Cycle Victoria, Sightseeing Ride, Corio Bay to Hovells Creek Ride
This ride could well be described as a thorn between two roses. The roses being Geelong waterfront in all its splendour and seaside frivolity on one side and the tranquil naturalists’ haven of Hovells Creek on the other. In the middle, looming large and ugly is the industrial powerhouse of Geelong. Giant silos, woodchip mountains, mammoth warehouses and miles of pipes and chimneystacks that are the Shell oil refinery. Throw in a rail trip most of the way home and you’ve got a great ride.
This route covers different territory on largely level ground. In Geelong it’s a well used shared pathway. After Rippleside you’re into heavy industry, with roads and unkempt footpaths that are an alternative to the heavily trafficked roads. At the Lara end, the ride is on a quiet purpose built shared trail.
On the weekends you can expect the Geelong section to be busy. During the week it will be trucks through the industrial section. Weekends are best.
Geelong is 75 kilometres south west of Melbourne on the Princes Freeway. Coming through North Geelong turn left onto Bell Parade and follow it around onto The Esplanade. Turn right at the Bellarine Street lights and immediately left onto Eastern Beach Road. At the top of the hill cross over Garden Street into the Eastern Gardens and then left onto Eastern Park Circuit. After the Botanical Gardens entrance and the toilets turn right into the Geelong Play Space car park. VicRoads Map: 454 D4.
Food and Drink
There are numerous eateries in the first section of this ride. After that it’s slim pickings all the way to Lara.
You could head off in the other direction and do Bellarine Rail Trail Ride.
The first four kilometres of this ride are covered in Geelong Corio Bay Waterfront Ride, but briefly there is a lot happening on the Geelong waterfront. You start with commanding views across Corio Bay to the You Yangs, which is the general direction you are headed in. The bayside riding starts at Eastern Beach and heads past the fishing and sailing boats toward Cunningham Pier and then to Rippleside Park.
After Rippleside it’s away from the sea for a short period before you come down to St Helens Beach where you will always find people fishing. Not too much further on and you’re in the ‘thorny’ section, commencing with the giant silos that store grain for export from the wheat farms of western Victoria. This part of the route is not well supported for cyclists and you’re on badly signed, pretty scrappy footpaths, although it fits well with the ‘heavy metal’ environment you’re in.
As for the scenery, for some of us there is a fascination with the snaking railway lines and the towering monuments to our modern industrial world. The rest of you may just want to get through it. This occurs at the Shell refinery pier where you arrive back at the side of the bay. It’s not long before you’re on a proper path and the refinery is on your back shoulder with only Limeburners Bay and the creek estuary in front of you.
Along here you pass by the enormous grounds of Geelong Grammar School of Prince Charles – Timbertop fame. Shouldn’t all schools be like this! Apart from the stench from the local tip when there is a westerly breeze, this is an almost sublime location compared with what you have just ridden through. The bay and wetlands framed by the You Yangs on the horizon are densely populated with wetland birds.
All you need to do is sit for a while and you’ll appreciate this. You can also explore the Western Wetlands walking trail that runs off the trail. This is an internationally important coastal wetlands system and many endangered bird species live and breed here. Soon you’re coming into Lara and a short train ride back to Geelong North where you retrace your route back to the start.
21.361 km / 13.273 mi
133 m / 438 ft
145 m / 476 ft
28 m / 91 ft