Cycle Victoria, Road Ride, Traralgon to Tarra Bulga National Park
The ride up to this national park is quite testing, but will reward the rider with a sense of achievement and the chance to enjoy some great countryside, ranging from open farmland, with the dominating Loy Yang Power Station included, up to the temperate rainforest of the park. The ride is logged as separate there and back trips for those who can arrange to enjoy the park’s features without making the climb by bike and then take the exhilarating downhill back to Traralgon.
On the first part of the ride you may find yourself sharing the road shoulder with Loy Yang workers who choose to pedal out from town. If you do encounter any on the home journey you could be at serious risk of being passed by a determined homeward bound worker in high visibility safety clothing. After turning away from the power station the road gets quieter and narrower.
A word of caution about the rest of the ride. There are logging trucks operating in the area, removing damaged trees from the 2009 bushfires, so planning the ride for a weekend may reduce the likelihood of coping with these. In one way the bushfires have ruined the environment for the short term with dead trees and areas which have been clear felled. But the bare bones of the de-nuded hills have a stark beauty and the lack of leafy trees expands the wonderful views you get down into the valley below, particularly on the trip back down. The vista of the Latrobe Valley opens before you with its mix of industry and rural scenery.
Fortunately the area around Tarra Bulga was spared. The vegetation closes around you as the road gets twistier. You will find tall open forest on the hills and slopes and cool temperate rainforest within the sheltered gullies. The masses of tree ferns are impressive. There are several short walks from the visitor centre, including one to a suspension bridge which sticks out of the forest canopy. Maps and brochures are available at the centre. Bear in mind that the weather in the valley may be quite different to what you encounter up here. The forests owe their survival to the predominantly cool, moist conditions, which are not ideal for cyclists with only lightweight gear.
The ride back down could be very bracing. One can only wonder what the Polish explorer ‘Count’ Strzelecki and his party guided by Aboriginal guide, Charlie Tarra, endured as they cut through the thick scrub and tall timber of these ranges and eventually reached Western Port, wet, hungry and exhausted. Put those thoughts behind you for the exhilarating ride back down, but try not to let your admiration of the views reduce your attentiveness to corners.
Traralgon is on the Princes Highway about 160km east of Melbourne at RAC VicRoads State Directory map reference 98 A5. Alternatively V/Line trains on the Bairnsdale line from Melbourne stop at Traralgon several times daily.
Food and Drink
Plenty of choice in Traralgon around the start point. Food and drink is available at the general store just off the ride route at 13.1km. The tea rooms at Balook, about 100 metres past the park entrance are open weekends and public holidays.
Carry some walking shoes and take one of the excellent short walks in the national park.
Note: the car parking area is large and your trip meter will read differently depending how you ride around it, so zero your trip meter when you turn right out of the car park to return to Traralgon.
65.293 km / 40.571 mi
991 m / 3,251 ft
990 m / 3,249 ft
717 m / 2,351 ft