This ride joins two seaside towns which are bustling in season, but passes through peaceful areas of remnant bushland and wetlands. Starting at Cowes, which has numerous options for accommodation and eating (and bicycle hire at the bike shop in the main street), it is a great ride for bush lovers who want to get a feel for Phillip Island pre-development. There are information boards, rest spots and lookouts along the way so you may want to have a good look around and a picnic.
This would be a good ride for kids who can handle a geared bike. There are some short climbs which can be walked without any great loss of time if necessary. After leaving the retail delights of Cowes behind you ride through farmland alongside the busy main road.
The first attraction is the Oswin Roberts Reserve which has a network of shared trails through remnant, precolonial forest. Spend time in the reserve and you will see birdlife, wallabies and perhaps even koalas. A prime reason for this area being conserved is to act as a habitat for koalas, which are under threat on the island because of habitat destruction, road deaths, and disease. The tracks are for walkers as well as cyclists so take care. The main track you ride on is reasonably flat and wide, but towards the north and west, the other tracks become a bit hilly and rougher.
From this reserve you ride over boardwalks into the Conservation Hill Reserve which takes you through wetlands and has a couple of good observation points where you can look out over the coastline and surrounding country. This area features mangrove wetland habitat and is home for part of the year of various migratory birds. There are a number of information boards along the way which provide you with information on the area. Conservation Hill itself does require a short, sharp climb but it is short enough to be walked if you run out of puff or gears. After leaving the reserve you ride around the wide, grassy foreshore reserve in front of a row of unfenced houses, with good views across to South Gippsland. This is a public thoroughfare.
The destination of Rhyll has a memorial on the foreshore to George Bass, who sailed into Western Port Bay in 1797. It is now popular with sailors and fishermen, and for those seeking to get away from busier Cowes. You can get refreshments on Beach Road around the foreshore or at the general store along Lock Road. This is the most direct route back to Cowes but can be busy in season.
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
Ample choice in Cowes’ main street otherwise there is a coffee shop, bar/restaurant and general store in Rhyll.
Do a circuit of the Oswin Roberts Reserve. At 5.3km continue on the sealed path to get to the Koala Conservation Centre and, if you have kids with you, the A Maze’n Things Park for activities such as maxi-golf and a maze. At the end of the island, you can see the very popular nightly penguin parade.
- 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 the 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 then veer on to path beside road.
- 5.3 Cross road and ride down gravel road straight ahead (Harbison Rd).
- 6.2 Turn left off road into Oswin Roberts Reserve, signposted to Rhyll Inlet via Oswin Roberts Reserve.
- 6.3 Ride along track beside information shelter.
- 6.5 Keep left on track
- . 6.6 Keep right on gravel track.
- 7.6 Follow yellow arrow around to right.
- 8.5 Keep right, signposted Rhyll Inlet via Conservation Hill.
- 9.4 Cross road on to path on other side. Boardwalk commences.
- 10.0 Keep left past viewing platform, then in 50m ride straight along car park access road.
- 10.2 Turn left at car park on to path signposted Rhyll Inlet and Observation Point Lookout.
- 10.8 Turn right at boardwalk intersection. Boardwalk on left takes you down to a mangrove inlet in 100m.
- 11.0 Lookout on right.
- 11.1 Turn left, following black arrow.
- 11.6 Straight on.
- 12.2 Continue straight on to grassed foreshore reserve on other side of car park.
- 13.1 Ride straight on to road.
- 13.3 Ride straight on to path along shoreline. There is a coffee shop and bar/restaurant on the road on the right (Beach Rd).
- 13.5 Ride to right across car park. There are toilets at back of angler’s clubrooms.
- 13.6 Ride ends at Rhyll jetty
Photo Credit: Image from Visit Melbourne.
13.351 km / 8.296 mi
135 m / 442 ft
129 m / 422 ft
58 m / 191 ft