There are quite a few ways to escape Canberra for part of a day to enjoy some country roads and gravel. To the south: mountains and bush (at least until we get a Monaro Rail Trail). To the north: farms, wineries and towns to visit, with a number of choices to avoid the highways. I really like a ride to Gundaroo, and there are a few ways to get there that aren’t Sutton Road. I’ve previously covered one great gravel option in Gundaroo Gravel. This longer route north offers multiple stop options (Murrumbateman, Gundaroo and Sutton) without too many steep climbs and more gravel. What is not to like?
Canberra to Murrumbateman
Exiting Canberra on the Barton Highway, whilst the verge is ok it is highly desirable to turn as soon as possible onto a quieter back road. The first option to the left that seems to offer passage to Murrumbateman is Rolfe Road. Similar to other roads in this region, this road is marked “No Through Road” but this does not mean it really is the case (such as in the instance of Cavan Road, discussed in CyclingGravel’s Murrumbidgee & Murrumbateman loop). Arguments in favour of being able to use this road is that it is clearly marked as a fully maintained road by Yass Valley Council in its Road Hierarchy. It also seems odd that the signs are clearly “hand made” in some instances, referring to the fact that “google maps is wrong”. Of course, the best indication that it is ok to travel is the existence of a Strava segment….
The facts on the grounds are that shortly past the photo above, the route heads right and rapidly becomes a road that seems to lack council maintenance. Then, over the hill, it does connect with the rest of Rolfe Road, but only via a locked gate. Whatever the true legal situation, the prudent course would appear to be to skip Rolfe Road, keep on the highway a little, and connect with Kaveneys Road.
Kaveneys Road provides a pleasant route through local farmland, including one great descent when approaching Dog Trap Road. It doesn’t have much verge to speak of, but nor is there much traffic to worry about. There are also some great views of the hills out towards the Murrumbidgee and Burrinjuck.
Dog Trap Road is one of my favourite gravel roads because of the dirt/farm/big sky views. It is also pretty smooth most of the time and a quick ride for its 11km length before heading in towards Murrumbateman. If you are into wineries, three are passed prior to Murrumbateman (Gallagher, Granitevale, and the rather posh Shaw). Personally, I press on for a quick bakery stop in Murrumbateman before heading on to Gundaroo.
Murrumbateman to Gundaroo
Hillview Drive and Greenwood Road are both sealed, but have very light traffic. Other than a path to a few wineries (eg Yarrh), a conference centre and local farms, they continue the trend of being quiet back roads that are a pleasure to ride on your way to Yass River Road. Initially continuing on tarmac, the gravel returns begins shortly after turning east at the Greenwood Road intersection.
Yass River Road has a number of short climbs and descents, as well as some twisty parts. Opening flowing farm views along the river valley are also accompanied by native bush-lined stretches. The end-to-end trip on this road is 23km, and also appears to have light traffic using the road to/from local addresses, rather than as a thoroughfare to other destinations.
Having reached Gundaroo, my favourite stop is the Cork Street Café. I’ve previously regaled readers about the tremendous pizza, including my favourite Sicilian (above). Please stop and enjoy prior to making your way home.
Gundaroo to Canberra
There are a number of choices on the route home, in addition to the one I used. These include:
- Taking the Mulligans Flat Road to Gungahlin.
- A longer route, but with added gravel fun, by taking Murrumbateman Road and then Tallagandra Lane.
- Taking the gravel Majura Lane from Sutton to Eagle Hawk.
More detail on the additional gravel options is available in Gundaroo Gravel.
Details of this ride
- Can this ride be done on a roadie? Yes, you definitely could: the gravel road is sufficiently well maintained that an appropriately tyred road bike would easily be able to ride this route.
- Sutton Road (from Gundaroo to Sutton) has regular fast traffic. Having said that, it is a route I regularly and happily ride because visibility is good with plenty of easy passing for drivers.