Blowin’ in the wind
Lunch in Kiama, anybody?
Great Cruiser Rides is a new feature in Cruiser+Trike that will introduce you to some, well, great day and weekend rides. Whenever we can we’ll find you somewhere to go for a ride, a meal and probably a look at a good bit of scenery. For the first ride we’re going to revisit an area we recommended a few issues back — but with a difference!
Leaving Sydney is never easy; it’s as if the place is deliberately trying to hold you up. And there are some routes, of course, that the NSW government will even tell you not to ride; they’ve warned motorcyclists against using the M5 tunnel. Seems you might not come out the other side because the fumes have got you.
So let’s just get to Royal National Park by whatever way we can. From here on it’s fun and easy. Well, as long as you keep an eye on the speedo and your talent in the park. A lot of riders have been overcooking it here.
First stop is the good ol’ standby Stanwell Tops, where you may or may not wish to have a cup of coffee and admire the view down and up the coast. Then it’s down that great twisting road to Stanwell Park itself (if you managed to contain yourself and eschew the coffee at the top, there are a couple of good cafes here) and on to the wonderful Sea Cliff Bridge. The coast road down to Wollongong is fun, even if it kind of slips away from the coast and into the suburbs after a while. Pick up the Northern Distributor as soon as you can (it’s signposted off to the left) and take the easy way past Wollongong. Avoiding freeways is all very well, but when it lets you miss suburban roads it can be worth it.
The next sight worth seeing is the Nan Tien Temple with its pagoda off to the left. If you want to stop and have a look, take the Five Islands turnoff.
The freeway ends just before Albion Park Rail. At the big roundabout, take the road to the right that’s signposted to Albion Park. When you get there, turn right again and you’re on the Illawarra Highway heading west. You now have an idyllic ride though a beautiful valley before climbing the notorious but also spectacular Macquarie Pass.
Take it easy — the road is a bit bumpy and there is generally some diesel in critical places — but enjoy the ride. At the top you will reach the Robertson Pie Shop. Well, you will if you’ve managed to avoid the diesel.
Avoid the pie shop as well and take the road opposite, which is called Jamberoo Mountain Road and leads down to Jamberoo. This is a far narrower and less thoroughly made road than Macquarie Pass, although it is tarred all the way now. I love it, but I acknowledge you need to be careful. Take a look at the sign warning of the steep descent at Barren Ground; someone has drawn screaming passengers into the windows of the car …
You pass Carrington Falls (gravel), Minnamurra Rainforest Centre and the Illawarra Fly along here, all of which are worth a visit but none of which have been included in this route. They can wait for another day.
At the bottom, turn right to Jamberoo. Continue through the village and after some lovely bucolic scenes you’ll find yourself riding under the Highway 1 freeway overpass and into Kiama. Turn left at the roundabout and you’re in Collins Street, where there are some touristy but quite nice shops and cafes on the right. If the parking spaces are all full, try behind the terraces — there’s a little laneway that runs between them to another parking area.
Lunch here or down by the harbour, have a relaxing break, and then we’re off again. Continue north, initially along Collins Street until you get back to Highway 1. The bypass that’s next is quite a work of art, so stay on that until you rejoin the highway you left to head for Macquarie Pass.
Now this next move is a little tricky.
When you’re past the steelworks, take the left turn off the freeway to Figtree. When you reach the Princes Highway, turn right and continue along until you reach the turnoff to the left to Mt Keira Road. Take that, and you’re on your way. This takes you up to Mt Keira, where you have the option of taking a sharp right and visiting the kiosk. It’s worth it for the view, even if you don’t want another coffee so quickly.
Continue up the road and take the first right, which will bring you to Mt Ousley Road — you’re back on Highway 1. Follow this — it’s quite a magnificent bit of road, up on top of the escarpment — to the top of Bulli Pass.
The road divides here and you want the branch that heads for Appin. It’s nothing much, really, but the bush is nice and there are only a couple of coal mines. Turn right in Appin — there’s a pleasant enough pub on your right — and head for Campbelltown. This stretch is the last really enjoyable bit of riding, but then you’ve had a good run, haven’t you?
Turn left as you enter Campbelltown onto the Narellan road and then take the South Western Freeway when it presents itself. From here it’s a straight run back to Sydney — but remember to avoid the M5 tunnel!
The Kiama ride
Distance: About 350km
Riding time: About six hours
Best time: Avoid weekends
Best for: Any kind of bike
Experience required: Modest
Watch for: Oncoming traffic on the passes