Cycle Melbourne, Road Ride, Silvan Reservoir
Join the hundreds of other cyclists who make their way up to enjoy Melbourne’s ‘mountains’ every weekend and experience a great variety of rides in and around the spectacular Dandenong Ranges National Park. On a good day you will appreciate why these roads are so popular, but be prepared for weather changes, typical of high country, and be especially careful on fire danger days, as this area can be prone to bushfires. The ride is based at the National Rhododendron Gardens in Olinda, which is an extensive garden with plantings of rhododendrons, azaleas, camellias, cherries and daffodils. Seasonal changes ensure the gardens are a delight all year around, but spring is the best time to visit.
There are short walking tracks throughout the gardens. It completes a circuit around Silvan Reservoir, from the start in Olinda, and then looping around Mount Evelyn to the north. The ride is entirely on road and is suited to experienced riders with reasonable fitness and confidence on busy roads. The roads are narrow and winding in parts and the traffic, especially on weekends, can be constant. Early morning or late in the day during daylight savings time are the best times to avoid traffic. The presence of many riders on these roads does reinforce in drivers’ minds the need to watch for cyclists, but do take care. Also on Inverness Road, which is quieter but narrow in parts with many driveways, you need to be alert and control downhill speed, as braking suddenly at speed can be eventful.
Although the ride is logged as starting in Olinda there’s no reason why you couldn’t drive to a start/ finish point almost anywhere on the loop. At its most northern point, the route intersects with the Lilydale to Warburton Trail (Ride 31) near Sourdough Café and on a fine Sunday, the café is a popular place with cyclists. If you haven’t already done the ride from Lilydale to Warburton, have a chat to those sipping their coffee after doing that ride; you’ll be planning it the following weekend for sure once you hear how good it is. If you’re contemplating a more leisurely day, consider driving to Silvan Reservoir to start and end the ride in the Silvan Reservoir Park.
There is ample parking with picnic and toilet facilities and there are also several walking tracks. Perhaps a picnic lunch after the ride would finish off a great day’s riding with friends. Work commenced on this reservoir in 1928 after Melbourne experienced water shortages. It has only a small catchment area but it contributed significantly to the city’s water supply when first built and today receives water from larger dams for transfer around Melbourne. The park is very attractive with a mix of native and exotic vegetation and views over the surrounding hills.
Food and Drink
You ride through several towns in this tourist area, so there are many places to enjoy coffee or a healthy lunch, including Olinda, nearest the start/finish. I can vouch for the baked lemon cheese cake at the Olinda Café and Produce Store, post ride of course. A café operates in the National Rhododendron Gardens during spring.
34.185 km / 21.242 mi
996 m / 3,268 ft
1,001 m / 3,284 ft
602 m / 1,976 ft