Don’t let the climbing put you off this ride. Train for it if you have to, because it is just such a fantastic ride, with mountain scenery that would challenge anything in the Alps. The scenery changes from the pasture shaded by magnificent red gums in the Victoria Valley to rugged bushland on the other side of the Serra Range, always with the ranges as a backdrop.
The Southern Grampian ranges are the setting for this ride, so not surprisingly there are a number of significant climbs to be covered. The well-trafficked roads have room for cyclists and the others are lightly frequented country lanes.
This area is not nearly as busy as the Northern Grampians, but during holiday periods the Grampians Rd will have a bit of tourist traffic on it.
Dunkeld is situated 80 kilometers southwest of Ararat, the closest railway station) at the southernmost point of the Grampians. Experienced riders could start from Ararat, stay overnight in Halls Gap and undertake the ride from there. The start of the ride is from the car park in front of the hotel in the main street on the Glenelg Hwy. VicRoads Map: 509 M3.
Food and Drink
Dunkeld caters well for tourists with a range of eateries. These include the award-winning hotel, but if you wish to eat there you will need to book. You will need to stock up on water and food here as there is only bush and farmland in front of you.
For those wishing to extend this ride, you could start in Ararat. Closer to Dunkeld there is a circuit to Cavendish along the Victoria Valley Road left down the Victoria Point Road left into Mokanger Road and then returning along the Dunkeld Cavendish Road.
The ride commences at the Tourist Information Centre opposite Memorial Park. You head east for 500 meters and turn left at Templeton Street heading toward Mount Sturgeon. When you reach the intersection with the Grampians Road go to the left. This will take you through a small pass down onto beautiful farmland that fills the Victoria Valley between the Victoria and Serra Ranges.
This is a part of the Grampians that a lot of people do not see and although it’s not as spectacular as Wonderland and the other sites near Halls Gap, it is very peaceful and panoramic. You can stop at the public hall along here for a toilet stop or a detour off to Cavendish about 30km away. The road continues to meander up the valley with magnificent gums infilling the views across the ranges.
Eventually, the road sweeps up to climb over the 442-meter pass and then down into the valley that runs between Halls Gap and Dunkeld. Get down into your lowest gear and just take it at a steady pace. You may wish to stop at the crest for a rest and a short climb up to where you can make the most of your vantage point on top of the range. Look out for wildlife, wildflowers, cockatoos, and eagles. Enjoy the sweep down into the valley; there are more hills to come, but they won’t be so steep. Turn right at the Grampians Road and see the tarmac stretching away down this magnificent valley. You may notice the regrowth from the terrible fires that swept the area in 2006. There are two small climbs and descents before you hit the last big climb up the lower side of Mt Abrupt.
You might want to stop along here to try out some of the walks in the area and soak up this incredible country. Otherwise, it’s down the hill, left turn back onto the road you came out on, over the creek and back into town. Stay another day and do the ride in reverse for another take on the magnificent Southern Grampians.
- 0.0 The ride starts outside the hotel in the main street. Further down the road are all the amenities you could require at the shops, tourist information center and the Memorial Park.
- 0.4 Turn left at Templeton St following the sign to Halls Gap.
- 8.2 Here you will come across the Freshwater Lake Picnic Reserve that has a fireplace and picnic tables.
- 11.6 After the Victoria Valley Community Hall the road narrows to a small country lane and varies in width down the valley.
- 19.3 At the junction with Victoria Point Rd follow the main road to the right.
- 27.5 The road veers to the right and is signed to Halls Gap.
- 29.1 There is a road off to the left; stay right.
- 34.2 You finally reach the saddle over the range through Mirranatwa Gap.
- 36.4 At the valley floor you come to a T-intersection, turn right heading back to Dunkeld. This is the busiest section of road.
- 45.0 Tucked in behind the bushes is a wayside stop with a picnic table.
- 61.1 Turn left to Dunkeld and back into town on the route you came out on.
- 64.0 Ride ends.
64.15 km / 39.861 mi
587 m / 1,925 ft
586 m / 1,922 ft
439 m / 1,439 ft