Melbourne’s cycling paradise devastated by storm damage

Cyclists have been asked to avoid the area for now.

by Matt de Neef

Nearly a week after violent storms ripped through much of Victoria, clean-up crews are still hard at work clearing trees, restoring power and internet connections, and helping people salvage what’s left of damaged homes. One of the regions worst hit was the heavily forested Dandenong Ranges east of Melbourne, one of the city’s most beloved cycling hotspots.

Trees are down all over the mountain and several roads are still closed. Social media reports suggest a sinkhole has opened up on Mountain Highway between The Basin and Sassafras – the region’s most popular cycling climb, known as the 1 in 20. According to the VicTraffic website the road is still currently closed.

Olinda-Monbulk Road – known to cyclists as The Wall – is also closed, so too are Ridge Road (the road to Sky High at the top of the mountain) and parts of the Mt. Dandenong Tourist Road – the main road through the ranges. The Tree Fairy Arborist, a small business based in nearby Belgrave, posted striking drone footage from the Tourist Rd earlier this week, showing dozens of trees down and the road covered in debris.

Local authorities, residents, and clean-up crews are urging all visitors (including cyclists) to avoid travelling to the Dandenongs until the area is safe.

Elsewhere in the Dandenongs, the 1000 Steps – a popular bushwalking destination – was also badly hit by the storms and will reportedly be closed for months. Meanwhile, residents in some parts of the Dandenongs have been instructed not to drink tap water – even after it’s been boiled – due to storm damage to a Yarra Valley Water drinking-water tank.

As many as 10,000 homes around Victoria are still without power as a result of last Wednesday’s storms.