It doesn’t take much to guess that I like riding outside of the city. Wagga is a great starting point for country road cycling, with the added advantage that there are interesting towns and villages to visit not too far away. Junee probably merits much more time than a mid-ride stop allows, but cycling there from Wagga provides an awesome day out.
Outward bound: Wagga to Junee via Pattersons Road (~44km)
Heading out of Wagga from the northern end of Fitzmaurice Street then past North Wagga Wagga, you are soon into the countryside. I really appreciate it when local governments recognise that cycling is a ‘thing’, and whilst Mill Street and Oura Road have regular traffic, cyclist signs and decent verges make for comfortable cycling conditions. Turning into Pattersons Road, the traffic thins out considerably for an undulating road with beautiful rural views. Sealed the entire way, the road passes Cottontail wines – which we returned to by car in the evening for a very pleasant meal. Whilst not inexpensive, I hope to return for lunch during a ride on a future Wagga trip.
Connecting with Byrnes Road, the route heads towards Junee with a deceptive false flat – a steady climb before the final descent into town. This can be quite hard work with a headwind (which we had).
Junee: Things to do
I’m not going to pretend to do justice to the things to see and do in Junee. I realise that my choices were biased by my own interests, and also the limits of a visit by bike. More information is available on the Junee tourism website, and also from Visit NSW. With these caveats, I recommend the Roundhouse Museum and Chocolate Factory as great places to visit.
To sate your inner child and memories of Thomas the Tank Engine, the Roundhouse Museum is perfect. Beyond that, however, I really enjoyed a visit here. Not only is there the opportunity to visit the locomotives and rolling stock (many of which you can enter and explore), you can see that the facility is still in use. In addition, the small museum building has a great set of artefacts from local rail history, a model railway and other historic items. Particularly interesting is the information on the Bethungra Rail Spiral, but that is probably my engineering geekiness coming through. Kudos as well to the local volunteers – we met a previous railway employee who was full of interesting and relevant knowledge of the place.
Junee Liquorice and Chocolate factory
If you have ever had the pleasure of eating Green Grove Organics chocolate, this is the factory it comes from. Originally a flour mill, the building is spectacular. Inside there is a store where you can buy a range of chocolate (I recommend the chocolate covered bananas), and also a great café for lunch. The Mill Room café makes for a great lunch stop: not only is there lots of outside seating, the food and coffee was excellent. I’m not exactly saying Fried Chicken and Waffles is a health food option, but you feel less guilty about it when cycling 80km. Especially when it tastes so good.
Return trip: Junee to Wagga via Byrnes Road (~38km)
Pattersons Road certainly receives less traffic than Byrnes Road, but we chose to return all the way home on this more direct route. The road has a very decent verge for the distance of the ride, and whilst traffic does pass at high speed it was not constant, and had infrequent heavy vehicles. I expect that the intermodal facility south of Junee may create more traffic mid-week, but I wouldn’t hesitate to ride this road in future.
Details of this ride
- Getting to the Roundhouse Museum is trickier than you might think. It is not well signposted as you enter town, and I missed the best turn (as shown in the Komoot!). The best route involves the following. As you are entering Junee you pass the roundhouse beside the railway to your left. You have to cross the tracks to get there much closer to town, and to do that you have to turn right before you get to the road overpass – which you will clearly see ahead of you. Head right at Edgar or George Streets, and then head left at Ducker Street to get to Kemp Street – which provides the bridge crossing. From there, signs point you in the correct direction. I at least got that bit right.
- During COVID restrictions, on busy weekends the queue to get in the chocolate factory can be long. My tip: go order lunch, sit outside where you can see how the queue is going, and jump in when it is short.
- Both the Museum and Chocolate factory have excellent toilet facilities and means to refill water supplies.