Canberra to Leeton

Looking to do this in the first week of July. Sabrina’s aunt and uncle live out there and I’ve been wanting to go for a while. Going to pick a lot of oranges and turn a pig into salami with some Italians. That part of Australia (towards the middle) also intrigues me a fair bit, since i’ve been here i’ve only been to coastal spots.

Anyway - 350km, looking to do it over 3 days.

Day 1 - Canberra to Tumut along Brindabella Road. 122km, two decent 1000+ climbs, almost all on dirt. But a descent decent down to Tumut.

Day 2 - Tumut to Junee. 96km. All bitumen i’m sure. Only two 400ish hills, and undulating for the middle 50-60km. Hoping to top up on food supplies in Gundagai, about 40km from Tumut.

Day 3 - Junee to Leeton. 130km, pretty flat for most of it, all on bitumen. Will pick up some food in Junee for lunch and snacks. Depending on what she gets up to, might run into Sab before Leeton and get picked up to shorten the trip.

So was wondering -

Has anyone ridden around these parts and do you have any
a) places I should ride past/interesting roads to ride down/places to avoid
b) campgrounds in Tumut and Junee? Anyone know of a campground listing website in NSW? I can only find caravan and holiday parks and don’t really want to pay $30 to pitch a tent.
c) Are the two 130km days a bit overconfident? Way I see it is i’ll be keen on day 1 and manage most of it. Day 2 should be easy if taken slow, and day 3 I can get picked up if I really bonk out. I’m decently fit (250km or so on a good week, can do 100km most days no worries). Have done 100km touring and not felt too deflated afterwards.

Considering the fact that this is the first time i’m doing a longer trip like this, and the first time i’m heading to this part of NSW, anyone have some general bike-camping tips? Best foods to eat, best snacks to take? What to do about snakes and dropbears? How cold does it get out there at night? I imagine it’d be warmer during the day than up in Canberra.

I can’t imagine it’d be much different from New Zealand countryside-wise, except I have a feeling that country towns in Australia get remote-r a lot faster than they do in NZ.

Cool, thanks!

Sounds like a great ride mate.
I haven’t ridden Brindabella Rd past Picadilly Circus, but I have looked on streetview. I think this first leg will be the hardest given the climbs, dirt and remoteness. Given you’ll be fresh and are fit, I agree in thinking you’ll be fine. The last two days should be a cinch since it’s much flatter, paved and there’s more towns.

However, you will probably encounter snow/mud over the Brindabellas that time of the year, which may hinder your ability to ride through.

I find these bars are great for riding. They hold together pretty well, taste great, are easy to while riding and are super-energy dense. Regular trail mix is also good.

That sounds like a great ride. I don’t have anything to add to help on the ride, but try and grab a short collected works of Henry Lawson to read in your down time. He wrote a lot about that area and lived in leeton for a while.

You are such a romantic.

Will be a good ride and most of the roads west of the Hume are all good for bikes. Best avoid the Stuart and Olympic Highways. July, it can and will be cold at night and expect a good frost in the morning.
In Junee I have camped( about 6 years ago but it should still be ok) along the railway line between Junee and Old Junee. Look for a the railway bridge close to old Junee going over a small creek, the creek should be dry and it is far away enough from the Olympic Highway so the trucks don’t keep you awake all night.
Most that towns in that part have showgrounds which can be good spots to set up for just one night. Sometimes the toilet blocks are open as well which is a bonus. Finding camping beside the Murrumbidgee river is easy but it runs a bit south for you.
And remember to be good and eat all your fruit before the fruit fly zones coming into Leeton!!

Good reminder - book(s). Will try and get my hands on something. Enhance my connection with the landscape or something. #naturevibes

Adz, i’ll be making a variant of those bars for sure!

Ah yes, you legend. That’s what i’ll look out for.
Actually looking forward to the cold now, riding/camping in the Aussie heat really kills me!

Brindabella road to Tumut is pretty tough (we did it the opposite direction, in summer) but achievable for a one-day ride. Leave early and don’t underestimate the route. Probably quicker to take the northern crossing through Wee Jasper but more distance. We drank out of the Goodradigbee river on the Brindabella road and are still alive. There is no other water until Tumut.

It will be cold, there may be snow and ice on the high-altitude sealed roads which service the logging trucks monday-friday. Recommend Saturday or Sunday riding through the forestry areas.

Best campground in Tumut is the caravan park in town (on the Tumut river). Should be pretty quiet at the moment - not quite ski season. Tent sites or cabins. Great food at the Ori (Oriental hotel) where we had local trout and many local craft beers and ciders (!). Also 5 min walk from Caravan park.

I don’t recall exactly where it was, but when riding back from Wagga to Canberra a took the old Hume highway for a fair distance. It intersected with the current Hume highway near Gundagai somewhere. It was really beautiful and quite windy and narrow - pretty amazing to consider the heavy vehicle traffic which used to run along it.


  • Joel

Riverglades caravan park in Tumut has great camping plots next to the river. Oriental Hotel in town has a great selection of beers too, don’t order the sirloin.

Ah didn’t read Tomacropods’ post above - though exact same sentiment. Tumut is a great town. I’ll look forward to your writing on this trip and maybe do something similar myself.

Thanks Joel and Droz. Exactly what I was looking for.

Interesting to note about the logging trucks. Can’t help it unfortunately, will deal with that one when I get to it. Have done a couple of rides along Brindabella Road and around there during the week and spotted a fair few of them. Somewhat looking forward to the snow in the Brindies, should be interesting. My body doesn’t cope at all in Aussie summers, and i’m looking forward to riding in cooler weather - hopefully it’ll be a clear, still day.

My original plan was to camp in Goobarrangandra on the first night (115km) but I’m beginning to think going straight to Tumut might be a better idea (122km) and more straightforward. Then power on to Coolamon on the second day (137km). Coolamon caravan park is only $10. Which will make the last day to Leeton, where I actually a bit of a time constraint, quite a bit shorter than from Junee.

I’m already looking forward to that beer at the Oriental!!

Hey all,

Remembered this morning that I never really ‘concluded’ this ride with a ride report. First of all, thanks for the help I got preceding this ride - not only in this thread, but all the touring threads re gear and stuff.

This ride probably stands as one of the hardest things i’ve done on a bike. The riding itself wasn’t too bad after the Brindabellas, but the cold, the camping outdoors and the mental state I found myself in (not talking to almost anyone for three days) all contributed to making it quite an endeavour. It’s funny to think that I went from starting to riding road bikes two years ago, and was still riding only BMX three years ago, to riding and camping over three days - but its a natural transition I suppose. My parents (and others) didn’t quite understand why I was doing it.

Edit: Sorry if a bit of this becomes a bit drivel-y, I started writing and I realised that I remembered, and internalised a lot more than I imagined!

Anyway - Day 1 - Canberra to Tumut via Brindabella Road. 135km.

I knew when I started planning the ride that this would be a hard day, but I was determined to do it anyway. It would be the most climbing i’ve ever done solo in a day, on the heaviest bike i’d ever ridden. Being the middle of winter, I expected some ice on the roads up there, at the very least.
I woke up on the day to overcast skies, with the weather report (that i’d been trying to ignore) predicting showers all day. I cooked up a big breakfast and packed the last few things onto my bike and set off to work for a coffee with my girlfriend and to pick up a loaf of bread and the best (peanut butter and peanut) brownies ever. I was somehow already an hour late by this point, and I realised that my nerves were beginning to get the better of me. Three or four time wasting coffees later, I packed my final things, which included a hot water bottle from my very thoughtful girlfriend (best decision ever), and set off from Lyons, two hours late.

Part of me really didn’t want to do the ride by this point. It was raining, my bike was a lot heavier than I expected, and it didn’t look like the weather was going to clear up at all. I kept debating with myself all the way down to the Cotter, over Mt McDonald and onto Brindabella Rd. The only cyclist I would see for the whole trip passed me and sort of chuckled in disbelief when I told him what I was up to. I stopped on Brindabella Rd for a brownie and a banana and had a bit of an internal debate and somehow decided that going on to Tumut was going to be easier than climbing back out of the Cotter or Uriarra Rd (go figure) so I kept going… quite slowly.

I should mention that I tried to get a bit of a crew out to do the first part of the ride with me, but everyone had prior engagements. The one friend that almost made it had to pull out the week before and ended up riding to Tumut a few days before and did some scouting for me. He did forget to tell me though that he’d gotten a lift to Brindabella Rd from Canberra. In hindsight I probably should’ve done the same. The first 30km or so out of town were quite draining.

Once I hit the dirt, I got some energy back, simply because #stoke. The rain stopped for a bit and I got some energy back and started rolling a bit faster.

Then the climbing started.

I knew it was probably going to snow, but I wasn’t prepared for it to start snowing as soon as I hit 1100m. Almost on the dot, it started lightly snowing. A bunch of cars passed me, a lot of them just people driving up to see the snow and driving back, and they all waved excitedly. One kid especially was super excited, and for some reason made me feel good.

Riding on the ice/snow was one of the coolest things i’ve done. It could’ve gone a lot worse if it was any deeper, but it was just right. I think the slightly heavier bike helped, and I didn’t slip or anything. It was quite exciting to finally peak the first climb and ride along the side of the mountains for a bit.

I cracked the biggest smile ever when I came out into this view down to the valley. I think I even shouted “FUCK YES” into the wind. It was the first bit of blue sky i’d seen all day and I knew a good descent was coming, and I finally knew that i’d made the right decision coming out here.

The descent down to the valley was amazingly long, and very welcome. I hit one bump a bit too hard and got a flat, but was back on the road rather quickly.

Stopped down at the river for a quick (not really) lunch of spicy two minute noodles and eggs. I knew there was another climb coming pretty soon. And it was very soon. This part was perhaps what made it the hardest ride i’ve ever done. Somehow I don’t remember much from it. I don’t think I really bonked, but I think I was feeling so down mentally that I managed to erase it all from my mind. It should probably be said that not long after I crossed the border into NSW State Forests the road turned to shit. I don’t have many photos from this point onwards to Tumut - it was roughly 60km. The light rain started again, and the dirt turned to mud quickly. I guess it had been raining all day out here. I don’t even remember if there was a good descent after the big climb.

By around 4:30, with 50km to go, I knew there was no way I was getting to Tumut in daylight. I’d just spend two hours riding through mud, mostly in the rain and I was exasperated. I put my lights on and started binge eating chocolate. Someone stopped and offered me a lift into town, and said they’d been following my tracks for a while. He assured me Tumut wasn’t too far away and that I was going to hit sealed road soon. Really nice bloke, when I said I owed it to myself to finish, he wouldn’t stop saying ‘good on ya.’ I think he was a bit confused by the brown guy on a bike in some NSW State Forest.
Finally hit the sealed road, in the dark, and knew I had 40km before Tumut. Figuring i’d get there just as the caravan park was closing at 7, I called them and they nicely agreed to leave me a key and have me pay the next day.
The ride into Tumut was incredibly dark. I think I ate 4 chocolate bars in that time. Got overtaken by a bunch of logging trucks, which was scary as shit. At one point I hit this super long descent which I went down incredibly fast. I realised how lucky I was afterwards to not have hit any kangaroos - I had two run ins with some right after. The lights of Tumut were amazing. I got to the caravan park, set up camp, had a long hot shower and went and got takeaway KFC rather than cooking. Getting to bed was incredible, and I had a great night’s sleep thanks to the hot water bottle and just being exhausted in general.

Day 2 - Tumut to Coolamon. 130km.
I conveniently forgot that it was -7c in Tumut that night, and got up to ice everywhere. The cold made it incredibly hard to get moving, and I screwed around making a huge breakfast and having about 5 coffees before I got on the road.

It was, however a beautiful day and I got back on the road around 10am wearing shorts and only my long sleeve jersey. In the back of my mind I knew I was running rather late again - the caravan park in Coolamon closed at 5:30 and I probably wasn’t going to clock 130km in 7 hours. That kickstarted what became the most difficult part of the trip - racing time, and hating myself for not going faster. I kept looking down at my Garmin every 30 seconds to see if I was sitting on the 25kph that I wanted to be on, to see what climbs were coming up, how much time I had to finish etc.

Getting to Gundagai (the last decent sized town before Junee, and then Coolamon) was strange. I’d stopped off there a bunch of times on the way to Melbourne, so it was just plain weird to be there on my bike. The three climbs over 35km really took me out for some reason, and I stopped at Hungry Jacks for some chips and a coke. I called dad to tell him where I was (it’s his first toilet break on the drive to Melbourne) and he didn’t really believe me.

I don’t really have any photos from here onwards. I started to sway a bit and became convinced that I was being too slow and that I had no time for anything except riding faster. It was a weird, and gross mindset to be in. I wish i’d stopped a bit more and eaten the delicious food i’d carried all the way (fresh bread, cheese, jam, etc).

At around 2pm, about 30km out of Junee and 60km from Coolamon, I finally stopped for lunch. The constant debate with myself was becoming too much, and not talking to anyone was getting to me. I sat down by the side of the road and had an excellent lunch of Jalsberg, then jam sandwiches. I threw out half my loaf of bread because I knew I wouldn’t get through it and it was unnecessary weight. I began toying with the idea of staying in Junee rather than spending another afternoon in the dark before setting up camp. Some lovely people driving into Junee stopped and had a chat, and also told me that I should just stay there that night, and that there were two decent climbs coming up. So I called the Junee Caravan Park and told them I was coming.

That last 30km was really nice. The climbs weren’t too bad, and it was good to know I would be getting to camp during daylight. Junee was a nice town, and the lady at the caravan park was super lovely. She was impressed at where i’d come from, and gave me a huge discount on the fee and picked me a nice spot to pitch my tent.

The thing I wanted most before I left on the ride was to get to the town I was heading to and going straight to the pub. But both nights I had no energy left. In Junee I just set up camp, cooked a huge dinner, had my third coke for the day (I never drink Coke, so that was strange) and got into my sleeping bag at about 6 with a gigantic cup of tea. I called some people for a chat and read a bit and promptly fell asleep. It was another -3 night but the hot water bottle (omg yes!!!) was again, the best thing ever.

Day 3 - Junee to Leeton. 130km (after calling it short the previous day).

I did a lot of faffing around in the mornings on this trip. As much as I didn’t want to admit it to myself, I think I just didn’t really want to get back on the road yet. It was another beautiful day though, and I managed to get on the road at 8am (an hour later than ideal).

The plan today was to head to Leeton and run into my girlfriend who was driving from Canberra at some point, and get a lift from her to the end if I wasn’t feeling too good. I rode out of Junee in pretty good spirits, waved at some nice people and hit a dirt road. #stoke levels went up again but the dirt road didn’t last long. Soon enough I was crossing the Olympic (I think) Highway and onto sealed road onto Coolamon and then Leeton.

I was keen on the flatness out here for a while, and was pretty amazed at the never ending farmland, but it all became pretty boring after a while, and I found myself glancing down at my Garmin every few minutes again. I’d put it away out of frustration the last couple of days.

An hour or so in, a car pulled over in front of me and a head poked out the window. I’d totally forgotten Sabrina was somewhere on the road, and it was great to see her. We chatted for a bit about what my plans were. Her uncle in Leeton was expecting us for lunch and it was already almost 10, but I said i’d like to keep going for a bit. And so off she drove, not before taking a #foreverbuttphotos of me as I headed off.

I didn’t quite realise in the build up to this how boring the roads between towns would be. I was looking forward to visiting the country towns (I love the country), but the endless farmland soon got the better of me. I thought I had a slow leak on my back wheel and stopped to pump it up a few times, because I didn’t have the energy to take the wheel off and change a tube. I started playing mind games with myself and soon enough, I called Sabrina to come back and pick me up. Figured I had nothing to prove at this point, and I just really couldn’t be bothered fixing a flat.

It was a bit of a sudden finish, and I hit just over 300km of the intended 350km. In the car, I realised that the last 50km would have been the most interesting, with about 6 towns to go through. If i’d ridden through, I would’ve loved to start the #riverinasilosurvery, but alas it was not to be. We got to Leeton at lunchtime as planned, and Sabrina’s uncle put on a great BBQ and wine.

The next day he took us to his orange farms and I spent a couple of hours learning about orange farming, picked about 30 kilos of citrus, and learnt a fair bit about farming in the Riverina in general.

All in all, it was a superb way to see a part of Australia i’d never been to before. It’s easy to forget that there’s a lot more than the coastal parts of this country, and indeed, quite a bit of the food we eat here comes from those central regions.

In New Zealand, I lived near a lot of farms, mostly dairy, and really enjoyed learning about where our food, and people’s livelihood, came from. Being a much smaller country, I had a bit more understanding about how it all worked and where most things were. I didn’t really anticipate how vast Australia was when I first came here, and exploring more of it is proving to be amazing.

Anyway, ride report done. That ended up really long, but I enjoyed writing it. Maybe I should go back to writing my essay now. Thanks for reading!

  • Nagesh

Awesome write up.

The mind games are crazy eh! But the more you play them, the better you get.

I usually struggle sleeping in when camping, how many hours sleep were you getting?

Nice work having some reasonable bail out options etc, I never really organise them so if things go wrong I either suffer a tonne or have to improvise (hitchhike/sleep in the middle of no where).

Rad how good is a Coke after a big day riding!?

Cool read mouche.

Been to Leeton for a wedding and driven through Junee (always have flash backs to Triple J Adam & Will and Sea Hunt related album reviews) before, so know the area, can be boring in parts.

My grandparents live out in Deniliquin so all these towns are v. familiar to me, would love to ride through them one day. Good read !

Great work Nagesh! Excellent ride and no less excellent write-up. I want to do CBR-Tumut even more now.

I usually get up at 6-6:30, which is my usual time every morning. In Junee I got about 10 hours solid sleep. Tumut, 8. It helped that I managed to get, and stay warm though.

Thanks everyone else!

A few months ago I wrote a thing for about our Mawson trip, and I think I managed to convey our approach to bike touring pretty well, and why we love it. Hey maybe you could send this write up in. The dude might like it or not. It’s a bit weird supplying free content to a guy’s for-profit website. It’s probably not that ethical at all really, but I got a buzz out of it. One thing I’d encourage you to do though is copy it into a journal onCrazy Guy On A Bike. It’s an archaic website, but a real goldmine for touring stories, and adding to it helps everyone when they plan their tours. Just an idea though.

Fuck. There were like, two more paragraphs to that post ^^

Pretty boring in hindsight though I guess. Something about understanding time pressure and wanting to get going early and how I now try to make sure I have no time pressure and I’ve given up on worrying about getting going in a hurry and how the rituals you go through when you’re in camp are just as valuable as the riding ATMO. Something like that.

Oh, and I thanked you for taking the time to write this up, and added “seriously” to the end of it. Thanks eh, seriously. I love things like this.