Ship Rock Roller

Cycle Melbourne, Mountain Bike Ride, Ship Rock Roller

This ride is pleasant in summer or winter with plenty of shade and no major climbs to stress out those who don’t like a vertical challenge. It is a real mountain bike ride that can be enjoyed even if you have limited off-road experience. Ferns grow in abundance on the Soldiers Road section and the Kurth Kiln picnic area is a very beautiful place to start and finish. This is a ride that will have you coming back to explore the area further.


When riding through the vast Kurth Kiln Regional Park trail network it is hard to believe its rather grim past as a centre of charcoal production during World War Two and as a forestry area before and after that period. The park is named after the kilns used to turn local trees into charcoal which was then used as fuel for vehicles when petrol was scarce during the war. The then Forests Commission used the area to provide work for returned servicemen after the war and, ironically, accommodated them in huts bought from the army. With the Yarra State Forest and Bunyip State Park nearby, this area around the town of Gembrook provided a large amount of timber. It wasn’t until the early 1980s that Kurth Kiln was redeveloped as a park with picnic spots, camping areas and horse riding facilities. Apart from the charcoal kiln the area is dotted with tourist attractions, not least of them Ship Rock and Ship Rock Falls.

The giant granite boulder seems to owe its name more to its size than its shape, while the falls are a pleasant walk downhill from the rock. Nearby Egg Rock is another giant boulder popular with rock climbers, although it is also home to a fire tower. Much of the former timber mill settlement of Beenak was destroyed by bushfires in 1926 but its cemetery and post office tree are in Beenak Road near Narrow Leaf Road. Three of the World War Two huts that were moved to Kurth Kiln after the war were destroyed in 1963 bushfires but four remain, beautifully restored by the Friends of Kurth Kiln to keep the area looking like a remote bush settlement. The group also has helped establish a walking track along the Tomahawk Creek. Camping here is pleasant thanks to the wood-fired barbecues and abundant animal life. It can get crowded on long weekends and school holidays and the toilet facilities are rather primitive.

For those looking for something a little more classy in the immediate vicinity, the Gilwell Scout Camp (ph (03) 5968 1284) has a range of accommodation available to make it possible to explore the vast local trail network in the area over several days.


Kurth Kiln Regional Park is about 55km east of Melbourne, Melway page 14 R10. Take the Warburton Highway (B380) to Woori Yallock and turn right on Lusatia Park Road, two kilometres after the roundabout, heading towards Hoddles Creek. Turn right at the T-intersection with Gembrook-Launching Place Road (C424) and follow it past Beenak Road to Soldiers Road. Turn right and follow Soldiers to the Picnic Ground Car Park. This carpark is on the left nearest to the intersection with Beenak Road.


Food and Drink

There is no food or drink at Kurth Kiln but Gembrook is just 10km south, or you can buy something from the shops in Woori Yallock on your way in.

Side Trip

The short diversion to Ship Rock at the 5.6km mark is well worth it if the falls are running, but watch the traffic on Gembrook-Launching Place Road.


Ride Log

  • 0.0 Start at the information board near the dam on the corner of Beenak and Soldiers roads. With the information board and dam on your right, turn right into Beenak Rd and cross the dam wall.
  • 0.2 Bear left onto the singletrack beside the road.
  • 0.6 Ignore Possum Track on your left.
  • 1.0 Ignore Manna Gum Track on left.
  • 1.7 Turn left on Monks Track and ignore all side tracks.
  • 3.0 Cross the dam wall.
  • 3.1 At the intersection turn right on Monkhouse Track and head up the hill.
  • 3.7 Go around the gate and turn right on Old Beenak Rd.
  • 4.4 Turn left onto Beenak Rd (there is singletrack on the left of the road in parts).
  • 5.6 Turn left onto sealed road (Gembrook-Launching Place Rd) and right almost immediately, back onto Beenak Rd. The entrance to Ship Rock Falls is a little further along Gembrook-Launching Place Rd, on the left, so disconnect your computer if you want to have a look.
  • 8.2 Turn right onto Soldiers Rd just after Escourts Track (alternatively, turn right onto Escourts Track. After a steep climb, it goes under powerlines and drops back down to Soldiers Rd. Turn right at Soldiers Rd, and add 0.2 to subsequent computer readings).
  • 9.3 Go straight through the intersection under the powerlines.
  • 10.4 Ignore Hunters Rd on the left.
  • 10.7 Ignore Tomahawk Valley Rd on the left.
  • 11.1 Singletrack begins on the left side of the road.
  • 11.9 Turn sharp right onto Spencer Track going downhill.
  • 12.3 Turn left onto Water Channel Track and ignore the next two tracks on the left.
  • 13.3 Turn left onto Gembrook-Launching Place Rd then right after about 75m back onto Water Channel Track.
  • 14.2 Follow track around to the right (tracks straight ahead and to the left have been closed).
  • 15.0 Go around the gate and turn right onto Scout Loop Track.
  • 15.6 Turn right onto Soldiers Rd.
  • 15.9 Finish back at the information board on the corner of Soldiers and Beenak roads
  • Trail map

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    15.161 km / 9.421 mi

    Total Distance

    429 m / 1,407 ft

    Total Ascent

    444 m / 1,457 ft

    Total Descent

    342 m / 1,122 ft

    Highest Point

    Ride type:
    Mountain biking
    Road riding
    Kid friendly
    Rail Trail
    Difficulty: Easy (Blue)
    Ride Duration: 1-2 hrs
    Fitness Level: Medium
    MTB Segment: flow
    Shared Bike Path - Paved
    Shared Bike Path - Dirt
    On-Road Bike Lane
    Off-Road - Fire Trail
    Off-Road - Rail Trail
    Off-Road - Single Track
    Off-Road - Downhill
    Mobile Coverage: Limited
    Estimated Distance: 15.4
    Elevation Gain: 375
    First Aid
    Bike hire
    Bike servicing
    Accessible by bike
    Accessible by car
    Accessible by public transport
    Accessible by shuttle / uber
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