Because Cowes can be reached by public transport and there is a bike shop in the main street hiring bicycles, this ride, and all the others based at Cowes, could be done by visitors without their own bikes and has the advantage of passing several of the island’s attractions.
After riding out of Cowes through farmland the first of these attractions you come to is the Koala Conservation Centre. This center was established in response to the reduction in the island’s koala population due to disease and road deaths. Elevated treetop boardwalks allow close viewing of koalas and other animals in the reserve, including wallabies and echidnas.
The ride then continues to loop through low, rolling hills towards Rhyll. The separate bike path continues on past the conservation center. If you use it you cross to the other side of the road after about 500 meters. You have to also cross Back Beach Road and continue straight on the path until you get to the Rhyll turn off to the left after another 900 meters. Unless you are into fishing you won’t find a great deal of interest in Rhyll township but the saving grace is that there is a coffee shop.
The seascape around the jetty and the memorial to George Bass, who sailed through here in 1798, is quite restful. After leaving Rhyll you pass the car park for the Rhyll Inlet reserve which protects coastal wetlands popular with migrating birds. If you have a mountain bike you can ride in or do a short walk to one of the lookouts with views across Western Port Bay. Further on is the northern car park for Oswin Roberts Reserve. There is good riding in here if you have a mountain bike, or a short walk into it might reward you with a koala or wallaby sighting.
The remainder of the ride takes you back through the outskirts of Cowes to the jetty where you started. Nothing much to see on this section but you may be looking forward to some sustenance from one of the many eateries in the main street. Once back at the jetty you may wish to explore further cycling options or take one of the boat trips which can be booked at the office beside the car park.
Cowes, on Phillip Island, is less than two hours from Melbourne along South Gippsland and Bass highways, then taking the San Remo turnoff. The town is at RACV VicRoads State Directory map reference 95 E9. There is all-day parking in Bass Avenue behind the bicycle shop in the main street (Thompson Street).
By public transport catch the Stony Point train from Frankston station then the ferry to Cowes.
Food and Drink
Plenty of eateries in Cowes, and a coffee shop and general store in Rhyll. There is also a café in the Koala Conservation Centre.
Ride straight on at 8.4km for the Vietnam Veterans Museum after about 4km for displays and details of Australia’s involvement in the war in Vietnam.
- 0.0 Start ride in car park at Cowes Pier. Bear right out of car park, then turn left into the main street (Thompson Ave). Ride up main street in marked bicycle lane.
- 0.3 Straight on at roundabout.
- 0.5 Straight on at roundabout.
- 0.9 Straight on at roundabout.
- 1.8 Straight on at roundabout. There is a sealed, separate path from here to 7.5km if you want to keep away from traffic.
- 3.7 Straight on.
- 5.3 Straight on.
- 6.0 Koala Conservation Centre on the left.
- 7.5 Straight on.
- 8.4 Turn left, signposted Rhyll.
- 13.4 Turn right on to Lock Rd.
- 14.2 Keep right. Coffee shop on the right hand side.
- 14.4 Keep right past jetty car park. Toilets in back of angler’s clubrooms on the left.
- 14.9 Turn right along Walton St.
- 15.2 Turn left into Lock Rd. General store on the left.
- 15.5 Straight on.
- 16.8 Entrance on right to Rhyll Inlet reserve.
- 18.2 Car park on left for northern entrance to Oswin Roberts Reserve.
- 19.3 Turn right at roundabout into Coghlan Rd.
- 20.1 Turn left at roundabout, signposted Settlement Rd.
- 20.3 Straight on at roundabout.
- 21.8 Turn right at roundabout into marked bicycle lane.
- 22.2 Straight on at roundabout.
- 22.4 Straight on at roundabout.
- 22.7 Turn right at T-intersection, then bear left into car park.
- 22.8 End of ride.
22.563 km / 14.02 mi
248 m / 815 ft
244 m / 800 ft
59 m / 193 ft