Melbourne, Victoria Highlands & the great ocean road

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19-28 April 2024 (10 days / 9 nights)

We’ve found the perfect balance for those who like to ride bikes and for those who would rather visit markets, art galleries, cafes, restaurants & wineries.

Your one job is to enjoy a hassle-free holiday. We’ll take care of everything else.

Ride Holidays cycling tours are achievable for anyone who rides a road bike as we offer multiple distances each day. Simply ride as far as you want. Think of the best day you’ve ever had on a bike and times that by 10!

Our trip starts in Melbourne before driving north for 5 nights, up to the Victoria Highlands – Arguably the best place to ride a bike in the whole of Australia. Here you can challenge yourself and ride all 5 iconic High-Country summits. Mt Buller, Buffalo, Hotham, Falls Creek & Tawonga Gap.

This tour, like all other Ride Holidays adventures, will provide a dedicated non-riders program with your own vehicle and guide. (Katrina Mills) Team Mac highlights include the Italian cooking class at the Pizzini Winery located along the famous Prosecco Road as well as the High-Country Maze gardens.  

Our last 3 nights are spent on the Great Ocean Road in Torquay, where riders join 3500 friends cycling the Great Ocean and Otway Classic. It’s one of the best Fondo’s in the country and we can’t wait. There are 3 distances to choose from. 60, 145 and 204km.

Our journey finishes back in Melbourne. One of the world’s best cities and well worth an extra couple of days. Drinking coffee, wandering… maybe even a show or 2.  

Melbourne, Victoria Highlands & The Great Ocean Road Tour Details

Tour Inclusions & Highlights

  • 1 night – Melbourne Airport, 5 nights Victoria Highlands, 3 nights Torquay
  • Tour leaders – Karl Woolcott and Dean Mills
  • Meals as per the itinerary
  • Local guides who know every nook and cranny
  • Separate itinerary, vehicle and guide (Katrina Mills) for Team Macchiato. (non-riders) Italian Cooking Class, Wine Tasting all included.
  • This trip is designed around 25 cyclists and 6 staff.
  • Multiple support vehicles, trailers (allows flexibility)
  • Cycling snacks on the road
  • GPS routes available for upload to personal devices
  • Fondo entry and cycle jersey (which you wear on Fondo day)
  • Multiple ride options for varying abilities
  • Ride Holidays cycle jersey and souvenir tour booklet

The Tour Price Excludes

  • Airfares
  • Meals not indicated in the itinerary.
  • Alcoholic beverages
  • Travel insurance (Please note that because we are riding in an event the majority of travel insurance policies won’t cover that. Karl will give advice on this as we have an arrangement with CoverMore)

    The Tour Cost

    • 10 days / 9 nights $NZD5600.00 per person 
    • Want your own room? Single supplement $NZD980.00 
    Bike Hire (Standard Road bike, we assume that everyone will bring their own)
    • Hybrid e-bike (Merida eSpresso 300) NZD$900.00

    The cost for non-riders is the same as for cyclists. We pay for a lot of your winery lunches, entry fees etc etc.

    Deposit & Balance terms and conditions. The initial deposit is $750.00 per person. The balance to be paid 90 days prior to departure. At which stage we strongly suggest that you have travel insurance in place.

      Tour Itinerary

      Day 1, Friday 19 April

      Welcome to Melbourne

      We look forward to meeting you at Melbourne Airport which is where our hotel is conveniently located. Feel free to arrive at any time. If you arrive early, then it’s not a bad idea to pop into the city for the day.

      Late this afternoon we’ll help assemble the bikes. For those hiring – we’ll make sure that you are comfortable. The airport is fairly busy, so we’ll limit our ride to around the carpark. Purely to find those nasty little mechanicals that may pop up. (Oh, please watch out for cars. And planes)

      This evening is our welcome dinner. Most of you will know each other so it will be like a reunion. Dean and Karl will introduce the team and then run through the plan for the next 10 days. Yes, you are now officially on holiday.

      Welcome to Melbourne. Thank you for joining us!!

      / Accommodation: Holiday Inn Melbourne Airport
      / Meals: Welcome Dinner  

      Day 2, Saturday 20 April

      High Country, here we come

      5am yoga. Nah – just kidding. We’re on holiday. That said, we want to be on the road by 9am. It’s a short three-hour transfer to Mansfield – our home for this evening. While the team unload the bikes and luggage, you can relax as we’ve organised lunch.

      This afternoon your choices are:

      • Bring it on! 32KM Mount Buller ascent/ descent. Max distance 80KM with approx. 1200VM. (This is our opportunity to see who has followed the training program)
      • Van it one way.. Hop in the vehicles to the base of the climb. After climbing Buller, we ride the 32KM back to the hotel. Total distance 64KM. This sounds like a good option for day 1.

      Anyway – totally up to you. We’ll have 3 or 4 options. Ranging from 40 to 80km.  

      About the climb: from the tollbooth in Mirimbah to Mount Buller Village is Approx. 16 kilometres long with an average gradient of 6.2% of spectacular High-Country scenery. Make sure you leave something in the legs for the final kilometres aptly named Hell Corner.  It’s the steepest part of this climb at a 13% gradient. (False Flat)

      Plenty of elite athlete’s train on this mountain. Fancy a crack at Simon Gerrans record? Hmmm, maybe on an e-bike? His 39 minutes and 50 seconds is yet to be beaten.

      Team Macchiato (non-riders) – While the cyclists head up the mountain, you are in for a real treat. The High Country Maze, Gardens, Gallery & Café is a must see! A labour of love has transformed this into an amazing space complete with two established mazes, labyrinth, beautiful walled gardens, giant topiaries & sculptures, lawn games and of course, a gnome hunt! On the way back to Mansfield we will stop at Delatite winery. Renowned for producing one of the best Riesling in the area.

      / Accommodation: Mansfield Motel
      / Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

      Day 3, Sunday 21 April

      The Prosecco Road

      After a leisurely breakfast we ride out along the King Valley “The Road to Prosecco”. In 2000, Otto Dal Zotto planted the first prosecco vines in the King Valley and not long after, the other King Valley winemakers followed suit – Brown Brothers, Chrismont, Pizzini and Sam Miranda. Luckily for us, in 2011 all five joined forces and created the prosecco road food and wine trail.

      The whippets amongst us can have a crack at the whole 170km. Which takes us all the way to Bright and our home for the next 4 nights.

      We see the majority of riders picking the nicest 100km and going with that. Yes, there will be shorter options. Lunch is at the legendary Milawa bakery.  

      So, just to recap… You can choose 43, 68, 100 or 170km. Just raise your hand when you’ve had enough.  

      Team Mac- We drive through the amazing King Valley onto Beechworth for a tour of the old Gaol. The Old Beechworth Gaol is one of Australia’s most significant post-European cultural sites. It's role in the chain of events that led to the execution of Ned Kelly is significant as it housed Ned’s mother, Ellen Kelly, many of the Kelly sympathisers and Ned himself, alongside his brother Dan and the rest of the Kelly gang. Let’s explore more of Beechworth with a spot of retail therapy followed by lunch. Last stop is the Brown Brothers winery for a tasting. With its beautiful, lush gardens, it’s one of Australia’s leading family-owned wine companies with experience in crafting wine since 1889.

      Dinner will be at the fabulous than the Bright Brewery. We’ll catch up with Team Mac when they arrive.  

      Welcome to the Victorian High Country.

      / Accommodation: Alpine Hotel Bright
      / Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner 

      Day 4, Monday 22 April

      Mt. Buffalo and the long lunch

      The stunning ascent of Mt. Buffalo is among the most enjoyable Victorian High Country climbs. Approximately 21KM in length with an average gradient of 4.8%. Explorers Hume and Hovell named the mountain in 1824 because of its supposed resemblance to a reclining buffalo.

      Starting early from our hotel it’s a short 14km to the official start of the climb.  When you reach the crest and drop-down (a little) to the shore of Lake Catani, there’s only a little further to go. Riders would once have turned left and headed to the now-disused Chalet, but these days there’s ‘just a little bit more climbing up to the checkpoint at Dingo Dell where the cafe holds refreshments, and perhaps a little more breakfast.

      The entire climb – and descent – offer some absolutely stunning vistas across the Ovens Valley.

      Team Mac: You will set off again before the riders and head straight up to the top of Mount Buffalo for your guided history, heritage and environmental tour. At the summit of Buffalo, there is an amazing (45min return) walk up to the highest point…“The Horn”. You walk along the sheer wall of China before ascending on a stone shelter that’s perched atop of the cliff overlooking the magnificent views of the divided range. 

      This afternoon we will head to the award-winning winery Gapsted Wines for a long lunch to celebrate our achievements. Established in 1996 with six wine families coming together to produce some of the best Australian cool climate wines such as Prosecco, Pinot Grigio, Sangiovese, Fino and Barbera. You will have the chance to try them all with our private wine tasting over our long lunch. You can’t go past the High Country Tempranillo.  

      / Accommodation: Alpine Hotel Bright
      / Meals: Breakfast & Lunch (Dinner Own Arrangements)

      Day 5, Tuesday 23 April 

      The Munta! - Hotham

      Team MAC – A taste of Italy

      Yep, this is the big one. Each year we bring a team of wannabe legends to Falls Creek for the Peaks Challenge. The complete course is 235KM and 4500 Vertical meters in 13hours. Mt Hotham makes or breaks them.

      Luckily, we only have an out and back with no time limits so let’s take in the sights. Starting from Bright it’s a cruisy 22km before we arrive at the base of the climb. That’s when it starts going skyward. Sitting at 1862meters, some of the 18% pinches can feel a little unrelenting in parts but like Falls Creek the 4% average gradient is more than doable. The reward is the amazing views while ascending out of the head of the Ovens Valley and climbing up Victoria’s highest sealed road.

      Anyone wanting a little more KM’s and vertical can continue over the top and descend to Dinner Plain for a coffee or coke before returning. Just remember, you will need to climb back up to the village before the 30km descent. Like all days, we will have the van close.

      On our way back to Bright, we will make a small detour to the historic township of Wandiligong. Established in the 1850s during the Victorian gold rush and is home to the largest apple orchards in the Southern Hemisphere, not to forget the iconic Wandi Pub.

      Team Mac - What better way to spend a day in Bright with an authentic private Italian cooking class. It will be a hands-on class with fool proof methods of making beautiful, silky pasta and pillow-like gnocchi before sitting down for a lunch. Starting with coffee and biscotti and finishing with a traditional desert, it truly will be a fantastic experience.

      / Accommodation: Alpine Hotel Bright
      / Meals: Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

      Day 6, Wednesday 24 April

      Tawonga Gap & Falls Creek

      Staying in Bright, we're spoilt for choice. Today we ride one of the easier alpine climbs in the area - Falls Creek. Standing at 1750meters above sea level this climb offers breathtaking views over the 30kms from Mount Beauty. The distance makes it a daunting climb, but the 4% average gradient definitely takes the sting out of the legs. The climb can be broken into 3 sections, with the almost 6% for the first 10km, undulating middle, and the final 4km pinch from the tollbooth. You know you’re almost there when you turn the corner and see the village in the distance.

      But wait there’s more. If the 60KM up and down is not enough, why not ride from Bright over the iconic Tawonga Gap before descending into Mount Beauty, grab a caffeine hit then tackle the Falls Creek ascent. You can always catch the van home.

      If you choose to return by bike (highly recommended as we have a day off the bikes tomorrow) then you easily rack up 120km and well over 2000 vertical meters for the day. Please keep in mind that we may bring in random drug testing for those who ride the espresso distances.

      We have plenty of options today and all roads finish at the Bright Brewery. Why wouldn’t we?

      Team Mac:  Today you will follow the riders on part of today’s route up to the Tawonga Lookout where we will organise a Team photo before stopping in Mount Beauty. This small town lies alongside the Kiewa River and sits at the base of the Falls Creek ski resort. Several trail walks are on offer today along with a soap making workshop at Gather & Harvest. Their retail space is full of beautiful lifestyle products that are carefully sourced from small local produces through to ethical and sustainable makers across the globe.

      / Accommodation: Alpine Hotel Bright

      / Meals: Breakfast & Dinner (Lunch own arrangements)

      Day 7, Thursday 25 April

      Macedon Ranges, on the way to the beach!!

      After 5 days in the hills (mountains) you deserve a day of the bike. Which is just as well, today is our only long transfer day for the whole trip. (About a 5-hour drive)

      We say goodbye to our Mountain paradise and head towards the Great Ocean Road and the town of Torquay where we spend the last 3 nights of our journey together.

      Perfectly positioned at about the halfway mark is the Macedon Ranges. A region of nine historic and creative villages linked by stunning backcountry vistas. The plan is to stretch the legs and have a bite to eat. We really want to show you Hanging Rock. Which, funnily enough – is a rock formation that looks like they’re hanging.  

      Torquay is a seaside resort, 21 km south of Geelong facing the Bass Strait. It is the gateway to the Great Ocean Road. Our accommodation for the next 3 nights is stunning, and all the rooms offer views of the big blue beyond. (Like that?)

      Our aim is to arrive mid-afternoon. At some stage we’d like to have a look over all the bikes before sitting down to a group dinner. We are also conscious that it’s Anzac Day so closer to the time we will see what is happening. Maybe a dawn service in Bright. We will see.

      / Accommodation: Wyndham Resort Torquay

      / Meals: Breakfast & Dinner

      Day 8, Friday 26 April

      Exploring the Great Ocean Road

      Options galore. Keep in mind that tomorrow is a big day. By this stage of the trip, we’ll be asking you what you want. Flexibility is key.    

      Our suggested day…

      Starts with an early coffee ride. No more than 90mins. We’re picking that there will be thousands of other cyclists looking for the same thing.

      This is where you have some decisions to make.

      Some of you will no doubt want to relax. You may be happy just chilling until the Fondo Expo, registration opens. You’ve also got a 5km beach to walk.

      The energetic plan involves joining Team Mac. It’s about a 2-hour drive to the Twelve Apostles. On the way home they’ll stop in Lorne for some retail therapy and a late lunch. Today is really the only chance for Team Mac to get on the Great Ocean Road. Tomorrow it will be chocka with cyclists… oh, that’s us. Can’t wait!!

      The above Team Mac plan isn’t a short day. It’s 4 plus hours of driving, shopping, eating, and drinking. Yes, you’ll be back for dinner but not by much.

      / Accommodation: Wyndham Resort Torquay

      / Meals: Breakfast (Lunch & Dinner Own Arrangements)

      Day 9, Saturday 27 April

      Great Ocean Road & Otway Classic

      The Great Ocean & Otway Classic Ride is one of Australia’s premier and most spectacular rides, attracting riders from both Australia and from around the World. The 145km ride features over 90km of road closures through the picturesque farmlands of the Otway ranges to Lorne and then back along the famous Great Ocean Road to Torquay.

      Starting and finishing in Torquay the event takes in 90km of road closures with the highest standard of event management by O2 Events. The ride is supported by police (including motorbikes), extensive traffic management, and medical, mechanical support & entertainment.

      Spectacular scenery along the course with the opportunity to stop in the townships of Moriac, Deans Marsh and along the Great Ocean Road at Lorne, Aireys Inlet & Anglesea. Optional timed climb of the 12km Benwerrin Climb in the Otways for the 145km participants.

      There’s also a 204km option that starts at 6.30am and a more relaxed 60km which gives you the chance for a 2nd cup of coffee before jumping on your bike.

      Team Mac – given that a lot of the roads are closed we see today as a local day. Maybe a nice long walk on the beach. I’m sure loved one would appreciate your support at the finish line.

      Tonight, we celebrate over a glass of champagne. Today’s awesome ride as well as the amazing 9 days we’ve had together. It’s been a fantastic journey – showcasing the very best of what Victoria has to offer.

      / Accommodation: Wyndham Resort Torquay

      / Meals: Breakfast & Dinner (Lunch as part of the Fondo)

      Day 10, Sunday 28 April

      More time in Melbourne?

      After breakfast we head back to the Melbourne. It will be a reasonably early start as we still need to pack up our bikes.

      Here are your options…

      Fly home – if you are going to do this then please don’t book anything until mid to late afternoon.

      Stay another night at our airport hotel. This is where our bike bags will stay while we’re on holiday.

      Or, head into the city and carry on with your holiday.

      Anyway, thank you. Thank you once again for trusting Ride Holidays. It’s been a fantastic trip. Let’s do it all again next year.

      Safe travels home…


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