Practical Routes

Interesting Ways of Getting from A to B or vice versa


This purpose of this page is to record a few ‘practical routes’ that I have discovered or been told about.

It’s not intended to offer rides just because they might be great rides. You can get those from the Best 200 Rides in the Australia Motorcycle Atlas (used to be best 100, but 4th edition has ‘best 200’, which really is the best 100 plus the second best 100).

Besides that, there are some good rides under Meanders in Oz.

So, we’re back to simply ‘practical routes’. For the moment, I have only two:

·         Between Canberra and Brisbane/Gold Coast (but there are two good choices)

·         Between Canberra and Melbourne


Between Canberra and Brisbane/Gold Coast

There are about 5 ways you can go between Canberra and Brisbane/Gold Coast.

The Bottom Three

The worst route on a bike would be the Newell Hwy. Might be very efficient, but characterised by long, straight stretches and lots of large trucks.

The second worst route on a bike would be the Pacific Hwy. Also efficient enough if you’re hell bent on getting there ASAP and aren’t put off by the road toll statistics (in whatever sense you want to interpret that term).

The third worst would be the New England Hwy. Also efficient enough if you’re in a hurry. At least, this route allows you to enjoy a little more scenery and better bike roads than the previous two alternatives. As a third worst option out of five – and, therefore, also third best – it’s not all that bad an option. You’ll need to make a choice about what you do between Canberra and the southern end of the New England Hwy in the Hunter. You can either use the Pacific and Hume Hwys; or you can use the Canberra/Singleton segment from the Exciting Route (see below).

That leaves two other options.

The Middle Route

The best route in terms of easy going and leisurely, if less challenging and less exciting, is the following: Canberra, Boorowa, Cowra, Canowindra, Molong, Wellington, Gulgong, a little dog leg on the Golden Hwy, Coolah, Mullaley, Gunnedah, cut across on minor (sealed) road between Carroll Gap and Manila, Barraba, Bingara, Warialda, Yetman, and Texas. From Texas, the shortest way is up the Inglewood Road until a couple of kilometres past Limevale; then turn right for a sealed short cut to the Inglewood/Warwick Road; then onto Warwick, picking up the Cunningham Hwy to Brisbane, with option of Boonah and Beaudesert if the Gold Coast is the start or finish point. An alternative is to head to Stanthorpe from Texas. Nice curvy road, but you then have the more patrolled NE Hwy to Warwick.

I call this the ‘Middle Route’ as it meanders between the Newell Hwy (to the west) and the New England and Pacific Hwys (to the east).

By keeping off the main highways (except for a short run along the Mitchell Hwy between Molong and Wellington), it’s a less busy and more relaxing run. It goes through some attractive and less-visited country towns; and has a good selection of country town pubs (Molong, Wellington, Coolah, Mullaley, Gunnedah, Bingara, Warialda, Yetman). I haven’t stayed in all these places, but you’ll find some of them under Country Town Pubs.

The road is good. You just need to watch for wildlife if setting out early or getting in late. There have invariably been a few more curious onlookers on this route than on the alternatives.

I usually do it over three days. It’s basically a two day ride, but enjoyable as a two-night stopover ride. That allows a post brunch start at either end and an early afternoon arrival at either end, with a comfortably full day ride in the middle.

The distance is 1300km.

Exciting Route

The best route in terms of great bike roads, covering potentially about 7 of the top 100 rides in the Australia Motorcycle Atlas is as follows: Canberra, Bungendore, Goulburn, Oberon, Lithgow, Bells Line of Road, Kurmond, Putty Rd, Singleton, Gresford, Dungog, Stroud Rd, Gloucester, Walcha, Uralla, Armidale, Summerland Hwy, Grafton, Casino, Kyogle, Lindsey Hwy, Rathdowney (with alternative to go via  Lion’s Rd through Mt Lion and Cougal), Beaudesert etc., Brisbane or Nerang and Gold Coast.

I call this the ‘Exciting Route’ because it takes you along some more challenging and exciting bike roads. In fact, as noted above, you can include up to seven of the best 100 rides from the Australia Motorcycle Atlas (the real ‘best 100’); and a couple of the second best 100. This route includes the Goulburn/Oberon road (28), the Bells Line of Road (16), the Putty Road (31), part of Bucketts Way (18), Thunderbolts Way (35), The Lion’s Road (24), and Mt Lindesay Hwy (9). And just to add some more comfort, the Armidale/Grafton road now rates amongst the second best 100 at #120.

A small variation of this route as to go through Murwillumbah to/from Kyogle, which would allow you to include Numinbah Valley Road (10) and possibly part of Mt Tamborine (8).The Kyogle/Murwillumbah Road also rates a second best 100 mention at #117.

There’s just no end to the rated roads! And there are several interesting country towns and good country town pubs (I’ve stayed at Gloucester, Walcha, and Grafton).

Other options on this route are to jump ship and cut to the New England Hwy at any number of places.

The distance of the core route is about 1420km.

Variations at Canberra End

There are also a couple of variations at the Canberra end that are applicable to the Middle and Exciting Routes.

Coming from Canberra, for example, I used to go via Bathurst and Mudgee when following the Middle Route. It’s a little shorter to get to Bathurst via Oberon, but easier (=less exciting) to go through Cowra. It’s shorter still to go via Crookwell, but there’s still a couple of stretches of gravel on the Crookwell/Bathurst Road.

Then I discovered it’s more than 40km shorter (compared to Bathurst via Cowra) to go Cowra, Canowindra, Molong, Wellington and straight across to Gulgong, by-passing Bathurst and Mudgee. The downside is that you miss some good bike roads between Bathurst and Mudgee (not that they rate in the Atlas).

From Bathurst, there’s a further option of turning at Ilford to go through Kandos up to the Golden Hwy. This road is one of the second best 100 (#124). It has a dotted bit on the map, but I’ve been told it’s all sealed. Once you reach the Golden Hwy, you can turn left and get onto the Middle Route or turn right and either cut across to the New England Hwy at Muswellbrook or continue to Singleton and meet up with the Exciting Route.

Map of Middle and Exciting Routes

I have included both routes on this map so you can more easily compare them.


View Canberra/Brisbane: middle and exciting route in a larger map

Between Melbourne and Canberra

There are several options, a few of them highway obvious – and efficient; but not necessarily exciting.

Then there’s the alpine options, providing several variations of mountain roads on both sides of the border – both black and brown and combinations.

The one I have outlined here was mapped for me by fellow traveller George of Moonee Ponds, for my return journey to Canberra. Hence the southern end point is Moonee Ponds. He protests that he’s not a nephew of Dame Edna, but I had my doubts.

I still need to write some description about the route. For now, it’s enough to say it was a great ride. It’s about 830km so not one you would want to do in a day. If you’re that much in a hurry, you should stick to the highway. George’s route was a pleasant and interesting – and easy – two day or one and a half day ride, whichever appeals.

The perfect overnight stopping zone coming north is along the Murray River Rd, on the Victorian side of the river. There are a few options, such as Jingellic (just over a bridge in NSW), Walwa and Tintaldra. You can see entries for Walwa and Tintaldra on the Country Town Pubs page (and a reference to Jingellic under the Walwa entry). This would also work coming south if you’re a lunch time leaver; otherwise you might be looking further south, where there are plenty of options.

Map of George’s Route


View Melbourne Canberra in a larger map

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