Wollongong Area

Bulli to Wollongong

A wonderful two lane 16km shared path ride from Thirroul & Bulli to the North Wollongong surf club and almost to the famous Lighthouse.

Here is the map of the trail >>

​If you are coming by train or car, easier to park up near Bulli or Thirroul or better still enjoy the train ride to those places.

There are no tricks to this trail, its good for narrow wheels, there are hardly any road crossings, its dead flat and there are places to have a coffee. Bring your kids, ride there and back for 30km of activity. I have heard that it can be busy on good weather weekends but if you ready easy, it will be fine because the weather will be good.

On the way you will pass Woona, Towradgi and Bellambi rock pools plus the following Surf Life Saving Clubs; Bulli, Woonona, Corrimal, Towradgi, Fairy Meadow and North Wollongong. So take your swimmers and towel on a hot day.

​Notes: If you are a good rider, you can just ride past the lighthouse and head all the way down to Port Kembla on a pretty reasonable bike path.

Stations: There are lifts at Nth Woolongong and Thirroul and a bridge near Bulli to cross over. If you want to go one way, getting to the train station at North Wollongong requires some slow footpath skills.

Illawarra Trails include Port Kembla or Oak Flats to Kiama and just a little further away is Bowral and the Bong Bong Track

Port Kembla

An adventurous trail that runs all the way from the Lighthouse at Wollongong down and around the BHP steelworks and ends up at the beautiful coast line near the Port Kembla Heritage Park. From there you can ride up the steep Lookout 66 or even venture on to the northern end of Lake Illawarra. Its 22km from Wollongong Lighthouse at North Wollongong to Lake Illawarra and that’s one way.

Here is the map of the trail >>

The surface of the trail is mostly old concrete with a few bumps. The trail is quite wide most of the way and there are relatively few road crossing. I saw quite a few road bike riders on the trail so it isn’t that bad and on my MTB I really enjoyed it as I like the grunge of the old steelworks. I wasn’t alone on a sunny day in winter, there were lots of walkers and road cycle teams in the area. Its worth a go.

You will find photos of the trail here >>

If you only want to do the best bit of the trail, you could start at Lake Illawarra and ride around to the Port Kembla Heritage Park and maybe just ride up Foreshore drive a little to see the steelworks. There is a cafe at the Heritage Park. I started this trail at Lake Illawarra using my eBike and rode all the way to Thirroul on the fab trail from North Wollongong. By the time I had returned, it was 65km.

Soon I will ride from Bulli to Kiama and catch the train back. I will use this Port Kembla route.

Note: On the way back I took a shortcut down King Street in Warriwong. This was hideous, the road was really busy, the footpaths were minute and the gutters were like hurdles at the olympics. But it did save some time. I thought I would go down Lake Rd but this was impossible to get to with barriers everywhere and then it was a very big hill once I got there.

Oak Flats to Kiama

If you have ever driven into Albion Park on the freeway from Sydney and wondered “What am I doing on this mongrel of a road?”, five minutes drive away is a very lovely and peaceful trail along the southern shores of Lake Illawarra.

Here is the trail map on Google >>

Minnamurra Lookout

Photos can be found here >>

This trail starts at the northern end of Central Avenue in Oak Flats on the edge of the lake. The shared path then follows the edge of the lake all the way to Shell Harbour Rd. You could get your kids bikes out and let them ride for 6km each way and you would have a very welcome break to your day of driving pain.

From the shores of Lake Illawarra, you cross Shell Harbour Rd and jump back onto shared bike trail and head to Shell Harbour itself. At the end the trail fizzles a little and you roll downhill on the road into the harbour. This is now 12 km from the start point. Now you can refresh in the cafes and return to the car.

If you have your Opal Card and Trip Viewer App to see the train timetables, I highly recommend adults riding all the way to Kiama as its a super trip with just a small dose of road sections. Initially you need to ride up to Shell Harbour Rd which has a reasonable separated bike running along the side of it. I contemplated going through the back streets but the hills in the back streets look quite challenging. Shell Harbour road has a nice gradient. When you get to Dunmore Rd, turn south and just hack your way over the hill on the side of the road and then roll downhill to the retired Dunmore Railway station at the bottom of the hill. Cross the railway line carefully and then follow the trail through the marshlands to Minnamurra. Cross under the railway line into Minamurra and ride on the west side of town till the trail disappears.

Head down Charles Avenue and don’t miss the left turn off to Carlson Avenue. It was so steep at that point I wasn’t moving so I saw the painted bike sign on the road no problem at all. Now you will probably walk to the top of the hill and then its bye bye roads and off down the wonderful shared walkway around the headlands to Minamurra Lookout. From there its a mixture of quiet roads and shared path and hills all the way to Bombo Beach.

When you come to steps upto the highway, its time to get the NSW railway timetable app out of you pocket. Trains never run more than once an hour back to Wollongong. If there was a train leaving Bombo Rail Station in the next 20 minutes, I would contemplate not going any further and just catching the train back.

Walk up the steps using the bike rolling path and ride the separated pathway to the Bombo station about 200m away. Of course you are going to go on because who doesn’t want to see the Kiama Blow Hole. Cross the river on the trail and head sharp left and then UP. When I got the top of the hill near Kiama, I didn’t need to see an blow hole, I was the blow hole. That hill was steep.

Roll into Kiama, make sure you know when the train is leaving and where the station is. Its not hard to find. Enjoy the wonderful town and enjoy the train trip back to Oak Flats. All up its 30km and its one of Australia’s great recreational bike trails.

Combo rail ride deal: Ride from Bulli Railway station to Wollongong North railway station down the Bulli to Wollongong trail. Catch the train to Oak Flats. Ride north 2km to Lake Illawarra up Central Avenue and ride this trail all the way to Kiama. Return by train to Bulli for a fab days riding of 45km.

Bowral

28km for the whole trail. Best bit is the Bong Bong track.

This cycling trail takes you from Bowral to Moss Vale on the Bong Bong Track. It follows the Wingecarribee River on a double lane shared concrete trail. If you have some energy left after the 16km return trip, you can follow a loop around Bowral on some easy roads and some shared paths through some pretty neat parks.

Here is the trail map on Google >>

Lets start with the easy section that you would ride with your kids. At the Buradoo Railway Station, a path starts on the side of Railway road. Head southwest alongside the railway line to the river which is about 1km away. Veer left and you are on the Bong Bong track. Follow that all the way to the bridge near Moss Vale. If you pass under the bridge you can cycle into Cecil Hoskins Reserve where birds and great views can be photographed. If you pass over the bridge,you can ride a good way into Moss Vale. When you get to the railway line, you have to go on the town roads.

If you are arriving by car from Sydney or want to do the 12km Bowral circuit by itself, head to the Bowral pool on the way into Bowral where you can use the parking area. If you miss the turn off, turn left at the start of the town and go around the back to Oxley Drive.

To start riding from the pool, cross under the bridge, ride along the road to the Bowral bricks chimney. Cross the railway line and then follow Station St and down Funston to Railway drive. Hop on the wide shared path at Buradoo Station and you are on the Bong Bong. Ride it all the way to Moss Vale.

On the way back, try and turn at Sullivan Rd and follow to the end to Railway St. Turn up Burradoo Rd and follow that up a good hill and down the otherside till the end of the golf course . At the golf course, cross “Old S Rd” and ride to the end of the Botanical Gardens. Now turn left. If you are following the brochure below, ignore all the other red cycle tracks, they are not as good as this trail. Ride past all the ponds all the way to Warby St. Turn left and follow the trail all the way to the pool. Some how this way avoids all the hills that you will find further to the east, something I experienced first hand when I got lost.

Notes: Strangely there are no shops along all of this trail except in Moss Vale so treat up and top up your water before you go. If coming by car I suggest Mittagong for snacks on the way in where there are plenty of nice places. Maybe even pack a lunch for the picnic places on the Bong Bong trail. There is a toilet in Cecil Hoskins Reserve.

If coming by train, the speed of the train is very ordinary but it could be a lot of fun to do a weekend by train. Get off at Burradoo which is really small and easy or Bowral Station which has lifts or even Moss Vale and ride back.

This ride was based on a pdf brochure download from the Southern Highlands Information website here

You can find the full trail on the google map here >>

Pictures start at the Bowral Pool and head to Mossvale, return to Bowral and then loop around Bowral back to the pool

Turn east and head across town on Burradoo Rd

Also see Bowral photos on the Instagram website here

Lady Carrington Drive

Lady Carrington Drive is a dirt road that follows the Hacking River up between a valley. The trail runs for 12kms each way and is not stressful at all in the climbing department until the very end. It is quite bumpy every now and again if you are not running suspension. So don’t bring your one gear bikes or your expensive road bikes on this trail.

To get to the start of the trail is easy. Go to the entrance to Royal National next to the Loftus Oval. Pay 12$ parking fees to the ranger at the gate. Head to Audley, park. It is very easy to get diverted by the “high tea and cakes” straight away in Audley. If not all your group wants to ride, they may want to join the many families hiring boats and playing french cricket on the grass and having picnics.

See Map here >>

But that is not why you are here, you want to ride and its off down the trail which you get to by riding past the eating area and down the wide river. Get on the dirt road and its a hop skip and a 12km jump to Sir Bertram Stevens Drive in the south. In summary, my teenage son said it was the best Dad track he had been on, I quite enjoyed it too though I probably was going a little fast for my skill level. The really good thing is you don’t have to stop for anything except the occasional refreshment and a photo or two.

You can also do a little riding along the river in a northerly direction from the Audley River crossing. Very pretty.

Take some water and a puncture repair kit or spare tube. That applies to all bike trails.

External Links: Official Royal National Park Trail Guide A Lady Carrington write up on a mountain bike website The nearby Loftus loop (connection is a very steep hill) Beginners MTB Trails around Sydney plus tips The 20km Royal National Park Coastal walk is nearby

 

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