Cyclists at the end of the South Coast Cycle in Huskisson | Kate Baker
My South Coast Cycling Holiday
In October, Kate decided to take a much needed break and embarked on a cycle tour of the NSW south coast. While she's been on various bike trips around the world, the South Coast Self Guided Cycle tour
was her first multi-day cycling holiday in Australia. Kate was joined by her daughter Georgie and friend Gus for this unforgettable south coast cycling experience. Read on for her insights.
Like many travellers I was looking forward to getting out on the trails of Europe this past European summer, when the world turned upside down and the things we had taken for granted were pulled out from under our feet.
Fortunately, Australian Cycle Tours
launched a suite of self guided cycle trips, meticulously researched over the past 12 months. Signing up for the South Coast Cycle
, my much more local adventure seemed to tick some of my holiday ‘musts’ including wineries, pretty towns, good food and a long coastline with white sand beaches. What I didn’t factor in was the friendly locals, sublime rural roads and whales breaching metres from me – these were the hidden gems of the trip.
Setting out on day one we drove an hour or so south of Sydney to the small coastal town of Thirroul. There we met our bike rep who fitted our bikes and gave my daughter a run down on her e-bike. From Thirroul there is a dedicated cycle path all the way to Wollongong, the only ‘city’ on the trip, although we skirt Wollongong’s urban fringe with its café strewn coastline and the steelworks standing as a sentinel to the south.
Heading further south we reach the Fo Guang Shan Nan Tien Temple
. So many times I had seen the temple on drives down south and here was my opportunity to visit. Entering this peaceful complex with its immaculate terraced gardens, pagoda and temple, you are instantly cloaked in the serene atmosphere.
The dumplings for lunch, all vegetarian fare of course, were outstanding. Checking on our navigational app we soon realized that after a solid morning of cycling, we were only 40% into a 60km day. The next stage took us on a combination of sidewalk trails next to busy roads, quiet suburban streets and a dedicated coastal cycle path all the way to the pretty, and very hilly, town of Kiama.
Our first nights' accommodation saw us in spacious, quiet rooms and, unlike similar hotels in France, there was tea and coffee facilities. Our evening meal at the ‘Olive and Vine
’ was delicious.
After taking some time to visit the main attraction of Kiama, the blowhole, which was very active on the day, we headed up the very many hills taking us out of Kiama and into the countryside. The route to Berry was partially on cycle lanes next to busy roads which were spacious enough to provide us comfort from the passing traffic, but could be avoided with a train ride to Gerringong.
Stopping at the beach and taking a dip today is definitely an option but we were keen to get to Berry to sample donuts from the famous ‘Donut Van
’ and window shop. The town of Berry is a south coast treasure, oozing with charm. Dinner at the pub was on point with typical pub fare and a lively atmosphere.
The route out of Berry towards Nowra is country cycling at its best. With last years drought over, the countryside is green and lush, while the bottlebrush bushes line the roads in red and green and cows graze happily next to full dams. And for wine lovers, the opportunity to visit a few vineyards is there for the taking. At Two Figs winery, the panoramic view is worth the slog up the hill, while the wine tasting is good value and good quality. The grazing plates at Coolangatta Estate winery
, taken in the garden, are also a treat for lunch.
Reaching our modest motel in Nowra, we were surprised to find the ‘Tin Shed
’ café on site, frequented by local cyclists and serving great coffee, burgers and breakfast. This friendly oasis with a BBQ area and covered outdoor seating, makes you feel at home right away.
Our final day of cycling takes us on a 40km circuit passing by the HMAS Albatross, with its Fleet Air Arm Museum
, before winding through classic country scenery through the hamlet of Parma, sadly no ham in sight. Crossing over the Princes Highway is unavoidable and with plenty of room to cycle for a few hundred metres before we turn off towards Huskisson, our last stop. The road is good and we soon find ourselves entering this Shoalhaven beauty.
The quiet harbor is home to cruise boats, kayaks and paddle boards and is a haven for water sports. Reaching the end of the cycle tour, we jump aboard a whale watching cruise and are rewarded with the sight of a breaching baby and mother humpback which literally takes our breath away.
The white sands of Jervis Bay are perfect for long walks, while the many restaurants serve up all types of cuisine. We dine at the Stone Grill where we cook our steaks on stones set on the table. Later we sip wine on the balcony overlooking the bay, while in a nearby bar a guitarist provides the ideal accompaniment to our view.
Over the course of four days we cycled just over 150km using a very easy to operate navigational app, visited pretty towns, enjoyed great food and wine and ended with a coastal experience second to none. All this without jet lag. If you are considering a self guided cycle, this is one you shouldn’t miss.
>> Take a look at our affordable self guided cycling tours on the South Coast.
Have you cycled the south coast of NSW before? Or been on a multi-day cycle trip in Australia? Tell us what it was like in the comment section below.