Another weekend adventure, this time riding through the land of the Gundangurra people.
Day 1 - Mittagong to Taralga via Wombeyan caves
Distance: 100 kilometres
Elevation: 2,108 metres
Start: Mittagong station
End: Taralga hotel
Day 2 - Taralga to Mittagong via Penrose state forest
Distance: 130 kilometres
Elevation: 1,876 metres
This will be my third Easter holiday spent in the Jagungal so I knew what lay ahead. Is there a word that describes that emotion of excitement mixed in with utter fear? Whatever it was there was a build up of excitement with every hour as I thought about the fresh air I'd be breathing into my lungs. The 6 hour drive cut up with News updates about the latest known COVID cases and the obligatory pie stop. FYI: The best vegan and gluten free pies (but I forgot to take a photo).
While the mind and heart gets excited there's a sick feeling in the stomach brewing as I think about the pain that lay ahead.
Day 1 - Guthega to Botherham
Unload the car, repack the bikes, fully loaded bikes are offset with fresh legs.
Start: Guthega power station
End: We were supposed to sleep at Botherham plain hut, but ended up rolling a bit further to the river crossing at Gungarlin and slept under the milky way.
Distance: 26 kms
Hike a bike: No hike a bikes today!
River crossings (without getting feet wet): 1
River crossings (where feet get wet): 0
Road conditions: Guthega Road (sealed), unsealed dirt, some gravel
Day 2 - Botherm to Mackey's hut
It was one of those cold nights where you wonder is it really worth freezing or can I just pee in my sleeping bag and no one will notice, kinda nights. I decided it was worth getting out to the bright moonlit starry night to take a pee. Confirmation that it was definitely a cold night came in the morning as i cracked open the frozen tent door to see a misty sun rise.
Somehow the Easter bunny found us out here and left several chocolate eggs for breakfast. Much appreciated as today was supposed to be the dreaded "big day" with a 20 kilometre climb from the dam. Luckily some sweet chance led us to meet some people with local knowledge who suggested a "shortcut" which worked out. I was able to map out a new route using the app map out hands down the best mapping app out there.
All day rolling along on the new route I couldn't stop smiling. Absolutely loving life and loving the 20 kilometre climb I didn't have to do. Despite all the bush bashing and hike-a-bikes I was so happy we made the right choice.
End: Mackey's Hut (Mackay's Hut a bit on controversy about the name)
Distance: 35.3 kms
Elevation gain: 1,046m
River crossings (where feet don't get wet): 1
River crossings (where feet get wet): 0
Dinner: Tomato paste with brussel sprouts, broccoli and pre-cooked rice
Day 3 - Mackey's hut to Valentine hut
Distance: 30.57 kms
Elevation: 1,036 m
Lunch: Mt Jagungal walking trail start (Tumut river crossing)
River crossings (where feet get drenched): 7
River crossing (where feet stay dry): 2
Dinner: Dhal, with precooked rice, slab of peanut tofu
Day 4 - Valentine hut - Guthega power station
The bittersweet last day of a bikepacking trip. A night in the toasty warm hut meant I didn't have much to pack. So made the most of the warm morning sun and went for another sneaky skinny down at the river.
Most of the ride is a smooth descent. So much descent that Tim's brakepads started to smell.
It was so sad seeing the Welcome to the Jagungal Wilderness sign.
Best weekend bikepacking trip.
Especially thanks to the hospitality of Ina who let us use a portable gas stove to cook a massive pot of Dhal and gave us extra gas to keep us going.
Catch the early train from Central station to Mittagong (change at Campbelltown). Get there early to get the bikes on the train and avoid the crowds.
Ride Start: Mittagong station
Distance: 80 kms to Wombeyan caves and back to camp at Wollindilly river station
End: Wollindilly river station campsite (book ahead)
Start: Mudgee, New South Wales, Australia
Total distance: 412 kilometres (256 miles)
Riding condition: Unsealed country roads, some gravel, sealed country roads and about 40 kilometres of highway shoulder.
CWC Website : link
If you're looking for a week long get away with your bike, some mates and have a thirst for pubs and salad rolls. The Central West Cycle provides. Rolling hills of yellow rapeseed fields, grain silos, disused train lines, abandoned petrol stations, solar power farms and more importantly the colourful locals.
Where you can buy mountains of crocheted tea towels, whiskey infused marmalade (yet to be sampled and vouched for), and lamingtons.
I have to admit that being vegan on adventures like this isn't easy. My saliva glands override my ethics at the sight of a fluffy lamington. I know it's just a sponge cake coated in chocolate and dusted with coconut. But just they go so well with a coffee in the morning.
Just follow the yellow CWC stickers and you're set for a week of country love.
Day 1 - Mudgee to Dunedoo via Gulgong
Distance: 86 kilometres
Accommodation: Camping at Dunedoo caravan park
After a night at the pub (the Courthouse pub) first port of call is the local bakery*. Followed by a last roll around town and obligatory group photo we roll out loaded up and fresh (except the 3 who rode in from Lithgow the previous night). Ok correction, I rolled out of Mudgee with fresh legs.
*Warning: some bakeries have a 'supreme' edition of a salad roll which usually means a pineapple. You have been warned. I wasn't.
If you thought Mudgee was a cute adorable country town, wait until you hit Gulgong (pronounced "gull" gong).
After loading up on more baked goods, cafe treats and barista coffee we hit the road to ride through pastures of grain silos, rapeseed fields and arrived in Dunedoo at a decent our for a pub feed.
Day 2 - Dunedoo to Ballimore via Mendooran
Distance: 110 kilometres
Accommodation: Hair of the Dog pub (camping and cute rooms available)
Some fun facts about Dunedoo.
Rolling up tents when it's still below 4 outside isn't ever fun, but we were all keen to roll out of camp not the least because the camping site was next the B-Double truck route but we were all keen for some baked goodies.
Hot tip #1: Chad's bakery in Dunedoo do a killer blueberry pie and salad rolls for take away.
By lunchtime we hit the Mendooran. When you roll through the main street please wave to the lovely ladies of the Craft shop who are often seen sitting outside their craft store. Do stop and check out their wares of cute tea towels, and knitted goodies. Some of us chose to eat at the pub. I decided to sit out at the picnic area trying to fix my punctured tube.
Hot tip #2: Be careful where you roll your bike, as the "cat eye thorns" can lead to punctures with a slow leak. Don't be like me who suffered 3 punctures because of these thorns this trip.
Hot tip #3: Check you brought the right sized spare tubes before you leave home or risk having to beg your riding mates for a spare.
Luckily I was riding with some generous people who were able to spare me a spare tube and we hit the road.
Hot tip #3: When in the state forest follow the yellow stickers. You don't want to be stuck in the state forest close to sunset with a broken derailleur and have to ride a single speed bike the last 40 kilometres into town. That's doing a Stewie.
Riding through the state forest at sunset was just delightful. We rolled into the Ballimore "Hair of the Dog" pub with a half moon shining down on us.
I think I can speak for the group when I say this pub and its owners were just super. No judgement when we started drying our socks over the fireplace. Also the only vegetarian burger at a pub on this trip.
Day 3 - Ballimore to Dubbo
Distance: 61 kilometres
Accommodation: Camping at Dubbo caravan park
After much flaffing about at the pub drying tents and clothes in the sun, and trying to find an appropriately nice angle for a group photo of the Ballimore sign (maybe next time install the town sign in front of the trees), we set out for our short roll to Dubbo. With a short roll ahead of us we were able to afford more frequent stops to say hi to some of the four legged locals.
Hot tip #1: Dubbo St vinnies closes at 4pm (we got to Dubbo at 3:50pm)
Hot tip #2: The Indian palace resto in Dubbo may just be the yummiest Indian restaurant in New South Wales.
Day 4 - Dubbo to Wellington
Distance: 78 kilometres
Accommodation: Camping at Wellington caves
Dinner: Wellington pub
Hot tip #1: If you wake up at the right time you might meet Kim in the kitchen in her bathrobe and words of wisdom. Kim is a retired mental health professional visiting her friend in Dubbo. Kim doesn't ride a bicycle but her husband does. Kim says in her mind she's always 29 but her body says otherwise. Kim might also tell you that she's not one of those mums who hassles her daughter to get married and have babies. We all need a bit of Kim advice in our lives.
Hot tip #2: Dubbo RSL has a fitness centre with a sauna that opens at 6:30am.
Hot tip #3: Dubbo is the kinda town when hot chips is served at all hours of the day. Pies are served with hot chips. No time limit. No judgement. So try to not be too surprised when you're half way through your breakfast pie and a plate of hot chips arrive at your table, try not to say "chips at 9 o'clock?".
Wellington once known as the South Pole for its ice addiction (report from 2015). Unfortunately it did not live up to its junkie reputation. It was quaint, clean and beautiful and full of great things.
Hot tip #4: Wellington cave (7 kilometres out of town) has camping grounds with amazing views of the milky way. Book the cave tour in advance, they get booked out.
Day 5 - Wellington to Gulgong
Distance: 88 kilometres
Accommodation: Camping at Gulgong caravan park
Food: Breakfast donuts and take away salad rolls for lunch from Sang's hot bread, Wellington.
Dinner: Gulgong pub
Day 6 - Gulgong to Mudgee
Distance: 30 kilometres
Food: Breakfast ice cream and takeaway salad rolls for lunch from the bakery
Day 1 - Outta Melbourne into Midnight
Day 2 - Into state forest territory
Day 3 - Ice Ice baby
Day 4 - To Base camp Mt Buller
Day 5 - Mt Stirling
Day 6 - New Year's ride outta Mt Stirling
Day 7 - To the Seymour train station
Distance: 23 kms
Elevation: 137 m
Scramble pedestrian crossings and plenty of time to cross and take photos and cross over again.
Bad ass trains, signs and warnings to let you know there's no chance to get beers or onigiri on the platform!
Wedding spotting success. Caught this cute couple on their photo shoot
Matsumoto is famous for its soba (buckwheat noodles). Eaten like professionals in the restaurant next to the temple with fresh wasabi (grated ourselves) and the crispiest tempura.
Then my favourite taiyaki (fishy red bean waffles).
After a blissful night stealth camping next to a shrine we carb loaded on more tofu and onigiri for our Norikura climb. Unfortunately the climb was not to be. Heavy fog and winds prevented us from climbing up.
Strava link: part 1 and part 2
Distance: 87 kms
Elevation: 3,591 m
Being told we couldn't climb Mount Norikura was tough. Especially when the alternative mean a main road with tunnels without cycling provision.
After a tough day of climbing, speeding through tunnels and never ending climbs, arriving at this gorgeous mountain hut with our own onsen was special.
Gero is famous for its natural hot springs so the tiny town is filled with onsens and people walking around all day in their post onsen yukatas.
End: Stealth camping outside Takayama
Distance: 74 kms
Elevation: 1,171 m
Helpful hint about public outdoor onsens. Make sure you check when the cleaning and emptying time is. Try to get to the onsen before they empty out the water and clean the facility.
And then they said it's impossible to climb Takayama.
We still managed to ride around the cute country side checking out the cute bus stops, wild flowers and rest stops with so much detail.
When riding through Japan in October you might be lucky to ride through fields of ripe persimmons (kaki). So despite having to reroute around Takayama at least I got my share of sweet golden persimmons.
After a day of rain, waking up to a steamy sunny day was the best. Followed by a closed mountain road for a car-free ride to the town famous for its onsens.
Distance: 93 kms
Elevation: 2,332 m
From a breakfast of tofu and bamboo shoots and banana to a feast of the most amazing agedashi tomato and agedashi tofu.
So much transport. Closed roads (that's what I think the sign said). Buses and cycling over cute bridges. Watching even cuter single carriage trains through the mountain valleys.
Survived the night of heavy rain and not thinking about being mauled to death by bears. Breakfast of stale donuts, bananas and red bean.
Start: Stealth camp
End: After what seemed like an endless road to the camp site we were met by the owner of the only camp site open in October about 1 km from the site. It was beautiful location near the river in a valley between the mountains.
Distance: 86 kms
Elevation: 2,402 m
Lunch: All the shops were closed in the morning, messing up our plans to have lunch at the shops. But we managed to find a corner store with some cup noodles which the shop keeper kindly let us eat after he boiled some hot water for us. Sat in the shop to dry off a bit from the rain and to figure. We loaded up with as much food as we could carry and were off again.
Thanks to broken closed roads we were able to ride car-free up the mountains. Sometime we had to walk along the cliff face but that was a tiny price to pay to have the car-free pass.