With the weekend free, I hit the road for an overnight ride to the New South Wales South Coast. Pouring over Google Maps, I settled on a route through the Royal National Park, onwards to Robertson, Mittagong and Kangaroo Valley before staying the night in Sussex Inlet. Beautiful sunshine and mild winter temperatures set the scene for an enjoyable ride through the Royal National Park. The dappled light shone through the trees, creating slanting shadows on the road surface as I wound my way toward Stanwell Tops. Here, the change from dense forest to spectacular ocean views makes this a fabulous stop. The ocean was displaying its winter cobalt blue as I stood in awe at the almost limitless view to the horizon.
A 30-minute ride along the freeway beyond Woollongong and I turned onto the Illawarra Highway (A48) bound for the Robertson Pie Shop. This route offers smooth road conditions, views across farmlands to the mountain plateau and sweeping bends through Macquarie Pass. It is a superb road and a favourite of motorcycle riders and car enthusiasts alike.
Stopping at Robertson Pie Shop and they are doing a roaring trade with their flakey pastry beef bourbon pie with mushrooms and bacon. This is a good pie and a rightful award winner. Departing, I joined the Tourist Road to Mittagong. This is a half hour each way ride on Australia’s version on an English country lane. The road starts out bumpy, quickly becoming smooth towards the prosperous farms of Mittagong. These are narrow winding roads with a surprising amount of traffic.
Returning I exited Tourist Road, riding towards Robertson, Kangaroo Valley and Berry Mountain. This entire section offers superb riding conditions with countless hairpin and blind turns to maintain your concentration. From Nowra, it was another hour down the coast road to Sussex Inlet. This is a quiet town of 3,000 souls situated on a river with a charming old cinema (caught the late afternoon show; Mystify about the late INXS singer Michael Hutchence), two bakeries, an RSL Club and some unusual architecture.
The next morning I woke to magnificent sunshine and a (nearly) full moon as I set off through Conjola State Forest for breakfast in Milton. Temperatures varied dramatically from 16 degrees in the sunshine to 6 degrees in the trees. Diverging from my regular stop at Pilgrims, I breakfasted on a bacon and egg roll, juice and tea at Brown Sugar. Nice. Not fussy. Just good cooking. On this trip, I took a book of short stories written by Cecil Mann and published in 1945. It was interesting to note the social issues of the day in post-war Australia. After finishing my tea, the warm sunshine beckoned me north to one of my favourite coastal towns; Bendalong.
Bendalong delights with its laid back atmosphere and natural beauty. On the southern side, there are surfers out in the bright winter sunshine, making the most of the waves. I walked the length of the beach (about one kilometre), climbing the rocky section at the eastern end and enjoying myself greatly. It’s so lovely to be at the ocean on days like these.
After an hour or two of waking, it was time to saddle up and head home. The ride back to the freeway through the Conjola National Park was a treat with fast, smooth turns along this 100km/h section. The highway in this area feels more like a quiet B road and is pleasant all the way to Nowra. At this point, I turned east along the Great Pacific Drive. If you have always gone via the freeway to Kiama, this is a lovely detour with its mix of foundries, farmland and forested roads. I enjoy this route and take it as often as possible.
At Gerringong, it is back on the freeway for a spot of lunch at Earth Walker in Coledale; a delicious toasted cheese, pickles and beef brisket sandwich. This meal provided a moment’s pause to contemplate the weekend’s ride. Once again, I am reminded that it is upon us to take advantage of our opportunities to journey to new places and see new things. Motorcycle riding does this for me, enabling exploration of different towns and varying road conditions; all the while enjoying the process of travelling. I pondered this before I set off through the Royal National Park toward home, grateful for another riding adventure.