|Countryside 10km west of Jerrys Plains|
Route: The Battery, Sandy Hollow, Denman, Jerrys Plains, Broke
Day 3 offers a beautiful cycle through the picturesque portions of the Hunter Valley and could easily be broken up into two days, particularly for those who delight in wine tasting. General tourist information about the Hunter Valley, can be found at winecountry.com.au, huntervalley.com and hunterweb.com.au. For a guide to wineries along the cycling route, visit upperhunterwine.com.au.
From The Battery the Golden Highway finds itself gliding through a pretty valley until it opens out at the Goulburn River at Sandy Hollow. Sandy Hollow (tourist information) is a small town with a post office, road house, pub, café and caravan park. From here you can connect with the alternate route (longer but quieter and more scenic) to Jerrys Plains and with the Wollemi Cycle Tour (if you want to head to Muswellbrook and catch a train to Newcastle or Sydney).
|Escarpment near Sandy Hollow|
From Sandy Hollow one captures regular views of the sandstone escarpment on the southern edge of the Hunter Valley and northern border of the Wollemi wilderness. Traffic is also noticeably heavier, though on the whole still manageable for touring. One can cycle direct to Denman along the highway, or can take the longer route via Rosemont Road (turn right about 7km from Sandy Hollow) for less traffic, vineyard views and access to the Apex Lookout over Denman. Denman (main tourism website, second tourism website, SMH travel guide) is a rural centre of 1500 people. It has a caravan park, other accommodation and a shopping centre that includes a supermarket. From Denman traffic along the Golden Highway increases but is still manageable for touring. (To avoid this traffic, take the alternative route between Denman and Jerrys Plains.) Along this section are more vineyards as the Hunter Valley broadens out with expansive river flats. On these flats, 27km from Denman, is situated the small village of Jerrys Plains (SMH travel guide, tourism webpage), settled in 1822. It boasts historic building, a service station, tavern, café and a park with toilets.
After Jerrys Plains one cycles past some major coal mining operations that threaten to encroach on the village. About 17km after Jerrys Plains, leave the highway and take the minor road to Broke. Around Broke, the scenery improves markedly, leaving the scared mining landscape and entering one of the most picturesque areas of the tour. Broke (tourism website, tourism webpage, community website) itself is a small village with many B&Bs and a general store which functions as a grocer, newsagent, take away-coffee shop, delicatessen, post office, bottle shop, petrol station and tourist information centre. An expansive grassed area near the general store could provide a camp site under the pine trees some 40m off the road. Further business listings (including restaurants and accommodation) around Broke can be obtained via the list of Wollombi websites on Day 4.
Rather than camp at Broke, I cycled on toward Wollombi for another 17km where I found a campsite near Paynes Crossing. Details are described on Day 4.
© 2004-2010 Robert Taggart. Last updated 8 January 2009.