One of our physically tougher rides, Chain Breaker a good outing in winter, offers great views of the city and suburbs.
On the face of it, you wouldn’t think this 12-kilometer ride, in the oldest section of the Dandenong Ranges National Park, would take more than an hour, but the climbs mean it is tougher than it looks and it can take twice as long. It is a great training exercise for city dwellers working on their climbing muscles, with lots of shade.
Once you reach The Boulevard, you are in for a gentle downhill run, of almost exactly the same distance as the previous climb, with views of Ferntree Gully. Then it’s the second climb up Arbor and View tracks. We broke a chain not far from the base of Arbor Track, resulting in a fairly long push back up The Boulevard to Belview Terrace. Really, View should be called Phew Track – you are a legend if you make it without pushing, with much depending on whether there is a gravel-free line up the hill. If you decide it all sounds too much, you can continue up Belview Terrace, rather than turning off on The Boulevard, and use Macedon Track to avoid View almost completely. Chandlers Track takes you along a ridgeline before another descent towards the park boundary.
Don’t get distracted by the views as the track is rough in places. Ramu Avenue takes you back to Belview Terrace, which is much more fun going down than up, but watch for people walking.
Chain Breaker starts with a 1.7km climb featuring three switchbacks that can destroy any momentum you might have left by the time you get to them. Fortunately, most of the tracks are smooth, wide and well drained. Belview Terrace starts off fairly gently but has some steep sections covered with loose gravel. There is a bit of a roller coaster ride along Hansen and Mystic tracks before the last big climb up Tysons Track to the One Tree Hill Picnic Ground.
- Car: This ride is located in Upper Ferntree Gully, about 40km (30 minutes’ drive) from Melbourne. From the Burwood Highway in Upper Ferntree Gully, turn left onto Mount Dandenong Road (C415) and park in the Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground’s bottom car park (Melway 74 H5) near the electric barbecue and shelter.
- Train: From Upper Ferntree Gully station follow the Belgrave Rail Trail but head up Mount Dandenong Road to the left, rather than continuing up the rail trail, and watch for the Picnic Ground car park on the left.
Food and drink
Upper Ferntree Gully has a weekend market, hotel and a wide range of food outlets, including the highly recommended Hahndorf’s Fine Chocolates café, while the Ferntree Gully Picnic Ground is a nice spot for a barbecue. There is also café in the former Parks Victoria visitor center.
There are a wide variety of walks leading from the car park, including the Kokoda Track Memorial Walk and 1000 Steps path – relax there’s actually only 770 steps, although Parks Victoria is talking about adding some to the Lyrebird Track.
- 0.0 Reset your computer at the picnic shelter closest to Upper Ferntree Gully and ride downhill on the bitumen path. Turn right at the bottom and go around the emergency access gate onto Belview Tce.
- 0.2 Ignore School Track.
- 1.7 Turn left onto The Boulevard.
- 2.4 Bear right on Feather Track, just after the gnarly Lantern Track.
- 3.4 Near the gate, turn right uphill on Arbor Track.
- 3.6 Turn right up loose View Track.
- 3.9 Ignore Macedon Track on the right.
- 4.0 Turn left on Chandlers Track.
- 5.4 Turn right uphill at the Y-intersection on Hansen Track, before passing a bitumen access road to water tanks on right. Mt Dandenong is to the northwest.
- 6.5 Turn right on Mystic Track.
- 6.9 Ignore Tobruk Track on left.
- 7.1 Ignore View Track on right.
- 7.3 Turn left on Tysons Track.
- 8.0 Turn right, still on Tysons Track for final pinch.
- 8.4 One Tree Hill Picnic Ground. Follow the access road down to the gate opposite Hill St and bear right downhill on Ramu Track.
- 9.2 Ignore Outlook Track on right.
- 9.6 Turn left on Belview Tce, ignoring Link Track on left, plus Macedon and Stony Rise tracks on right.
- 10.2 Ignore The Boulevard on right and retrace your wheel tracks downhill.
- 12.0 Finish at the bottom picnic shelter
11.716 km / 7.28 mi
693 m / 2,272 ft
720 m / 2,361 ft
511 m / 1,675 ft