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.
If you are staying in Bright, the climbs of Mt. Buffalo and Mt. Hotham are certainly worth a look as well.
Want to see how fast you climbed the Tawonga Gap (Bright side) compared to others? Click here to see the Strava segment for the full 13.8km or here to see the Strava segment for the final 6km.
10 Replies to “Tawonga Gap (Bright side)”
Did this climb yesterday with a couple of mates…I chose the wrong bike, being the wrong side of 50 and using a 25 tooth on the back and no compact crank…still, it was nice to get out of the saddle a bit more than usual!
Lovely climb when you don’t have hours and want to get somewhere with a view…loved the descent back to Bright as well.
This climb is great exercise. I love the way it ramps-up gradually. The gradual build-up means that no warm up is necessary if the climb is started from Bright.
On paper, the Tawonga Gap climb is a minor bump compared to Falls or Hotham. However, from the saddle it always stings. The road surface is great and the forest next to the road is beautiful.
err you best delete that previous comment, I was talking about a completely different piece of road 🙁
I blame your site for being so awesome 😛
Haha, nice one Dan. I was wondering what you were talking about 😛
I will do the Falls – way more picturistic and love the Falls climb very much … If you can ride pass the Falls village to the Dam … Awesome scenery there – still emotional thinking of 3 peaks right Matt ?
Great to read another climb post and one familiar to all who ride over the Audax Australia Day weekend (save for those who ride the ACE, but have been over this one before).
Regularly used in training ridesband raid camps throughout the year this is a fantastic, almost introductory ride to the many climbs around the Alpine. The descent and cruise back into Bright (if that’s your base) if lots of fun, perfect for the early morning spin before the first obligatory cup of coffee.
On to Mt Buffalo anyone?
Booked in for a weekend in Bright over the Cup long weekend…definitely tackling Hotham, undecided on whether to do Tawonga – Falls – Tawonga or just a straight Buffalo…Thoughts?
Both! How many days of riding will you have?
The other major difference between the 2 sides of Tawonga Gap is the smoothness of the road on the Bright Side compared with the Mt Beauty side which is a bit rough at the moment. I also find amusing that the “Bright” side is in shadow more than the other side during the course of a day…
Nice write up. Those 9 and 10% sections definitely hit you when you least expect it: one moment you’re tapping out a lovely tempo, the next moment you’ve suddenly realised your HR is in E3 and you’re standing on the pedals.
Might also want to mention that if you’re staying in Bright, the main reason you’d take Tawonga Gap from this side is to get to Falls Creek. The main reason you’d want to climb Falls Creek is the absolutely sensational descent – almost every corner is perfectly cambered for a bike to zoom down.