|Yellow Rock and vineyards at Broke|
Brief Description: The least hilly route from the central west of NSW to the east coast, this tour passes through wheat and grazing area, over the Great Dividing Range (493m) into coal mining country. From Merriwa the tour enters the attractive Hunter Valley, with vineyards in the foreground and rugged escarpment in the background. The final leg of the journey passes through the quiet roads along the old Convict Trail, winding through the tranquil rural Wollombi Valley, offering some excellent two or three day touring routes based from Sydney.
Route: Wellington, Gulgong, Ulan, Cassilis, Merriwa, Denman, Jerrys Plains, Broke, Wollombi, Kulnura, Wyong. An alternative route between Gulgong and Jerrys Plains via Wollar and Bylong is discussed. The tour may be extended to the border of Sydney, ending either at Windsor (via Wisemans Ferry) or Brooklyn.
Tour stats: 396.4km - 3223m climb - 3515m descent
Online maps: The following maps are hosted by GPSies and come with altitude profiles.
For information on using GPSies maps, click here.
Time Required: 4-6 days. I completed the trip in four days.
Shorter route: Start at Muswellbrook (serviced by CityRail trains) and cycle to Sandy Hollow or Denman. From here follow the longer route to Wyong. This variation is about 200km long and takes in the best scenery on the trip.
Traffic conditions: Light traffic throughout the most of the journey.
Road Surface: Sealed and in reasonable condition, except for 2km of unsealed road between Paynes Crossing and Wollombi. The alternative route has an additional 45km of unsealed road.
Climate Considerations: This route can be travelled all year round. In winter, expect morning frost and in summer, hot days. For specific climate information, check the pages for Wellington, Mudgee, Muswellbrook and Wyong at the Bureau of Meteorology.
Fitness Required: Moderate. The hills are not too steep but some stamina is required to cover some long distances between towns.
Direction to Travel: Either direction is fine, though starting at Wellington gives a net descent of 300 vertical metres.
Access: Wellington is serviced twice a day from Sydney by the Countrylink Central West XPT. Passengers must book in advance (two bicycles per service only; book early!). Bicycles on Countrylink services must be boxed. Wyong is serviced hourly to and from Sydney by CityRail. No bookings required, and bicycles are free in off-peak services and may simply be wheeled on the train. Muswellbrook and Singleton are both within 25km of the route and have daily CityRail and Countrylink services to and from Sydney. Other variations discussed in the noted end at CityRail train stations.
Print Maps: Map 2 (Central and Northern NSW) and Map 4 (Sydney and Surrounds) from the NRMA NSW Touring Map Series cover the entire trip. In my view, topographic coverage of this tour is unnecessary. However, those seeking it should obtain the Dubbo, Singleton and Sydney Special maps from NatMaps 1:250 000 series (50m contour intervals).
Accommodation: I found enough opportunities for improvised camping on this trip. Those who want to stay in caravan parks, pubs or B&Bs will have no problems finding accommodation at appropriate intervals.
Drinking Water: It is recommended that water coming from streams, rivers and dams be treated (boiled, purified or filtered) before consumption. Tap water in towns and villages need not be treated unless clearly marked as non-potable. See notes for each day regarding the availability of water.
Bicycle Shops: Except at Wellington, there are no bicycle shops on this route. However, several towns which lie within 30km of the tour have bike shops. Some contact details that were accurate in December 2009 are given below:
Current details may be obtained using the Yellow Pages, Australia's premiere online business directory.
Route Variations: There are many shorter touring options accessible from Sydney via CityRail services. Cyclists could catch a train to Muswellbrook or Singleton and work their way back toward Sydney, picking up the route from Day 3. The roads discussed in Day 4 present many more attractive cycling possibilities using the CityRail network. Cyclists wishing to enter Sydney's suburbs may find my Negotiating Sydney (northern region) page helpful.
To create a longer route, this tour can be connected with the New England Ranges and Tablelands, Wollemi, and Lake Macquarie tours on this site. See also the extensive touring options in the Hunter region on Darrell Stone's cycle touring site.
Other useful links: Tom's Wollemi, Yengo and Blue Mountains cycle tour covered sections of this route.
Date Travelled: I cycled the route from 11 to 14 February 2002. Information on this tour was updated in December 2009 using the internet and more recent trips to the area.
© 2004-2010 Robert Taggart. Last updated 17 January 2010.