18 great bike rides in the Narooma - Tilba - Bermagui area of the New South Wales Far South Coast
Narooma - Central Tilba - Mystery Bay return
Return distance 65 kilometres
Start: Rotary Park Narooma
This would have to be one of the best rides we know. It has just about everything a cyclist could wish for on a ride - beautiful scenery, including ocean, inlet and lake views, spectacular views of headlands and beaches, a historic village, and of course a couple of hours riding through State forests along narrow roads. There's even a chance to call into a winery to taste the local wines, treat yourself to a coffee and cake overlooking the winery and Corunna Lake or enjoying lunch out on the verandah. Why not take home a bottle of local red to have with your meal in the evening to celebrate the best ride?
Yes, we realise many riders would rate this ride as difficult because it does have several sections with hills, and because it is around 65 kilometres in length, but if you want a challenge, then this ride is the one, and it certainly it has lots of wow factors.
You can start anywhere along the route shown on the map, as this ride is a complete circuit apart from one short section.
Enjoy Narooma’s new cycleway
But let's start our trip from the Rotary Park on Wagonga Inlet. If you are visiting Narooma and are staying at Easts Holiday Park, then this ride starts from your camp site. The first ten kilometres or so are as described in Ride 1.
Head north along the cycleway for the whole way. Soon you will come to the steel bridge crossing the inlet. It's a narrow walkway on the side of the bridge, with a sign asking cyclists to dismount as they cross.
The cycleway then goes down a short but steep hill before coming to the start of the boardwalk. Don't rush over the boardwalk, rather, take your time and look at the fish. The water is usually so clear you should be able to see plenty in the water.
At the far end of the boardwalk you come to the start of the new Narooma - Dalmeny cycleway that will be finished by the end of June 2013. This cycleway is a credit to the Eurobodalla council, the community and all the volunteers who made it possible. The volunteers spent many Saturdays laying concrete to get it to the stage where we can all enjoy this facility.
The cycleway winds around the various headlands and past several beaches on its way to the Dalmeny shops.
At the shops, turn right and ride along another cycleway past Mummuga Lake for a couple more kilometres. No doubt you will have stopped more than once along this part of your ride to take photographs.
The first road you come to is Binalong Street on the right. Cross that, and continue along the cycleway past the oval and the bowling club as far as the Princes Highway.
At the highway, turn right and cycle north. There is a shoulder along that part of the highway but there is a pinch spot at the bridge crossing Stoney Creek. Take care there, especially if there is traffic on the highway.
Pass the sawmill, and go on for a couple of hundred metres or so to Mitchells Ridge Road. It's the first road you come to after the sawmill. You are now in the Bodalla State Forest, an extensive forest that covers much of the first part of the trip to Central Tilba. It is along Mitchells Ridge Road that you will encounter the first of two hills. They are not too bad if you have a reasonable level of fitness.
Into the Bodalla State Forest
This part of Mitchells Road is about two and a half kilometres before you need to turn.
You will pass Whittakers Creek road on the right, and the fast downhill run starts.
At the bottom of the hill, the road divides. Straight on is the continuation of Mitchells Ridge Road. Take the left fork that should be signposted as the Scenic Road.
The Wagonga Scenic Road
The next couple of kilometres are superb - no hills, beautiful forest, lots of curves - in other words, perfect for cycling.
The road goes over a creek crossing. This usually has a little water in it, occasionally a lot of water, but even if the water is flowing, you should be able to negotiate the crossing using care.
You will pass a road on your left - Red Knob Road. Continue straight ahead along the Wagonga Scenic Road. You will continue along this road for several kilometres, with occasional rises - you couldn't call them hills - to a crossroads. To the left is Box Cutting Road, to the right is Tobacco Road. Go straight ahead.
The forest is a real pleasure to cycle through. Listen carefully, especially in the cooler months, and you will most likely hear lyrebirds. They will go through their repertoire of imitating all the forest sounds including the calls of numerous other birds in the forest.
There is a creek crossing - Billa Bilba Creek. There are a couple of roads on the right, but go up the hill.
You will come near the water, which is the upper reaches of Wagonga Inlet. There is a picnic area overlooking the water, and a nice area and an excuse for a rest.
Go on along the forest road for a couple more kilometres, and the forest gives way to a small area of grazing country for only about one kilometre.
You will then come to a wooden bridge. The road straight goes to Narooma. Unless you need to return to Narooma, or if you just love hills, don't take that road. Turn right just over the bridge and take the road to Central Tilba. This now becomes Punkalla Road.
Go for a couple of kilometres to the next junction. Do not go along Wild Horse Road unless you just love more hills. Keep going straight ahead.
There are hills for the next three kilometres or so, nothing too bad (well, they are a little tiring). But to compensate for the hills, the forest is superb. Imagine forest roads with sweeping curves after the hills, gentle downhills, or else undulating. This is what you have to look forward to after you have climbed up to Tebbs Road and Armitage road on the left.
Soon you will pass Mount Dromedary Road on the right - this is the road you take on another ride from Tilba.
Soon you will come to a few houses. The road is a nice fast downhill. Take it easy on that corner, because there is a sharp left turn at the bottom, and there is often gravel in ridges piled up waiting to grab any cyclist going too fast.
Then you will have a short steep hill for about two or three hundred metres.
At the top, turn tight. That will take you to Central Tilba. the road to the left is Ridge Road and heads back to Narooma.
Into Central Tilba
There are now stretches of bitumen interspersed with sections of dirt road with many corrugations and potholes. Go down a steep hill. This is a fast run down, but take it easy at the bottom. There is a sharp bend to the left, and you cannot see what traffic is coming down the next hill. So, slow is better and safer.
Soon you will be in the historic National Trust village of Central Tilba. You are now at the half-way point in the ride.
Spend a bit of time in the village. It should have taken you three to three and a half hours to get there so far, so if you left at a reasonable time, you should have time to look around.
This will be your last chance to buy refreshments. There is baker in the village, but not open every day of the year. There are a couple of other food outlets for you to stock up on eats and drinks. It will be at least a couple of hours, probably much longer, before you can buy more refreshments.
At the end of the main street of Tilba (Bate Street), turn left for about half a kilometre. it is a steep road, but at least it's not long.
The highway will be straight ahead of you.
On the opposite of the highway is Sherringham Lane. Take that for the next four kilometres to the Tilba cemeteries and Little Lake - one of the priceless gems on this part of the coast. The first part of the road is sealed, the second half is dirt, but at the moment it is in good condition. Caution: there are three gates you will go through. Usually they are open, but just in case, make sure they are open before trying to negotiate them!
To the beach and whalewatching
If you have your lunch with you, the beach is an ideal spot for lunch. We take our bikes over the fence and hide them behind the bushes a short way along the track leading down to the beach and the mouth of the lake. Look out for whales between September and the end of November.
After taking photographs, enjoying the views and maybe a swim if you are a confident swimmer, head back to the highway. Yes, I know, there are a coupe of hills that you would have raced down.
At the highway, cross over and head north towards Narooma for about two hundred metres. There is a wide shoulder on this part of the road, and even in heavy traffic I have had no trouble with other road users.
To Mystery Bay
You will come to a road on the right - Victoria Creek Road. This is the old highway, and the main road before the highway upgrade was opened early in 2013.
Go along the Victoria Creek Road for about a kilometre until you reach Sunnyside Road. It is a dirt road on the right, well marked and quite obvious.
It's mostly downhill for several kilometres. But take it easy so you can appreciate the views of the countryside around Tilba - views to Tilba Lake in the distance, the grazing lands, and the ocean too.
At the end of Sunnyside Road, there is s steep section for about three hundred metres. And at the top is a historic homestead - Fig Tree Cottage.
At the junction, turn right for about a kilometre.
You will come to the camping ground at Mystery Bay and the picnic area. But for now, go up the hill, and then down the next hill. At the end is the Mystery Bay rotunda and picnic area. And opposite the picnic area there are a coupe of benches providing a good excuse to linger there and enjoy some refreshments as you take in the coastal views.
To return to Narooma, go back along the Mystery Bay Road. You will pass Sunnyside Road on the left - that's the road that brought you from the highway to Mystery Bay. At the highway (after a couple of kilometres), there is a single track on the left running parallel with the highway. Take that for about a kilometre, perhaps a little less.
You will come to another road on the left, and a sign promoting Bega mild. Diagonally opposite you is a dirt road - Watertank Road.
Take that for about a kilometre. it is mostly level or downhill.
The road forks. You will then be on part of the Old Highway.
Refreshments at the Tilba Valley Winery
But you will now be at the entrance to the Tilba Valley Winery. This is an ideal spot to have a coffee and a cake, take in the views over the vineyards to Corunna Lake, and enjoy some good hospitality, and perhaps even a late lunch. On alternate Sundays, the winery has live music that you will probably enjoy while you enjoy your refreshments. And why not enjoy the wine tasting and take home a bottle of local wine to have with your meal to celebrate your completion of what must be the best ride in the area. Check with the winery (telephone 02 4473 7308) to get their opening times and, if you are in a group of riders, to let them know how many of you will be turning up. Or go to their website for further details.
Once you leave the winery, turn right at the gate and go up the hill for about one kilometre.
At the op of the hill, the road divides. The road to the left would take you to back to Tilba. Take the right road that will take you back to Narooma.
You can enjoy a short stretch of sealed road before coming to Corunna Bridge and the top of Corunna Lake.
At the second bend after the bridge, there is small historic cemetery - Corunna cemetery.
From here, it's only about ten kilometres back to the start of the ride and the marinas. Soon the dirt road gives way to the bitumen.
But keep on going. You will come to some houses, and then just before the highway, turn left at Cole Crescent. Take the first left at the end of the crescent into Dorothy Drive, then take the first road to the right. At the top, turn left. The road ends at a small reserve. There is a single track through the reserve. After a hundred metres, you will be on Riverside drive. Continue along that until you pick up the cycleway that goes beside Forsters Bay. At the highway, cross over and turn right on the cycleway. That will take you back to where you started this fabulous ride.
Wow! Wasn't that some ride?
Download the map Ride 6