New South Wales’ Central West offers a swag of beaut riding. Here’s a loop for adventure riders
Much of the ride is on unsealed tracks and, although it is relatively easy going on a dual-sport bike, it is beyond the scope of most roadbikes – although not impossible if you are brave-hearted, foolhardy, or both. It is a great ride through some typical Central West New South Wales scenery; plenty of wildlife and points of interest along the track. Best of all you will find very few other vehicles along most of the route except for the occasional farm ute, or lost tourist.
From Wellington, take the highway north from town then turn right towards Gulgong on Goolma Road. The Twelve Mile Road forks to the right after a few kilometres and winds past rural properties as you head east. We like to take the unsealed dirt road signposted to Wuuluman on the right which runs southeast before eventually linking up with Uungula Road, thereby extending the dirt riding component as much as possible. A right turn onto Uungula Road then takes you on a loop to the Cudgegong River, and then back towards to the Twelve Mile Road.
The track is fairly well maintained at either end but deteriorates slightly in the middle where it is less used. The surface through several cuttings is dirt and you will encounter a number of shallow water crossings on the trail after even moderate rainfall. The track opens up a little after it meets the Cudgegong River to become a series of fast gravel sweepers. As the road passes directly through private property for some of its length camping is not an option, although there are spots to pull up and enjoy the view.
Turning right on the Twelve Mile Road will take you south towards Yarrabin where another right turn onto the Yarrabin Road will take you to the Cudgegong River Park. This is a good spot to camp overnight on the banks of Lake Burrendong where you are able to set-up anywhere on the property that appeals to you. Returning back along the sealed Yarrabin Road via a nice set of medium-speed corners takes you to the Hill End Road where a left turn takes you to Mudgee, and a right turn leads to the village of Hill End. There is a great selection of unsealed roads throughout this region that are easy to link up, creating some awesome riding loops between the small towns and villages of the Central West.
This particular riding route is only around 80kms from Wellington to Yarrabin, and then another 40kms into Mudgee from the camping reserve on the lake. It is an excellent ride on an adventure touring bike with good riding surfaces and scenery, and plenty of options in the area to extend your ride in any direction.
Plenty of fuel is available at Wellington and Mudgee, but nothing in-between. If you take our overnight camping suggestion there’s PULP available at the holiday park.
Camping is the best option along this route with good facilities on both sides of the lake, as well as at the Ophir Goldfields Reserve if you take the detour.
Things to do
Lake Burrendong is a popular fishing spot with several different species of fish caught regularly. There are plenty of camping spots right on the water’s edge so you can chuck a line in easily while you are relaxing after a day in the saddle.
Hill End is a great little historic town to walk around. Many of the old buildings have been restored to their original state and offer a sense of bygone times. There are also a number of relics from the gold rush lying around to add an authentic feel to the town.
As you head towards Mudgee from Yarrabin the road intersects the Hill End Road. A right turn here will take you into the historic town of Hill End where you can access the top of the Bridle Track, which will take you south to Bathurst. For the more adventurous riders, try the Dixons Long Point Road on the right just before you get into Hill End. The riding is mainly easy going dirt but includes a fairly deep crossing of the Macquarie River at the bottom of the gorge, which can be tricky on heavier bikes, and is definitely best avoided after extended heavy rain. On the other side of the river crossing the track continues on to either Orange, or Bathurst via the Ophir Goldfield Reserve.
The best bet for mechanical support is Mudgee. Mudgee Honda Centre can be found at 137 Church St, Mudgee ((02) 6372 3100). It’s open Saturday mornings and will do their best to help out with tyre and basic workshop repairs. If you are stuck in Hill End, try and find the owner of the local bakery who is motorcycle savvy and usually happy to help out, with either a pie or spanner, or both.
Reflections Holiday Parks Cudgegong River has accommodation options and good, clean amenities. The kiosk has some basic food supplies and hot food, as well as coffee. They also have PULP on site which is a bonus. Phone (02) 6373 3695 for more details, but bookings for campsites are not generally required.
Busy Bee Roadhouse Sydney Road, Mudgee, NSW. (02) 6372 1545
Caltex Service Station 128 Lee St, Wellington, NSW. (02) 6845 2684
If you extend your ride through Hill End we can recommend The Royal Hotel for food and accommodation. (02) 6337 8261. There is also a good bakery in town for breakfast.
Story & photography Tim Munro