Canberra to Hill End and back
This tour winds its way around the central tablelands area of rural New South Wales, a region mainly used for grazing and cropping. The route is punctuated by a few medium-sized towns and cities, which are generally prospering, and smaller communities that seem to have seen busier days - none more so than Hill End, the ostensible destination of the trip.
Hill End was a thriving mining town during the gold rush that started in the 1850s. Today it's basically a tourist attraction.
The route was designed to avoid busy roads as much as possible. By far the least busy road was the Bridle Track, an alternative route down from Hill End that is currently (October 2012) closed to four-wheel vehicles due to a landslip that has removed a chunk of road, accompanied by a car-sized boulder across the remaining lane for good measure. Fortunately, the road is still passable to bicycles - for the time being.
Richard Bush, Silke Smaglinski and Doug Thompson planned the trip for
PedalPower members in 2012 for that
year's "Spring Scenic tour". We refined the original plan about halfway through
the trip to be less ambitious, as we all felt like we'd prefer to have more
time in the afternoon at each destination to
stuff ourselves with coffee
and cake explore. Here's the route we ended up cycling, with links to
maps on mapmyride.com:
- Day 1. Canberra to Gundaroo
- Day 2. Gundaroo to Crookwell
- Day 3. Crookwell to Abercrombie Caves
- Day 4. Abercrombie Caves to Bathurst
- Day 5. Bathurst to Hill End
- Day 6. Rest day in Hill End
- Day 7. Hill End to Bathurst via the Bridle Track
- Day 8. Bathurst to Orange or alternate route
- Day 9. Orange to Canowindra
- Day 10. Canowindra to Grenfell
- Day 11. Grenfell to Young
- Day 12. Young to Binalong
- Day 13. Binalong to Burrinjuck
- Day 14. Burrinjuck to Yass
- Day 15. Yass to Canberra
Thanks to Richard for organising the trip, Silke, Doug and Richard for route planning and mapping, and Arunas Pilka for the support vehicle and trailer.
Leaving Canberra 🔗
Wayne's World 🔗
We set up camp at the Gundaroo showground (which has an astonishing sign that reads "campers welcome" and hot showers if you make arrangements beforehand), and dropped by the Cork St café for lunch and dinner.
Breakfast at Crookwell 🔗
Most of our gear was carried in large plastic boxes like the two blue ones you can see in the centre of the frame. These were carted between destinations in the trailer of our support vehicle, which made for a much easier tour than the self-supported trips I've done in the past.
Leaving Crookwell 🔗
Abercrombie River bridge 🔗
The Abercrombie Caves campground is nothing special and situated in a valley, so you don't even get the sun early in the morning. If you're doing this trip, you might want to consider camping a bit earlier at Tuena instead. It looks like there's a nice campground there by the river.
Trunkey Creek general store 🔗
No through road 🔗
Near Bathurst 🔗
Near Bathurst 🔗
Supply and demand 🔗
Sofala restoration 🔗
Sofala, like Hill End, is a gold rush era town. Its other claim to fame is that Peter Weir's first feature film The Cars That Ate Paris was shot here in 1974.
Sofala property 🔗
Bearded Dragon 🔗
Climbing to Hill End 🔗
Hill End Hotel 🔗
Hill End has attracted a surprising number of artists in its post gold rush existence. Russell Drysdale's The cricketers was painted here, and the hotel building is remarkably similar to the building in that painting.
Hill End erosion 🔗
Big rusty cube 🔗
Wonky fences 🔗
Hill End laneway 🔗
Hill End shed 🔗
On the Bridle Track 🔗
Views from the Bridle Track 🔗
Changed traffic conditions 🔗
Elegant Tree 🔗
Good sign 🔗
Patterns in the grass 🔗
Lunch break 🔗
We took it in turns to drive the support vehicle between destinations, leaving after the cyclists in the morning and often meeting up on the road somewhere around lunchtime.
On the road to Young 🔗
Uncommon cycle-touring hazard 🔗
Inside the Millard Centre, Young 🔗
Harden architecture 🔗
Birds at Burrinjuck 🔗
The campground is on the shore of Lake Burrinjuck, an artificial lake created by damming the Murrumbidgee, Goodradigbee and Yass rivers. The road into Burrinjuck looks a bit disconcerting on the map, with lots of hairpin bends, which is often indicative of a steep climb out. In this case the grade is actually very gentle, the road is good and the scenery is picturesque as it winds its way through forest and farmland.
I suspect the reason for the gentle grade of the road is that it looks like it follows the route of a narrow gauge railway built for the initial construction of the dam in 1907.
Leaving Burrinjuck 🔗
From Yass it's another half day's ride back to Canberra and the end of the trip.