I have had the bike ride along the Murray River on my cycling bucket list for a long time. My chance came when the last Australian Bike Friday Club get-together was held in Moss Vale, NSW. I’ve got a BF (New World Tourist) which I have turned into a fine touring machine.
Moss Vale is 130 kilometres south-east of Sydney in the Southern Highlands and about 700 metres above sea level, still a long way from the upper reaches of the Murray.
The morning I pushed out of Moss Vale was very overcast and soon showers started, which became longer and more frequent. Luckily I made it to Bundanoon, only 20 km down the road, and checked into the friendly Youth Hostel for the night.
The next morning I was greeted by a fine, partly overcast day, great for cycling, and, as it turned out, I only had one more rainy day during my four-and-a-half week ride.
Fine cycling weather followed and seven days later I got to the Murray at Tom Groggin, a huge campsite in Kosciusko National Park. I arrived there via Braidwood, Cooma, Jindabyne and the 1,582-metre Dead Horse Gap pass. I cycled on small roads, some dirt sections, through well-wooded sheep and cattle country, with the Shoalhaven River my companion for three days. At its springs, I crossed my first pass over 1000 metres high.
Later, I dropped into the eerie, treeless Monaro Plain with its granite boulder landscape. This was followed by the rain-shadow stunted Alpine vegetation. What a change once I crossed the Great Dividing Range. Very tall trees with other temperate rainforest plants. It was the Easter holiday period and riding between Cooma and Thredbo I’d never seen so many bikes attached to cars but did not see a single cyclist.
At Tom Groggin I paused for a while on the banks of the young Murray, my new companion for the next three and a half weeks. Here it was a clear, fast-flowing alpine stream. Unfortunately, instead of following the river the road, went straight back into the steep, but beautiful mountains.
However, at Khancoban, one-and-a-half days later, I was out in the open. My young friend looked different when we met again – tame, not as clean, and unfenced stock allowed to walk into the river, soon to be dammed and turned into the huge Lake Hume. I had my only other rainy day at the campground at Hume Weir, so that became my first rest day – good for bike and body maintenance.
The next day, leaving mountains and hills behind, I found my way through Wodonga and the quieter roads on either side of the river.
- Next week: Part Two – Wodonga to Mildura.