This tour is 12 days in the saddle on
mainly bitumen and some gravel roads through some of the less travelled areas
by bike. It is best done in spring or autumn. I did this trip in April. It includes riding the East
Gippsland Rail Trail, the extensive cycleways of Wollongong, the Central Coast
of NSW, and the Fernleigh Track to Newcastle. Read the Rail Trails
Australia website on the Links page to find out
more about these trails and get the current information on them. East Gippsland and the Southern
Highlands of NSW are really great places to visit.
I flew from Newcastle to Melbourne and caught an early
morning train to Bairnsdale for the start of the trip. I camped at caravan
parks or rough camped on a few occasions.
The following climate statistics are
for the weather station at Nimmitabel. For more information on
this location, including wind roses, go to "Climate Statistics for
Australian Locations" on the Links
page. You can also obtain similar details from other locations
enroute from that site.
|Av Max Temp oC
|Av Min Temp oC
|Av Rain mm
|Av days of rain
≥ 1 mm
Towns listed below that have distances marked
( ) are those where
food/drink is expected/known and those marked [ ] are points of interest
To the start
On arriving at Tullamarine airport from Sydney, I
re-assembled my bike and rode Route 1 along the Moonee Ponds cycleway of
Tullamarine to City and Suburbs ride into my reasonably priced
overnight accommodation at Ibis Hotel in Little Bourke St near Spencer
St Station. This hotel also has an excellent lock-up for bicycles
that is only accessible by staff members or cyclists under staff
supervision. I could have also caught Skybus (see
Links on this
website), but I wanted to see some of the city, and it was worth the 26 kms ride. The overnight stay was necessary as the next day's train
trip was an early start, and by adopting this plan, I was able to have a
look at the Station, book my ticket and find out where I needed to go -
all without the rush of peak hour traffic.
Day 1 - Melbourne - train to Bairnsdale - ride rail trail to Bruthen
200 m climbed
The early morning regional train service to
Bairnsdale was good. I loaded my bike, fully laden, into the
luggage compartment at the front of the train with the assistance of the
staff - nothing was a problem for them! The train had a cafeteria
service with food and drinks as well, although I found the breakfast
that I had at one of the shops in Spencer St Station was quite good.
I arrived in Bairnsdale before lunch and was able to find a good bakery
as well as a bike shop to purchase chain lube. This was necessary
as it was not allowed to be carried on the flight from Sydney. I
recommend that you carry a container with a screw top for chain lube,
and decant it from whatever the local shop has so that it will not leak
all over your gear.
The rail trail is hard packed gravel, and an
interesting ride through farmland to Bruthen. Bruthen is a small
town with all facilities, including a pub with accommodation (wise to
book beforehand) and a sleepy, well kept caravan park. I camped at
the quiet, pleasant Bruthen Caravan Park - Buchan Rd, just over the
bridge from the pub. Everything is within easy walking distance
from there. It had a camp kitchen with an open fireplace, bbq, a communal fridge a
microwave oven and tables and chairs under cover.
Day 2 - Bruthen - use rail trail - Nowa Nowa (27) - use rail trail -
530 m climbed
Rejoin the rail trail where you left it to
get to the caravan park. Recent work done on it's surface
significantly improved it's rideability when compared to my experience
with it 6 months earlier. Most of the track is through bushland,
with some areas of open farming. There are some magnificent
trestle bridges along the way that have not been used. This
results in some steep descents down to streams and equally steep climbs
back up to the track on the other side. This is particularly so at
the Stony Creek bridge. Food and drink is available at the local
store/petrol station at Nowa Nowa with nothing else until Orbost, which
is a major regional centre.
There is an abundance of hotels in Orbost,
but I camped at Orbost Caravan Park - Lochiel St - on the left as you
come into town. It was close to all facilities and was well
maintained and bike friendly. It has a camp kitchen with an open
fireplace, bbq and tables and chairs under cover.
Day 3 - Orbost - Cabbage Tree Creek - Bellbird Creek (38) - Cann
1,070 m climbed
I rode this section on the first day of the
April school holidays. All of the holiday makers were heading east
in their 4WD's towing a variety of sizes of boats - which was a slight
concern. The road had a variable shoulder width, but I don't
recall feeling in danger at any stage. There was a cosy friendly
pub/coffee shop at Bellbird Creek. Cann River is a small town with
a variety of accommodation facilities, stores, etc. I camped at
the sleepy Cann River Caravan Park - Princes Highway - just before the
town. It was only a matter of walking across the bridge for a
short distance to all shops.
Day 4 - Cann River - Chandlers Ck - Rockton - Bombala
1,200 m climbed
I found this to be a great day's riding,
although it was a gradual climb. Traffic over the total day was
light. It traversed open farmlands, bushy river valleys and pine
forest plantations to the Monaro and its sheep farming. There are
no water or food stops until Bombala. It is wise to take
additional water along this section, as the continual climbing does
increase one's thirst - even on a mild day.
Bombala is a regional town
with all facilities, including a number of pubs and a council operated
caravan park on the western side of town. I stayed at Bombala
Caravan Park - on the Monaro Hwy adjacent to bridge. Its amenities
were very good, and it was only a short walk to town and the historic
railway station. It had a camp kitchen with a communal fridge,
microwave oven and tables and chairs under cover. The park was unattended, so it was necessary to
use the reception office intercom system to the caretaker to obtain the
code to access the amenities.
Some day, a government with some foresight will turn the abandoned
Bombala-Queanbeyan railway into an excellent rail trail. It has
great potential as a tourist attraction covering about 150 kms and
passing through historic Nimmitabel and Cooma.
Day 5 - Bombala - Ando - Nimmitabel
This was an interesting ride to the small
township of Nimmitabel. There is no food/drink until Nimmitabel,
and it has a limited supply at its general store. There are a
number of pubs and a camping area on the northern side of town - a short
walk to the limited facilities. Sadly, the number of closed
businesses and "for sale" signs in the main street suggests that the
town may be dying. It is worthwhile spending time and having a
wander around the backstreets and historic buildings of the town.
stayed at Nimmitabel Camping & Caravan Park, which was unattended and
had no other campers. To obtain keys to the amenities, it is
necessary to phone the caretaker on the number shown on the amenities
block. Do not count on being able to have an evening meal of any
sort in the town. They are not served every night.
Day 6 - Nimmitabel - Cooma (36) - Bredbo (67) - Colinton
790 m climbed
It is wise to stock up with food at Cooma as
the facilities at Bredbo are basic, and there is nothing at the Colinton
other than the good clean rest area with clean enviro toilets (bring your own toilet paper
just in case), a tank that claims that its water is not fit for
drinking, and a few tables and seats under shelters. Cooma is a
major rural centre. If you would prefer to stay in a bed
overnight, there is a pub with accommodation at Bredbo. Bredbo
is the last place to get potable water until Michelago.
the rest area on the western side of the highway with a few people in
motor homes. I was able to secrete my tent behind some shrubby
trees and have it partly hidden behind some of the tables and chairs
under one of the shelters. I also brought food that was hydrated
and needed no cooking so that I did not have to use water for cooking
and cleaning up afterwards.
Day 7 - Colinton - Michelago (15) - Williamsdale - Royalla -
550 m climbed
I found this to be a great day's riding
until I met the traffic of the ACT heading into Canberra and to
Queanbeyan. When I left the Monaro Highway in ACT to cross into
NSW, the road shoulder largely disappeared, and the drivers
seemed to become more intent on travelling as close to me as possible.
This was only a problem for a few kilometres.
The roadhouse at Michelago had a reasonable range of food for snacks,
and it served caffeine.
Queanbeyan is a large regional city. It had a number of
cycleways that are worthwhile wandering along for a few hours to see
some of the sights of the city and along the river. I stayed at
Queanbeyan Riverside Tourist Park - 41A Morrisett St - 200m E of PO.
It was close to facilities, clean and quiet.
Day 8 - Queanbeyan - Bungendore (23) -Tarago (52) - Bungonia
1,030 m climbed
It was blowing a strong cross/headwind for
much of the day that I did this trip. Despite that, I enjoyed the
ride. The bakery at Bungendore is a "must stop". Tarago is a
small village with a pub, garage/store and railway station. I have
stayed at the Loaded Dog Hotel there before, and it was a pleasant
family operated pub with good food. On that instance, we were able
to lock our bikes up in the pub's laundry.
After leaving Tarago, the
road to Bungonia is gravel for about 35+ kms. I found it to be
generally loose gravel, but not large stones, so it was not too difficult, and
certainly worth the detour.
Do not expect to find anything at Bungonia other than houses, a
community hall, fire station, tennis courts and a small park that has no
toilets. There is camping (showers and toilets)
to the south of the village at Windellama. Taking that into
consideration, you may choose to ride from Tarago to Windellama via
Sandy Point, which is shown as being mostly bitumen on recent NRMA maps, camp there and then
ride through Bungonia to Moss Vale the next day. There is also camping 11 kms
to the east at the Bungonia State Recreation Area. I was fortunate
to have been shown some real country hospitality and generously
accommodated in Bungonia for the night by a local couple. It may be possible
to camp adjacent to the community hall, fire station or the tennis
courts. See if the locals can arrange for you to use the facilities
there without upsetting anyone. I found everyone that I met in this
village to be friendly and helpful country people.
Day 9 - Bungonia - Marulan (18) - Sutton Forest (53) - Moss Vale
670 m climbed
The early morning ride to the roadhouses at
Marulan was through undulating farming country. At Marulan, I
joined the Hume Highway through to the turn to Sutton Forest. The
highway has a wide shoulder, but the continuous stream of noisy heavy
transport does wear a bit thin after a while.
Moss Vale is a large
town and has all facilities. I camped at the well appointed Moss
Vale Village Caravan Park - Willow Dr - 2k S of PO. It had a camp
kitchen with a bbq, a communal fridge and tables and chairs under cover. There is a
small shopping centre not far from it, or you can take a leisurely
stroll into the town to buy food.
Day 10 - Moss Vale - Robertson (21) - Jamberoo (48) - Shellharbour
I have travelled much of this route several
times, and always enjoyed it. I have avoided taking the Illawarra
Highway out of Moss Vale, instead, turning east at the first
intersection to the right after the rail underpass. This road
travels towards Bundanoon and Kangaroo Valley.
Robertson is blessed
with a bakery on the western side of town and its well known pie shop on
the eastern end, just near the turn to Jamberoo Pass. The ride to
Jamberoo Pass is through varied bushland and open farmland along a
relatively quiet road. The view over the coast from the lookout at
the top of the Pass is magnificent. Be prepared for the great
brake smoking descent with its S curves down to the tourist town of
The 4 kms from the Princes Highway into Shellharbour is not too bike
friendly, with variable road shoulders and high volumes of traffic all
in a hurry. Shellharbour is a pretty tourist town that serves the
dormitory suburb for Port Kembla/Wollongong. It has numerous
eating places but, surprisingly the supermarkets are only small. I
camped at Shellharbour Beachside Tourist Park - 61 John St - 1k S of PO
- along the foreshore.
Day 11 - Shellharbour - Thirroul (36) - train to Woy Woy - off road
cycleway to Gosford (48) - Wyoming
320 m climbed
The main road from Shellharbour to Port
Kembla is normally quite busy with fast flowing traffic. It
generally is not very bike friendly, but this is compensated for by the
presence of an off road cycleway - mainly on the eastern side of the
road. There is a short 2 km section at Warrawong where it is non
existent and a bit "hairy" until reaching the T-intersection with Five
Islands Rd at Port Kembla North, adjacent to the railway station at 14
At this intersection, cross to the northern side of the road to join up
with the off road cycleway that will take you almost all of the way
around the city of Wollongong to Thirroul. On my trip, I carried
on from there to Coalcliff, but I do not recommend it as it is hilly
along a narrow winding road, and the Coalcliff station has very steep
stairs to access the platform. The rewards are nowhere near being
worth the effort in riding through to Coalcliff.
The trains from
Thirroul are interurban to Sydney Central Station. From there, you
will be able to connect with a Central Coast/Newcastle train to Woy Woy.
Check the CityRail timetables via the Links on this site. The NSW
trains are nowhere near as bike friendly as those in Victoria. Read
Tips on NSW rail travel on this website.
At Woy Woy, the off road cycleway is on the eastern side of the road,
about 500m north of the railway station. This will take you almost
through to Gosford. Wyoming is a few kms north of Gosford and has
a number of motels, pub, caravan park and a nearby shopping centre.
I stayed at the Wyoming Caravan Park, just north of a major roundabout
and opposite the shopping centre.
Day 12 - Wyoming - Ourimbah (8) - The Entrance (28) - Swansea (65) -
Belmont (73) - Whitebridge (81) - Newcastle
600 m climbed
This day requires some navigation, as it
follows some routes which are poorly signposted, if at all - a GPS would
be very helpful here. It joins a short unmade track just north of the caravan
park - almost opposite Renwick St - to cross under the railway and link
an off road cycleway through to the road to
Narara. At Ourimbah, it is necessary to turn across the overhead
bridge (9 kms) towards the University campus and on to Berkeley Vale.
Cross over Wyong Rd at the major roundabout and take the first turn to
the right (16 kms) and follow it for a few hundred metres to join up with
the off road cycleway that will take you to The Entrance. There
are some short sections that hop on and off quiet roads, but generally
follow the lake foreshore.
There are numerous attractions at The
Entrance. When leaving there, take the western off road cycleway
across the bridge and that will extend 2 kms north of the bridge.
The road through to Noraville, although busy, generally has good road
shoulders. At Noraville, join the off road cycleway on the western
side of the road (39 kms) that will take you through bushland to
Budgewoi. The T-intersection at the roundabout to Ourringo Rd (42
kms) turns towards Elizabeth Bay. Follow Elizabeth Bay Rd to
Pacific Highway and turn right (49 kms). Remain on the Pacific
Highway to Belmont. As you climb the hill into Belmont, take the
turn to the left that wraps around the Gunyah Hotel. Then, after a
short distance take a right turn into Gen St, crossing the Pacific
Highway at the traffic lights. This short descent will take you to
the start of the Fernleigh Track.
(The route can be easily seen on map attached to the 30K around
This off road former rail line will take you through to Adamstown
Railway Station (87 kms). At the railway gates, turn right into
Glebe Rd, and then after a few hundred metres left into Teralba Rd.
After about 1 km turn right into Melville Rd and follow the bicycle
signs painted on the road marking "Fernleigh Track / Coastline Cycleway". This will
bring you into the major part of the city of Newcastle. From
there, you can extend your trip by linking up with some of the other
routes included on this site, or you can head home. For those
extending their trip, take the ferry across the Harbour to Stockton
where you will find a nice caravan park beside the beach and adjacent to
Newcastle is serviced by rail services from
CityRail and CountryLink, as well as domestic airline services from
Williamtown and interstate bus lines. Use the
Links page information to connect for current
timetable information. If you intend to fly from Williamtown, it
is a pleasant ride of about 15 kms. Catch the Stockton Ferry
across the harbour and travel north through Fern Bay. Turn left
onto the quieter Fullerton Cove Rd after about 7 kms, where you will
eventually rejoin the Nelson Bay Rd to Williamtown. Bike boxes are
usually available at the airline terminal - phone beforehand to ensure
that they do have them.