Posted On 25 May 2024
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This entry is part 8 of 25 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#33


The old joke that the best thing about Melbourne is the Hume Highway leading out of it is of course rubbish.

There are many terrific roads leading out of Melbourne…

When I lived down there, one of my favourites for a run was the Maroondah Highway. It leads to a wonderful variety of roads and byways that stretch all the way from the Princes to the Hume highways, and that wedge of country contains just about every kind of riding there is. Except desert, I guess.

This ride is a loop around Lake Eildon, and it starts and ends on Maroondah Highway at Ringwood – as good a place as any to begin or end any ride.

Just follow the Maroondah Highway out of town. It will take you out through Healesville, past the Maroondah Reservoir and then over a wonderful forest road to the Black Spur, past the Fernshaw Reserve.

Just over the other side of the range is Narbethong, with its motorcycle-friendly pub. If you have a bit of extra time, please take the detour to Marysville. In many ways the place has recovered from the disastrous fires, but it can still use a bit of help – and it’s a nice place anyway. Skip the big take-a number bakery on the corner and have your coffee at the pleasant small café next door.

Turn right at Taggerty and right again at the T-junction where you return to the Maroondah Highway, and then finally leave it just before Eildon, past Snobs Creek.

You’re on a terrific road through hills and valleys here, crossing the Big River (um, not all that accurately named) and finally reaching the Jamieson River and another T-intersection. Turn right for Jamieson, left for Howqua. That’s the way we’re going.

While I think of it, keep an eye out for moss growing on the road. It’s visible, although not easily, as a thin film of green.

I don’t know anyone who’s come off on this stuff but I have run my boots over it and found it noticeably more slippery than the unaffected road surface. As well as that, wildlife is pretty common out along much of this trip, and where it ain’t wild it can be tame: occasionally cows or sheep do get through the fences. These days I suppose we need to look out for llamas and such, as well. At night, you can add foxes to the list.

Just before the bridge over the Jamieson, there is a brewery on your left.

Yes, really. Called the Jamieson Brewery, it’s part of the Lakeside Hotel/Motel. It has some interesting beers, too.

We will, of course, eschew the consumption of alcoholic liquors and will instead continue north through Howqua and across the Blue Range to Mansfield.

This is a pleasant, spacious little town and here we re-join the Maroondah Highway – at its other end. The highway is not exactly exciting here but it’s a pleasant enough ride through grazing country.

At Merton the road turns south and we follow it past Yarck, but then bear right at the intersection of the Goulburn Valley Highway and the Maroondah, swapping over to the former. Not that we stay on it long; at Yea, another nice, spacious town with several cafés and restaurants as well as a good pub, we turn left into the Melba Highway. This is a relatively undemanding but nevertheless enjoyable road which will eventually take you back to (guess where) the Maroondah Highway, which you can then follow back to Ring wood. Job done, day spent very enjoyably.

Not all of the towns up here are doing well. Spend a few bucks and help them out. / Notice that the bike in the sign has swapped ends? Staying upright while doing that is pretty good riding! / Can you see the green shine on the tar? The ranges are infested with this slippery stuff. / No they don’t. As far as I’ve seen, they don’t drive at all. They run. In front of you.

Ring wood to Ring wood is some 350km; that makes it about a five hour ride, depending on how long you stop and how often.

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