Average gradient: 3.9%
Elevation gain: 537m
The western approach to the Tawonga Gap is the longer, but shallower of the two climbs to the top. The first 8km of this climb are easy and serve as a perfect warm up for the steeper, more sustained final 6km to the summit.
The Bright-side climb of the Tawonga Gap starts in the locality of Germantown, at the intersection of the Great Alpine Road (B500) and the Tawonga Gap Road (C536).
The climb ends at the Tawonga Gap lookout, the highest point on the Tawonga Gap Road.
At a glance
- A relatively long, gradual climb that starts off gently but gets steeper as you go along.
- The first 8km of the climb are very gradual with only a few sections above 4% gradient.
- The sustained climbing starts at the 8km mark.
- The steepest part of the climb is a sweeping left-hander at 10.2km with a gradient above 10%.
- There’s another steep left-hander at the 11.7km mark.
While the climb from Germantown to Tawonga Gap is reasonably long, it won’t be until about the 8km mark that you’ll really feel like you’re on a sustained climb. In the first few kilometres you’ll cross the Ovens River, pass a few orchards on the left-hand side of the road and climb for a couple hundred metres at a time. While the road is actually uphill for these initial kilometres, you won’t really notice.
Roughly 3.3km into the climb you’ll catch a glimpse of the top of the mountain to the left and some 500m above you. At the 4.9km mark you’ll reach a more sustained section of climbing with an average gradient of around 4%. At this point German Creek will be on your left, providing nice views as you climb. At 5.3km the road descends ever so slightly before flattening off again.
For the next few kilometres the road climbs gradually and at the 6.7km mark you’ll reach a sharpish, beautifully cambered left-hand bend — a sign of things to come. The climbing is fairly consistent for the next kilometre or so with the road winding up the hill at a gradient of roughly 4 or 5%. At the 7.8km mark the road flattens off and it’s 200m later, at the 8km mark, that the sustained climbing really begins.
At about 5% gradient, this is the steepest section of climbing thus far. At 8.6km you’ll bend around to the right quite sharply with the road narrowing and the gradient increasingly ever so slightly. At 8.7km you’ll bend sharply around to the left, noticing that the road has become considerably windier now that the real climbing has begun.
You’ll get some nice views into the valley below as you reach the 9km mark at which point you’ll bend around to the left once more. At 9.2km you’ll bend sharply around to the right and as you come out of the corner and into a left-hander, the gradient momentarily increases to around 7 or 8%. At the 9.7km mark you’ll head around to the right on a long, sweeping bend after which the road straightens out and climbs at a gradient of around 5-6%.
Roughly 10.1km from the start of the climb, you’ll head around to the left on a big, sweeping left-hand bend. You’ll still be winding around to the left 100m later when the gradient briefly increases to beyond 10% — the steepest part of the climb. At 10.4km you’ll head around to the right and again at 10.6km as the gradient holds steady at around 5%. A few hundred metres later the road flattens off somewhat before bending around to the left at 11.1km with the gradient increasing as you come around the corner.
At the 11.4km mark you’ll reach a right-hand hairpin with the gradient hovering at around 4 or 5%. At 11.7km you’ll bend sharply around to the left with the gradient briefly increasing to around 10% again. It’s not long until a more manageable gradient of roughly 5% returns. At 12.1km the road sweeps around to the left with the gradient kicking up again briefly. At 12.2km it’s around to the right once more and the same again at 12.4km.
At the 12.6km mark you’ll take a sweeping hairpin around to the left with the gradient increasing to 8 or 9% briefly. Roughly 200m later it’s a case of deja vu with another left-hander and another brief section in excess of 10% gradient. As you enter the final kilometre of the climb the gradient returns to around 5 or 6% … until the left-hand bend at 13.1km anyway.
By the time the road flattens out and you’ve followed the road around to the right at the 13.5km mark, you’ve completed the last turn of the climb. The summit is a mere 300m ahead with terrific views of the Kiewa Valley to reward you for your efforts.
The Tawonga Gap Road (C536) is the main thoroughfare between the townships of Bright and Mt. Beauty, around 350km north-east of Melbourne. Victoria’s alpine district is best accessed by taking the Hume Freeway (M31) north out of Melbourne before taking the Great Alpine Road (B500) from the turn-off just out of Wangaratta.
From the Great Alpine Road turn-off, it is 70km to Bright and a further 6km to the Tawonga Gap Road (C536) turn-off in Germantown and the start of this climb.
The ascent to Tawonga Gap from the Bright side is just one of many terrific climbs in the area. If you’ve climbed the Tawonga Gap from the Bright side, it’s well worth descending the other side of the mountain toward Mt. Beauty before climbing back up.