Excellent corners, beaut scenery and a cool place to watch the world go by. This is Southeast Queensland at its best
This ride from Murwillumbah to Nerang crosses the New South Wales and Queensland borders along its 67km length and offers an excellent mix of riding and scenery, not to mention the perfect place for a drink and a pie. We’ve used it to get off the motorway to the east, as well as a good kicking-off point for other rides, although it’s a beaut little cruise in its own right.
From Murwillumbah you follow the Tourist Route 34 signs which have you heading west into the Currumbin Valley, passing between the sugar cane fields as the majestic peaks of the McPherson Range loom up directly in front of you. This presents some classic Queensland hinterland scenes as you wind between the paddocks of cane stalks and take in the shape and contours of the landscape ahead. The undulating road meanders through Crystal Creek before you enjoy some tree shade as you lean into a set of 45km/h corners.
The Chillingham General Store appears on your right and offers everything you need for a break. It has outdoor seating, too, so you can watch the other riders parade past on weekends. It is well worth a stop to check out the old-world feel of the place and have a quick cold one in the beer garden. Chillingham Village is one of the gateways to the Springbrook National Park and there is plenty to see and do if you can make some time to visit for a few days and explore the area properly.
Continuing north over the state border and along the eastern edge of the Lamington National Park brings you to a turn off on the right for Natural Bridge. From the car park there is a loop walking track of around 1km through the forest to see the arched cave and waterfall. The road then passes through the Numinbah Valley where you get some good views before entering the village of the Numinbah. The single-lane tar road through the valley follows a lazy path under the shadowy edge of the low ranges until you get close to the catchment area. As you pass by the Hinze Dam the bitumen improves to an excellent surface and it becomes somewhat difficult to stay within the 80km/h speed limit through the magnificent series of corners that almost demand to be ridden hard. This end is by far our favourite and is a great culmination to the ride before you get to the busy centre of Nerang.
This is a deservedly popular ride within an hour or so of the Brisbane CBD, and is also an excellent alternative to the boring Pacific Motorway. There are also several spin-off rides from this route that can easily be undertaken as part of a day ride through this picturesque area in the Gold Coast Hinterland.
Things to do
Natural Bridge is worth the short walk if you are into a bit of nature. There are a couple of features throughout the park including the natural basalt arch or bridge, but access has been limited around the creek area to preserve the ecology from marauding tourists. There are even glow worms in the cave if you are passing by after sunset.
The historic town of Tyalgum in the shadow of Mt Warning is only a short ride down the road from Chillingham and has some interesting old buildings to wander around, as well as a very pleasant pub on the main street.
If you can’t face the boring run back to the city from Nerang do what we did and take a detour left on the Beaudesert Road, then right up the Mt Tambourine Road. This is a fun ride up the hill if you are lucky enough to avoid the local traffic, and has outstanding views at the top all the way across to the Gold Coast in the east. Continue on to Mt Tambourine and drop in on the St Bernards Hotel at the top of the escarpment where a cold beer and a great view across to the coast is on offer. There are several ways to return to the city from here and you will be more relaxed for the detour.
There are plenty of fuel options at either end of this ride in Murwillumbah and Nerang, although the Taylors Corner servo at the southern start of this route has ULP only. There is also a petrol bowser at Chillingham. The Chillingham Store has pretty much everything and it’s a cool spot to sit for an hour and watch the world go by. It also has limited accommodation if you have a few too many in the beer garden. There is a restaurant at Natural Bridge and a café in Numinbah Village.
There are half a dozen motorcycle shops on the strip at Lawrence Drive at Nerang.
If you are on the NSW side of the border try Paul O’Brien Motorcycle Clinic at 4/48 Prospero St, Sth Murwillumbah. (02) 6672 8844. They are open weekdays and Saturday mornings.
The Tyalgum Hotel offers pub-style accommodation – Coolman St, Tyalgum. (02) 6679 3229. The Advancetown Caravan Park on the Murwillumbah-Nerang Road has budget overnight options. (07) 5533 2147
BP Gilston Road, Nerang. (07) 5578 4088. Caltex 204 Tweed Valley Way, Murwillumbah.
(02) 6672 6266
Chillingham Store Numinbah Road, Chillingham. (02) 6679 1201. NV Café Nerang Road, Numinbah Valley.
(07) 5533 4171
Story & photography Tim Munro