This ride could well be described as a thorn between two roses. The roses being Geelong waterfront in all its splendor and seaside frivolity on one side and the tranquil naturalists’ haven of Hovells Creek on the other. In the middle, looming large and ugly is the industrial powerhouse of Geelong. Giant silos, woodchip mountains, mammoth warehouses and miles of pipes and chimney stacks that are the Shell oil refinery. Throw in a rail trip most of the way home and you’ve got a great ride.
For some more pedaling, you could head off in the other direction and do Bellarine Rail Trail Ride.
This route covers different territory on largely level ground. In Geelong, it’s a well used shared pathway. After Rippleside you’re into heavy industry, with roads and unkempt footpaths that are an alternative to the heavily trafficked roads. At the Lara end, the ride is on a quiet purpose-built shared trail. On the weekends you can expect the Geelong section to be busy. During the week it will be trucked through the industrial section. Weekends are the best.
Geelong is 75 kilometers south west of Melbourne on the Princes Freeway. Coming through North Geelong turn left onto Bell Parade and follow it around onto The Esplanade. Turn right at the Bellarine Street lights and immediately left onto Eastern Beach Road. At the top of the hill cross over Garden Street into the Eastern Gardens and then left onto Eastern Park Circuit. After the Botanical Gardens entrance and the toilets turn right into the Geelong Play Space car park. VicRoads Map: 454 D4.
Food and Drink
There are numerous eateries in the first section of this ride. After that, it’s slim pickings all the way to Lara.
The first four kilometers of this ride are covered in Geelong Corio Bay Waterfront Ride, but briefly there is a lot happening on the Geelong waterfront. You start with commanding views across Corio Bay to the You Yangs, which is the general direction you are headed in. The bayside riding starts at Eastern Beach and heads past the fishing and sailing boats toward Cunningham Pier and then to Rippleside Park.
After Rippleside it’s away from the sea for a short period before you come down to St Helens Beach where you will always find people fishing. Not too much further on and you’re in the ‘thorny’ section, commencing with the giant silos that store grain for export from the wheat farms of western Victoria. This part of the route is not well supported for cyclists and you’re on badly signed, pretty scrappy footpaths, although it fits well with the ‘heavy metal’ environment you’re in.
As for the scenery, for some of us there is a fascination with the snaking railway lines and the towering monuments to our modern industrial world. The rest of you may just want to get through it. This occurs at the Shell refinery pier where you arrive back at the side of the bay. It’s not long before you’re on a proper path and the refinery is on your back shoulder with only Limeburners Bay and the creek estuary in front of you.
Along here you pass by the enormous grounds of Geelong Grammar School of Prince Charles – Timbertop fame. Shouldn’t all schools be like this! Apart from the stench from the local tip when there is a westerly breeze, this is an almost sublime location compared with what you have just ridden through. The bay and wetlands framed by the You Yangs on the horizon are densely populated with wetland birds.
All you need to do is sit for a while and you’ll appreciate this. You can also explore the Western Wetlands walking trail that runs off the trail. This is an internationally important coastal wetlands system and many endangered bird species live and breed here. Soon you’re coming into Lara and a short train ride back to Geelong North where you retrace your route back to the start.
- 0.0 The ride commences in the Play Space car park beside the botanical gardens. Leaving the car park turn left onto the path riding toward the botanical gardens.
- 0.3 Cross the road in front of the botanical gardens and follow the path on the right of the road.
- 0.4 Dismount at Hearne Pde and cross over onto the footpath going to the right.
- 0.5 Take a sharp turn onto the path that leads down the hill. If there are lots of pedestrians about you may need to walk your bike down. Go around the fountain, down beside the pavilion to the beachfront going around to the left. Follow the path alongside the beach.
- 1.3 Cross over the entrance to the car park and the yacht club following the path alongside the fence to Eastern Beach Rd where you will continue right along the shared footpath.
- 1.4 As you pass by the end of the yacht club, take the diagonal route toward the Fisherman’s Pier Restaurant. Passing the restaurant, turn right heading down to the waterside.
- 1. 6 Turn left heading alongside the waterfront in front of La Parisienne Restaurant heading toward the visitor information center.
- 1.9 Turn right following the wharf and again left coming toward Cunningham Pier. Cross over the pier and continue on between the toilets and the water.
- 2.3 Having just passed the skatepark the path leads onto the road going in front of the boat builders.
- 3.9 You have arrived at Rippleside Park. Follow the path to the left across the park to the car park and pavilion on the other side.
- 4.1 You come to the car park. Turn left on to the road and ride up the small hill beside the Rippleside Quay development doing a sharp right turn at the top onto Liverpool St and then left onto Balmoral Crt.
- 4.5 Turn left at the T-intersection into Victoria Ave and then immediately right into Holden Ave. Just before St David St cross the road and head down the path to St Helens Park passing the toilets into the car park, which you will cross. On the other side pick up the waterfront path again.
- 5.5 You come up a slight incline. Go around the yacht club building and head up the steep entrance track. Turn left onto Mackey St and then right onto McLeod St. Follow that around to the left passing beside the Geelong Export Terminal.
- 6.4 You have come to the intersection with Corio Quay Rd. Turn right onto the footpath, crossing various factory entrances, and Langdon St. From here the path crosses some railway lines and some more factories including the Corio Quay facility entrances. Take care of all of these.
- 8.8 Once again you have a clear view of the bay at the North Shore foreshore reserve. Cross over onto The Esplanade bike lane and continue following the road around the point.
- 9.6 Cross over Sea Breeze Pde and head again into the heavy industry zone following the road around to Seabeach Pde.
- 11.1 Turn right here onto the footpath, or if the traffic is light, take the road. This will take you to the Shell oil refinery pier where the road meets the bayside again. Follow the road around alongside the bay.
- 12.7 Turn right into the car park and immediately left onto the trail path. From here on it’s smooth sailing.
- 13.5 Follow the path to the right alongside Foreshore Rd and Geelong Grammar School until you arrive at the Corio Bay Yacht/Sailing Club car park, which you head through finding the Hovells Creek Trail.
- 17.3 The trail branches here. Take the path to the right.
- 19.2 The trail passes under the freeway and comes up to Rennie St, which you cross and turn right. Follow the Hovells Creek Trail path up the hill to the left rather than following the road.
- 19.8 The trail heads between the houses and the creek. Continue on as it veers to the right following the railway line into Lara.
- 21.2 Follow the path around to the left and cross over McClelland Ave before the railway crossing onto the path leading to the station.
- 21.3 You’re at the station and it’s about a 15-minute ride back to North Shore Station on the train. Leaving the North Geelong Station walk your bike across the Princes Hwy crossing and head down Victoria St until you come to Balmoral Cres where you should be able to retrace you route back to Eastern Gardens adding another 4.8 kms to the ride.
- 26.1 End of ride.
21.361 km / 13.273 mi
133 m / 438 ft
145 m / 476 ft
28 m / 91 ft