist route through Tantanoola and Kongorong. Wind farms (136 turbines), Kimberly Clarke pulp mills through Tantanoola. Kongorong is dairy country with dairy farms all the way. Nice country roads with very few cars, ideal for cycling. Port MacDonnell is amazing with Cape Northumberland being the most Southerly point of South Australia. Just rugged Southern Ocean coastline with nothing between it and Antarctica. Accommodation – Victoria Hotel, Port MacDonnell.

Stage 8. Port Mac to Nelson: 33.6km, 1hr 13mins

I set out on the Nelson Road on a cool clear morning. The first 13km is the Southern Ocean on my right with flattish dairy farms on my left. The scent is a mixture of cow manure and washed up seaweed, rather a nice smell really (wouldn’t like to wear it though). The rest of the ride goes inland a bit into another beautiful rural country setting with easy undulating land made for riding. The last few K’s into Nelson are stunning with the Glenelg River estuary coming into sight. A very enjoyable recovery ride. Accommodation – Casuarina cabins, Nelson.

Stage 9. Nelson to Portland: 69.9km, 2hrs 45mins

I pull out the thermals for the first time today. I get a couple of light showers along the way, but nothing that requires the rain jacket. A mixture of dairy, pine plantations and lots of national park. Great smells with the light rain just bringing out the pine and eucalypt scents nicely. An undulating bike ride with some nice long climbs and descents. After being relatively flat so far, it is a nice change to climb and get some speed on the descents, great fun. The highlight is two massive wedge tail eagles taking off just near me. The whoosh of their wings is amazing and their shrieks as they fly through the forest are incredible. All the other birds swoop them to protect their nests. Just amazing. 

Stage 10. Portland to Port Fairy: 71.4km, 2hrs 47mins

You could never get tired of riding these roads, it’s just beautiful countryside. You tend to drift off in your own thoughts then, all of a sudden, look up to glimpses of the ocean or a creek or something else amazing. You can go 20 minutes or so without seeing another vehicle, the quiet is music enough. This ride is mainly rural with glimpses of ocean in the distance here and there. Accommodation – Best Western Ashmont Motor Inn, Port Fairy.

Touring along Victoria's Great Ocean Road. Cycle Taveller

Stage 11. Port Fairy to Peterborough: 85.6km, 3hrs 13mins

I meander through 80km of dairy and rural country then all of a sudden come to the Bay of Islands and I know I've arrived at the Great Ocean Road. The Bay of Martyrs, The Grotto, Port Campbell, London Bridge and 12 Apostles are all in the next 16km. The road is good and safe to ride, just really happy to be here. Accommodation – Great Ocean Tourist Park, Peterborough.

Stage 12. Peterborough to Lavers Hill: 65.1km, 3hrs 30mins

The average speed tells a story, the greatest views come with the greatest hills and it is, just great! The first 25km are along that rugged coast from Peterborough before I head up into the Otway Mountains. Beautiful country, from rugged bush to farmland, to flowing rivers and creeks in the cool climate rain forest. A lot of long, sometimes steep uphill here and there, riding at about 10-12kph. The great thing about uphill is it slows you down and you can soak up what’s around you. Cycling imitates life here as well because every uphill has a downhill that’s loads of fun. Ferns, moss, acacia in blossom, wild flowers, then turn a bend and you are in the open with views down to the sea over rolling hills then back into rain forest at the next bend. I trained really hard for this ride and this is the part everyone told me about. The 4.30am starts up Springbrook Mountain every Wednesday during winter pay off today and I ride really well. I use every gear and love every minute of it. A planned rest day on Sunday is great with some nice bush walks in the Otways and a drive to Colac. Accommodation – Fauna Australia, Lavers Hill for two nights.

Stage 13. Lavers Hill to Apollo Bay: 54km 2hrs, 22mins

I ride mainly through the Otway Ranges until I round a bend about 10km from Apollo Bay, then it’s a nice downhill to the bay. My max speed on this leg is 74.6kph! Some great fun, fast downhills with some long steep uphills to even everything out. A fairly strong head wind for about the last 7-8km once out of the ranges is challenging, but the downhill element takes care of that. Another thoroughly enjoyable ride. Accommodation - Angela’s Guest House, Apollo Bay.

Stage 14. Apollo to Torquay: 92.5km, 4hrs 15mins

Just awesome!!! Just the best bike ride that you can imagine. It’s a road cut into a cliff with the Southern Ocean on one side and the Otway Ranges on the other. The sounds of the sea combine with the sounds of the forest, together with the smells of the sea, eucalyptus and acacia blossoms. Throw in the most stunning visual scenery imaginable and you have today. Climbs and descents all the way, but nothing too hard. It rains the whole ride, which I think makes it perfect. It is that straight down, windless rain. This enhances the smells and sounds, the light is really good and the sea is fairly calm. I actually enjoy riding in the rain; it adds another element. Accommodation – Golden Palms Motel, Torquay.

Stage 16. Torquay to Queenscliff: 48.5km, 2hrs 13mins

Another day, another beautiful ride. A pretty flat, open ride all the way. I cycle through Barwon Heads, where Seachange was filmed. The Barwon River flows down from the Otways and this area is that flat, almost marshland, great dairy and sheep country. Never too far from the ocean. Queenscliff is a lovely place and is the entry point into Port Phillip Bay. We stay at Ruby’s, Queenscliff.

Rest day.  Ferry to Sorrento

Take a rest day. Catch the ferry to Sorrento and did the tourist thing around Portsea. Great place, full of history. Stayed at the Boathouse Resort Motel, Sorrento.

Stage 17. Sorrento to MCG: 99.2km, 4hrs 2mins

Cycling to the MCG from Adelaide via the Great Ocean Road. David Lloyd. Cycle Traveller

Every day on this ride at some point I have thought this is the best ride ever. Today’s no different. Just a lazy 99km up the Beach Road to the MCG. It’s riding on the foreshore of the bay just about all the way. Our forefathers who designed Victoria’s roads were tourism visionaries. Give me water, we will build a road next to it for all to enjoy. You literally ride the foreshore nearly all the way. I should mention that this is the coldest October day on record in Melbourne, with a blustery south-westerly (cross or tail wind). I experience riding in hail for the first time; it makes some real noise on your helmet and can sting any exposed skin, but glad I experience it all the same. I would not wish for anything else other than what Mother Nature intends. I just love it. A great feeling to reach the “G”, and see Deb there. I can’t wait to see it again on my next ride to the SCG.

Around the Bay in a day with Bicycle Victoria

The next day I finish my ride by joining Melbourne’s Around the Bay ride, which about 16,000 people do. Some do 200km right around the bay, some do 100km from Sorrento to Melbourne, and there is the 50km fun ride, which I do. It is a nice way to finish the adventure. Total distance travelled, including this ride, is 1,234km!

Ride summary

First, a big thank you to Deb for her support on this ride. From the moment she rolled her eyes when I suggested it to her support on the trip, she was just fantastic. Each day, Deb would generally leave a couple of hours after me and more often than not we would arrive at the end point around the same time. Most mornings I was on the road by 7am and the ride was generally over by 10am. We were fortunate with early check ins at our motels so I could shower and store my bike. We would then set off and see as much as we could of the local areas. If you can imagine Cape Otway light house for example is 12km off the main road, making it a 24km round trip by bike, but by car it’s easy to go back to and see it properly. You can do all the things you miss for the rest of the day. It’s great. As much as I rode this route, Deb drove it alone, which is a fair effort in itself.

Around the Bay in a Day, bicycle ride Melbourne. Cycle TravellerEvery day on this ride was my best day. It’s hard to explain, but you don’t look back to the previous day and you don’t look to the next day, you just ride the day you are in and every day is your best. You get a piece of everything, for every rainy day there is a sunny day; every uphill has a downhill and you really come to appreciate and enjoy all conditions. I loved it.

The same as anything, you need a plan and a structure that is manageable, achievable and enjoyable. This was all three, I didn’t reach my limitations at any point, nor do you want to. It was challenging enough while still being in good shape to function and enjoy the rest of the day. Riding on these roads is a pleasure; there’s very little traffic and drivers are very obliging and tend to give you a wide berth.

Local knowledge is golden. The motel managers have great knowledge and will point you in the right direction of what to do and see. It’s also great to enjoy a few schooners because the local publican in small towns is generally a history lesson in itself at tea time. Australia is just a great place and people are generally proud of their towns and only too happy to share. It’s also great to eat local produce from seafood to whatever is grown locally. 

My bike didn’t miss a beat, not even a puncture; just a dream run. Nutrition wise, 70km or more at my pace is 2 x 750ml bottles. I made my own Powerade from powder and took two bananas. Anything 50km or under I didn’t take the bananas, but still the two bottles and usually only used one. Anything over 70km, I would get an extra bottle or something more to eat at a servo along the way. Breakfast was a bowl of natural muesli for the complex carbs and a big drink of water to pre hydrate. You get pretty hungry after the ride and I ate accordingly. A few beers with dinner most nights don’t hurt neither (nature’s super food).

David Lloyd is cycling around Australia connecting the dots between each major cricket oval in stages. He plans to follow this ride up with a ride from the Melbourne Cricket Ground (MCG) to the Sydney Cricket Ground (SCG).

Images from top: 1. Giant lobster, Kingston. 2. Cycling route map. 3. Donald Bradman Stand, Adelaide Oval. 4. The Great Ocean Road. 5. The MCG, Melbourne. 6. Around the Bay in a Day, Melbourne. (Photos courtesy of David Lloyd and Visions of Victoria).

Comments

I'm planning on doing the same ride (July 2014) - only with my GoCycle Electric bike - alone from Melbourne to Adelaide - so your web page has been invaluable and well put together. My e-mail is paul_allan@hotmail.com

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