THURSDAY OCT 1 / 2020 / by Andrew Talati

Blanket Hill north of Lake GlenmaggieBlanket Hill north of Lake Glenmaggie

The town of Bairnsdale has a population of 13000 people and a wider catchment area of close to 50,000, with all of the outlining areas coming into Bairnsdale to mainly shop

Clifton Creek rolling hillsClifton Creek rolling hills

Bairnsdale is the epicentre for a lot of riders come from surrounding region including Paynesville, Stratford, Sale, Metung, Bruthen, Nungurner, and Wyung which is part of the East Gippsland Shire.

Bairnsdale Bunchrides group St  Marys ChurchSt Marys Church Bairnsdale entranceSt Marys Church Bairnsdale wall frescosSt Marys Church Bairnsdale ceiling frescos detailSt Marys Church Bairnsdale opposite the water tower meeting point with the magificant celing frescos

A full week of rides

Bairnsdale hinterlandBairnsdale hinterland

The rides vary from some organised bunchies to more informal rides and 'out of towners' are always welcome.

8:00am, Masonic Lodge in Bairnsdale, ride 15-16kms to meet the second group at the carwash/bus wash in Paynesville at 9:00am and ride back for coffee to Bairnsdale. Usually they get 10 -20 riders and has been going for over 20 years, known as the Retired bunch.

No fixed ride - normally a ring-around 


Nicholson meet up point at the House, the pre-ride group Pre ride meeting up in Nicholson

Nicholson meet up point at the House, pre-ride group photoA large group before heading off in Nicholson

09:30am at the house of local Ross Wembridge, in Stephenson Road, Nicholson. Riding on basically the same course as the 2018 Australian Masters Road Nationals. Heading  towards Bruthen via Mossiface and returning to Nicholson via Tambo Upper.

Tampo Upper Stephenson Rd bridgeTampo Upper Stephenson Rd bridge

Either using Stephenson Road, or continuing on Upper Tambo Road to the Sandhills climb and passing through Swan Reach.

This ride often starts at 8:30am in Summer if hot weather is forecast. Usually with a huge bunch of 18 -22 riders and sometimes 26.

Bull Ant Brewery Bruthen GroupBull Ant Brewery Bruthen Group

They ride out to the Bull Ant Brewery in Bruthen, who look after them and set up the tables and have all the water out for morning tea and return back to the house for red cordial and cake for a kick around then onto Bairnsdale by midday.

Bull Ant Brewery Bruthen Many women join the ride including the 2 Sue's, Prue, Di, Mandy, it’s a big cycling community

05:00am meet Bairnsdale Bikes. The Friday Loop 


Bairnsdale, water tower meeting pointFront Left to right Chris, Warren (Lucky), Back left to right XXX, Stephen & Warren

Bairnsdale Bunchrides group at the water tower meeting pointBairnsdale water tower meeting point

7:00am - The Main Hotel opposite the Water Tower, average 30-35km/h - the fastest of week. Bunch usually numbers 8 to 14 riders, sometimes with a mixture of triathletes, who are on their tri bikes training for events and regular riders.
Some cyclists still ride but they are too old to race.

7:30am - average 27-28km/h - The Water Tower
8:00am - meet at the crossroads of Grandview & Paynsville Road and decide what to do, 25-26km/h. (All at different levels, speed, distance and experience)

8:00am Bairnsdale Water Tower - 35kms but is weather dependent

Long weekends There are many organised informal rides like the one that was organised on the Labor Day Long Weekend to Straton and catching the train back to Bairnsdale.

A community of aliens & Imports

Buchan Fish and chip shopBuchan Fish and chip shop

Its starts with many people visiting East Gippsland for holidays and discovering the region and how fantastic it is, 'we have to come here when we retire' with many from Morwell and the La Trobe Valley.

It's the good weather,  Gippsland Lakes, close to the snowfields, the beach, it's paradise, and great company as the group laughs, one rider John Dury bought a property without being to Raymond Island at Gippsland Lakes. As retiree's they have the flexibility to create their own rides during the week so with retirement comes benefits with organised rides on Monday and Wednesdays out to Stratford so it’s a very vibrant and active cycling area.

Aroma Coffee House Bairnsdale group Stephen on the left and Bob the surgeon on the right

Stephen Lightfoot from North Fitzroy was thinking of moving out of Melbourne as it was becoming quite hectic with 5 million people when and a nursing position became available in the local hospital 2 months ago Stephen just followed his head and moved east.

Really good people

Davies Knob en route DargoDavies Knob en-route to Dargo

It’s a great group, our groups are really good people and they are good socially.

Punching above their weight

The district has a heritage of great riders and punches above their weight for a small area with Daniel McConnell (From Bruthen) who is arguably Australia's greatest mountain bike rider competing in 3 Olympics and Commonwealth Games MTB Cross Country Bronze Medallist Charlotte McShane, 2013 World U23 Women Triathlon Champion.

Head for the hills

Bairnsdale Bunchrides Balfours Rd ClimbBalfours Rd Climb

Bairnsdale Bunchrides Balfours Rd Granite Rock Balfours Rd near Granite Rock

On the windier days the bunches head for the hills which literally start on the other side of the river (north of the main township), they are not mountains but just hills.
Alternatively you can choose to ride the flats and head south of the main township.

The E-Bike attacker

An older gentlemen sits behind on the back of the bunch, punching along at 55km/h then as then on his E Bike wanting to pinch the KOM (King of the Mountain) moves up to the front.

We have fantastic rides here

Licola East GippslandLicola East Gippsland

Chris was saying that you can have a different 50km - 100km loop every day of the week, hills (more rises as they are not big mountains so more lumpy), flats and by the water.

Different Circuits

Flat: The Lower Goon Nurecircuit (around 55kms); Wattle Point (55kms)
Hills: Flaggy Creek Loop with a couple of hills with short, sharp climbs is about 70kms if you do 2 laps. Fingerboards (85kms), Walshes Cutting (100kms)
Hilly: Clifton Creek loop,(40kms), Bruthen return  (90kms)

Bairnsdale Bunchrides back of Granite RockBack of Granite Hill - en-route to Clifton Creek

Point to point - Buchan to Orbost (120kms); Heyfield to Licola (110kms).
Big days out: Dargo return (180kms); Traralgon or Morwell by train and ride back (140 to 160kms)

Coffee shops

Aroma Coffee House BairnsdaleAroma Coffee House & Eatery - Bairnsdale

Dargo Hotel - Bairnsdale-riders Dargo Hotel

There are no shortage of places to get the caffeine fix post ride

Bairnsdale Cycling Club

One of Australia's oldest cycling clubs circa 1896.

The Australian Masters Road Championships

In October 2018 the Gippsland Lakes District of Metung, Swan Reach and Paynesville held the prestigious Australian Masters Road Championships for the first time. It is awarded to Australian cities and towns  including South Australia in 2019 covering McLaren Vale, Willunga and Adelaide city.


Rolling Hills en-route to Clifton CreekRolling Hills en-route to Clifton Creek

When riding out of town it's important to take plenty of water, there is limited water available in Dargo or with a bit of local knowledge finding the water tanks at the local football ovals, or knocking on a local farm house door as everyone laughs.

Supporting the region

Wy Yung property in East GippslandWy Yung property in East Gippsland

Eat.Drink.Gippsland - a 140 page A5 printed guide to Gippland’s best food and drink showcasing wine touring routes, town guides, farm gates maps and stories featuring the regions inspirational food and drink experiences. - supporting businesses effected by the fires

East Gippsland Rail trailEast Gippsland Rail trail underpass in Bruthen that runs back to Bairnsdale and onto Nowa Nowa to Orbost