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Touring NSW Central West | Rides | Tested

Just below the Blue Mountains you will find a great network of roads for sportsbikes – or any two-wheelers

The network of roads out to the Central West of NSW provides excellent riding opportunities, with many businesses in the small villages dotting the map catering specifically to motorcyclists. We checked out a couple recently while enjoying a short day ride across to Tarana and back to Sydney via glorious back roads that led us from the panoramic views of the Great Dividing Range, into the rolling hills of a rich green fertile valley and back up a ridgeline featuring expansive scenery stretching out on either side.

There are many routes through this particular area, but we kicked off on Magpie Hollow Rd just south of Lithgow. The Coles Express on the Great Western Highway at the turnoff is a good place to meet and fill up with fuel and food before heading west towards Lake Lyell. The road crosses a dam wall not far up the road, with views across the catchment area and a camping reserve around the lake edge that is popular for boating, fishing, or just hanging out.

Continue to the intersection with Hampton Rd, where a quick right then left puts you on Sodwalls Rd towards Tarana. This is an excellent stretch of bitumen but has a few deceptive crests and bends, and often small gravel patches where local vehicles turn out of driveways and unsealed laneways.

As you enter Tarana, about 14km later, a four-way intersection demands a decision on your next heading. A left turn on Hazelgrove Rd will reward riders of adventure bikes with a great dirt blast directly into the town of Oberon, although it is slowly getting sealed and the dirt section gets shorter each time we go there. Straight ahead is the Tarana Hotel with two sealed roads beyond leading south to Oberon, or further west to O’Connell. And a right turn on Diamond Swamp Rd takes you under an old brick railway bridge and across several causeways before winding up out of the valley on an excellent sealed road that eventually spits you back onto the Great Western Hwy near Meadow Flat. Take your pick!

Tarana is a good stopping point for riders out from the city enjoying the great roads that stretch across valleys linking the small communities. We love the Jenolan Caves road, a little south of here, with a great section of corners right from the start and over the Coxs River, although it does get bumpy further along. You can access this from Tarana Rd taking Sodwalls Rd back east, then taking a right onto Hampton Rd and past the windmills towards Jenolan Caves Rd, where you turn left.

This is a brilliant area within easy reach of Sydney where you can feed your addiction with a half-day sprint and a lunch, or make a weekend of it by zig-zagging your way through the roads in the region and staying a night at one of the motorcycle-friendly stops along the way.

Either way, you’re guaranteed to find some awesome roads to play on your sportsbike.

Essentials

Fuel is available at the Caltex on top of Mt Victoria Pass and at the Coles Express at South Bowenfels. Both also offer food and coffee. Best avoid the United Servo at Medlow Bath because it has no

98 octane and the pump with 100 octane has a tiny sticker warning of the inclusion of 10 per cent ethanol. There’s a full range of fuel at Oberon and Mount Lambie, but nothing at Tarana.

The Tarana Hotel has great sit-down meals and comfortable cabins while the Royal Hotel in Oberon also has good cheap rooms and meals

Fix It

Bike Stop at 219 Main Street, Lithgow, (02) 6352 2688, can help with spares and repairs.

Sleep

Tarana Hotel, Main Street, Tarana, (02) 6337 5841 or www.taranahotel.com

Royal Hotel, 113 Oberon St, Oberon, (02) 6336 1011

Caves House, Jenolan Caves, 1300 76 33 11

You can park out front at the Royal or make use of secure off-street parking around the back

Fuel Up

Shell Roadhouse, Great Western Hwy, South Bowenfels, (02) 6352 1081

BP Oberon, Oberon St, Oberon, (02) 6336 0133

Eat

The Universal Eatery is open Fri, Sat, Sun and Mon. They do the usual café thing during the day with great coffee and food, and on Friday evenings (6-9pm) pizza and ribs – a great thing as we get into the warmer weather and longer days.
1 Mutton Falls Road (across the road from pub), Tarana, (02) 6337 5858

The Universal Eatery is closed mid-week but now offers pizza and ribs on Friday nights

Tarana Hotel, Main Street, Tarana, (02) 6337 5841

Things to do

Jenolan Caves House has surprisingly well-priced rooms for a mid-week stay. We found the Friday night option including an evening cave tour to be a great way to win points with the pillion. Phone 1300 76 33 11 for more information.

If you prefer the great outdoors, you can camp out under the stars at Lake Lyell. Phone
(02) 6355 6347 for more information and bookings.

If you have time, stop and check out the stalactites (and stalagmites) at the famous Jenolan Caves

Detour

The route west out of Sydney is via the Great Western Highway to Katoomba, or the Bells Line of Road. With the current state of roadwork and police presence on the highway, we strongly recommend taking the Bells Line of Road, which is also a better and more scenic ride. You can either turn left at Bell onto the Darling Causeway to get across to Mt Victoria, or keep following Bells Line all the way down Scenic Hill into Lithgow.

If you’re up for some more riding pleasure after visiting Tarana, keep in mind that Jenolan Caves Rd is only half an hour away and offers some of the best riding you will find in the area. The road from Oberon to the Caves is fully sealed now, which makes for a
great loop ride through Edith, into the back of the caves, then a blissful cruise back through Hampton. The possibilities are almost endless…

Sodwalls Rd is an excellent stretch of bitumen with a few deceptive bends

Story & Photography Tim Munro