The Steepest Highway in Victoria Is a Terrifying Treacherous Path

Written by Kathryn Koehler
Published: September 23, 2023
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The steepest highway in Victoria, Australia is a terrifying, treacherous path. In the leafy neighborhood of Pascoe Vale, hidden among the tranquil streets and charming homes, lie four unassuming yet formidable challenges. Gaffney Street, Bollingbrooke Street, Pardy Street, and O’Hea Street, run between Burgundy Street and Northgate. These four streets dare to defy gravity with their steep gradients. As you traverse these roads, you’ll quickly realize that they are not for the faint of heart. With gradients that can approach vertigo-inducing levels, these streets are legendary among the locals. These streets will test the mettle of anyone willing to take on their heart-pounding ascents and descents. Of the four streets, O’Hea Street, with a maximum grade of 30% is the steepest road in Victoria. Continue reading to discover more about O’Hea Street.

The Steepest Highway in Victoria: Victoria, Australia

Victoria is a state located in Southeastern Australia. It is one of Australia’s six states and two territories. Victoria offers a diverse range of landscapes, including coastal regions along the southern coast, the Great Dividing Range to the northeast with its mountainous terrain, lush forests, and national parks, as well as fertile plains in the Western part of the state. Victoria is a popular tourist destination, known for attractions like the Great Ocean Road, the Twelve Apostles rock formations, the Yarra Valley wine region, national parks, and wildlife reserves.

The Twelve Apostles, Australia

The Twelve Apostles rock formations are limestone outcroppings near the Great Ocean Road in Victoria.


The Steepest Highway in Victoria: Melbourne, Victoria

The capital city of Victoria, Melbourne, captivates residents and visitors alike. Melbourne thrives on its dynamic cultural diversity. The city’s cultural scene is a beacon, boasting world-class theaters, galleries, and museums, including the National Gallery of Victoria and the Melbourne Museum. Melbourne’s love for sports is legendary, hosting iconic events like the Australian Open and the Melbourne Cup. It is also home to the Melbourne Cricket Ground, which moved to its new location in 1853. The original Melbourne Cricket Ground was acquired by the Australian government through eminent domain to make way for the railroad. Melbourne’s parks and green spaces, including the Royal Botanic Gardens and Yarra River precinct, offer a natural oasis near the heart of the city.

Melbourne Zoo

The Melbourne Zoo is the zoo to visit if you want an up-close animal encounter.


Pascoe Vale

Pascoe Vale is a charming suburban enclave located in the Northern suburbs of Melbourne. Known for its peaceful residential streets and a strong sense of community, Pascoe Vale offers a comfortable and family-friendly atmosphere. Pascoe Vale is situated approximately 6 miles (10 km) North of Melbourne’s central business district, making it a suburb with easy access to the city center. It is bordered by other suburban areas such as Coburg, Glenroy, and Essendon. Pascoe Vale is predominantly residential, with a blend of historic homes modern townhouses, and apartments, catering to a diverse range of lifestyles.
Pascoe Vale Gardens and Gavin Park are popular spots for picnics, sports, and family outings.

O’Hea Street, the steepest street in Victoria is in a residential area. The streets are in a grid. O’Hea, Gaffney, Bollingbrooke, and Pardy Streets run parallel, east to west. And while Pardy Street has a steeper average grade than O’Hea, its maximum grade tops out at 5% less. Each of these streets is intimidating on its own. Together they are referred to as the Gaffney Four. Area cyclists enjoy the challenge of and the bragging rights that come with summiting all four in one ride.

Street NameAverage GradeMaximum Grade
Gaffney Street9%16%
Bolingbroke Street13.5%20%
Pardy Street14.5%25%
O’Hea Street13%30%

Area cyclists enjoy the challenge of and the bragging rights that come with summiting the Gaffney Four in one ride.


The Steepest Highway in Victoria: Making the Grade

Steep roads around the world are renowned for their dramatic slopes, which challenge pedestrians, cyclists, and drivers alike. These streets feature gradients with remarkable inclines that are both awe-inspiring and daunting. The steepness of these roads can reach extreme angles, making them unique and iconic. Some of the steepest roads on Earth feature gradients in the range of 30%. Jaw-dropping slopes define these streets. A grade of 30% is considered extremely steep. Roads with this much slope are incredibly challenging to ascend or descend.

Defining the Grades

Gradients, often expressed as percentages, indicate the steepness or incline of a road. The gradient percentage represents the vertical rise (elevation gain) relative to the horizontal distance (usually measured in meters or feet).

  • A 0% gradient means a completely flat surface, with no incline or decline. It’s a level surface where there is no change in elevation.
  • A 1-2% gradient is a gentle slope that’s barely noticeable. Sidewalks and bike paths designed to be accessible to people with disabilities have 1-2% grade.
  • A 3-4% gradient is a moderate slope that most people can easily walk or cycle on. It’s also common for roads and streets.
  • A 5-6% gradient is a noticeable incline but still manageable for walking, cycling, and driving. Many highway and road standards aim to keep gradients below 6%.
  • A 7-8% gradient is steeper and may require more effort when walking or cycling. It’s still manageable for most vehicles.
  • A 9-10% gradient is a significant incline that can be challenging for some individuals, especially over longer distances.
  • Gradients of 11-15% are steep. They can be difficult for cycling or walking. Many vehicles may struggle to maintain speed on roads with these gradients.
  • 16-20% gradients are very steep and often require special consideration for road design and transportation. Walking and cycling become strenuous, and some vehicles may struggle to ascend.
  • Gradients exceeding 20% are extremely steep and present significant challenges.

The Gaffney Four fall within the very steep to extremely steep range. As one cyclist succinctly put it, “A gradient of 30% is going to hurt regardless of the gearing you’re running.”

The photo featured at the top of this post is © Tupungato/

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About the Author

Kathryn Koehler is a writer at A-Z-Animals where her focus is on unusual animals, places, and events. Kat has over 20 years of experience as a professional writer and educator. She holds a master's degree from Vanderbilt University. When she is not writing for A-Z-Animals, Kat enjoys puttering in her garden, baking deliciously healthful treats for her family, and playing with her two rescue mutts, Popcorn and Scooter. She resides in Tennessee.

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