The notion of cycling on top of Kosciusko polluted my mind for a few months. That particular ride was driven by a longer journey for which I needed to get ready for. I needed to test myself physically (I was coming from a knee and achilles tendon injury back then), test my bike and gear system and be ready mentally. I also needed a solid 5 days cycling to reach the top plus an extra day to cycle back to Cooma and catch the bus back home. Easter holidays provided that time frame.
Day 1 : Sydney – Thirlmere Lakes National Park : 110 kms
Leaving my flat early enough trying to dodge Sydney’s traffic proved beneficial. Being a regular early rider during weekdays, I knew what I was in for! Canterbury Road proved the most annoying with it’s non-existant shoulder. Probably not the best road to choose, but once in Liverpool things were better. It’s around Campbelltown area that I started to enjoy the riding a lot more. Farm lands and open fields started to appear. It was on Appin Road I got my first flat ever on a multi-day cycling tour!! No surprise as the shoulder was full of litter. I’ve cycled through Vietnam, New Zealand and South Korea on multi-weeks journeys and never got a flat tire. Ever. I ride 30 kms outside Sydney, BOOM! Flat tire. And they just kept coming! I had 3 in total in that single trip.
The aim for the first day was to get to Thirlmere Lakes National Park and find a camping spot. From Appin, I went through beautiful country side landscapes passing by Wilton, Picton and Thirlmere, all quiet and small towns. I got to the national park just in time for a good meal and relax a bit by the lake looking at the sunset before going to bed. Simply amazing spot after the first day of riding. After a year without being on the saddle for a whole day covering long distances, I felt quite good.
Day 2 : Thirlmere Lakes National Park – Marulan : 96kms
Highlight of the day was the quiet roads and the scenery. Going up and down the gentle and some steeper hills sometimes gave beautiful views followed by a quick descent. One of the best situations for a cyclist. Leaving an hour later than planned left me stranded in Marulan at the end of the day instead of the planned stop at Goulburn.
The day was spent riding through calm and relax cities of Mittagong and Bowral, hometown of “The Don”, Sir Donald Bradman. Unfortunately, I didn’t have time to visit the museum dedicated to a great sporting legend and since I am a massive sport fan, I felt like I missed something important. Then it was through Moss Vale and veering left towards Exeter on quiet roads splitting green to yellow gradient landscapes dotted by massive hay stack rolls, sometimes with a house or farm towards the horizon.
There wasn’t any camping ground around Marulan (well, didn’t find any…) and this accommodation sign was too inviting, especially with the pub at its base. Since it was now almost pitch black dark, the decision to have a good sleep after one or two beers was too temping. There was also this bike shop where I could pump up my back tire in the morning. Since my flat the day before, I couldn’t pump the tire above 50 psi due to my shitty pump. Note to self: Get a new portable pump for the longer trip.
Day 3 : Marulan – Queanbeyan : 132km
Tailwinds are truly the cyclist’s best friend. That’s how the day started on the Hume Highway where the traffic increased by the minute in the early morning. I needed to get out of that road as soon as I could and the 30km from Marulan to Goulburn was dealt with in a hour. More farmland towards Bungendore, truly peaceful riding with great scenery of empty piece of land, mostly agricultural.
After a quick break in Bungendore, some gentle hills were a welcome change after a mostly flat morning. Lake Bathurst then Tarago are nice quiet country towns and easy quiet cycling. Getting into Queanbeyan was awesome, going down into town. A few of the Telstra Tower is possible during the descent.
Day 4 : Queanbeyan – Cooma : 109kms
More farmland again, splendid morning on undulating roads out of traffic, some hills in the mix in hilly valleys. Then things got crazy on the very busy Morano highway sometimes lacking of shoulder, cars were passing quite close sometimes. Despite heavy litter consisting of broken glass, empty cans and various metal objects of various shapes, the tiniest object have caused my second puncture; a staple about 5 millimiter long!
Cooma is a lovely town and important regional center with decent restaurants and adventure stores. Being close to the snowy mountains and rivers providing quality fishing and hunting attracts quite a few locals and tourists on their way to Jindabyne.
Day 5 : Cooma – Jindabyne : 61kms
A shorter day today, but the wind made it a tougher one. The hills around Jindabyne didn’t too much too! Jindabyne is full of adventure / ski shops and is absolutely bussing during the snowy season but relatively quiet in the off-season which I thought was a real shame. With the lake and the mountains in the region, it provides so many outdoor activity options. For some reason, no buses are running from Canberra to Jindabyne; the one that goes the closest is stopping at Cooma.
Day 6 : Jindabyne – Mount Kosciusko return : 100kms
That was the day I was waiting for and it didn’t disappoint. Cycling in Kosciuszko National Park felt like being on another planet. The landscape is so different from Jindabyne and its surroundings. There’s a real sense of remoteness, being far from anything else.
Without surprise, there’s some climbing to do but doesn’t start before passing the river flowing into Jindabyne lake.Starting at 1000 meters, the climb never stops until the summit really. There are some flat or descending sections which are a great relief, especially around Perisher Valley. Then it’s up again until Charlotte’s pass where the dirt track starts. Some sections on the dirt track are difficult especially after climbing for a few hours. Arriving at Seaman’s hut was a moral boost as it provided a shelter from the blowing winds and I could rest for a little.
A few more minutes of hard pushing, I arrived at the start of the climb to the summit. The last kilometer has to be done by foot so I threw my bike in the rack and walked the summit, 2228 meters high. Great feeling once on top! The thought of flying down the hills were now a reality! Yeah!
Amazing to think that going up can take up 5 hours but coming down takes a bit over 1 hour. That’s way down was simply fantastic.
Map – Blue pins are showing where I spent the night
View Bike ride to Kosciuszko in a larger map