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RoadNats 2024: Your 5-Day Itinerary

Visit Ballarat

01 Dec 2023

Filed underSport & Outdoor Activities

From 3–7 January 2024, the Federation University Road National Championships will bring Australia’s best cyclists to Ballarat in a battle for the green and gold national champions’ jerseys.

Whether you’re drawn to the challenge of the Mount Buninyong climb, or seeking some quality time with the family, there is plenty to see and do across the RoadNats long weekend.

From celebratory carbs to craft distillations, there is no shortage of options to refuel. Enjoy a different coffee pitstop each morning and discover a myriad of restaurants and bars open until late. Plus, there’s offroad trails and attractions to check out alongside a packed program of world-class cycling.

2022 Federation University Road National Championships – Mens criterium on Sturt Street (Photo by Con Chronis)


  • 7AM – COFFEE: get in ahead of the crowds for an early morning fix from Cobb’s Coffee.
  • Head out to Federation University’s Mount Helen campus in southern Ballarat for the first day of time trials. The course features a technical start and finish along with several short but tough hills.
  • 3PM – Unwind with a post-race treatment at Ballarat Sanctuary Day Spa
  • 4PM – Sample local wines at Mitchell Harris Wine Bar.
  • 7PM – DINNER: Time to carb load at The Forge or Carboni’s Italian Kitchen.
  • 8PM – NIGHTCAP: Roll down Lydiard Street to The Goods Shed and try a local gin at Itinerant Spirits.
Itinerant Spirits


  • 7AM – Build your own fresh juice or tuck into some blueberry and ricotta hotcakes at Eclectic Tastes Café and Pantry.  
  • 8AM – RIDE: From Eclectic Tastes, loop out to Lake Wendouree to connect with the Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail.
  • If you have a spare couple of hours (or restless kids in tow), travel back in time at nearby Sovereign Hill, or stop by Ballarat Wildlife Park.
  • 3PM – ELITE TIME TRIALS at Federation University Mount Helen campus.
  • 7PM – DINNER: dine in style at Restaurant Lola and enjoy a cocktail (or mocktail) from Clara the Caravan. 
Ballarat-Skipton Rail Trail


The crit circuit takes place across four blocks of Sturt Street in the historic heart of Ballarat. It features a tough uphill drag to the finish line of each lap. Races are scheduled from morning to evening in a range of categories including Para-Cycling, Masters and Elite. The evening showcases the action-packed racing of the U23 and Elite categories.

  • 7AM – RIDE: One Hour Coffee Ride setting off from L’espresso Cafe. Please note that the ride’s traditional end point, Webster’s Market & Cafe, will be closed in early January, so we suggest winding up at nearby Johnny Alloo (equally loved by cyclists).
  • 8AM – BREAKFAST: Tuck into brekkie at  Johnny Alloo.
  • 9AM – Admire Ballarat’s grand streetscapes and stake out the best spots to watch the criterium on Sturt Street.
  • 10AM – EXPLORE: visit the Art Gallery of Ballarat.
  • 12 NOON – LUNCH: Reserve a table with a view at Midtown Cellars or Ellington’s Wine Bar.
  • 2:30PM – UNWIND: Sample local brews at Aunty Jacks or if a summery G&T is more your style, head over to Kilderkin Distillery. For a true cyclist-hang out spot, head to the bar at The Western Hotel will also be open for the duration of the Crit, from 2:30PM until 7.30PM.
  • 5PM – 7:30PM: Watch the heart-stopping action of the Elite Criterium Championships in the centre of Ballarat.
  • 7:30PM – DINNER & DRINKS: Bao on out at Roy Hammond or explore newly-opened speakeasy Grainery Lane on Armstrong Street.
Ellington’s Wine Bar overlooking the Crit course


Saturday 6 and Sunday 7 January will see Australia’s best riders battle it out in Buninyong. Riders face a tough circuit with a climb up Mount Buninyong each lap to decide the 2024 national champions. Both days, there is food, drink, entertainment and great viewing points aplenty along the roadside.  

The U19s and U23 Men race on the Saturday, followed by the Gran Fondo (‘big ride’ in Italian for those of us not up with the cycling lingo). The Gran Fondo is a challenging 58km race – five laps of a 11.6km course with elevation gain of 205m each lap. It is open to all cyclists, often riding with their clubmates.

  • 6AM – BREAKAST: 1816 Bakehouse opens just after dawn. Stock up on some pastries for the road.
  • 7AM – U19 Women (race starts 7.15am)
  • 9.30AM – U19 Men (race starts 9.50am)
  • 12 NOON – Fuel up with a coffee and lunch from the spectator zone on the mountain.  You can grab a warm brew from one of the many local cafes in Buninyong, including Maggie & Kate, Dynamite Cycles and Cafe, Buninyong Bakehouse Cafe, Bluestone Cafe, and Espresso Depot.
  • 1PM – U23Men (race starts 1.20pm)
  • 5PM – Auscycling Gran Fondo National Championships. If you’re not riding yourself, catch the en masse start of the race at 5.15pm.
  • 7PM – Finish with a RoadNats classic feast and head to The Western Hotel for dinner.
1816 Bakehouse


The action continues at Buninyong on Sunday, with the Para-cycling, Intellectually Impaired, Transplant, Deaf, U23 Women and Elite Men and Women categories on the circuit.

  • BREKKIE: Grab an early morning pastry to go from 1816 Bakehouse (open from 7am) or Beechworth Bakery Ballarat (open 7.30am). If you are sticking around Ballarat for a sit-down brekkie before heading out to the road race, stop by The Stables at Hotel Canberra (open from 8am).   
  • 7AM – Para-cycling, Intellectually Impaired, Transplant & Deaf
  • 11.45AM – Catch the U23 & Elite Women crossing the finish line (race starts 9.20am, expected finish approximately 12 -12.30PM)
  • LUNCH – Grab some lunch from the spectator zone on the mountain.  
  • 12.45PM – Find the perfect spot to cheer on the Elite Men (race start 1pm, expected finish around 5.45pm)
  • 6PM – Take an evening stroll at the Ballarat Botanical Gardens beside Lake Wendouree. There’s free live music from 4–8pm as part of Summer Sundays.
  • 7.30PM – Close out your weekend on the deck at The Boatshed Restaurant or for something more casual gather the crew at Hop Temple.
Summer Sundays at Ballarat Botanical Gardens

Visit the Federation University Road National Championships website for the full RoadNats event schedule.

Across Victoria’s Midwest, we acknowledge that we travel across the ancient landscapes of many First Peoples communities.

These lands have been nurtured and cared for over tens of thousands of years and we respect the work of Traditional Custodians for their ongoing care and protection.

We recognise the past injustices against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples in this country. As our knowledge grows, we hope that we can learn from their resilience and creativity that has guided them for over 60,000 years.

As we invite people to visit and explore Victoria’s Midwest, we ask that alongside us, you also grow to respect the stories, living culture and connection to Country of the Ancestors and Elders of our First Peoples.