Nowra to Cooma via a bit of dirt
Life’s way too short to ride boring roads and if you are riding between Sydney and Melbourne and have a few days spare, there’re more options than there are goatees at a Ulysses AGM!
One of my favourites is use the Grey Bitch to get out of town but leave it at Mittagong, head down through Kangaroo Valley and then continue on to Nowra on the coast. The five kms on the Princes is enough to convince me I’ve gotta leave it again so I then head back inland for Braidwood, Cooma, Corryong and points south and west.
This guide is for the middle bit, from Nowra to Corryong, but a quick caveat: The weather can change rapidly here with fog moving in even in the middle of the day. Go equipped!
Best place to pause and refresh before this ride, or to meet up with other riding mates is at the beaut park on the north side of the Shoalhaven, to the west of the bridge.
It’s easy to find, just turn west onto Illaroo Rd just north of the bridge and then left onto Fairway Drive and pull into the car park beside the river.
Once you’re ready to go retrace to the highway, cross the river. At the first lights you can turn left into the Tourist Info which is one of the best around or hang a right onto Bridge Rd which blends into Berry St, the main drag.
At the end of Berry St turn right at the roundabout onto Albatross Rd and then take the right onto Braidwood Rd at the corner of the naval base, signposted “Braidwood”.
From here it quickly becomes a very enjoyable country ride on a good surface for the 60 kms to Nerriga.
You’ll see the turn off to the right to the Tianjara Falls some 30 kms from Nowra; well worth a quick visit and refresh pause.
For some genius reason the road gets a name change at Nerriga and Braidwood Rd becomes Nerriga Road, but whatever it’s called, it’s fun.
You’re in National Park here and the roadside gums are just something else, some of the best and most varied stands of eucalypts you’ll find.
South of Nerriga you’ll hit two short sections of loamy gravel. The first is 4.2kms beginning about 25kms south of the town. You then have 11kms of untouched hard top unsullied by HGV’s, caravans or Wicked campers before the second stretch of just 3.8kms of friendly gravel.
A bit under 60kms from Nerriga you take the left on the Kings Hwy for the ride into Braidwood with the world’s most uninviting motel on your right at the edge of town.
To leave Braidwood, head south on the main drag but don’t take the usual left for the Kings Hwy ride down to the coast. Keep straight and then take the next right on Coghill and then follow it as it bends left and becomes Araluen Rd and then after just over 1.5kms take the right fork for Cooma on Cooma Rd.
This 136km stretch has three gravel interludes, the first is a bit under 6kms, the second is just under 16kms and the most southerly stretch is a tick over 21kms. All are easy stretches in the dry and even road tyres could handle them.
The last gravel section ends just on 15kms from Numeralla and again you have some fun riding into this tiny town.
As you head ride the 20kms to the Monaro Hwy you’ll pass through Polo Flat, the scene of the match that inspired Paterson to write the, ‘Geebung Polo Club’, a poem which he then read live at a pub where the Coles Arcade in town now stands.
Once you get to Cooma you’ll be well pleased that you didn’t settle for the boredom of the Hume/Federal/Monaro highways!
Pretty much all you are going to need is available here. Everyone I’ve ever dealt with at the Tourism Office just south of the bridge has been knowledgeable and helpful although like all VIC’s they have no idea about the state of the unmade sections of surrounding roads.
The best feed and relax I’ve had is at the Ex-Servicemen’s Club on Junction St.
Most of the fuel and the two bike shops, Great Southern Motorcycles (T 02 4422 8889) and Nowra Motorcycles (T 02 4422 9681) are on the highway south of the town.
Oh but don’t speed here, this place is on a par with Goulburn!
There aint nuthin but the pub here but it’s very popular with riders. I’m not too sure why, apart from its location amongst some good riding roads and trails. They don’t seem to have any special facilities or services for riders and there is no outside non-smoking areas (bring on June!!!). Allow a bit of time if you are stopping here coz the service can be glacial when there’s a bunch in the bar.
The two pubs here both have awesome fires in the winter and both are very friendly. One time I dropped by, the manager of the Royal Mail was in dispute with the owner and had barricaded himself inside the pub for weeks. The locals sent in food on a flying fox rigged up to the balcony as they drank at the Braidwood across the road. A popular day trip for the public servant masses of Canberra with a good few cafes and restaurants. Best is probably the Albion on the corner of Duncan. They make their own stuff and the soup in front of the fire will keep you going for the rest of the trip. Next door is the bakery with top pies and pasties but give the coffee a miss.
The Shell on the corner of the Kings Hwy and Elrington south of the town sells 91 and 98.
Somehow this town’s history rich in European migrants saves this it from the soulless impersonal seasonal capitalism of places like Bright in Victoria. Think of it more as the capital of the Monaro rather than a hub for the snow crowd.
You’ll get a warm reception and a good feed at the Alpine Hotel but there’s a full range of food from Kuma Pies to the Two Vaults restaurant along the main drag.
The BP south of the town is now closed so all fuel is now up at the north end of the main street.
If your steed is in need, High Country Motorcycles on Sharp St is the place to go. (T 02 64522822)