NSW: Tarana

The place to be

Our obligatory visit to...a pub.

If you wanted to conduct a graduate school in road surfaces, you wouldn’t have to go far from Sydney. The back road from Old Bowenfels, near Lithgow, past Lake Lyall and on through Sodwalls and Tarana before reaching the Bathurst-Oberon road, would serve as a perfect example.

Good tar, bad tar, patchwork over the original road surface, potholes that demonstrate that the original road surface is only a couple of inches thick, even patchwork that has completely obliterated the original surface and is therefore probably at least four inches thick. It’s all there.

Indeed, if you were to take the right-hand roadonwards from Tarana – the one that stays on the northern bank of the Macquarie River – you’d even get to sample some gravel.

Why am I telling you this? Well, contrary to what you might think, it’s also a terrific motorcycle road. Yes, it does help to have halfway decent suspension – although it shouldn’t be too soft or you won’t make some of the corners. But the surveying of the road is terrific and the scenery is equally good.

And – well, what have we here? Halfway along, in the tiny hamlet of Tarana, there is the Tarana pub, motto “The Only Place to Be”. It doesn’t say what it is the only place to be, if you know what I mean. I think I do. Once a typical closed-in country pub, it now boasts a beautiful little beer garden with an open deck that just begs you to stay and sample the tucker.

It’s nothing terribly flash and vegetables are not available until after 6pm (seriously) but it ranges from the dreaded pie floater to a huge T-bone by way of dishes such as sausages, mash, peas and gravy. Rather more inventive are the sweets, with Fish River mud cake and Sodwall’s [sic] strudel and ice cream among them. Prices are not exactly cheap (this is let’s-go-for-a-weekend-drive tourist territory) but the ample quantities still make it pretty good value. And that deck is really good.

From Tarana you have the choice of the signposted main road (turn left at the end of town) to O’Connell on the Oberon-Bathurst road, or the above-mentioned northern route that reaches the same road much closer to Bathurst but which is in rather poorer shape. Either way is fun.

This road makes a good segment for a one-day ride from Sydney. Head out along Bells Line of Road, turn left when you reach the Great Western Highway just past Lithgow and then take the turnoff to the right at the pub in Old Bowenfels. After tackling the road, turn left at O’Connell, turn left again at Oberon and return to the Great Western Highway near Hartley. From there you can just trundle back to Sydney along the highway or you can take a left turn in Mt Victoria and cross over to Bell before taking Bells Line of Road back.

It’s all good riding and some of it is great riding.

See you out there one Sunday.


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