Bicycle Network: Where to Ride
- Jon Miller
A quiet tour of Melbourne's "other" peninsula
View Tour - Bellarine Peninsula Circuit in a larger map
The Bellarine Peninsula is an ideal bike-touring destination, with its beautiful beaches, quiet roads and flat terrain. It’s also easily accessible from Melbourne by public transport.
This is an easy weekend ride of 110km around the perimeter of the Bellarine Peninsula. It starts and finishes at Geelong station with the overnight stay at Queenscliff. Apart from the first few kilometres around Geelong, it is all on quiet roads. There are a lot of small towns dotted around the coast providing plenty of opportunities to buy food and refill water bottles; there’s no need to carry much with you at all.
After getting off the train at Geelong. Ride south east across the car park and follow your nose to Malop Street. This is one of Geelong’s busier streets, especially on a Saturday morning with many shoppers in cars looking for parking spaces. When you get to the end of Malop St at Eastern Park, turn right on to Garden St then the next left on to Ryrie St and follow this east as it leaves Geelong.
Ryrie St sometimes carries a bit of traffic but there is a nice wide shoulder for you to ride on so it shouldn’t bother you too much. The traffic is decreasing all the time the further you ride out from Geelong. By the time you reach Drysdale, most of the cars will have gone elsewhere.
Around the Coast
There are a few cafes in Drysdale which make it a perfect morning tea stop. Continue along the Portarlington Rd from Drysdale, but before you get into Portarlington itself, turn left on to Point Richards Rd and follow this to the coast. The coast road undergoes a few name changes as it winds around through Portarlington, Indented Head and St Leonards. It is variously called Boat Rd, The Esplanade and Bluff Road. Just stay as close as you can to the water and you can’t go wrong. This is one of the prettiest parts of the ride. There are many quiet picnic spots nestled amongst the trees in the foreshore reserves with striking views across the bay just begging you to stop. All of the towns have shops where you can pick up supplies for a picnic, of course, you can bring things from home as well.
Just after leaving Indented Head, Bluff Rd takes a sharp turn inland and soon joins up with Murradoc Road. Take the first left on to Queenscliff Portarlington Rd and follow this south until it meets the Bellarine Hwy which you then follow all the way into Queenscliff.
Staying at Queenscliff
The Queenscliff YHA hostel is a good place to stay. It’s in a magnificent historic building in Hesse Street. It has single and double rooms as well as the traditional dormitories. Alternatively, there are many other places to stay from the caravan park to hotels, guest houses and B&Bs. There’s no shortage of restaurants in town either including a very good one attached to the hostel. Queenscliff has galleries, museums and quirky shops to keep you occupied if you have time in the afternoon. There’s also a community market held on the last Sunday of every month.
The Southern beaches
The next morning, head back west along the Bellarine Highway and take the Point Lonsdale Road to the left. Turn right almost straight away on to Lawrence Road then follow the signs through Ocean Grove and Barwon Heads. Either of these pretty seaside towns make a good lunch or morning tea stop. Or just pick up some supplies for a picnic on the beach further on.
Barwon Heads and its bridge were famously used as the location for the television series, SeaChange shot and aired in the late 1990s. The Barwon Heads bridge is very narrow and as it is the only crossing point of the Barwon River south of Geelong, it carries a lot of traffic. Fortunately, most drivers don’t try to force their way past riders if there’s insufficient room.
Turn left as soon as you’ve crossed the bridge and take the detour up to the lookout on the Bluff overlooking the heads. Then head west along Thirteenth Beach Dr – named for its proximity to the golf course’s thirteenth hole. There are many access points to the beach along this stretch if you want a break and also sweeping views over Bass Strait to the south.
Back to Geelong
Thirteenth Beach Dr leaves the waterfront and comes to a cross-road with a lone wind turbine on the left. Turn right here up Blackrock Rd and follow this over Barwon Heads Road. There’s a picnic area where this road ends on the shores of Lake Connewarre which is a good place to stop for lunch. It’s a large, shallow inland lagoon and the largest area of remnant vegetation in the Bellarine Peninsula. One hundred and forty-nine bird species have been recorded here and there are often thousands of ducks and swans to be seen.
From the picnic spot, you have to backtrack a short way to Lake Rd where you turn right (west) and follow this to the Barwon Heads Road. Right again here and follow the road back into Geelong for the train home.