Cyclists are spoilt for choice in Wollongong, where flat coastal routes meet rough mountain terrain ensuring there is something for every kind of cyclist from learner riders right through to old pros. Currently Wollongong offers more than 42km of cycle tracks on shared pathways covering the area between Sandon Point and Lake Illawarra, making Wollongong one of the most cycle friendly cities in Australia.
Wollongong authorities have recently revealed their ambitious Cycle Strategy 2030 which aims to build on the popularity and variety of existing cycle routes by adding another 50km of shared pathways in the city and surroundings with a hope to encourage more residents to choose cycling as their preferred mode of transport, as well as adding value to the outdoor infrastructure in the area.
Whether you’re planning to bike with the kids to a different beach for a change of scene or aiming to tackle a full day of pedalling, there are local bike routes to suit. Grab your wheels, pop on your helmet and hit the road for some fresh air and exercise with our guide to some of the best bike rides in the Wollongong area.
Wollongong to Thirroul cycle track
According to TripAdvisor this is the second most popular of all 58 things to do in Wollongong! And with good reason. The 16km route is mostly on broad, two-lane shared pathways and crosses only a handful of roads as it hugs the coastline passing plenty of lovely beaches perfect for a break. There are refreshments available from various cafes and restaurants along the route, but the star of the show has to be the scenery, which makes up for the fact that the going can be slow on sunny days when the popular route is often busy.
If you are a fan of rugged biking with plenty of undulations and thrills, the Illawarra has a great selection of trails to offer. Entry level MTB-ers will love the Lady Carrington Drive trail which is located inside the Royal National Park and runs 12km one way alongside the Hacking River. A few lumps and bumps mark this scenic route out as unsuitable for road bikes, but the going is simple until the last steep section. Helensburgh MTB Park is another great destination and offers trails suitable for all the family with different challenges, from jumps and bridges to boardwalks and woodland. There are also plenty of informal mountain bike routes on the escarpment – use at your own risk!
Grand Pacific Walk
Following the route of the Grand Pacific Drive, the proposed share path will link existing sections of coastal trails into one 60km stretch allowing walkers and cyclists to roam the coast from Royal National Park to Lake Illawarra. The work will span many years and tackles some complex terrain but when it is finished it will surely become one of the best things to do in Wollongong and an asset for residents of the area. The Coalcliff to Stanwell Park section is already finished and open for use, watch this space for news of the next completed sections of the route.
North Lake Illawarra
For the best family friendly cycling on the shores of Lake Illawarra, the north of the lake is best. Setting off from the Illawarra Sports stadium you can ride through beautiful scenery in Hooka Point Park and onwards through Holborn Park right on the lakeshore. There are refreshment stops along the way, and if a swim in the lake doesn’t appeal, carry on into Port Kembla where the beach stretches miles to the south with loads of space for everyone. There is also a pool at the northern end of the beach and lots of lunch places in the town itself.
Join the MS Sydney to Gong
On the 7th November 2021 the charity fundraiser ‘Gong Ride’ will celebrate its fortieth year of raising funds for multiple sclerosis with another spectacular community ride through 90km of wonderful scenery including stretches that run through the Royal National Park and along the Grand Pacific Drive and over the Sea Cliff Bridge. A great ride for a fantastic cause, what’s not to love?
Author: Martha Hales
*Above image courtesy of the Illawarra Mercury.
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