Darrell Stone

dasmero@gmail.com

Bicycle Touring in Eastern Australia

Let your cycling friends know about this site

Home ] Up ] Campsites + Bikeshops ] Packing ] Tips ] Planning ] Links ]



View Profiles    Download GPX
Newcastle/Lithgow to Orbost/Melbourne

Updated 17/06/2012

 

 

I did this trip in September and it covers 15 days in the saddle on mainly bitumen and some gravel roads along the picturesque western slopes of the Great Dividing Range.  It is best done in spring or autumn and it includes riding the Wodonga-Cudgewa Rail Trail, Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail and the East Gippsland Rail Trail.  Refer to Rail Trails Australia website shown on the Links page.

I crossed the Victorian snowfields at Mt Hotham.  There is a 36km climb from Harrietville to Mt Hotham and Dinner Plain.  I did this section of the trip by “taxi” to the top of the mountain from Harrietville as the road is very narrow, windy, steep with no road shoulders and a sharp drop on the road edge.  I recommend adopting this approach to avoid a hazardous section of road.  It will also save a day’s extremely hard riding.  Arrange a lift to Dinner Plain with the owner of the Harrietville caravan park a week or 2 before the trip.

I started the trip from Newcastle and caught an early morning train to Lithgow.  I finished cycling at Orbost and caught a V-Line coach to Bairnsdale and then by train to Melbourne before flying home.  I camped at caravan parks or rough camped on a few occasions.

Unfortunately my camera malfunctioned on this trip, and I lost most of the great photos that I had taken.

Climate

The following climate statistics are for the weather station at Mt Hotham.  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.

  Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
Av Max Temp oC 16 16 13 9 5 1 0 1 3 7 11 14
Av Min Temp oC 8 8 6 3 0 -2 -4 -3 -2 0 3 6
Av Rain mm 97 82 81 80 134 148 135 146 136 109 128 84
Av days of rain ≥ 1 mm 8 6 6 7 10 11 13 11 10 9 9 6


Itinerary
Towns listed below that have distances marked ( ) are those where food/drink is expected/known and those marked [ ] are points of interest


Early train to Lithgow
 

Check timetables from Sydney at CityRail website (included under Links on this site).

All types of accommodation are available, but I stayed at Lithgow Tourist & Van Park - 58 Cooerwull Rd - 1km W of Information Centre, just off the Great Western Highway and about 5kms from the railway station.


Day 1 - Lithgow - Tarana (27) - Oberon
 
52 kms 1,250 m climbed

This was a hard day with some hills that I walked up, but the countryside was great.  Food/drink is available as above, although the pub at Tarana has limited supplies for light meals.  Apart from the pub, there are only a few houses at Tarana and a railway station that is apparently no longer in use.  From Tarana to Oberon, the opportunity for the rail trail along the abandoned railway line is frequently evident.  It would have been much easier than the 9% gradient that we walked for 2kms about 10kms from Oberon.  Some progress has been made in the construction of a cycleway adjacent to this rail line and it is usable several kilometres out from Oberon, although there seemed to be fewer ups and downs on the road.

All types of accommodation were available and I camped at Jenolan Caravan Park - Cunynghame St - 600m N of Oberon Post Office which was convenient to all shopping.  It had a bbq area with tables and chairs under cover.


Day 2 - Oberon - Rockley (32) - Neville
 
73 kms 1,080 m climbed

Very limited food/drink is available at the pub at Rockley, and the town had no other supplies.  The countryside is mainly undulating farming areas and much of the ride is on good gravel back roads.

Neville has the Showground, a pub (not sure about accommodation, but it appeared doubtful) and cabins about 1km west of the pub and close to the general store.  The store has a reasonable range of food, and serves a great hamburger.  If you plan to camp at the Showground, you should contact Kevin Radburn (phone 02 6368 8413), who lives opposite, to ensure that the water is turned on for the toilets.  It is turned off during winter to prevent the water from freezing and bursting the pipes.  There may also be showers there, but we did not have access to all of the buildings during our stay.


Day 3 - Neville - Mandurama (16) - Walli - Cowra
 
68 kms 900 m climbed

Food/drink is available as above with a general store at Mandurama.

Cowra is a major regional centre with a great bike shop and a number of historical places to visit.  You will ride past the Japanese POW War Memorial as you come into the town.  All types of accommodation are available.  I camped at Cowravan Park - Lachlan St - 1k W of Post Office, but near the shopping centre.  It had a camp kitchen with a communal fridge, microwave oven and tables and chairs under cover.


Day 4 - Cowra - Boorowa
 
76 kms 750 m climbed

There are no villages before Boorowa.  The road passes through undulating farming country that is good riding.  Boorowa is a small regional town with all facilities, except a genuine bakery.

All types of accommodation are available.  I camped at Boorowa Caravan Park - Brial St - 1k N of Post Office and adjacent to the river.


Day 5 - Boorowa - Murrumburrah (40) - Cullinga - Cootamundra
 
77 kms 860 m climbed

The road is all bitumen and passes through open grazing country.  Murrumburrah has a general store/road house opposite a nice park with good toilets and tables.  Cootamundra is a major regional town with all facilities.  The RSL club (good bistro) and pubs are close to the caravan park.

All types of accommodation are available.  I camped at Cootamundra Caravan Park - 55 Mackay St - 500m W of Post Office and close to a major supermarket.


Day 6 - Cootamundra - Brawlin - Bongongalong - Gundagai
 
59 kms 400 m climbed

More undulating farming country with reasonable quiet roads, with no shops until Gundagai.  A walk around the town is worthwhile, particularly near the old railway bridge.

All types of accommodation are available.  I camped at Gundagai River Caravan Park - Middleton Dr - 1k from Post Office.  I had ice on my tent at 7am on a late September morning.


Day 7 - Gundagai - Brungle - Tumut (38) - Batlow
 
69kms 1,310 m climbed

I found this to be a tiring day, but the rewards are worth the effort.  There are 2 roads to Tumut from Gundagai.  The eastern route is the one that I used because there is little traffic on it, although it does start with a walk up a hill a few kilometres out of Gundagai.  It levels out to good cycling country through to Tumut, where you can get most things, and it has some good bakeries.  About 14kms out of Tumut, I used the two foot gear up some of the mountain to Batlow with its 6.4% climb for 2kms.  Beautiful country, with more orchards as you get closer to Batlow.  Everything is available in Batlow and is on a hill.  The RSL serves a good meal and the pubs also serve counter meals.

All types of accommodation are available.  I camped at Batlow Caravan Park - Kurrajong Ave - on the left just over the bridge as you come into the town.


Day 8 - Batlow - Tumbarumba (38) - Jingellic
 
82 kms 1,050 m climbed

The day starts with a few kilometres of climbing up from Batlow through some forest and, after nearly 20 kilometres, starts its gradual descent to Jingellic.  Tumbarumba is a major regional town, and it is best to get supplies there for Jingellic and the overnight stay at Granya.  While Jingellic has a supermarket, a few houses and a pub, supplies tend to be limited and expensive.  If you intend to camp in the reserve near the pub, bring some toilet paper/tissues, as they are not necessarily supplied.

There is cabin accommodation available at the pub, or you can do as I did and free camp in the park behind the pub and adjacent to the Murray River.  The pub will sell you a token to use their shower, and they provide toilets for park users, but they do not guarantee to supply toilet paper.  Bottled water can be purchased or taken from the river and boiled.  This is a popular free camping area and may be crowded at holiday times.  The pub does serve some evening meals as well having as a great open fire place.  This was a really nice place to stay.


Day 9 - Jingellic - Burrowye - Granya
 
59 kms 600 m climbed

There are no food stops between Jingellic and Tallangatta (Day 10), so if you are short on supplies, stop at the supermarket before you leave Jingellic.  This was a great day riding alongside the "mighty" Murray River.  Unfortunately, we were in drought when I rode this trip.  Some of my notes on the days riding through this area were remembering

  • the dawn mist rising from the river as the sunbeams danced across the rippling river;

  • dead trees standing like skeletons in memory of good times past; and

  • dry creeks with weeping willows on their banks crying out for a drink.

Granya is a small village with a number of houses, a community hall, phone box and not much else.  There is a park for camping about 2 kms down the gravel road that is off to the right opposite the community hall.  There are claimed to be toilets there, but they are well hidden.  I decided to camp behind the community hall and had toilets and water.


Day 10 - Granya - Bullioh - rail trail from Old Tallangatta - Tallangatta (27) - Tangambalanga (44) - Allans Flat - Osbornes Flat - Yackandandah
 
69 kms 990 m climbed

This day started with a climb up Mt Granya and then the long descent.  The hard packed gravel rail trail started about 20 kms from Granya at the right turn to Old Tallangatta.  Tallangatta is a large town with a great bakery.  The rail trail is about 16 kms long and plans are underway to reinstate the bridge top across the Hume Weir to Huon.  This will then provide an off road link through to Albury-Wodonga.  (Check on its progress via the Rail Trails Australia website on the Links page.)

Yackandandah is a town with all accommodation facilities.  I stayed at a nice Yackandandah Caravan Park - Dederant Rd - 500m S of Post Office, on the left on the way into town.  It had a bbq area with tables and chairs under cover.


Day 11 - Yackandandah - Beechworth (23) - rail trail to Everton Junction - Myrtleford
 
68 kms 750 m climbed

The only food/drink along the way is at Beechworth, and it is worth spending a few hours here.  It has a number of historic buildings close by the main street, as well as the famous Beechworth Bakery and the equally well known local lolly shop.  Here, you will join the bitumen Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail.  Most of the ride on the rail trail to Everton Junction is downhill.  Try to slow down to see some of the scenery, and be on the lookout for snakes mating or basking in the sun on the rail trail during the spring.  DO NOT ATTEMPT TO PICK THEM UP OR GO NEAR THEM - THE CHANCES ARE THAT THEY ARE HIGHLY VENOMOUS.  From Everton to Myrtleford is through agricultural land, where tobacco and hops seem to be the main produce.  This section of the track seems to harbour more than its fair share of aggressive magpies in the spring.

Myrtleford is a major rural town with all facilities and all types of accommodation available.  I camped at Arderns Caravan Park - Willow Gr - 1 km E of Post Office.


Day 12 - Myrtleford - Ovens (5) - Porepunkah (24) - Bright (31) - Germantown - Harrietville
 
55 kms 440 m climbed

The ride through to Bright is mostly along the rail trail.  It is worthwhile spending some time looking around Bright.  It is picturesque and a popular town during holiday periods, as well as having a good bakery.  It is best to buy any provisions here, as the general store at Harrietville is limited and quite expensive.  The ride to Harrietville is a gradual climb through some interesting country.  Harrietville has a general store, 2 pubs, motel, a caravan park and a number of nice homes.  It is the base for many people who go skiing at Mt Hotham during the winter ski season.

I camped at Harrietville Cabins & Caravan Park - 700m SE of Post Office.  Phone the owner ( 03 5759 2523) a week or two ahead to arrange with him to put your bike in his truck and take you up the mountain to Mt Hotham, JB Plain or Dinner Plain.


Option - Harrietville - Mt Hotham Village (28)  - JB Plain
 
36 kms 1,980 m climbed

I do not recommend riding this section.  The road is quite narrow and steep for much of the distance with an average gradient of 5.4% for 24kms of the steeper section.  There are no shoulders, and the edges fall away quite steeply in most places.  Unless you are an extremely strong rider, I believe that you would walk many parts of this section if you are carrying full touring gear.  There are also sections that are exposed and would create a problem for a loaded bike in strong wind situations - which are not uncommon it seems.  Having said that, the views are great, either on a bike or in a car, particularly if there is still some snow on the mountains.

Mt Hotham Village and Dinner Plain is quite seasonal, so food and accommodation is a case of pot luck or book beforehand.  There is camping at JB Plain with toilets.  It may be wise to bring additional water.  It is a further 2 kms to Dinner Plain.  There is no camping at either Dinner Plain or Mt Hotham Village, and other accommodation is expensive.


Day 13 - Harrietville - taxi to Dinner Plain - Omeo (42) - Swifts Creek
 
72 kms 1,700 m climbed

When you get out of the car at Dinner Plain, you will be about 1,100m higher than Harrietville.  Wear warm clothes!  You will need them as you descend towards Omeo.  The high plains have a charm of their own.  Unfortunately, the magpies think that they are a part of that charm, right until you get down to Omeo.  Omeo is a small town with all facilities and a great bakery.

Swifts Creek has a pub and caravan park.  I camped at the caravan park on the bank of the Tambo River 500m E of Post Office.  Pay and collect the shower key at the supermarket on the right as you come into the town, then take the road to the left down to the caravan park.  It had a large sheltered area.


Day 14 - Swifts Creek - Ensay South (21) - Bruthen
 
70 kms 790 m climbed

The road becomes narrower and is used by timber and other trucks as it is the only road from Omeo to the coast, so some vigilance is needed to monitor what is coming from behind.  The road passes through some picturesque valleys as the river races to the coast.  There is a garage at Ensay South that was still closed when I rode through about 8am on the way to try to avoid the coming bad weather.  Bruthen is a small town with most facilities, including a bakery.

Accommodation can be obtained at the pub, although it is wise to book as it is popular as a destination for those who travel along the East Gippsland Rail Trail.  I camped at the quiet, pleasant Bruthen Caravan Park - Buchan Rd, just over the bridge from the pub.  It had a camp kitchen with bbq, a communal fridge, a microwave oven and tables and chairs under cover.


Day 15 - Bruthen - use rail trail - Nowa Nowa (27) - Orbost
 
67 kms 660 m climbed

There is a service station/takeaway at Nowa Nowa and a number of houses.  This will be the only real civilisation that you will see along the rail trail until Orbost.  Much of the rail trail passes through bushland with some sections of open countryside.  The trail is hard packed gravel.  Unfortunately they have not used the magnificent timber trestle bridges that cross a number of the creeks, so there are times where there is a steep descent down to the creek bed, followed by an equally steep climb up the other side.  This was particularly so at Stony Creek, and the push up from the creek bed was hard work.  Watch for snakes on the trail.  Apart from them, I heard only some birds, and was startled as a flock of 7 emus ran alongside me in a cleared section for a couple of hundred metres at about 25-30 kph.  What a great experience!

Accommodation can be obtained at any of the pubs, although that may be at a premium in holiday periods.  I camped at Orbost Caravan Park - Lochiel St - on the left as you come into town.  It is close to all facilities and has an eating area under cover with tables, chairs and bbq.


Orbost to Melbourne

 

I caught a V-Line coach from Orbost to Bairnsdale and then by train to Melbourne's Spencer St Station.  Check the website included in Links for timetables.  As it was late in the afternoon, I stayed overnight at the economical nearby Ibis Hotel in Little Bourke St.  The next morning, I caught the Skybus (use the web address in Links) from the northern end of the station to Tullamarine, however, it is possible to ride most of the way to Tullamarine using off road cycleways (see the Tullamarine to City and Suburbs Ride for details).  There, I boxed the bike and caught my flight home.

 

Go to top
 

Home ] Up ] Campsites + Bikeshops ] Packing ] Tips ] Planning ] Links ]

Copyright Darrell Stone 2012.  All rights reserved.