Melbourne to Sydney

We took the scenic route between Melbourne and Sydney. It was pretty hilly and quite remote at times, but very picturesque, and almost all on quiet roads or tracks. We wild camped most nights, and didn’t have any problems, and stayed with some great warmshowers hosts. We also found the WikiCamps Australia App to be pretty useful too.

Day 0 – Melbourne Airport to Melbourne
37.9km, 128m ascent, 2:45 cycling
Less than 1km from the airport is the start of the Moonie Ponds Creek Trail, which joins the Capital City Trail about 5km from the city. This took us all the way in to the city centre without ever cycling on a road. We headed out of the city a few km to stay with our wonderful warmshowers hosts Scott and Tamara in Hawthorn.

Day 1 – Melbourne to St Andrews
56.6km, 465m ascent, 3:48 cycling
We continued along the Yarra Creek Trail to where it joined the Diamond Creek Trail (pretty slow going along the cycle lanes, but a lovely little route). We left this at the town of Diamond Creek on the road to Hurstbridge. This is a little busy for 5-10km, then gets much quieter after Hurstbridge. We found an OK spot to camp off the road after about 10km.

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Day 2 – St Andrews to Yea
78.3km, 1066m ascent, 5:25 cycling
The road gently winds its way up through St Andrews to Kinglake and Kinglake West, a popular hill climb with local roadies. Lovely cafe with an open fire in Kinglake. We camped at a pretty picnic spot just after Yea, on the very quiet Rail Trail.

Day 3 – Yea to Jerusalem Creek, Lake Eildon (Strava Pt II)
67.6km, 990m ascent, 5:34 cycling
At Yea we joined the unpaved but very smooth Victorian Rail Trail, and followed the Alexandra branch. Just after Alexandra a minor road signposted Lake Eildon National Park took us to Eildon via the quieter hillier route with great views over the lake. We pedalled up over the dam, before following the lakeside dirt track to the Jerusalem Creek Campsites. Stock up on food in Eildon as it’s the last town for a couple of days, longer if you skip Mansfield.

NOTE: The Jerusalem Creek campsites were pretty busy and noisy even midweek and you’re supposed to book, and pay, ahead. Halfway along the Eildon-Jamieson Road are much nicer and free campsites beside a river.

Day 4 – Jerusalem Creek to Piries
77.2km, 1438m ascent, 5:37 cycling
A fairly step track leads up Jerusalem Creek to the paved and gently hilly Eildon-Jamieson road, right on the border of the National Park. After a lot of twisting and turning, we reached the main road to Jamieson. Turning left towards Mansfield, we camped by the river at Piries, about half way along the Jamieson-Mansfield road. There is one shop in this section at a caravan site near Howqua, and plenty of water from creeks on the Eildon-Jamieson road.

Day 3&4 alternative route
Instead of taking the Alexandra branch and following the fairly hilly Eildon-Jamieson road south of Lake Eildon, you can instead follow the very gentle Victorian Rail Trail all the way to Mansfield.

Day 5 – Piries to Power’s Lookout
56.7km, 999m ascent, 3:23 cycling
Along the road north towards Mansfield, but we turned East 4km from town to head up the Old Tolmie Road. A fairly steep and sustained 600m climb took us to the Mansfield-Whitfield Road at Tolmie. There’s a small corner shop that was not open 3km after here, so we got some drinking water from the pub opposite. Rolling hills lead to Power’s Lookout, 3km off the main road, with great views over the King River Valley and a huge fireplace in an open shelter for camping. (There is also potential for camping down by the King River, but the fireplace sold it for us.)

Day 6 – Power’s Lookout to Bright
116.4km, 796m ascent, 7:16 cycling
Long day. Rejoined the main road then down the hill to Whitfield where there is a local shop and cafe. Then we headed south on the Cheshunt-Dandongadale-Buffalo road into the King Valley. The road becomes a smooth track through beautiful scenery towards Dandongadale, then tarmac again 5km before Lake Buffalo. This is a very fast section of gentle smooth downhill all the way to the Alpine Highway. At Myrtleford, we joined the Murray to the Mountains Rail Trail, which is smooth, flat and paved all the way to Bright where we stayed with Clare, a great warmshowers host.

Day 7 – Bright to Bogong
46.5km, 1162m ascent, 4:19 cycling
A cycle lane follows the Alpine Highway all the way to where we turned off to Mt Beauty. 700m of smooth climbing took us over the hill and into the Kiewa Valley. There’s a supermarket in Mt Beauty (which is at the bottom of the hill). We then headed up the gentle and long climb towards Falls Creek (which is at the top of the hill), and wild camped off the road near Bogong.

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Day 8 – Bogong to Cope Hut
24.5km, 947m ascent, 3:02 cycling
We continued up the climb and through Falls Creek (where there is a supermarket). Beyond the town and up to the reservoir, the view really opens up, and as this road was officially closed for the winter, no traffic at all. We decided to make it a short day and stayed in the Cope Hut, a mountain bothy about 5km south of the lake.

NOTE: The Falls Creek road to Omeo is officially closed every winter season, from early June to November. You can cycle past the barrier no problem, as the area is still open to tourists, but the road is not cleared, so you can expect snow and ice. As an alternative, you can take the Alpine Highway via Mt Hotham, which is (in theory) open all year, 20km shorter, and 800m less ascent.

Day 9 – Cope Hut to McMillans Lookout
65.6km, 756m ascent, 4:24 cycling
We carried on along the stunning Bogong High Plains road down to where it joins the Omeo Highway, an incredible winding road that follows Big River downstream towards Omeo. We turned off this road 4km from Omeo towards Benambra, and camped at the top of the hill at McMillans Lookout.

Day 10 – McMillans Lookout to Buckwong Track
59.6km, 978m ascent, 4:28 cycling
We stocked up on supplies at the local store in Benambra, the last for 3 days. We headed towards Beloka Road, which becomes the Mount Hope Road, a well surfaced dirt track that leads to the Tom Groggin track. We turned off just before the summit onto the Buckwong Track over to the Davies Plain Track to the East. We camped at the bottom of the hill by the Buckwong River.

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Day 11 – Buckwong Track to Buckwong Creek Campground
32.1km, 1204m ascent, 5:48 cycling/pushing the bike
A very tough day starting with a long, muddy, steep uphill to join the Davies Plain Track. This was not at all flat as the name suggests, but an undulating muddy, rocky track, followed by a very steep descent, some of which we had to walk with our heavily loaded bikes. We spent more time pushing our bikes than riding them. Finished, exhausted, on a campground just before the Buckwong River crossing.

NOTE: The Davies Plain Track is marked as a ‘very difficult’ 4wd track, not particularly well suited to bicycle touring (see our blog post)! The continuation of the Mount Hope Road to the Tom Groggin track may be more rideable, but we don’t have anything to base that on other than Jules’ imagination (“if we’d gone the other way…”). It is at least more direct, and looks much less hilly on the map.

Day 12 – Buckwong Creek Campground to Bullock Hut, Little Thredbo
42.7km, 1376m ascent, 4:25 cycling
We crossed the knee deep Buckwong River, pushed up the other side, then cycled a fairly easy 8km to the Murray River crossing, shin deep most of the way across. We joined the Alpine Way (tarmac again!) after 3km, and headed towards Jindabyne. A long climb over Dead Horse Gap (1590m altitude) then a short descent took us to Thredbo, a very Australian ski resort town. The road is smooth and fast, but as an alternative, there is some lovely singletrack that leads from Thredbo following the pretty mountain stream, past a couple of campsites and to the Bullock Hut at Little Thredbo (we joined it at Thredbo Diggins).

Day 13 – Bullock Hut to Jindabyne
18.8km, 222m ascent, 1:20 cycling
A very short day as it was very wet and cold, and Jules’ wheel started rattling itself apart. We headed to a great little bike shop in Jindabyne to get the wheel fixed, and checked in to the lovely Mad Moose Guesthouse, where we spent a whole afternoon, evening and morning the next day relaxing, cooking, eating and thawing out.

Day 14 – Jindabyne to Cooma
64.5km, 750m ascent, 3:40 cycling
We dragged ourselves away by about 1pm but still had time to get to Cooma on a beautifully fast, smooth road, despite Jules’ saddle bolt shearing off en route. Just as well the snowboard hire shop we stopped outside had a bolt the right size which they gave us for free. Made it to our kind and generous warmshowers host, Adrian just as it was getting dark.

Day 15 – Cooma to Snowball Road
57.6km, 1039m ascent, 4:24 cycling
Slow start from our lovely warmshowers host, we headed out of town, stocking up in Aldi on the outskirts. We then followed the Numerella road out of town and followed signs for Braidwood onto Snowball Road. The tarmac disappeared 35km from Cooma. We found a nice spot to camp in a clearing off the road in Deua National Park.

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Day 16 – Snowball Road to Braidwood
67.0km, 611m ascent, 4:25 cycling
The tarmac reappeared after about 50km of unsealed road in total between Cooma and Braidwood. A lovely long downhill, passing a campsite and paths to some caves up in the hills.

Day 17 – Braidwood to Nerriga
71.7km, 730m ascent, 4:55 cycling
After passing through the charming historic town of Braidwood, where we stocked up on supplies, we followed signs for Nowra. Mostly sealed, just 15km of dirt just out of Braidwood. Constantly undulating roads but nothing too steep. We passed through Nerriga, where there is a pub and accommodation, and camped by the creek 4km down the road.

Day 18 – Nerriga to Nowra
65.3km, 517m ascent, 3:56 cycling
A steep 200m ascent up the escarpment, a little bit of up and down, then a 40km long gentle downhill. It’s worth visiting the Tianjara waterfall lookout just after the start of the downhill. We stayed with a lovely warmshowers host in Nowra, Judi.

Day 19 – Nowra to Wollongong
80.7km, 635m ascent, 4:11 cycling
We followed signs from the Great Ocean Drive out of Nowra. It’s a bit busy, especially compared to what we were used to, but probably the best route available up the coast. Around Kiama there’s a few coastal cycle paths before being forced onto the Princes Highway for a 5km stretch, then back on to cycleways most of the way to Wollongong. We lost them for the last few km and ended up on the highway, but there was a pavement we could ride on most of the way to our fantastic warmshowers hosts, Rob and Gabrielle, in Wollongong.

Day 20 – Wollongong to Lady Carrington Drive, Royal National Park
49.8km, 569m ascent, 3:30 cycling
We left Wollongong on minor roads heading East, where we joined the coastal cycleway. This became the coast road, which wasn’t particularly busy, passing beaches and over the impressive Sea Cliff Bridge. Following the road up Bald Hill and into the Royal National Park, we left it to cycle the historic and rough Lady Carrington Drive, of which only 11km remains. We camped half way along at a picnic spot.

Day 21 – Royal National Park to Sydney
62.1km, 628m ascent, 4:50 cycling
We turned right after Lady Carrington Drive at Audley up the hill, carried on up to a great viewpoint at the top of the hill, then freewheeled almost all the way down to Bundeena. At Bundeena there’s a ferry to Cronulla which runs on the hour every hour (except 1pm on weekdays), and costs $6 (plus $3 for bikes). We were kindly sponsored by Nolan, a friendly Welshman who now lives here. At Cronulla we rejoined the coastal cycleway which winds its way all the way to Sydney Airport, and our very accommodating host, Sean.

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Total ascent: 18,006m
Total distance: 1299.2km

Ta da!

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