22 Jul 2021
Ok, so you’ve watched the Tour de France and now you’re feeling inspired. You may already have a road bike or you may not, either way you’re keen to hit the saddle and explore.
While it’s courting controversy to create 'best of' lists for cyclists, if you’re looking for adventure beyond your regular coffee spin, here’s a state-by-state list of the best places to ride your road bike in Australia!
The Adelaide Hills
There’s a reason they hold the Tour Down Under here every year, and a reason why the world’s best pros use it as a training base for a few weeks either side.
With miles of rolling hills within 15 minutes of the city centre, the ease at which you can be transported to cycling nirvana has been a worst kept secret for years. Add cute hills villages, delicious bakeries and dare we say pubs, and you’ll start to believe the hype.
To begin, the ascent of Norton Summit is a must-do, and gets you to the gateway of what the rest of the hills have to offer. From there, it’s up to you how high and how far you go.
As far as guides go, there’s none better than local blogger and YouTuber James Raison, aka Ride Adelaide, who has put together this list of awesome Adelaide Cycling Routes. Cycling Tips magazine editor Matt de Neef has also done a very good job on his own site, The Climbing Cyclist. Check out his guide to Cycling in the Adelaide Hills.
Victorian High Country
WHERE TO STAY: Discovery Parks - Bright
This is as close as you’ll get to the European Alps without leaving Australia. Home to the annual Three Peaks Challenge, the surrounding towns of Bright, Falls Creek and Hotham have long been mecca’s for adventure-seekers, meaning cyclists here are no exception.
Aside from the epic ‘3 Peaks’ event, one of Australia’s most challenging mountain-top rides is here, called the Queen Victoria Loop. Although at 250km and a massive 4,500m of elevation it’s far from for the faint-hearted, there are plenty of ways to skin a cat. In other words, even as a novice rider, you’ll find a million ways to spark joy here.
Check out Ride High Country for an awesome summary of available routes, or for some visual inspiration, check out this Cycling Tips video from a few years ago.
The Great Ocean Road
Arguably Australia’s most famous coastal road, the Great Ocean Road is officially a 243-kilometre stretch between the Victorian cities of Torquay and Allansford.
Dotted with beach towns, surf spots and legitimate tourist attractions - including the iconic 12 Apostles National Park - the most popular section for cyclists is undoubtedly the 45 kilometres between Lorne and Apollo Bay, where uninterrupted views of the sea await.
Host to Cadel Evan’s Great Ocean Road Race every year, the ‘People’s Ride’ is well worth getting some miles in the legs for. Climbing Cyclist Matt de Neef once again offers a great summary of his personal experience here, and this article by the The Great Ocean Road Collective covers off everything you need to know before you set off.
The Tasmanian East Coast
Although heralded as home to one of the country’s premier multi-day cycle tours, Tasmania remains seriously underrated when it comes to its status as a cycling destination – just ask Richie Porte!
Boasting a diverse landscape, temperate climate and quiet country roads, the opportunity to ride from rugged coastlines to golden farmland and then up dramatic mountainscapes in the same day is not to be sniffed at.
As one of the world’s last truly wild reserves, cycling in Tasmania can be tough, especially when headwinds kick up, but the end result is always rewarding. Travelling Two’s blog about their experience in Tassie more than covers this off and is an excellent resource when choosing a one or multi-day ride.
The Snowy Mountains
WHERE TO STAY: Discovery Parks - Jindabyne
Don’t let the name intimidate you, the Snowy Mountains network of roads offers a peak cycling experience for riders of all levels.
Navigating their way through the stunning Mount Kosciuszko National Park – Australia's highest point – the Snowies has a range of exhilarating descents, false flats and undulating switch-backs that'll keep you entertained for days.
The area also plays host to one of Australia’s most popular cycling events, L’Etape Australia, which has managed to attract some of the world’s best in a short period of time. The Climbing Cyclist has again provided an excellent summary of riding in this area, and even made the below video which he posted to YouTube back in 2015.
Cook Highway, Cairns to Cape York
WHERE TO STAY: Discovery Parks - Townsville
Far North Queensland’s answer to the Great Ocean Road is this 1600km tropical stretch from Cairns to Cape York. Offering spectacular views of rainforest-covered hills, sandy beaches and the bluest of blue water, it’s best taken on as an out-and-back from Palm Cove, where you can avoid traffic-laden north-bound roads.
A cyclist called Jon Miller completed the entire 1600km stretch some time in 2014, which you can read about here. He breaks down each section of the journey in detail and gives tips on how to survive that common cycling combination of sand, mud and crocodiles!
You can also watch this video posted by Cyclist magazine in 2013, which they called ‘Riding the Reef.’
NEAREST DISCOVERY PARK: Discovery Parks – Rottnest Island
Before you scoff, islands like Rottnest are gold dust to cyclists: limited traffic, freedom of the road and infinite views to sea. Easily completed in just a few hours, Rottnest is primarily flat, making it perfect for beginners, too.
Reachable by express ferry from Fremantle and Perth, cars are NOT allowed on the island. This means you can explore its historical sites, shaded cafes and tranquil bays at your absolute bike-loving leisure.
For a suggested cycling itinerary, check out the Uncool Cycling Club’s blog, which includes an encounter with Quokkas (of course).