Australia’s top 50 bike riding experiences
From the tropical beaches of far north Queensland to the arid Nullarbor Plain, we searched the nation to discover the best bike experiences Australia has to offer.
Australia is a vast and diverse nation offering myriad opportunities for riders of all disciplines and abilities, and we have endeavoured to include something in our list for everyone: challenging alpine road rides, laid-back beachside trundles, epic multi-day tours, seriously muddy mountain bike adventures and everything in between.
From a long list of hundreds, we narrowed the field to arrive at a varied mix of riding experiences in each state and territory. They are numbered so as to be identifiable on the maps, but they are not ranked.
We understand that not everyone will agree with our list and we welcome your suggestions, which can be posted in the comments section below.
1. Great Escapade
This nine-day annual tour sets out to explore a different region each year. In 2013 the ride heads to Tasmania, travelling from Launceston’s inland gourmet region, down the east coast to historic Port Arthur.
More info: www.greatescapade.com.au
Australian Capital Territory
2. A Dawn Chorus
The birdlife in Canberra and its surrounds is richer than that found in any other Australian capital city. This 22km route passes through the city’s hotspots for birdlife. It begins on the banks of Lake Burley Griffin at Black Mountain Peninsula, rides past the zoo, through Aranda bushland and Bruce Ridge Reserve and back to the lake via Black Mountain. It is best ridden at dawn to the accompaniment of an avian choir.
More info: www.cyclingaroundcanberra.com.au
3. Canberra Art and Architecture by bike
This route – published in Bruce Ashley’s Cycling Around Canberra – is an ideal way for families and visitors to get a taste of Canberra’s culture, taking in some of the city’s key architectural features, galleries and museums. Although less than 23km in length, the route’s wealth of landmarks offers days of exploration.
More info: www.cyclingaroundcanberra.com.au
4. Stromlo Forest Park
Host of the 2009 UCI Mountain Bike World Championships, and showcasing a world-class downhill track and double black diamond runs as well as a multitude of easier tracks, Stromlo Forest Park is the place for mountain biking in the nation’s capital.
More info: www.stromloforestpark.com.au/mtb
New South Wales
5. Byron Bay and Hinterland
There’s great riding to be had where one of Australia’s most famous stretches of coast meets the mountains. Wait for low tide and ride along the beach from Broken Head to Cape Byron, the most easterly point of the Australian mainland, tour the off-road bike paths in Byron Bay, or, if you’re keen for a challenge, discover secluded rainforest mountain passes.
More info: www.byron-bay.com
6. Narrow Neck and Hanging Rock (Blackheath), Blue Mountains
The Blue Mountains offers spectacular fire trails, such as those at Narrow Neck and Hanging Rock, Blackheath. Aside from a few steep climbs and water bars, they are not technically difficult and the views off the plateau are truly spectacular.
More info: bit.ly/W9VHxC
7. Sydney Harbour Bridge
What could be a more quintessential Aussie bike experience than riding over the Sydney Harbour Bridge? The iconic landmark has a dedicated bike path which is used by more than 1,600 commuters on weekdays, making it the busiest link in the Metro Sydney Bike Network. It also offers spectacular harbour views and is a must-do experience for visitors to the city.
More info: bit.ly/S7ZGyC
8. Sydney to Gong Ride
A scenic 90km ride from Sydney to Wollongong via the Royal National Park and the breathtaking Sea Cliff Bridge, Sydney to the Gong is one of Australia’s most celebrated mass participation bike events. The event attracts around 10,000 riders each year and raises money for MS Australia.
More info: www.gongride.org.au
While traditionally known for its ski runs, from November to May Thredbo is also home to some of Australia’s best mountain biking. There are easy and intermediate trails close to the village, while thrill seekers can take the Kosciuszko Express chairlift to the top of the mountain and experience the Kosciuszko Flow Track and the legendary Thredbo Downhill Trail.
More info: www.thredbo.com.au/summer-activities/biking
10. Simpson’s Gap Bicycle Path
(See Australia map)
Discover central Australia by bike on this 17km off-road path that travels from Flynn’s Grave, 7km out of Alice Springs, to Simpson’s Gap – a spectacular waterhole on the edge of the MacDonnell Ranges. The path winds through a wild landscape of river red gum woodlands, mulga and witchetty bush groves and past exposed rocky hillsides. The trailhead is also located near the Alice Springs Desert Park, and both are accessible via an off-road bike path from Alice Springs.
More info: bit.ly/UK5lsV
11. Border Ranges ramble
Roadies up for a challenging ride through mountainous rainforest will enjoy this hilly 102km loop beginning in the small town of Rathdowney, 95km south of Brisbane. The route explores the Border Ranges, following Lions Road into New South Wales and continuing down to Grady’s Creek. It then heads north-west past Grevillia and Dairy Flat to travel through the Unumgar, Donaldson and Mount Lindesay State Forests before climbing past Mount Lindesay and descending back to Rathdowney via the Mount Lindesay Highway.
12. Brisbane to the Gold Coast Cycle Challenge
An iconic on-road adventure, the Brisbane to the Gold Coast Cycle Challenge is Queensland’s largest mass participation event. Riders can choose either 100km or 60km ride options. The full 100km route leaves from Brisbane’s South Bank and rolls along the Pacific Motorway to Broadwater Parklands in Southport. The ride also has exclusive use of the South East Busway, and riders can celebrate their achievement at a special post-ride festival featuring live music and entertainment.
More info: b2gc.bq.org.au
(See Australia map)
One of Australia’s most sought-after holiday locations, Cairns offers something for riders of all disciplines and abilities. Families and leisurely holiday makers can explore a scenic network of off-road paths taking in the Esplanade lagoon, the Cairns Botanic Garden, Cairns Central Swamp and other scenic waterways, while keen roadies can head out to the rainforest or take part in the region’s many road events. Cairns is also home to the Smithfield Mountain Bike Park which features cross country, downhill and mountain X trails for riders of all abilities.
More info: bit.ly/VtKCdm
14. Cycle Queensland
(See Australia map)
Queensland’s biggest multi-day mass-participation event gives riders the opportunity to explore a different region of the sunshine state each year on a fully-supported camping holiday. In 2013 the ride embarks on a tropical adventure travelling from Mission Beach to Port Douglas over eight days.
More info: cycleqld.bq.org.au
15. Daintree and Cape York
(See Australia map)
Discover a tropical paradise of white sandy beaches, majestic waterfalls and lush rainforests. Those who enjoy a long day in the saddle can use Port Douglas as a base and ride to Cairns, Cooktown and Cape Tribulation, or take an epic tour up to Cape York. There are several tour companies operating in the region offering everything from fully supported rides to rough and muddy mountain bike adventures.
More info: bit.ly/UyUDVx
16. Mt Coot-tha Forest and Gap Creek Trails
Located just 5km from Brisbane, Mt Coot-tha Forest, with its waterfalls, creeks and spectacular city vistas, caters to all types of riders with 31km of shared use paths and 12.1km of mountain bike trails winding through 1,600 hectares of eucalypt forest. Keen roadies can attack the mountain by taking on Bicycle Queensland’s annual Brisbane Coot-tha Challenge.
More info: bit.ly/UwOuHs
17. Mt Joyce Recreation Park
Located an hour south-west of Brisbane, Mt Joyce Recreation Park offers some 40km of multi-use trails for horses, bushwalkers and mountain bikers, including 25km of International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) standard singletrack. The trails cater for cross country, all mountain, downhill and four-cross riders of all levels of experience, with green right through to double black diamond runs, although this last is reserved for event use only. The park also features camping, picnic and watersports facilities, making it a perfect location for an active weekend getaway.
More info: www.mtjoyceescape.com.au
18. Robbie’s Gran Fondo
As part of the Gold Coast Festival of Cycling, Aussie cycling legend Robbie McEwen brings a taste of the big European tours to Queensland, exploring the Gold Coast hinterland. The 102km loop leaves from Emerald Lakes at Carrara, and riders are joined by members of the Orica GreenEDGE pro cycling team as they take on epic climbs up Mt Tamborine and the back side of Beechmont to soak up the dazzling views at the top.
More info: www.gcfoc.com.au
19. Adelaide hills region
For keen climbers, the Adelaide hills region offers challenging ascents, in particular the popular route from the tollgate, past Eagle On the Hill, through Crafers to the Mount Lofty summit. From the tollgate, riders can travel on a separate paved veloway beside the South- Eastern Freeway, to the quiet Mount Barker Road with its breathtaking vistas stretching to the coast. There’s also the renowned Eagle Mountain Bike Park and the Amy Gillett Bikeway, formerly the Adelaide Hills Rail Trail, to explore.
More info: www.adelaidehillsrailtrail.org.au
20. Encounter Bikeway
Located just over an hour’s drive from Adelaide, the adjoining coastal towns of Goolwa, Middleton, Port Elliot and Victor Harbor are favoured weekend getaways. The Encounter Bikeway is a mixed on-and-off-road route linking the towns. Winding through quiet back streets and along the stunning foreshore with views of the Bluff, Granite Island, Horseshoe Bay and the Lower Murray River, the 30km route makes for a relaxing, scenic ride suitable for the whole family.
More info: bit.ly/WUmY6q
21. Kangaroo Island
Accessible by ferry from Cape Jervis on the Fleurieu Peninsula, Kangaroo Island is an increasingly popular but relatively remote holiday hotspot. Its untouched bushland teems with native wildlife, while its coast is home to some of Australia’s most pristine beaches, making it an ideal destination for the keen and experienced tourer. In 2013 it is also host to the Bicycle South Australia Annual Tour.
More info: www.bikesa.asn.au/annualtour
22. Outback Odyssey
Organised by Bicycle South Australia, this epic 900km adventure ride tackles the iconic Mawson Trail, which stretches from Adelaide to Blinman in the Flinders Ranges. Over fourteen days the ride passes through some of Australia’s most sublime and unique landscape, from the rolling vineyards of the Barossa to vast outback teeming with native flora and fauna.
More info: www.bikesa.asn.au/outbackodyssey
23. Nullarbor Plain
(See Australia map)
A truly unique and epic challenge, the ride from Norseman in WA to Ceduna in SA is an unparalleled rite of passage for the keen adventurer across some of Australia’s most remote landscape. The route traverses approximately 1,200km of the famous outback plain, which spans a sprawling 200,000 square kilometres across the mainland’s south coast.
More info: www.nullarbornet.com.au
24. Riesling Trail
One of South Australia’s first rail trails, the Riesling Trail follows the old Riverton to Spalding railway line between the historic towns of Auburn and Clare and explores the lush Clare Valley wine region, with cellar doors conveniently dotted along the trail. The total route extends 36km, with bikes available for hire in Clare.
25. Bupa Tour Down under Challenge
Get a taste of what it’s like to be a pro by riding Stage Four of the Tour Down Under in the hours before the main race passes through. Starting from the Adelaide suburb of Modbury and zigzagging through the Adelaide hills to finish in the Barossa Valley wine region at Tununda, the 127km 2013 route offers gorgeous scenery, challenging climbs and a smorgasbord of gourmet goodies to enjoy post-ride in the local cafés and wineries while you wait to cheer the peloton across the finish line in the afternoon. For those who don’t want to tackle the full course, there are a number of shorter ride options available.
More info: www.tourdownunder.com.au/event-details.htm
26. Bay of Fires
Accessible via a partially sealed road from St Helens, the Bay of Fires is one of Australia’s hidden coastal gems. Fiery red lichen clings to the rocky shoreline and from a distance it appears the beach is literally ablaze, striking a sharp contrast to the turquoise waters more commonly associated with far-North Queensland. A day trip from St Helens is roughly 100km return.
More info: bit.ly/WC4d7v
27. Devonport to Penguin
Split between off-road cycle ways and sleepy coastal roads, the route largely travels along the Bass Straight coastline past Mersey Bluff to the banks of the Don River through tea tree and wetlands before heading inland to climb through lush pastures and finally returning to the coast. The route from Devonport to Penguin is one of Tasmania’s most scenic rides and makes for a relaxing holiday trundle.
More info: bit.ly/W692Yr
28. Deloraine Great Gourmet Ride
An easy pedal through the lush valleys and farmlands west of Deloraine full of opportunities to stop and sample the local produce in one of Australia’s most hailed gourmet regions.
More info: bit.ly/13tFl9g
29. Giro Tasmania
Compact and diverse, Tasmania is an ideal destination for bike tourists and boasts everything from dazzling coastline to rugged mountains, wild rivers, rain forests and historic villages. The Giro Tasmania explores the island’s highlights, takes approximately three weeks to ride and uses mostly sealed roads.
More info: bit.ly/10tdaZw
30. Hobart to MONA
Discover Tasmania’s artistic side by bike. Visitors to Hobart can borrow an ‘art bike’ from Arts Tasmania to explore the city or cruise the 12km scenic off-road path along the banks of the Derwent River to MONA, arguably the country’s most bizarre art gallery. Enjoy a picnic lunch on the gallery lawns and a refreshing ale from the neighbouring Moo Brew, or indulge your sweet tooth with a detour via the Cadbury factory on the return trip to Hobart.
More info: www.artbikes.com.au
31. Maria Island
Only accessible by boat or plane, Maria Island is a virtually untouched sanctuary for native plants and wildlife, with stunning beaches, weathered rocky outcrops, open grasslands and hilly peaks offering majestic sea views. Mountain bikes are available for hire, though accommodation and water supplies are limited and there is no electricity on the island. An ideal rustic retreat for tourers keen to get away from it all.
More info: tassie.org.au/mariaisland/services.htm
32. Pure Tasmania Cycle Challenge
One of Australia’s toughest and most scenic one-day tours, the Pure Tasmania Cycle Challenge is an ideal way for experienced riders to challenge themselves while exploring the island’s dense, untamed wilderness and lush countryside. There are two ride options available: the full 219km route from Devonport to Strahan and a shorter 135km route from Cradle Mountain to Strahan.
More info: www.puretasmaniacyclechallenge.com.au
33. Wellington Park
Located just out of Hobart, and home to the imposing Mount Wellington, Wellington Park offers challenging onand off-road adventures for roadies and mountain bikers. The former can take on the challenge of the mountain, while the latter have Glenorchy Mountain Bike Park, linked to popular picnic and meeting spot The Springs by the North-South Track, a 10.5km cross country track within the park.
More info: www.wellingtonpark.org.au
34. Bupa Around the Bay
Australia’s largest one-day mass-participation ride has been running for over twenty years raising money for the Smith Family, attracting riders from all over the country. The full 250km challenge route circles Melbourne’s Port Phillip Bay with its stunning coastal vistas, crosses the Westgate Bridge and takes the Ferry between Queenscliff and Sorrento. Over the years the event has added a number of shorter routes, ensuring that there’s an option for all ages and abilities.
More info: www.aroundthebay.com.au
35. Bright alpine region
The rich and varied rides in and around the Bright alpine region make it one of Victoria’s most popular destinations for keen riders of all disciplines. For roadies it offers some of Australia’s most challenging climbs and alpine events, including Scody 3 Peaks Challenge, 7 Peaks and the Audax Alpine Classic, while mountain bikers eagerly await the snow to clear to ride the thrill seeker’s trails at Falls Creek and Mt Beauty. Tourers more keen on taking in the region’s scenery and gourmet delights will enjoy the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail and Pedal to Produce ride.
More info: www.3peakschallenge.com.au
36. Forrest MTB Trails
Some of Australia’s best mountain biking finds its home at Forrest, a small town in the spectacular Otway Ranges. There are currently fifteen trails open in the region, with bike hire available from the Forrest Corner Store. Those keen to explore beyond the trails can take a guided mountain bike tour.
More info: www.rideforrest.com.au
37. Gippsland Region
Rich in rail trails and small historic townships, the lush farmlands of Gippsland in Victoria’s south-east make for idyllic touring country. Of particular note are the East Gippsland Rail Trail and the Great Southern Rail Trail, though there are also many shorter trails that make for good part-day side trips.
More info: www.visitvictoria.com/Regions/Gippsland.aspx
38. Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail
Travelling 134km between Mansfield and Tallarook through north east Victoria, the Goulburn River High Country Rail Trail is Australia’s longest continuous rail trail. It winds along the banks of the Goulburn River, through rich farmland and into the high country foothills, with many towns along the way where riders can rest and join or leave the trail.
More info: www.victorianrailtrails.com.au
39. Great Ocean Road
A truly iconic ride, the 243km Great Ocean Road, which stretches between Torquay and Warrnambool, climbs through the Otway Ranges and descends to take in some of Australia’s most spectacular coastline. Several major bike events explore the road, including Amy’s Ride Victoria and the 2013 RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride.
More info: www.greatvic.com.au
40. RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride
(See Australia map)
Exploring a different, iconic region of Victoria each year, the nine-day, fully supported RACV Great Victorian Bike Ride is the state’s biggest organised bike tour. In 2013 the ride turns 30 and will celebrate in style with an unmissable route from Mount Gambier to Geelong via the Great Ocean Road.
More info: www.greatvic.com.au
41. Kona Odyssey
Each year hard-core mountain bikers descend on the Otways to battle their way through 100km of near-vertical climbs and thick forest in an endeavour to complete one of Australia’s most challenging bike events. In 2013 the course adopts a new loop route, beginning and ending in the popular mountain bike destination of Forrest.
More info: www.rapidascent.com.au/konaodyssey
42. Lilydale to Warburton (Warby) Rail Trail
Travelling 39km through Yarra Valley vineyards, farmland and forest with mountains rising beyond, the ‘Warby’ trail has been described as “one of the great railway journeys of the world – minus the train” and is suitable for riders of all ages and abilities.
More info: bit.ly/UPkEQc
43. Main Yarra Trail
A 33km shared use path from Melbourne’s outer-eastern suburbs to the CBD, the Main Yarra Trail is one of the city’s most popular walking and bike riding trails and makes for a great family adventure, winding through dense Eucalypts and past quiet billabongs on the banks of the Yarra River.
More info: bit.ly/JAG9SV
44. Mt Buller MTB Park
Biking with altitude. In 2012 Mt Buller earned the huge honour of becoming Australia’s first IMBA Ride Centre (bronze level). Its downhill trails are exhilarating thrill rides, while its cross country trails take in the breathtaking alpine scenery. Riders of all abilities are guaranteed to improve their skills while having a wild time on the mountain.
More info: www.mtbuller.com.au/Summer/Bike-Buller
45. You Yangs
The You Yangs have over 50km of sustainable mountain bike trails divided into two separate areas. The Stockyards, ideal for experienced riders, boasts two downhill tracks, flowing single track and steep technical sections through rocky terrain, while the Kurrajong Plantation offers a more relaxed option for new riders, with 20km of looped tracks winding through established Eucalypt plantations.
More info: bit.ly/U9cLoM
46. Dams Challenge
Western Australia’s most epic road event is a 235km loop with 2,000m of vertical climbing around Perth’s five metropolitan dams. Participants ride in pairs to complete the challenge within the eleven hour time limit. There’s also a 146km 3 Dams Challenge for riders working up to the full route.
More info: www.bwa.org.au/events/631
47. Hell of the North – Lancelin
A one-day spring classic with a distinct Aussie flavour, Hell of the North travels over 135km of undulating country roads and gravel tracks with just enough pot holes and red dust to keep riders on the edge of their saddles. There’s also a shorter 91km option for riders in training for the full challenge.
More info: www.bwa.org.au/events/609
48. Kep Track
This 75km trail connecting the hills outside of Perth to the Avon Valley follows a route used by Aboriginal groups, gold prospectors timber workers and farmers between watering holes, such as the Mundaring Weir, Chidlow Wells and the Avon River. The track is best explored at a slower pace, allowing time to soak up its rich history and take advantage of the many photo opportunities en route.
49. Munda Biddi Trail
Stretching 1,000km between Mundaring (near Perth) and Manjimup, the Munda Biddi Trail truly is one of Australia’s most epic and diverse riding experiences. The trail is rich in Aboriginal history and offers a completely unique experience with each day’s riding, winding through towering Eucalypt forests, wide expanses of untouched bushland and rich wine country.
More info: www.mundabiddi.org.au
50. Rottnest Island
Accessible by ferry, plane or boat, Rottnest Island is an A-class nature reserve famous for its unspoiled, sandy beaches and abundance of wild and marine life. With cars prohibited, bikes are the ideal vehicle for exploring the island and there are plenty available for hire.
More info: www.rottnestisland.com
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