Braidwood gravel: via Captains Flat and Majors Creek

Canberra – Queanbeyan – Hoskinstown – Captains Flat – Majors Creek – Braidwood

Cycling to and from Braidwood is an enjoyable one or two day outing. Braidwood Gravel includes details of two backroad ways of getting there or back, but for a longer gravel adventure the route via Captains Flat is worth thinking about – particularly as it is easy to incorporate a stop at Majors Creek’s Elrington Hotel. If only the Captains Flat hotel was open again….

Leaving via Queanbeyan River Trail

Having ridden up out of Queanbeyan on the highway to the Captains Flat intersection, I have wondered about whether a gravel option would offer a more interesting start to the route. Queanbeyan River Trail provides that option and it is nice to be off the main road. However it is no short cut – still a slow and constant climb up to the ridge followed by an indirect route to connect with Captains Flat Road. Which way to go is really a personal choice, but at earlier parts of the day I’d probably err on the side of saving energy by staying on-road. And devote that energy to a much more spectacular diversion – Hoskinstown Road.

To Captains Flat, via Hoskinstown

Instead of cycling wholly on Captains Flat Road, digressing via Plains Road to Hoskinstown and then continuing on Hoskinstown Road adds about 4km to the trip. But it is totally worth it. Captains Flat Road does have occasional traffic, but this diversion has very little. Plus, as can be seen from the views below and in the title photo for this article, it offers great scenery. The other plus is that the very low clearance bridge prevents anything of any size travelling this way – helping keep the gravel smooth.

After returning to the tarmac to get to Captains Flat, there is a nice park for a stop but not much else other than a contender for NSW’s best decorated public toilet. Fresh drinking water is available, but currently nowhere in town is available for you to purchase any kind of food or beverage: the very impressive pub is awaiting new ownership, the petrol station / general store is closed, and there is no longer a cafe. It is, however, worth taking a break before heading out of town to the major gravel sections of the ride.

Captains Flat to Majors Creek

Now the gravel really starts, and it is tremendous. Captains Flat Road completely changes to the east of Captains Flat, becoming a gravel road for 23km through to the intersection with Cooma Road. Passing through farmland and the southern section of Tallaganda National Park and State Forest, a lot of the route (particularly the ~300m climb out of Captains Flat) is surrounded by eucalypt forest. On the descent the road does open up and start to provide some fantastic valley views although also a couple of deceptively tight corners that could catch out the unwary.

Upon reaching Cooma Road there is a short trip to Wallaces Gap Road. Of course, it is possible to continue on Cooma Road straight to Braidwood. This is a nice sealed road with occasional traffic and is a good ride – much better than the sealed road between Braidwood and Majors Creek. But what is the point of that? The gravel climb through Wallaces Gap to Majors Creek is of a similar standard to Captains Flat Road, and is a regularly used cycling route when traveling from Canberra to Araluen and on to the coast. In this instance, it is the way to travel to the Majors Creek Elrington Hotel.

Majors Creek and on to Braidwood

It is fair to say that Majors Creek is not a huge town – it would have been interesting to see what it was like in its gold mining heyday. Whilst gold mining has returned at Dargues Reef (on Majors Creek Road), there is little evidence of the gold’s legacy in the town. The pub makes a great stop if open, but there are also plenty of options in Braidwood – only 16km away. Majors Creek road is the worst of the trip – it is not clear why but it was very patchy in some areas despite it needing to carry traffic to/from the mine.

Details of this ride

Hints and tips

  • As part of this trip CyclingGravel tried a few things that don’t have to be included – the Queanbeyan River Trail and the Hoskinstown detour. It is also possible to add the Majors Creek detour to other Braidwood Gravel routes, and the route could extend to the (once open) Araluen Road route to the coast.
  • It is not that easy to find details on the opening hours for the Elrington Hotel (named for the first European settler in the Majors Creek area). When I visited, it was open from 12 on Friday, Saturday and Sunday (and in the late afternoon other days except Monday) with lunch meals available on the weekend. Having said that I was there on a Friday and was able to have a (very nice) burger. An excellent place for a cold beer and balcony chill-out before the final leg.

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