This is a terrific ride which has some great downhills and big climbs as well as some gentle riding through the valleys, so even though it’s relatively short, it has its fair share of challenges. One very steep climb up Barges Track will have you thinking about mountain goat, not mountain bike, and if you’re like most people, you’ll be pushing your bike a good part of the way up. But this is all part of the experience and the bonus is, if you’re not gasping too much, you may even be lucky enough to cross paths, or at least hear a lyrebird, as they are native to this area.
Lyrebirds are extremely shy so if you’re traveling in a group and chatting away there’s probably no chance of ever spotting one. Take care on the downhills as the surface can be loose and the drainage cuts running across the tracks can launch you into space if you have some speed up. This ride travels along several stretches of unsealed public road and then winds its way along the western edge of the Silvan Reservoir. The trail then loops around Olinda on National Park service roads. These tracks are mostly for walking and cycling, however not all of the trails you see in this area are intended for cycling and penalties apply for breaking these rules.
Over 150 species of native and exotic trees can be enjoyed all year round but of course, autumn in this part of Melbourne is spectacular. The latter part of the ride which takes you through the arboretum on a well-surfaced road is especially enjoyable.
The trail is short and relatively gentle, but also offers good downhills and big climbs, including the very steep one up Barges Track. There are some parts of unsealed public road. Surface is loose when going downhill.
Access from Olinda, head east on Olinda-Monbulk Road. After about 1.5km, at the Olinda swimming pool, turn left on Woolrich Road and park at the Woolrich lookout car park overlooking the R.J. Hamer Arboretum.
Food and drink
At the start and end of the trip, you’re not far from several cafés in Olinda but take your own water and drink because there are no facilities on the trails. Hill climbing makes thirsty work. There are toilets and barbecues at the start.
It’s essential to stick to appropriate trails as the environment is particularly fragile and susceptible to damage. From time to time, trails are closed for regeneration so always observe trail closures. Parks Victoria publishes an excellent brochure on cycling in the Dandenong Ranges and this can be downloaded from www.parkweb.vic.gov.au. In addition to the trails which are designated for cycling use, the brochure includes useful information about appropriate riding etiquette and common-sense rules. Ensure you are familiar with the designated trails before setting out and make sure you stay on them. It’s only through the appropriate use of these trails that mountain biking in these magnificent parks will be sustained.
The ride starts from the car park of the R.J. Hamer Forest Arboretum. The original eucalypt forest in this location was destroyed by bushfires as were subsequent attempts to re-plant, but in 1970, the design for the arboretum was finalized and planting commenced.
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1,472 m / 4,829 ft
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