Can you be a Canberran if you have not been to the coast via Braidwood and the Kings Highway? Most Canberrans would know from travelling this way is it ain’t great for bicycles. In fact it is worse than that. Yet there are great cafes for a mid-ride stop in Braidwood and, once caffeinated, the Araluen Road route can follow to the coast. So, how to get there? Gravel is the way, starting and ending in Hoskinstown.
The tiny village of Hoskinstown is the launch and return point for this ride. It is also a stop on what would be an amazing ride – the Molonglo Rail Trail. Maybe one day: even if it did exist there would still be the task of getting there, and this involves Captains Flat Road and then across the Molonglo flood plain – quite atmospheric on a cool foggy morning. Captains Flat Road has somewhat deserved reputation for not being an ideal cycling road, but I have found traffic to be pretty courteous – noting as well that for large parts of the road the verge is reasonably usable.
To Braidwood via Tallaganda National Park
Heading out of Hoskinstown on Forbes Creek Road involves a short climb and then descent to the ‘locality’ that is Forbes Creek. A pretty little valley setting is an interlude to the climb up into Tallaganda National Park.
As you head into the national park, the high quality gravel road becomes less travelled – as farms and properties are passed the road becomes more trail-like. At no stage does this become difficult – a bit more rocky and less consistent but well maintained. Towards the end it is hard to tell what is the difference between Forbes Creek Road and Mulloon Fire Trail, but neither creates specific issues as you climb up and then descend. Once you get to Mulloon Creek, however, it is shoes off to cross – at least when there was been rain in recent months.
After the Camping Ground, there is one major climb remaining, and here you start to see evidence of the bushfires of summer 2019/20. It is amazing to see the regrowth that occurs in the native bush.
There are a few more creek crossings on the route, but Mulloon Creek is the only one where you need to get wet. All are easily navigable (at least without significant recent rain) – such as the one below on Little Bombay Road.
Heading out of the national park, the trail turns again into more of a road, and eventually the tarmac returns as well. There is occasional traffic on Bombay Road – mainly local farmers and residents heading to/from town. The Shoalhaven River crossing is near a reserve that would be a great stop in summer for a swim.
Return via Tallaganda State Forest
Departing Braidwood, heading south via Cooma Road provides sweeping views on a windswept but lightly travelled tarmac road. There is little to dislike, and the route descends to the Shoalhaven River again. It offers a rapid route south to Captains Flat Road where the gravel and climbing returns.
After starting up Captains Flat Road the route connects to Parlour Creek Road. Both roads offer stunning views.
At the intersection between Parlour Creek Road and Harolds Cross Road / Vernelly Road you can take either route – I have ridden both. A longer (but less fiddly) route is the “pine forest route” via Harolds Cross Road and Coxes Creek Road, which ultimately connects to Lowden Road at the top of the climbing. The shorter route taken here is the “farm route”, via Vernelly Road and Gumms Road.
After the rapid descent of Vernelly Road, Gumms Road starts with a gate. This road does pass through private property, but it is a public road – don’t be put off by the gate. The downside is there are quite a few gates to stop and go through – at least five – which is what makes it fiddly. Whilst a “road”, it is really more of a fire trail quality – including abandoned bridge! Overall it seems to almost solely be used by the local residents.
At the top of Gumms Road, there is a short stretch in the pine forest before descended to the farmland and views of Rossi Road, Rossi itself, and then on to Hoskinstown. It seems that at times these roads do have forestry traffic, but on the occasions I have been this way I have only seen a few 4WDs. From here, it is back to Canberra.
Details of this ride
Hints and tips
- There are range of cafes in Braidwood, but I can particularly recommend the coffee and galettes at Provisions Deli and Creperie, and pretty much anything baked at Dojo Bread.
- Just heading one way? I recommend taking the Forbes Creek/Mulloon Fire Trail route unless there has been a lot of recent rain.