There’s only one thing better than the New South Wales South Coast, and that’s a quick gallop through it on a motorcycle
There are some classic rides that take us back to much simpler times and the run down Clyde Mountain to the coast is one of them. It has changed a bit over the decades and can be busy with tourists during holiday season, not to mention being wet if there is even a hint of bad weather about, but regardless of all that it still brings a huge amount of rider joy to us when we get a good run up or down the escarpment. Mix in some great scenery and excellent locations at either end and it rates highly on our list of places to ride.
We started the ride this time from Braidwood, a quaint little historic town at the bottom edge of the Southern Highlands. This is a popular stop over for travellers coming through from Canberra or Goulburn, and offers a range of facilities and places of interest if you feel like stretching your legs. The road leading toward the coast starts out as long flat stretches of bitumen between the rolling hillside on either side which are all working properties. Take particular care through here as we often find a mobile or roadside radar trap along here.
There are a few nice sweeping bends as you ride east and some of the road is freshly resurfaced with a nice hot mix following recent road works. When you reach Budawang National Park there is a really nice set of medium-speed corners that mark the start of the Clyde Mountain pass. The road then turns sharply downhill and tightens into some slower 25 – 35km/h corners just after you pass the roadside curiosity of Pooh Corner.
There are nice views across the surrounding national park to your right as you weave down the hill and negotiate the tight switchback corners marked as Government Bend. A short distance further, the road opens up to welcome you to the best part of the ride, flip flopping through the 45 – 65km/h corners on a good surface that takes you through stands of old trees and grasses synonymous with the south coast region of NSW. We love this part of the route and never get tired of riding through the scenery.
The Western Distributor Road appears on left which provides access into the national park on a well-maintained unsealed road, leading to the Pigeon House Mountain range and beyond. Eventually the road winds into Nelligen which is nicely situated on the bank of the Clyde River, and features a large holiday resort, a hotel, and a cafe. A road bridge takes you over the river and along the last 10 kilometres of this route which ends at Batemans Bay, on the east coast.
The only issues with this ride are the tourist traffic and a regular police presence, but notwithstanding those little niggles it is an excellent ride through a beautiful part of the country and we still enjoy this blast after more than three decades of regular visits and on any genre of motorcycle. Highly recommended.
It’s only 60km from Braidwood to Batemans Bay there is plenty of PULP at both ends. There is also a huge variety of places to get a feed or accommodation, particularly at the Batemans Bay end of the route.
There are a few small motorcycle repair stores at Batemans Bay if you get stuck. Try South Coast Motorsports on 0413 086 854 or Bike Worx on 02 4472 2022, but we don’t like your chances on the weekend so carry enough to get yourself out of trouble.
The Braidwood Bakery has an excellent range of pies, pastries, coffee, and more. 99 Wallace St, Braidwood. (02) 4842 2541.
JJ’s Café/Bar at the Marina has a great vibe and beaut views across the water. 27 Beach Rd, Batemans Bay. (02) 4472 4499.
Big 4 Holiday Park has a good range of options from campsites through to cabins and villas. It is right on the water’s edge of the Clyde River and directly across the road from the Steam Packet Hotel so you can just ride up and chill out. 970 Kings Hwy, Nelligen (02) 4478 1076.
The Reef Motor Inn at Batemans Bay has well-priced rooms and is situated just as you come off the southern end of the big opening bridge, and within easy walking distance of all the facilities in town. (02) 4472 6000.
Mobil Servo 71 Wallace Street, Braidwood
Caltex Roadhouse cnr Kings Hwy & Princes Hwy, Batemans Bay. Open 24 hours.
Things to do
Braidwood has a number of interesting shops to look at which include a well-stocked, old-style lolly shop, and a excellent model car store – www.carmodels.com.au
Batemans Bay has all the usual features of a larger coastal town and is well placed on the estuary of the Clyde Rive with several small hire outlets for fishing tinnies or even houseboats.
Just before you reach Nelligen, there is a dirt road on your left marked as The River Road. This follows the river for a distance before a concrete causeway at Shallow Crossing gets you over the water and then sets off via some decent unsealed roads that take you all the way through to Milton on the Princes Highway. There are lots of options along the way to take a few detours on smaller roads and fire trails that link up with features like Pigeon House Mountain, and several good bush camping areas. We have ridden through here on adventure bikes several times and found it to be a great part of a longer off road route along the south coast region.
Words & photography Tim Munro