Carve your way up and down Brown Mountain and take in the great mix of scenery in the Monaro area
The road across Brown Mountain is a vital link between the NSW far south coast and the Monaro region for residents, tourists, and essential services. It also represents a great ride for motorcyclists looking to mix a bit of coastal action with their alpine experience, which is how we saw it on a recent tour through the area. There are great views from the top of the range across to the Bega Valley on the coast, and some great sections of bitumen to get your heart pumping.
The ride from Cooma to Bega is approximately 110km and starts with an easy cruise on the Monaro Highway through the rolling hills and plains that gradually move you away from the alpine region. This stretch is heavily policed so we weren’t surprised to find a Highway Patrol car coming towards us with mobile radar mounted. Enjoy the scenery and keep it on the limit until you get to the small town of Nimmitabel. There are a few good places to stop in town if you are looking for breakfast or just a drink.
As you continue to head east from Nimmitabel across the Bombala River the road gets more interesting as it takes you towards the pine forests that mark the start of the Great Dividing Range. Along the way you will notice a right turn towards Bombala, another great road on a motorcycle that we will cover here in a future issue. The climate on Brown Mountain can often be very different to the surrounding plains, with heavy mists and a wet road surface often appearing unexpectedly in front of your helmet visor. The road becomes much more exciting as the corners tighten up on a good bitumen surface and starts to descend past the Fred Piper Memorial Lookout. The series of corners from here down to the valley floor are the main game on this route with lots of switchbacks and several tight bends as the road guides you down the mountain. You have to be lucky to find no slow moving traffic in front of you, and there has been ongoing road work through this section since January when part of the road was impacted by a landslide after big weather, but if you time it right the ride through here is great fun and definitely memorable.
From the bottom of the hill it’s a short run into the village of Bemboka, where you can stop for a pie or a drink. The scenery changes a bit from here as the gently undulating pastures stretch across to more rugged mountainous peaks that form part of the Great Dividing Range – the backdrop for the coastal towns a little further to the east. When you reach the intersection of the Princes Highway in the Bega Valley you can either turn right and ride a few kilometres into the town of Bega, or left and over the Warrigal Range to head north towards the quaint village of Cobargo. Whichever you choose you can’t go wrong as it a fantastic part of the country to be out and about on your bike.
There is plenty of fuel available at either ends of this route in the towns of Cooma, Bega and Cobargo. Food and accommodation options can be found along the way at Nimmitabel and Bemboka. Keep a wary out for Highway Patrol on the Monaro Highway as it is a hotspot for the policing of motorcycles.
Things to do:
Most activities are at either end of this route. Cooma is central spot during the winter months for people coming into the area for skiing and other alpine fun. On the coast there is a broad range of activities available and many of the small towns are well set up for visitors. Just up the road from Cobargo the small village of Central Tilba is an excellent spot to take your pillion for a wander around the interesting shops, and also has a hotel with an outside bar where you can put your feet up for a while.
While not a detour as such, the turn-off just east of Nimmitabel onto the Monaro Highway offers an excellent ride south to Cann River on the Princes Highway. This road is often fairly quiet and has some great sections of tarmac for sports-touring bikes. The road crosses the state border from NSW to Victoria about halfway along its length, and we particularly like the southern section from the border down through Chandlers Creek and Noorinbee for its blend of sweeping bends and mid-speed corners through some of the forested areas. A great ride to put on your list if you haven’t done it yet.
There are no workshops or bike shops along this route so make sure you carry what you need. However, there are options at either end in Cooma and Bega. Monaro Motorcycles and Power Equipment is located at 61 Sharp St, Cooma (02) 6452 4040 and can possibly help with tools and some spares.
Alpine Hotel – 170 Sharp St, Cooma (02) 6452 1466. This is a cool old art deco style building on the main street of Cooma where you can get basic pub-style rooms with shared facilities for a decent rate. We also like that they also have a good bistro downstairs where you can get a great evening feed. A motorcycle friendly business with secure covered parking around the back for peace of mind.
Caltex – Lot 21 Bombala St, cnr Massi St – open 7days (02) 6452 5072
United Petroleum – 53 Princes Hwy, Cobargo (opposite the bakery). Open 7 days (02) 6493 6782
The Cooma Café on the main street of Cooma is a great spot for breakfast and they even have signs up to welcome motorcyclists. They are open seven days a week from early and do a really good egg and bacon roll, as well as decent coffee.
At the other end of this ride we like the Cobargo Bakery, at the northern end of town opposite the servo. They have a good range of reasonably priced food and drinks.
Story & Photography Tim Munro