Cycle Victoria, Sightseeing Ride, 13th Beach Ride
This is a picturesque little ride that is shared by many surfers and other cyclists, including world champion Cadel Evans who lives close by. It’s pretty simple; out to the lookout for a panoramic view of the river estuary and coastline stretching down to Point Lonsdale and beyond, then a straight line down the coast in the other direction along this famous coastline with crashing surf, broad ocean beaches. Off in the distance the Great Ocean Road and the Otway Ranges on the horizon.
The entire ride is on a sealed road although there is a trail from the start that leads through the back of the caravan park if you can find it. Otherwise the ride is relatively flat.
Plenty of cyclists use this road, sharing it only with surfers and tourists. It’s pretty safe.
Barwon Heads is 24 kilometres from Geelong on the Princes Highway (A1), heading over the bridge out of Geelong and turning left onto Barwon Heads Road (C121). Follow the road right into the town and then left. Turn right at the roundabout at the start of the bridge and left into the car park. VicRoads Map: 531 O6.
Food and Drink
There are lots of great places to eat and drink in Barwon Heads. You’ll find the hotel across the road, much more around the corner in the CBD and at the start of the ride is ‘At The Heads’ café and restaurant. This establishment was made famous in the Sea Change TV series. There are also picnic and barbeque facilities on the other side of the road where it crosses the bridge beside the river.
On this side of the river the other roads are either busy or the routes fairly non-descript. If you don’t mind the climb up the hill across the river, you could work your way to Point Lonsdale via paths to Ocean Grove, the main road through Ocean Grove and then turning right onto Shell Road.
The ride leaves the car park and turns left onto Ewing Blyth Drive. Travel on the road before joining the shared pathway that runs beside the caravan park. There is an alternate route to the path through the caravan park. Bluff Road will take you to the top of the headland, which protects the river and beach front below. From here you can see the river as well as the coastline. The Barwon River flows from beyond Geelong and runs into the Lake Connewarre, which is an expansive but shallow estuarine lake, wetlands are of international importance.
The river finally runs to the sea through a mangrove-fringed channel and sand lined shallows, which is a great recreation area for families. Being affected by tides, the river beach is best visited at low tide and you will need to watch the current in the river if you go swimming. From the cliff top wander down paths to the beach on either side of the bluff and walk around to the other side and up again to return to your bikes. Apart from the surf, there are rock pools when the tides out. Rejoining the 13th Beach Road you are almost immediately facing out over Bass Strait and the coastline stretching away to the west.
It is more than likely that you will be heading into some sort of headwind along this exposed road. You may even be whipped by sand blown up from the beach on a rough day, but it’s all behind you on the way back. Stop along the way at any of the beach access paths to take in great coastal views, and if the surf is pumping, you’ll be entertained by both board and kite surfers. The ride peters out at the end to the Black Rock Road beside the solitary wind turbine and the sewerage treatment facility. Turn around for an equally enjoyable return trip.
You could head back by turning right and right again down Barwon Heads Road, but the traffic is heavy and it wouldn’t be much fun. Anyway you’d be missing the great views across to Point Lonsdale and the Mornington Peninsula.
7.704 km / 4.787 mi
26 m / 85 ft
25 m / 82 ft
20 m / 64 ft