Attack of the (Easter) Buns
Bungendore to Bundanoon (NSW)
I found the ‘Attack of the Buns’ route on Bikepacking.com. It’s a 320 km ride exploring the New South Wales Southern Highlands and Tablelands, created by Canberran Adam Lee. Seemed like an ideal way to road-test our new plus bike set ups and gear over the Easter long weekend. Despite the easy re-supply options I decided to trial the extra food and water capacity provided by adding the AlpKit mini panniers that I’ll be using on long remote outback rides in the future.
We drove to Bungendore on the outskirts of Canberra and left the car on the street. Our mid-afternoon departure left us plenty of time for the 50 km ride via Hoskinstown and the Tallaganda State Conservation Area to reach our campsite at Bombay Reserve on the Shoalhaven River. The upper area was full of Easter weekend campers but wrestling bikes down to the river bank proved worthwhile, scoring us a peaceful sandy spot amongst the rocks.
The second day’s route took us straight into Braidwood for breakfast and coffee. Then it was off out of town, plunging us deep into Budawang National Park on a series of ever more picturesque trails.
The highlight of this section is the car-free Red Ground Track which meanders pasts some amazing cliff formations, alternating through brief rocky climbs and fast descents through forests of soaring trees, before reaching a perfect campsite at Piercys Clearing. Although early, this was to good to pass up – a grassy, sheltered spot far from the nearest road with a creek nearby.
The next day we settle in for part two of Red Ground Track, winding our way through lush forests and pausing to explore hidden caves and rock formations before we pop out near Sassafras campground. After a quick detour to Tianjara Falls we duck back off the main road and on to a sandy fire-trail following the edge of Morton National Park.
A steep gravelly descent takes us to Yalwal Reserve. It’s Easter weekend and it’s overflowing with campers. Any thoughts of stopping are quickly canned and we settle in for a long grind up a dusty climb with regular showers of dirt from speeding bogans. By the time we reach Nowra and replace lost calories it’s getting late so we opt for a campground.
Next day we ride quickly out of town, linking a series of minor roads, gravel roads and fire trails to reach Kangaroo Valley. The village is pumping with Easter tourist traffic so it’s nice to head off into the car-free rainforest on Griffins fire-trail. This is a gorgeous section of trail following Yarrunga Creek with mossy rocks and dense vegetation. We collect water as we cross Crankeys Creek and settle in for the most significant climb of the route. It’s mostly rideable but we’re done by the time we reach Gales Flat campsite.
It’s a peaceful evening watching for lyrebirds at Gales Flat. Drizzle sets in overnight and we set off into thick fog as we grind out the final few kilometres over Meryla Pass. Once out on the main forest roads it’s a matter of puddle jumping and mud-surfing our way out to Mossvale – we have a train to catch.
Consistent with New South Wales’ general anti-cycling approach, the train service requires all bikes to be boxed for transport. You can purchase a pre-loved bike box from manned stations, including Mossvale but not Bundanoon. The maximum boxed weight is 20 kg so anything over needs to be removed and carried on separately. Although having to dismantle and pack bikes is a giant pain in the butt, the station staff were helpful and can store your gear if you want to wander off into town. On arrival in Bungendore the station is just a short walk from town, and we’re soon homebound – a magical long weekend complete.
Total distance: 309 km, Ascent: 4,692 m