This weekend we’ve spent our time riding from Bermagui to Batemans Bay and doing our best to avoid the Princes Highway. It is possible to pick up the highway north of Bermagui and follow it through Corunna, Narooma, Moruya, and all the way up to Batemans Bay. It doesn’t feel particularly dangerous to cycle on the Princes Highway as there’s a decent hard shoulder, but the smaller roads are more fun and sociable as it’s easier to chat as we ride along, so we decided to avoid it wherever we could.
Friday night was our first night of camping in New South Wales and it was so much warmer than it had been in Victoria. We managed to pack up super quick because we didn’t need to wear a load of clothes when decamping, the tent wasn’t soaking wet from dew and the forecast was for rain in the afternoon, which is always a good motivator to get a swifty on. We set off from Bermagui on Saturday morning (no ParkRun this week for me), took the old road (Tilba Road) that’s now closed to cars across the sand dune as John in Sale had advised and enjoyed the peace and sea views. Then across beautiful Wallaga Lake before joining the Princes Highway, whereupon we immediately swung off to go through Tilba Tilba (great name!) and Central Tilba. Those were both beautiful little villages. Another 100m or so on the highway and we swung off again, said “hi” to the traffic policeman who was hiding so he could do speed checks and we swooped downhill, enjoying the road to ourselves. The next section on the “old highway” was much longer and took us past Corunna Lake and into Narooma. Within the first 5km there were three sections of gravel, but it was rideable and then it was sealed into Narooma. There were trees, lakes, big houses and few cars. Perfect riding.
After stopping in the Woolworths in Narooma to buy dinner we set off for Dalmeny on the fantastic cyclepath that hugged the coastline and was even on boardwalks in points. The views were brilliant and because it’s autumn here nowhere is that busy. We had lunch overlooking a beach where there were kids swimming in the sea (it’s the equivalent of mid October and kids are still swimming!). After Dalmeny we hit the highway, but we knew it was just over 20km until the turn off for Tuross where we’d planned to camp for the night, which broke up the highway section. We stayed at Tuross Lakeside and our tent was only a stone’s throw from the sea, or from a pelican.
Sunday was more highway dodging, although the first 13km to Moruya were on the main road. Well that’s what we thought, but after 5km the Garmin track turned off the highway. Clearly I’d found some alternative route when making our track a few days ago. We apprehensively followed the road towards Congo, worrying it would turn to dirt. However, as luck would have it the road is in the process of being sealed and there was just a 1.5km section into Congo that was still dirt. Congo itself was another lovely seaside place. We still had to get to Moruya to cross the river but the extra distance via Congo was well worth the effort for the quiet roads.
After Moruya we followed the George Bass Drive out towards the coast. We passed through Broulee (or Crème Brule as we called it) and then saw lots of little beaches, coves and impressive rock features. However, what we hadn’t expected were all very short, but steep, climbs around Malua Bay. The road just seemed to bounce up and down 10% hills for a few kilometres and we were glad to hit some flat ground after Sunshine Bay.
We’re now camped in Batemans Bay. In Australia there are a lot of Big4 campsites, which seems to be a massive company who run holiday parks. We used a Big4 in Healesville and it was the most expensive campsite we’ve stayed on during our trip, as well as being one of the worst, so we’ve decided to avoid them whenever possible. That means today we’re camped at Rio Rita, which is more of a static caravans and cabin type site, but it’s great because there’s a massive grassy field, an oak tree full of autumn colours, a covered area with a BBQ with lighting, it’s really peaceful and everyone is very friendly.