Average gradient: 5.9%
Elevation gain: 309m
While Skenes Creek Road is the most well-known climb in the Apollo Bay area, the Wild Dog Creek Road/Busty Road climb deserves as much recognition, if not more so. It’s a beautiful and at-times challenging ascent with some amazing views into forest valleys and over nearby Apollo Bay.
The Wild Dog Creek Road/Busty Road climb starts on Wild Dog Creek Road, roughly 500m from its intersection with the Great Ocean Road. There is a large tree and a rock face on the right-hand side as the road tilts upwards.
Depending on whether you’re willing to ride on a bit of gravel or not, the climb either ends at the end of the sealed road, or at the crest in the gravel road, roughly 400m further up the hill.
At a glance
- A beautiful climb in two parts: an easy start of 1.7km and a challenging final 3.5km
- Take a right-hand turn on to Busty Road after 1.7km to continue the climb
- There are a few short ramps in the final section of the climb, including at 1.8km and 4.3km
- The section from 2.5km to 3.3km is wonderfully scenic with great views throughout
- The sealed road ends after 4.8km of climbing. Continue on to get to the summit
- The climb ends at a crest in the road after 5.2km
The first part of the Wild Dog Creek Road/Busty Road climb is very gentle, the road winding alongside Wild Dog Creek and climbing gradually away from sea level. After climbing at about 4% for the first kilometre the road flattens off and bends sharply around to the right and then around to the left. At this point the gradient returns to about 4%.
After 1.3km you’ll get your first glimpse of the ferns that line much of this climb and at 1.6km you’ll start to see some nice views into the valley on your left-hand side.
At 1.7km you’ll need to take a right-hand turn on to Busty Road. As the road doubles back on itself the gradient increases quite noticeably. Where the first section of the climb was quite easy, the remaining 3.5km is considerably tougher.
The gradient kicks to above 10% briefly after 1.8km as the road narrows slightly. There are no lane markings or warning signs of any description beyond this point so be sure to stay left and take it easy on the descent.
There’s a nice straight bit of road at the 2km mark at which point the gradient is around 8-9%. You get your first views of the ocean on your right after 2.2km with the gradient back to around 7%.
At 2.5km you bend around sharply to the right and you’re on the most beautiful section of the climb. On the right you’ve got great views into the forest, as well as a great view of the road you’ve just come up. At 2.7km there’s a sharp left-hand hairpin which puts you right out on to the ridgeline and views down into Apollo Bay are possible on your right.
This section of the ride is quite reminiscent of the Col de la Madone near Nice, France. You’re winding along a beautiful narrow road that hugs the cliff all while great views of the ocean are possible over to your left.
At 2.8km the road flattens off slightly, to about 3%, and 100m later there are more stunning views off to the left. Spend a moment here to take it all in.
The gradient returns to about 6-7% after 3.1km and after 3.3km you leave the best of the views behind. But there are still some nice views on the right, over nearby farmland.
The road flattens off briefly after 3.7km and after the briefest of downhills you bend around to the right and the gradient kicks back to around 6-7%.
There are nice views on the left at 4.2km, into nearby forest, and as you bend around to the right after 4.3km the road kicks up sharply. The ramp is only about 50m in length but with a gradient in excess of 10% it will have you working hard.
After 4.4km the gradient is back to around 6-7% and 200m later it flattens off slightly before returning to about 4%. At 4.5km the gradient kicks momentarily to around 8-9% and then the sealed climb ends after 4.8km.
The remaining 400m to the summit are more than possible on a road bike and it’s worth pushing on for the satisfaction of reaching the proper summit of the climb.
There’s a pinchy section at 4.9km which touches 10% — not easy on gravel, but just keep your weight over the back wheel to prevent any loss of traction. After bending around to the left after 5km the climb ends after 5.2km.
The Wild Dog Creek Road/Busty Road climb begins roughly 3.5km north east from the seaside town of Apollo Bay on the Great Ocean Road in Victoria’s south west. Apollo Bay is roughly 110km from Geelong and 190km from Melbourne, along the Princes Highway and the Great Ocean Road.
It’s definitely possible to visit the region for a day trip but to get the most value out of your visit (and to experience more of the great riding in the area) a weekend or longer is an even better option.
A Strava segment for this climb can be found here. Note that this Strava segment begins slightly before the starting point mentioned above and finishes at the end of the sealed road.