South Canberra ridges via Murrumbidgee

For those who are gravel minded, the Centenary Trail offers excellent in-city sections of gravel. Unfortunately, however, many parts aren’t gravel (eg paved shared path) or are rougher single-track that really benefit from a mountain bike. CyclingGravel’s Epic Canberra Gravel Ride offers my suggested gravel biking alternative.

To write-off the Centenary Trail as offering a great route for off-road cycling would, however, be a mistake. In particular, I very much enjoy the southern end of the trail, with the absolute highlight being the Bullen Range Nature Park single track alongside the Murrumbidgee River. But full disclosure: whilst a gravel bike is absolutely possible on this trail, you will be under-biked. A MTB is the better option for this trip.

Towards and through Tuggeranong

Starting at the base of Red Hill, the Centenary Trail route leaves the gravel and heads through the suburb before crossing Hindmarsh Drive. From here, the trail heads up from the Mugga Lane / Hindmarsh Drive intersection before curling around the hill and down towards Isaacs. There is little to dislike about this route, but as an alternative to this route, it is possible to follow the trail set for the first 10km of Southern Canberra Ridges – which is more direct but does require crossing Hindmarsh Drive without the assistance of traffic lights. On the other hand, you do not get the really great view from the top of the Hindmarsh Mugga Mugga cutting.

Towards the end of Isaacs Ridge, the trail heads left and around towards Long Gully Road. Unless there has been a long dry spell, this requires fording a water-filled dip that can be deceptively deep. You are warned!

After heading under Long Gully Road, the trail heads not through Wanniassa Hill Nature Reserve but a number of paddocks following clearly marked tracks before running back to the suburbs at Macarthur. At the time of writing there is a diversion from the ‘usual’ Centenary Trail – which has been in place for at least a year. This is not horrible, but has removed a nice single-track section.

Arriving in Macarther, following the Centenary Trail heads down into Tuggeranong with the route following footpath and shared path through to the Town Centre. Highlights include the Fadden pines and the recently rehabilitated Tuggeranong Creek Pond.

In Tuggeranong, the route gets a little confusing and despite looking a few times it is hard to find the little trail signs pointing you in the official ‘right direction’. My best suggestion is do whatever you think makes most sense to travel to the intersection between Anketell St and Athllon Drive, at which point there is a huge trail sign to confirm you are in the right place.

Bullen Range & Murrumbidgee River

Heading down into Bullen Range Nature Park, the single track intersects in some parts to other trails (such as the Bicentennial National Trail) but thankfully the trail is well signposted. Past the historic Tuggeranong Stone Wall, the trail crosses Tuggeranong Creek and then passes through a section that is least suited to gravel bikes – with some large rocks and marshy bits. Beyond this relatively short part, a well-shod gravel bike could travel this trail (provided you are cautious on some steep descents).

The second half of the trail runs much more closely to the river, offering views of the river, the very scenic Red Rocks Gorge and a couple of stops/detours to take in the view. If you are really enthusiastic (and are happy to secure your bike somewhere) you can also head down to the river at Kambah Pool for a swim. This whole track is Centenary Trail at its very best.

Connecting up with Stromlo

After the steep climb out of Kambah Pool, the road heads up towards Kambah and Weston Creek. If you are lucky you’ll see the free-range chickens at Amberly Eggs being guarded by a Maremma. Cute.

From here it is on to Cooleman Ridge, and the mountain views from the back of Chapman to the north and the west. After connecting to Eucumbene Drive you may fancy a coffee – grab a cup at Niugini Arabica. From there it is 5 minutes to Stromlo if you want to continue the single track adventures.

Details of this ride

Travel guidance

  • This route can be added as an extension to CyclingGravel’s Epic Canberra Gravel Trail, or directly connects to the Stromlo to Arbo route.
  • Instead of travelling all the way up Kambah Pool Road, there is a trail that runs beside McQuoids Hill to the west of the Allchin Circuit part of Kambah, and then connects with Cooleman Ridge behind Mount Arawang (near some horse stables on Hake Street Kambah). This route can be quite muddy and really is MTB only.

Published by CyclingGravel

Based in Canberra, Australia. Cruisy gravel cyclist.

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