The Bellarine Peninsula is a popular riding area for cycling and this section follows much of the scenic coastline as well as farmland. The view from Murradoc Hill across Corio Bay is a reward for the climb between St Leonards and Drysdale. The cafes along the way also offer plenty of refreshment with pleasant views across Port Phillip Bay. The ride commences in the center of Drysdale. Drysdale is also the starting point of the enjoyable Bellarine Steam Railway that runs to Queenscliff.
You can also extend the trip by commencing the ride in Geelong and ride down the Geelong Portarlington Road, which has a wide shoulder. Alternatively the Bellarine Rail Trail, also coming from Geelong, crosses this road five kilometers from Drysdale. Those not wanting to ride the hills could just ride between St Leonards and Portarlington.
The ride is along sealed roads with a few hills on either side of Drysdale. The section of road from St Leonards to Port Arlington along The Esplanade follows the coast on the level ground alongside a coastal path that is not as yet very suitable for bikes. This area has many commuters to Geelong as well as being a popular tourist destination. The roads can be busy, particularly between Drysdale and Portarlington during peak periods and on weekends.
From Geelong, take the Geelong Portarlington Road (C123). Drysdale is 18 kilometers from Geelong via Leopold. The ride commences at the car park at the pedestrian crossing in Drysdale. Vicroads Map 530: E8.
Food and Drink
There are many places along the route where there are cafes, restaurants and other shops, particularly in Drysdale, Portarlington and St Leonards. There are a number of wineries with restaurants toward the end of the ride just out of Portarlington.
The ride starts heading east out of the town into the surrounding countryside and some rolling hills with great views of Corio and Port Phillip bays. Just before Portarlington, there are a number of vineyards, some with restaurants, although you may want to come back later as a reward for your efforts. The route rolls down the hill into Portarlington and a left turn takes you down to the foreshore and past the jetty. Here fresh mussels can be purchased and you could take your time for a spot of fishing.
On the foreshore ‘hill’ there are plenty of public facilities with a nice view of the You Yangs across Corio Bay. Across the road, there are cafes, the hotel, and other shops. It is here that a coastal track commences that hugs the foreshore along this section. Unfortunately, at this time it is mostly rough and sandy, but the road is close by and a pretty good alternative. From Portarlington the road follows the coast, taking you through Indented Head where there is a general store.
From there the road heads toward St Leonards, the site of the “Sea Change” local pub, where you will find similar facilities as in Portarlington, including an inviting jetty. All along this section, there are numerous barbeque, toilet, and playground facilities. After leaving St Leonards, the road turns away from the coast and heads back to Drysdale across farmlands. Just as you are leaving St Leonards, you will find the entrance to Edward’s Point Wildlife Reserve, which stretches down to the coast, and the Port Phillip Heads Marine National Park. The park has an easy self-guided walk over flat, sandy terrain.
Take some binoculars to watch the abundant birdlife and activity on the bay. From here, the road slowly begins to rise and heads up to the top of Murradoc Hill after crossing the Queenscliff Portarlington Road roundabout. A two-kilometer detour to the left halfway up the hill will take you to an olive grove down the Soho Road. After cresting the hill and taking in the views, you can coast down to Drysdale turning left at the roundabout to end your trip.
- 0.0 At the start, leave the car park using the pedestrian crossing and head east.
- 0.1 Go through the roundabout slightly to the right down Collins St to Portarlington.
- 9.5 After you have come into the outer areas of Portarlington turn left at Sprout St and head down the hill to the foreshore.
- 9.8 When you reach the foreshore turn right through the car parking area that is Pier St. Heading along here you will come to the jetty. Turn up the hill and almost immediately left onto The Esplanade which will take you up the hill on the foreshore. You will see the pathway on you left and if you and your bike are up to the rough track you might want to follow it.
- 15.9 Turn left, taking care where the Esplanade meets the Portarlington-St Leonards Rd.
- 17.0 You arrive at the Indented Head general store to stock up on supplies.
- 20.8 You arrive at St. Leonards for the last main food and drink stop off before returning to Drysdale.
- 21.5 There are more toilets and BBQ facilities here as well as small wetlands you might want to explore.
- 22.4 At this point the road climbs up to become Bluff Rd heading away from the coast, so enjoy the last lookout.
- 24.0 You will be passing Edward’s Point Reserve and you may want to stop to explore this special place.
- 25.8 Bluff Rd meets the aptly described Drysdale – St Leonards Rd so turn left for the inland section of the ride.
- 28.9 This is a major roundabout with the Portarlington-Queenscliff Rd so take care. At this point, the road starts its upward climb over Murradoc Hill.
- 30.9 You might want to take a short detour left down the Soho Rd where you will find a winery and an olive grove that are open during normal weekend times.
- 32.1 Finally you crest the hill with views of Corio Bay ahead on your right. It’s just about straight downhill to Drysdale from here.
- 35.3 Turn left at the roundabout and 100 meters down you will return to the start.
- 35.4 Turn left back into the car park and the finish.
35.482 km / 22.047 mi
270 m / 886 ft
270 m / 885 ft
130 m / 427 ft