One of my favourite places in New South Wales is the Southern Highlands, a short train trip from Sydney. The best part is you can take your bike, perfect for a long weekend cycle tour camping trip.
Start: Central Train Station @ 7:24am
End: Bowral Train Station @ 10:00am
Day 1 - Bowral - Fitzroy Falls - Bundanoon
Distance: 59 Kms
Pit Stop 1 - Bowral - Gumnut Patisserie
At Bowral we rolled into the Gumnut patisserie for a pre ride coffee and a multi award winning pastry.
Pit Stop 2 - Someone's farm
Goggle maps took us through someone's private property but it was a short 100 m sneaky pass. We figured we weren't going to be long. So shhhh.
Pit Stop 3 - Fitzroy Falls & Lunch
Mini hike around the top of the falls and a perfect spot for lunch.
Pit Stop 4 - Exeter train station
A quick snack break sitting at the Exeter train station only needed to move once for the freight train.
Pit Stop 5 - Camping - Bundanoon - Gambells rest site
Bookings essential details here.
Limited number of sites available here.
Cost: From $25 a night
Facilities: Hot (gas) showers, flushing toilets, gas stoves, taps
Dinner - Eggplant & tofu stirfry
Ingredients: 1 massive eggplant, packet of firm tofu, 4 packets of 2 minute noodles, cabbage, onion, soy sauce, ginger, cooking oil spray. Marinate the tofu. Fry up the onion and eggplant on the stove. Cook the noodles. Cook the tofu. Once the noodles are cooked, mix everything on the stove top.
Bundanoon Night Ride to the Glow worm cave
In the dark surrounded one of the crew recited a beautiful Arabic poem by Ibn Arabi,
I follow the religion of Love
whatever way Love's camels take
that is my religion and my faith
ابن عربي - أدين بدين الحب
Day 2 - Hiking around Bundanoon
Lazy morning, slow to start. Pancakes on the stove top lathered in blue berry jam.
There are plenty a hiking trails in the Morton National Park. We
Day 3 - Easter Sunday - Bundanoon - Berrima - Bowral
Distance: 40 kms
Kicked Easter Sunday watching sunrise over Morton National park, followed by another epic feast of pancakes.
Pit Stop 1 - Bundanoon Markets
Packing down and heading into Bundanoon to sip coffee at the cafe and check out the local markets. Picking up a few goodies at the local op shop and sampling some delish vegetarian Indian goods.
Pit Stop 2 - Berkelouw Book Barn
Lazing about reading in the sun lying on the beautiful grounds of Berkelouw Book Barn.
Perfect ending to a beautiful Easter break.
My anxiety of not having planned a holiday over the xmas break resulted in this last minute cycle tour to the wilderness (better known as Bungonia National Park). Famous for its gorge, pretty popular canyoning spot as we later found out when we bumped into another Sydney Night Rider that night at the camp site.
Lesson # 1. Invite people who are spontaneous
For some reason I couldn't do this last trip on my own. I hadn't been on a long ride in a while and I wasn't feeling the most confident, even though I'd been to this place before. So I invited people who I thought would enjoy a mini tour. 2 people caught the bait.
So on Friday the 30th December 2016, after some false starts with bike malfunctions and missing trains. Daniel, Jeremy and I set off into the wilderness from Moss Vale at 13:30 and managed to get to camp before sunset.
Lesson # 2. Chat to people. They always have great advice. Like hidden swimming holes
At the campsite one of the boys was tipped off about a swimming hole, so with the tents half set up we ditched everything and ran for the bush to find this hole, for a twillight swim. Swimming at twillight in a gorge surrounded by a forest is just magical. Even more so when there's thunder and rain.
We were still swimming when the rains hit.
Lesson # 3. Always close your bags. Always cover the tent. You never know when the rains will hit. Especially when you're twillight swimming at the bottom of a gorge.
We were 40 mins away from the tents when the rain hit. Should have closed the tents but it probably wouldn't have made a huge difference as there was a stream of water running through the ground sheets anyway. Lucky the camp site has a shed and hot water. We slept in there that night.
Lesson # 4. Sleeping mats are soft and comfy
Sleeping mats make hard floors comfy to sleep on.
Lesson # 4. Butt Cream
After the whole trip (160 kms, return) my butt was pretty chaffed. Not sure if it was because I was wearing underwear the first day or because I wasn't wearing underwear the second day. My crack was a raw and riding back home wasn't fun.
Elevation Gain (click link for Strava details): Day 1 - 582 m , Day 2 - 668 m
Lesson #5. Check the Burger joint you plan to have your victory post-tour dinner at is open.
It's long weekend and I'm in between jobs so I figured I'd take this opportunity to do a cycle tour down through NSW. What started off as an idea for an overnighter turned into a week adventure through the Australia's highest mountain ranges in Kosciuszko National park.
I managed to convince 5 others to come along on the first part to Canberra, a mini adventure with the SNR crew. After much planning between myself and a friend, lots of consultations of train times, locations, camping grounds. We finalised a route from Moss Vale to Canberra via Bungonia.
The adventure began at 7:24am from Central station, trying to find the elevator up to the platform is a nightmare (go to the Eddy Ave side first). We caught a "normal" 8 carriage train out to Campbelltown then changed over to the train for Moss Vale. Although the train ride was completely covered by the opal card, we didn't realise the train to Moss Vale was very different to the Sydney trains. It was 2 carriages, had space for 2 bikes to hang off a hook and no in between spaces. Somehow we managed to squeeze bikes into the passenger part and lie them ontop of each other.
Train ride duration: 2h 30 mins
Start: Central Station
End: Moss Vale Station
Ride Start: Moss Vale Station
Ride End: Bungonia State Forest Camping grounds
Distance: 79 kms
Elevation: 730 m
Difficulty: Easy, Medium
Road Conditions: On Road (bituman) in back countries, 10 kms on highway with wide shoulder
Route Map: link
Moving Time: 4h 30min
Total journey time: 6h 20mins
Bungonia Campgrounds, booking required and has charges. Facilities are out of this word. Filtered water, hot showers, gas bbq outside, gas stoves in an common room
Some photos courtesy of this beautiful rider @alikjones