Cycle-touring around the Wollemi, Yengo, and Blue Mountains National Parks near Sydney

January 2009

I circumnavigated the Wollemi National Park, Yengo National Park in the Greater Blue Mountains NW of Sydney. About 550km of sealed and gravel roads, and 4WD tracks over 7 very hot days.

I went to a robotics summer school in Sydney so took advantage of the flights to go cycle touring and check out Australia. Kangaroos hid in the shade and watched me pass, an echidna made me wait while it crossed, I avoided the spider's web that had caught a bat, 1.5m long goannas (lizards) scrambled noisily up trees to make sure I noticed them, and even a possum watched me from a tree. Cockatoos, kookaburra, parrakeets, parrots, galahs, magpies, crows and pelicans competed to make the most noise. Unfortunately I forgot the camera, but have made a KMZ file instead: download it, open in Google Earth, and the track will appear as a minute squiggle in the corner of Australia, just to show how little of it I saw. There's a 'play' button on the left to fly over it.

Day 1 Sydney Airport to near Wiseman's Ferry. Hot, fast, busy, hilly roads and four punctures. I should have taken the train but had to call at a few places; at least I got to ride over the harbour bridge. Not many places to camp amongst the lifestyle blocks.

Day 2 Wiseman's Ferry to Wolombi along the Old Great North Road. Big contrast from the previous day: wildlife everywhere and no cars. The Old Great North Road was an awesome ride--all rideable once I'd repaired and re-tied the panniers a few times.

Day 3 Wolombi to Denman. Long and very hot ride to Denman (big town!). The National Park visitor centre staff in Bulga seemed very pleased to see me; I don't think they see a lot of visitors. Lots of useful info--apparently you can arrange to ride the Hunter Main Trail right accross the middle of the Wollemi National park which would be an awesome mbk ride.

After Bulga the short section of the Golden Highway to Jerry's Plains is unpleasant but has a wide shoulder and isn't too long. Denman is a proper town with pubs and shops. Campsites on the hill behind town have awesome views of the sun rising near Mt Yengo.

Day 4 Denman to near Bylong--long and hot with no clean water. More of the road is sealed than is shown on the maps.

Day 5 Bylong to Glen Alice road

Day 6 Glen Alice road to Glen Davis, then Capertee and nice 4WD tracks first parallel to the railway, then through rock canyons through the Ben Bullen Forest.

Day 7 Wolgan's Gap to Lithgow--nice campsite up the Farmer's creek behind an old dam. Great swimming spot upstream. The next day I got the train back to Sydney--bikes are free (take them on any carriage) but there's not much room and you have to keep moving it clear of the opening doors.

I took a hardtail mountain bike with semi-slick tyres. This was perfect for the 4WD roads through the forests. Never had so many punctures though--seemed to be mending tubes every night! Didn't see any other cyclists outside the towns--winter would be a better time to visit. It was bordering on too hot to ride from about 11am until dusk some days, but there isn't much to stop and do. 42 degrees was the hottest I rode in.

There's a tap somewhere in most villages (usually at the petrol station or a community building with water collection) but can be a day's ride between them. There's water everywhere behind farm dams and in stream beds but none of it was moving and most was pretty scanky--ok with plenty of iodine but a filter would have improved things! I carried 3.25 litres but used about ten litres per day. There's unlimited bush to wild-camp in--fortunately there weren't any fires in the area. A tent was hot but kept the mossies and other toxic wildlife out.

Wiseman's Ferry, Yango, Wollembi, Broke, Jerry's Plains, Denman, Bylong, Rylstone and Capertee all have shops and water. Also water at Glen Alice (toilets) and Glen Davis (campsite).

The Wollemi National Park Tourist Map showed all the good cycle-touring roads and 4WD tracks, and the Cycle Australia website is useful.