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.
WEDNESDAY 3 JANUARY – TIME TRIALS, MOUNT HELEN
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 – 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.
FRIDAY 5 JANUARY – CRITERIUM, BALLARAT CENTRAL
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).
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.
SATURDAY 6 JANUARY – ROAD RACE, BUNINYONG
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.
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.
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).
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.