Cycling Mount Dandenong

View from Sky High

We are very fortunate to live so close to Mount Dandenong which is a hill just over 600m high to the East of the Melbourne CBD. The various hills in the range form the Dandenong Ranges National Park, the ranges are mainly covered in large trees and ferns forming a ‘temperate Rainforest’ (stole that definition from wikipedia).

Chicken Parma
Parma at Pig and Whistle Tavern

There are a number of roads that criss-cross around and over the hills with some great climbs (then descents) in lovely scenery. There are a few little villages dotted around with some pubs, restaurants and cafes; at the Pig and Whistle Tavern as well as great parmas (Australian “classic” which is schnitzel with tomato, cheese and ham on – just realised now it is a schnitzel pizza…) you can get Old Speckled Hen, London Pride and other English beers. I’ll go through the main cycling climbs on Mt Dandenong and throw in some pictures too.

1 in 20

So called because it’s average gradient is ~5% this is a steady climb of ~8km up from Basin it is very steady most of the way and i haven’t really found that there is a major kicker when the gradient gets much steeper. There is one false flat section where the gradient levels of a bit (not completely) it is easy to push it too hard on this section and then burn out before the top. As the road zig-zags up the hill via a few hairpins i always think i am getting to the top a few turns too early and realise i have another few corners to go. There are markings on the road at each kilometre marking how many are left and each 100m for the last half km so i should have no excuse for thinking i am nearer to the top than i am.

This climb can get quite busy with cars (as well as bikes) at times so best to hit it early in the morning, as it zig-zags quite a lot some drivers get inpatient and overtake at less wise points so it is best to keep your whits about you. I am not a great fan of the descent, some of the corners are quite damp and they are not as easy to see through – then again i don’t come down this way as often so i might just not be as used to it.

The Wall

I have only ridden up The Wall twice so far, it is around the other side of Mount Dandenong so not as easy to get to without having already ridden over the top having done another climb already to get to Monbulk. The approach to the base is not that nice along quite a busy  road, although the descent from Kallista is good fun. I accidentally ended up riding down the wall one morning whilst exploring random roads so go to see it the other way the first time.

It is quite a tough climb that is easy to push a bit too much at the bottom leaving for a gruelling final steep section. It starts off quite steep then before the hairpin levels off a bit for the next stretch, then after a left hand corner it gets to the steepest part. At the next right hand corner the road levels off a bit followed by a final steep ish section before finishing at 2-3% where you emerge in the town of Olinda.

Devil’s Elbow

Churchill Road - Devil's Elbow
Churchill Road – Devil’s Elbow

This is probably the toughest climb of those listed here, the Strava segment actually starts on the main road before turning into the South West end of the Tourist road, this then follows its way up the hill via 2 hairpin bends where the gradient doesn’t ease up. After the hairpins and a turning to the right the road becomes a bit less steep for a slight rest bite. Turning left into Churchill Road you can be fooled into believing that the climb is over but this part seems to drag on for a bit before a down hill section up to a junction with One Tree Hill road. This section is a bit lumpy but not too bad. I am not really sure where the segment officially ends so just keep pushing before there is a downhill section back to the main Tourist road again.

There are quite a few variations that all end up doing the Churchill Road and One Tree Hill section, including Satan’s Elbow and a brutal climb up Hughes Street. I will hopefully write about some of these climbs up from Fern Tree Gully in another post.

Montrose to Skyhigh

View from Sky High
View above the cloud at Sky High

When i first moved to Croydon i started on this climb initially using the Hybrid bike which felt very strange with flat bars. I find the approach to this climb along the Mount Dandenong Road takes quite a lot out of me before i even to into the climb itself. The route up stays at a steady gradient of around 4-5% but it is probably one of the busiest roads up although it is also a lot wider. The ride up to Kalorama is quite uneventful, there is a false flat just before Kalorama for a brief recovery here it is also possible to turn off and ride on a few steeper back roads to mix things up a bit. At Kalorama you turn off to head up Ridge road towards SkyHigh, this section get really steep but it isn’t constant with a few small downhills too. The final pinch up Observatory road to the Sky High restaurant really takes it out of me but the views from the top are worth it.

This route is quite a common descent and it great fun, the section from Kalorama down as smooth flowing corners with good visibility and also great camber. In the dry it is quite easy to head down here without the need to brake at all!

Inverness

I have only ridden this once so far and although short it is probably the steepest climb i have completed so far on Mount Dandenong. I think the easiest way to get there is to descent it first and then turn around at the bottom. It is quite narrow in some places (single track road with passing spaces) so you have to watch out for cars coming up so i didn’t go too quickly. The ascent is hard from the start going straight up the side of the hill, the road then turns to the left, still ascending but traversing the side of the hill. The road then turns to the right for the a few hundred metres of steep section with a final kicker at the top before joining the main Tourist road again.

Inverness, 1 in 20, The Devils Elbow and The Wall form part of the Crucifix challenge, hopefully i will be able to have a crack at time some day soon.

Perrins Creek

Perrins Creek
Perrins Creek Climb

This is a very quiet route hidden away in the trees and ferns it has been¬† described to me as the “classic” Mount Dandenong scenery and it is very enjoyable to ride. The road is surrounded by ferns and the large trees that dominate the Dandenong park. It isn’t too long or steep although it is a climb of a few parts; the first half is quite steady and very consistent, then before the hairpin the road gets steeper. After the hairpin the road levels off a bit as it climbs the other side of a creek, there is a final steeper bit just before joining the main Tourist road. I do really enjoy this climb mainly due to it being so quiet, it is very easy not to see anyone else at all on it.

The Crescent

The Crescent starts from the same places as the Perrins Creek climb above, after going over a small bridge the climb starts, at this point it isn’t too steep and quite pleasant. Although in a similar place to Perrins Creek it doesn’t feel quite as isolated as there are houses beside the road most of the way up. The steepest most challenging part it about half way up through 2 tight bends where the gradient gets to 5-6%, this then spits you out on to a straight residential street with a fairly consistent ~4% gradient. The road levels off towards the top of this before you rejoin the main Tourist Road that run along the top of the hill.

 

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