Average gradient: 5.1%
Elevation gain: 489m
Climbing from the gorgeous Great Ocean Road into the Great Otway National Park, the ascent of Skenes Creek Road is unforgettably picturesque. With terrific ocean and valley views possible throughout, this gentle climb should make it to every Victorian cyclist’s ‘must climb’ list. Skenes Creek Road is featured in Amy’s Gran Fondo, a mass-participation ride that runs in September.
The ascent of Skenes Creek Road begins at the corner of Skenes Creek Road (C119) and the Great Ocean Road (B100), 5km north east of Apollo Bay.
The Skenes Creek Road climb ends at a 45km/h recommended speed sign as the road begins to flatten out, just before Kincaid Road.
At a glance
- A consistent climb with great coastal views that also passes through farmland and forest.
- There’s a 200m-long false-flat at the 3.1km mark.
- The best views start at about 5.1km on the left-hand side of the road.
- There’s another flatter section from 6.1km that lasts for most of a kilometre.
- There’s one final false-flat at 8km, this one lasting for nearly a kilometre as well.
The climbing begins about 50m after the turn-off, with the road taking on a gradient of around 5%. 300m into the climb, the road bends around to the right with the gradient increasing slightly in the process. At the 700m mark, with farmland now visible on the left, the road takes long, sweeping left-hand bend.
1.3km from the start of the climb the road bends around into a tight left-hand hairpin bend, flattening out momentarily in the process before returning to a gradient of around 6%. 400m later the road bends sharply around to the right before terrific views of Apollo Bay are possible at Evans Lookout, 1.9km after starting the climb.
With the gradient remaining at a manageable 5%, a sweeping right-hand bend turns you away from the coast. By the 2.4km mark the road has straightened out and is surrounded by beautiful native gums. Maintaining a gradient of around 5% the road winds up through the bush before reaching a 200m false-flat at the 3.1km mark.
Leaving the false-flat behind, the gradient sits at a modest 3-4% before a sharp right-hand bend at the 3.6km provides a brief section of around 6%. After winding gently for several hundred metres, you will pass through a very sharp left-hand hairpin 4.2km from the start.
At the 5.1km mark, great views are possible on the right-hand side with the road passing through hilly farmland. As the road bends around to the right at the 5.5km mark, the left-hand side of the road drops away into an impressive valley with amazing views possible all the way around to Apollo Bay. As the amazing views continue, the road’s gradient hovers at around 5% making it easy to sit up and enjoy the impressive surrounds.
After bending to the left at the 6.1km mark, the road flattens out quite noticeably and it’s not until a kilometre or so later that a gradient of 4-5% returns. At the 7.4km mark the road winds its way into the Great Otway National Park, trading impressive valley views for a thick covering of ferns and native gums. At the 8km mark the road flattens out once again, maintaining a false-flat for the best part of one windy kilometre.
At the 8.8km mark the road opens out a little and a gradient of around 4% kicks in. After a sharp right-hand bend 9km from the start of the climb the road climbs gently for another 500m before flattening out to the 45km/h recommended speed sign and the top of the climb.
Skenes Creek Road begins around 5km north east of Apollo Bay, a lovely seaside town 200km south west of Melbourne. Apollo Bay is one of several towns that litter the stunning Great Ocean Road – one of Victoria’s tourism hotspots and a wonderful destination for a weekend away or extended holiday.
The Skenes Creek Road climb can certainly be attempted from Apollo Bay but a warm-up of 5km is less than ideal. A better option might be to ride from the town of Lorne, around 40km north east of Apollo Bay along the Great Ocean Road.
While the Great Ocean Road makes for terrific cycling territory, be aware that for most of its considerable length, there is only one lane in each direction. This fact, combined with the road’s many twists, turns and blind corners, can make riding along the Great Ocean Road quite dangerous.
A Strava segment for this climb can be found here.