|The Brindabella Range, seen in afternoon light from the west|
Brief Description: Cycle through the beautiful high country surrounding the Brindabella Ranges. Covering some of the best dirt road touring in Namadgi and Kosciuszko National Parks, this tour offers regular vistas of the northern Australian alps, and beneath them, sweeping plains that are home to Australia's iconic brumbies and historic high country huts. The highlight of the trip is camping by the spectacular limestone gorges at Blue Waterholes, Australia's largest karst spring.
The Brindabellas: The Brindabella Range is a mountain range in NSW and the ACT, Australia. Strictly speaking, the range forms the watershed between the Goodradigbee and Cotter Rivers, and, further to the north, between the Goodradigbee and Murrumbidgee Rivers. Canberrans often loosely refer to all the mountains immediately to the west and south of Canberra as the Brindabellas. The range lies above 1000m for most of duration, and climbs to 1911m at its highest point, Bimberi Peak. Mount Gingera (1855m), its second highest peak, is clearly visible from Canberra. The Brindabellas are the northern most range in the Australian Alps and its highest peaks are often snow covered in winter. This tour, starting in Canberra, initially goes clockwise around the Brindabellas providing good views of Bimberi Peak and the western slopes of the entire range, before climbing over the range at Picadilli Circus and returning to Canberra.
Route: Canberra, Tharwa, Old Boboyan Road, Mt Clear Campground, Shannons Flat, Yaouk, Lone Pine Fire Trail, Oldfields Hut, Blue Waterholes, Long Plain Road, Broken Cart Fire Trail, Brindabella, Picadilli Circus, Cotter, Canberra.
Tour stats: 272.5km - 4929m climb - 4929m descent
Online map: My GPSies map of the tour comes with an altitude profiles. See also the following variation for part of the route. For information on using GPSies maps, click here.
Time Required: This tour can be cycled in four days. With plenty to explore along the way and lots of camping options, the time period could be extended provided that adequate food supplies are carried.
Traffic conditions: Light or no traffic throughout the most of the trip.
Road Surface: About two thirds of the route follows unsealed gravel roads or fire trails. My hybrid with wide tyres went fine, though I would have found it difficult in wet conditions.
Climate Considerations: The tour is probably best cycled in Autumn, late spring or very early summer. In winter and early spring there is a good chance of snow fall, while in the summer from mid-December the bush flies come out in force. The section around Long Plain Road, Broken Cart Fire Trail and Blue Waterholes is closed to traffic between the June and October long weekends (exclusive), which is good for those seeking solitude but bad for those who run into any problems in this remote area. At all times of the year, be prepared for sub-zero temperatures overnight. For specific climate information, check the climate statistics for Canberra, Cooma, Cabrumurra and Mount Ginini at the Bureau of Meteorology's website.
Fitness Required: This tour ventures through remote areas in some of Australia's most mountainous country. Cyclists need to be comfortable cycling on broken surfaces for about five hours in a day, and be prepared for some long and steep climbs on such surfaces.
Direction to Travel: Either direction would have its challenges. I found most of the Lone Pine Fire Trail from Yaouk to the Mt Morgan/Mt Murray saddle impossible to cycle up. I imagine that it would be fool hardy to cycle down much of this section if attempting the route in reverse. I think the distance between campsites worked well for cycling the route in a clockwise direction, where an early start on Day 1 allows this longer distance to be cycled.
Access: The tour starts and ends in Canberra. There are cycle paths connecting the city to the airport and train station. Canberra is accessible by air from all Australian capital cities, and by bus and rail from Sydney. The bus services (Murrays and Greyhound) are quicker than rail (Countrylink), but check each service for their bicycle policy before making a booking. Countrylink requires that bicycles be boxed, and will generally supply boxes at Sydney Central Railway Station.
Print Maps: The Canberra map from the NatMap 1:250 000 series (50m contour intervals) covers the entire tour. However, in my opinion it does not give enough detail. I would advice purchasing the ACT Region, Tantangara, Brindabella and maps from the NatMap 1:100 000 series (20m contour intervals). These maps can be ordered from Geoscience Australia or through any good camping or map retailer.
Accommodation: Camping is the best way to do this trip, and while facilities are primitive, the natural surroundings at each campsite are excellent. Please note that none of the campsites have rubbish bins, so be prepared to carry your rubbish for the entire tour. Those who want to avoid camping may be able to do some variation of the tour using B&Bs at Shannons Flat, Yaouk, Currago Homestead and in the Brindabella Valley.
Drinking Water: It is recommended that water coming from streams, rivers and dams be treated (boiled, purified or filtered) before consumption. Creek, river or rain water is available throughout the trip all year round, except, perhaps, in periods of extreme drought. See notes for each day regarding the availability of water.
Bicycle Shops: There are numerous bicycle shops in Canberra. The suburbs of Phillip, Greenway, Civic and Braddon all have multiple bike shops and lie within easy reach of the route. For contact details and precise locations, search the Yellow Pages, Australia's premiere online business directory.
Other tours in this region: See my Bondi to Kosciuszko Tour and Canberra to the Coast Tour. My Namadgi Cycle Tour has not been published online yet, but I hope to do so soon.
Other useful links:
Date Travelled: I cycled the route from 4 to 7 June 2010. I cycled the Two Sticks Road variation (see Day 4) in December 2010.
© 2010 Robert Taggart. Last updated 31 December 2010.