Page Contributor(s): Nick Payne, Canberra, Australia
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Cycling Mount Hotham, Victoria, Australia
Ride 29 kilometers gaining 1,370 meters at 4.5% average grade.
Another extraordinary must-do bike climb in Australia’s Victorian Alps along the Great Dividing Range, 350 kilometers northeast of Melbourne. Be prepared for a cool ride, particularly towards the top - Mount Hotham has never recorded a temperature above 30°C (86°F) and it is one of the few locations in Australia that records temperatures below freezing.
This bike climb is not only scenic, but very popular with cyclists - 17,122 Strava members have ridden up Mount Hotham a total of 41,384 times as of January 15, 2023. It is also quite challenging and is ranked the fifth hardest bike climb in Australia.
First of six kilometer markers.
Climb begins at the entrance to Harrietville Recreation Reserve.
Climb begins by riding south on Great Alpine Road from Harrietville Recreation Reserve.
Climb Summary by PJAMM Cycling’s Brad Butterfield.
There’s no way around it, I’m going to sound like a broken record, but Mt. Hotham is another must-do Australian bike climb. Completely unique from all of the others, yet again. This has the most elevation I have gained on a single climb while here in Australia, at a whopping 1,370 meters of gain for a summit elevation of 5,862 feet. Starting in the town of Harrietville, there are a few small cafes to down some coffee before the long accent. I recommend parking at the small city park just before the very first corner of the climb. There is a public restroom and no restrictions on parking times - very safe.
The climb has kilometer markers every five kilometers.
The first 10k of the climb is steep as you make your way out of the treeline. The middle portion plateaus and depending on how you like to pedal, this is a big ring section of the climb.
Begins at km 4.9
400 meters at 10.5%.
This section got its name from the nearby former quartz reef mine, Mons Meg.
On the plateau you have in view the rest of the climb as it makes a full 180 back onto itself, scaling the mountains to your left as you climb. After the plateau, the climb pitches up briefly, then descends. After that short descent it is a wall up to the summit. Then exposed, the views of the Australian outback extend to the horizon and the cold mountain air whips your face. A true mountain ascent.
There are several signs warning of the hazard of Great Alpine Road near the beginning of the climb.
In addition to being an incredibly windy road, it has seven short descents between kilometers 16 and 27. The longest descent is 800 meters at -5.5% and the shortest is 80 meters at -1.2%
Average grade is 4.5%, and after eliminating descents the average grade rises to 5.3%.
There are several elevation signs and information boards along the climb.
Sheer cliff at kilometer 25.
Mt. Hotham reminded us of California’s Tioga Pass at the eastern border of Yosemite NP.
Views near the finish of the climb.
The summit is nondescript and not marked. I recommend riding just past the PJAMM finish point and taking a slight right onto a gravel road. The gravel road is about a 400m walk to get the tippy top Radio Tower point.
Finish the climb on the road or bike 430 meters up the gravel road to the top.
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