Bicycle Network: Ride On magazine
Visiting Victoria's volcanoes
Coralie Jenkin details her six-day ride to see some of the volcanoes in Western Victoria
Six riders set out on Easter Monday to see some of the volcanoes in Western Victoria. We had a great time, not realizing that a volcano in Iceland would soon be the centre of world attention. The conditions for our ride were just about perfect: the weather was cool, and overcast with a little rain, the terrain was flat to undulating, the roads were sealed and there was little traffic. The distances were short, building up to the last day, but we could have increased our distance by taking various side-trips to lava blisters and other volcano related features.
Accommodation had to be booked in advance as little accommodation was available in the area outside Port Fairy and Hamilton. We prefer to stay in on-site cabins in caravan parks, as these are cheap, self-contained, and linen is supplied. Some meals had to be arranged in advance as there were few options in Macarthur and Penshurst. There were kitchens in all the places we stayed so we could have prepared our own meals.
DAY 1: We caught the early train to Warrnambool and stopped for lunch before heading for Port Fairy. There are various routes from Warrnambool to Port Fairy, including the Rail Trail and the Princes Highway (A1). We chose to ride north along the Caramut Road(C174), then turned left into Mailors Flat-Koroit Road (C183) and visited the Koroit cake shop before turning left into the Koroit-Port Fairy Road (C179), riding through Crossley (passing the church the local population recently saved). There was our first volcano, Tower Hill. Very impressive. A right turn on to the Princes Highway (A1) without much traffic, although we could have taken back roads. In Port Fairy there was plenty of choice for accommodation and meals, we stayed in a very pleasant caravan park and ate at the Star of the West Hotel. Distance: 35 kilometres.
DAY 2: A look at Port Fairy history before setting off after lunch for Macarthur on the Port Fairy to Hamilton Road (C184), 48 kilometres. Two nights were enjoyed at the Macarthur Park Cottages. No meals are available in Macarthur so you prepare your own unless you happen to be there when the Hotel is open for meals at the weekend or can make other arrangement in advance, which we did – we were treated to a wonderful dinner which was a highlight of our stay.
DAY 3: We rode to our second volcano, Mt Eccles, along the Mt Eccles Road, an 18 kilometre round trip, with a possible extra 40 kilometre side-trip to see the tumuli and lava blisters. We walked around the lake inside the volcano, one of many walks in the Mt Eccles National Park, marvelling at the beauty of the area, and later we had another wonderful dinner in Macarthur.
DAY 4: We continued along the Port Fairy to Hamilton Road (C184), turned right into Hamilton (A200), 38 kilometres. The alternative route was the Macarthur-Penshurst Road (C185) and the Mount Napier Road, but there was little traffic to worry us, although the main road through Hamilton was very busy. In Hamilton there was plenty of choice for meals (portions at the Caledonian Hotel were gigantic) and accommodation, we stayed in another pleasant caravan park. The people at the Tourist Information Centre were very helpful and we had plenty of time to see the sights of Hamilton including the Reg Ansett Transport Museum and the wonderful Art Gallery and Botanic Gardens.
DAY 5: To Penshurst: we could have taken the Hamilton Highway (B140), which had a lot of traffic, but we preferred back roads: through Hamilton on the Glenelg Highway (B160), turned right into George Street, the road took a left bend to become Mount Napier Road (we saw Mount Napier, Volcano 3); after 4 kilometres turned left into Pierrepont Road (hilly); after 7 kilometres at a ‘T intersection’ (road ahead unmade) turned right (Yatchaw Road, not signed); after 3 kilometres turned left into Twomey’s Bridge Road; after 2 kilometres the road forked, we took the right fork to Penshurst; after about 7 kilometres turned left into Burgers Road; about 3 kilometres later the road turned left into Macarthur Penshurst Road (C185), 9 kilometres from Penshurst. At Penshurst we saw Volcano 4, Mt Rouse, and visited the Volcano Discovery Centre. We stayed in the excellent Parkview Cottages, the only non-bed and breakfast accommodation between Penshurst and Koroit. The hotel has meals some nights, and there is a good café/antique shop.
DAY 6: To Warrnambool along the Penshurst-Warrnambool Road (C178) which turns left to Koroit (C183) (to the cake shop again) and turned right to Warrnambool (C174), 70 kilometres in perfect conditions, with a tail wind, little traffic, the road in good condition, and slightly downhill. We arrived in Warrnambool by lunchtime, so we treated ourselves to a nice lunch, visited the tourist sites in Warrnambool and caught the late train home.