If you’re looking for a great new cycling route, or looking to give bikepacking a try for the first time; cycling from Canberra to Batemans Bay is a great option. Quick and dirty, slow and beery, or full bikepacking mode — here’s the route and 3 different ways to give it a try.
If you’re from Canberra, or know someone that is, chances are you’ll be very familiar with the summer-long pilgrimage from Canberra to Batemans Bay.
Cars bursting with Canberrans regularly make the 2 hour dash through Braidwood and down the Clyde to arrive at the coast. You’ll know they’re a Canberran by the blue-lettered number plate and the smoke rising from their tyres. Us Canberra folk are usually in a hurry to reach the beach.
However, for those that are a bit more adventurous, that don’t mind dusty roads and aren’t concerned about ‘making great time’, there’s another popular route from Canberra to the Coast, and this route can be safely pedalled without the endless scream of engines passing your narrow shoulder of safety.
The Route — Canberra To Bateman’s Bay
The route is approximately 150km, mostly fire trails with some small sections of paved road at the beginning, middle and end of the ride. You’ll need to be self-sufficient for 50km or so of riding without stopping for food or water. There are areas of limited phone reception so please take the usual safety precautions of sharing your route and carrying a PLB or similar.
So Many Routes To The Coast!
One of the great things about this journey is that it can be tackled in a variety of ways, depending on your level of skill, comfort and ambition. It can be equally rewarding as a first-time adventure ride, as a group effort or as a solo sprint. Here are 3 options to choose from that might tempt you into completing your first, or 50th, ride from Canberra to Batemans Bay.
Option 1 — Mellow / Comfortable
Stay overnight at the Araluen Hotel; this option means you are eating and staying at the pub and riding about 70-80km each day. A great entry into the world of bikepacking as you’ll be carrying less than on a self-supported trip.
Pros: Carry less, sleep in a bed, pub dinner.
Cons: Small cost, the possibility of a hangover.
Option 2 — Hardcore
This option will see you tackling the entire route in one sitting, probably running a lightweight system that’ll see you reach the coast before nightfall. Or you might even like to try riding the distance throughout the night. Seriously, this has been done and is a pretty fun challenge.
Pros: Fast and light; a great challenge.
Cons: Less time to enjoy the route; probably no time to stop for a beer at the halfway stage.
Option 3 — Full Bikepacking Mode
This is my favourite option, carry enough gear to camp in Deua National Park, enjoy a fire and be mostly self-sufficient (you can still grab a beer in Majors Creek or Araluen). There are 2 great campsites around the 90km stage, this makes for a slightly shorter second day.
Pros: Bush camping next to running creek, self-sufficient.
Cons: Carrying more weight.
Bonus Option — Support Vehicle
Choose any of the options above and drive a support vehicle while your mates ride the route. Suitable for 4WD only as the road from Araluen gets pretty bumpy and there’s a gnarly hill on route to Mogo.
This is a great option for offering support, whilst enjoying the beauty of the route from the convenience of your vehicle. We’ve also used this option when riding with first-timers, with 3 people cycling and taking it in turns to drive ahead 20km at a time. This means carrying fewer supplies on the bike and offers peace of mind for injuries, mechanicals or just general tiredness!
Once you’ve reached the coast, continue on to your campsite or accommodation of choice for the night, or just have a quick swim, before returning back to Canberra the same way. Apparently you can catch the public bus back to Canberra, but you may need to ‘box’ your bike.
Photography by Adam Lee @endless_cycle
Have you tried bikepacking?