Sharpen your spurs and watch the trees
This month’s map is an extremely popular route that Melbournites would probably class as one of their best. The only downside is that the route is heavily policed at times, so you need to be on your game… so to speak.
The other thing you need to watch for are the tourists. The trees through the ‘Spurs’ seem to touch the sky and you’ll occasionally find a car on your side of the road, or you might even be distracted by the trees (I’ve done that) and be nearing the wrong side of the road yourself, which can be exciting. I based myself in Healesville to do this loop and found a really nice (and cheap) place to stay. It’s called the Healesville Maroondah View Motel. It doesn’t look like much from the roadway, but the rooms are freshly renovated, clean, beds comfy and the shower is hot – what more could you ask for! The other bonus of basing yourself in Healesville is the food. I managed to arrive over a long weekend and while most places were closed, the Grand Hotel on the corner of Green Street and Maroondah Hwy was open. The Grand serves excellent meals and the beer is nice and cold. For breakfast I would have gone to one of the many cafes but the trusty Beechworth Bakery was open and has nice coffee and plenty of food to fill me up!
Get your foodie fix in Healesville (just with less choice during public holidays). Healesville is a regional food and wine hub surrounded by stunning scenery. If you’ve got time take a look at the Healesville Sanctuary wildlife park. Get up-close-and-personal to 200 species of native animals and birdlife, and you’ll be able to identify roadkill at a glance.
You may have heard of some of the Healesville wineries, including Domaine Chandon, Rochford Wines and Coldstream Hills, and the approachable winemakers ensure a visit to the cellar door is both informative and entertaining.
Satisfying your appetite you’re spoilt for choice with gourmet pizzas various restaurants, cafes, or enjoying a feast at the gastro-pub that started it all, the Healesville Hotel – hatted by The Age Good Food Guide. And don’t forget the Grand Hotel and Beechworth Bakery!
For your pillion in a million or to pick up something special for your better half at home, there’s all sorts of local jewellery, pottery and glassblowing studios. Browse bargains in second-hand outlets, antique stores and bookshops, or check out the three different monthly markets to find handicrafts, local produce and clothing.
Fuel and just about everything else is available.
Having been devastated a number of years ago during bushfires, Marysville has rebuilt and is a lovely country town to visit. There’s some nice gourmet food places to grab some nice treats for a picnic. Kinglake is nearby, as is Lake Eildon.
Fuel is available.
Part of the Great Dividing Range, this is more a point to remember to turn, but you’re also up at 846 metres with some good views through clearings in the trees.
UPPER YARRA DAM
The uppermost point of the Yarra River accessible to the public. Carefully maintained gardens and picnic grounds, encompassed by eucalypt bushland and spectacular scenery, make visiting Upper Yarra Reservoir Park a memorable experience. To camp, you need to book with Parks Victoria - www. parkstay.vic.gov.au
Essentially you’ll zip past Reefton through the hundreds of great corners, but there is a pub if you need cold refreshment or a look at a range of Ducatis of varying ages.
Warburton is an attractive town on the Yarra River, nestled in a valley between heavily forested mountains, with a multitude of cafes and other eateries, many housed in buildings which date back to Warburton’s early beginnings as a mountain escape for Melburnians in the early 1900s. The Visitor Information Centre is a prominent landmark in the main street, featuring a large replica of a water wheel once used by the loggers.
The Yarra River through Warburton is lined with parkland. The Yarra River Walk is an almost 3 kilometre long pathway along the river through the town centre and past river crossings including the iconic swingbridge in Story Reserve.
The picturesque La La Falls are located off Old Warburton Road, south of the town centre. Access is via a 11/2 kilometre long track which follows the course of Four Mile Creek through the Yarra State Forest.
Fuel is available.
Yarra Junction gives you wonderful access to the banks of the Yarra River as you would expect from the town’s name. The Upper Yarra Museum is worth a look and is open on Wednesday and Sunday plus the third Saturday of the month. It’s the Old Railway Station so sits right on the Rail Trail. The Museum’s greatest treasure is the restored Heritage Station built in 1888 at Lilydale and relocated to Yarra Junction around 1915. It is a stunner; the fresh paint glistens and the new red oxide roof, chimney pot and fi nials all just glow. There is a working Blacksmith onsite that is open all weekend.
Fuel is available.For this route, more just a reminder that you need to turn right to head back up to Healesville, but if you’re hungry, grab a pizza at Woori Pizza Café. Woori Yallock also has fuel available.
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Distance – 130km Fuel – just about everywhere
Head north east out of Healesville on the Maroondah Hwy, through the Black Spur (watching the trees, you know) and once you’re about 25km from Healesville, turn right onto Marysville Road and ride into Marysville. If you already need a coffee, head to the Country Bakery, or the (less busy) café next door. Once you’re done, ride down to the roundabout and turn right onto Marysville-Woods Point Road. Follow this out around 19km and turn right at Cumberland Junction (Warburton-Woods Point Road). If you miss the junction you’ll hit gravel a couple of kilometres in, so turn around and come back.
Enjoy the ride down through the Reefton Spur (watching the leaf litter) and once you cross the Yarra River, veer to the right and follow the signs to Warburton/Melbourne. Follow this down to Warburton, Yarra Junction to Woori Yallock where you need to turn right on Healesville-Koo Wee Rup Road (Woori Pizza Café is on your right hand side at the lights).
Follow this all the way to the end, turn right and head back into Healesville.
There are two options along this route. The shorter of the two is the run to Upper Yarra Dam. The area of the dam has lovely camping grounds and picnic areas. This is only a couple of kilometre round trip back out to the main route. The second route effectively cuts the entire route in half and includes some maintained gravel roads. Acheron Way is the name of the road and where the main route turns right to go to Marysville, you need to continue to veer right, rather than left to jump onto Acheron Way.
Acheron Way is a very pretty road to take but is sometimes closed by snow in winter. You ride through the middle of rainforest and I imagine the Black Spur and Reefton Spur being very similar many moons ago before becoming ‘major’ routes.