If you’re in Sydney and looking for spectacular scenery and some adventure, the advice is simple – go west!
Stretching west from Mittagong in the Southern Highlands to Taralga, the Wombeyan Caves Road is primarily an access road to the Wollondilly recreation area. As a through road, it’s fairly slow going, with a number of natural obstacles along the unsealed route, including corrugations, frequent rock falls from erosion, sharp bends and loose stones. It is easily navigable, though, and any dual sport motorcycle with a small amount of off-road ability will be suitable for this route. It is a worthwhile ride from end to end with great views and some interesting terrain.
From Mittagong the road heads out through High Range towards the Nattai National Park. Before the road descends the first ridge into the valley, you pass through the hand-formed Bullio rock tunnel. From this point the road becomes much tighter and caution is required to avoid oncoming vehicles, not to mention the often steep drop-offs on the side of the road. River Island on the left is a popular camping and recreation destination, with an ‘optional clothing’ policy.
The road passes over a causeway on the Wollondilly River before climbing the other side of the valley. Wollondilly River Station is on the right before you reach the Wombeyan Caves Camping Ground. This is a good central point to base yourself if you plan to hang around for a few days to enjoy the local attractions. There are several good fire trails in this area and it’s possible to navigate a few nice routes if you want something a little more challenging, although most are fine for a competent rider on an adventure bike.
The road surface as you wind up the side of the gorge is fairly easy riding, but there are usually loose rocks scattered across the track from ongoing erosion, with large boulders occasionally rolling down onto the side of the road. As you gain a bit of altitude, the view across the valley floor offers a great perspective back towards the river. It’s best to take your time and enjoy the scenery through this part of the ride as there are a number of blind corners with little room to take evasive action should the need arise.
When you reach the top of the hill the road eventually straightens out a little and continues west to where it intersects the Taralga Road. If you turn left here onto the bitumen, it’s only a short hop into the historic town of Taralga, which has several good food and accommodation options. A right turn would take you up to Black Springs and Oberon, another good riding option.
While it’s less than 100km from Mittagong to Taralga, you should allow a few leisurely hours to cruise this route. It is a beautiful part of the world and well worth your time.
Plenty of fuel options at Mittagong and Marulan. RON 91 and 95 is available at Taralga in business hours, and weekends until midday.
The kiosk at Wombeyan Caves Park has food and basic supplies.
There are few options for mechanical assistance along this route. Directly across the road from the Taralga Hotel is a useful mechanical workshop; ask for Col.
Basic bush camping is available at Wombeyan Caves Camping Reserve, west of the causeway.
Wollondilly River Station is a private property with set camping facilities and is well situated on the river.
Ph: 02 4888 9207
Taralga Hotel at the southern end of town has reasonably priced clean rooms and undercover motorcycle parking out the back – 24 Orchard St, Taralga Ph: 02 4840 2007
Mittagong Mobil – 212 Old Hume Hwy, Mittagong
Ph: 02 4871 1964
Caltex – 10 George St, Marulan Ph: 02 8722 2100
The Tangled Vine Café is on the main street of Taralga opposite the Argyle Inn pub. Owners Steve and Stefanie offer excellent light snacks, full meals and great coffee, 7 days a week
Brewsters Coffee House on the main drag at Mittagong makes excellent coffee and offers a range of snacks and meals. 18 Bowral Rd, Mittagong Ph: 02 4872 1466
Story & Photography Tim Munro