Lithgow - Tarana - Bathurst
Lithgow, Lake Lyell, Tarana and Bathurst via mostly quiet roads
5 - Punishing
Hilly - net downhill
At a Glance
A climber’s route on sealed roads between Lithgow and Bathurst. By the way, they all are climber’s routes to the west out of Lithgow, as riders must cross the Great Dividing Range between the two town centres. It’s a great ride, and you’ll earn your refreshments on this course.
Lithgow, Rydal, Tarana and Bathurst all have railway stations on the Western Line that permit carrying of unboxed bikes on OPAL-card trains like the interurban carriages to Lithgow, and the Bathurst Bullet (just not the XPT, where bikes must be both boxed, and booked in advance with your ticket purchase). Check online for .
There’s lots to enjoy about this route. Riders wind their way through the old coal mining town of Lithgow, before riding past Lake Lyell on the way to Tarana. There are some wonderful views over the water, and then down the valleys towards and beyond Tarana. The railway line snakes its way through to Tarana, and there are a couple of crossings on route where the new signals meet the older engineering of bridges and rock walls. Plenty of rural vistas and eucalypt woodlands.
If you’re really cruising, or if you have non-riding people following along, there are plenty of things to see and do along the way.
Drop into Lake Lyell and see what’s on offer for watersports in summer. Rydal hosts a daffodil festival in Spring, a railway station and also has a pub.
At Tarana, there is a café, a pub and an old railway station which used to be the exchange for the Oberon Branch Line. Evans Crown is worth a walk near Tarana too, as are Wambool and Eusdale Nature Reserves. At O’Connell, there is also a café and a pub, if this other route is taken. There’s a pub at Perthville on that route too.
See links provided below or check social media for opening hours.
Click on a tab below to view the route in your chosen app
Sights on Route
- Lake Lyell
- Railway line engineering
- Fish River valley
- Eccentric farm gates and letterboxes
Traps For Young Players
- Patchy phone reception
- Railway crossings
- Rough and narrow roads
Food & Drink
Camping & Accommodation
- Lake Lyell
- Flat Rock (camping)
Best Time to Ride
This route can be ridden at any time of year, but best during Spring and Autumn. It can be very cold (including snow at times) during winter, and pretty hot in summer. Westerly winds into one’s face can be brutal at any time of year, so I find riding this route earlier in the day a better way to go.
What’s the best bike for this route?
Sealed road quality is quite variable, and it’s far from hot mix. I have ridden this route on both my road bike (25mm tyres) gravel bike with 42mm tubeless tyres. I caught the train (Bathurst Bullet) to Lithgow, and then rode back to Bathurst as a bit of a tester one time too. Road bike was my bike of choice then (and has been more often than not). MTB’s will be slow, but you’ll get there in time.
Do I take anything special on this course?
It’s always a good idea to carry a PLB or satellite communicator-enabled GPS. If you’ve checked opening hours on the venues I’ve listed above then you’ll be in with a chance of stopping at a food or fluids shop along the way.
Also, two chain rings would be helpful for the climbing when carrying gear on the bike.
I rate this ride as 5 on a scale out of 10. Riders need to be fit with a reasonable skill set. Although there is a fair bit of climbing, it doesn’t quite get to level 6 due to the opportunities for refuelling that are well spaced between start and finish.
Righto, … as I caught the train to Lithgow, I start riding from the train station and cycle west and downhill along Main Street before turning left at Enfield Avenue (1.8 km). A couple of quick right / lefts and up, and then soon onto Bayonet Street and before turning left (3.0 km) onto the Great Western Highway. There’s a really good shoulder on the road here, so I stick to the left and get into a rhythm as I ride towards South Bowenfels. I turn right at the Shell Servo (5.0 km) onto Magpie Hollow Road.
Now, Magpie Hollow Road starts out nice and fairly flat, but then it dishes up a 700-metre-long climb with a 9.4% grade thrown in at one point for good measure. I take it steady on this short climb, and I know I’m about to be rewarded with a descent of around 4.0 km and a few views over Lake Lyell. There is camping here, and a kiosk. Check links below for the latest information.
The next 6 km are a net uphill, with a few rollers to get my legs warmed up before a 2.1km climb up to Hampton Road (16.0km). Some more great views around here, and the road is fairly open so I can hear cars coming and they can easily see me. This road is a tad busier in the summer months, mainly due to the folks using Lake Lyell for water sports. Else, I find this a pretty good road to ride.
I cross Hampton Road onto Sodwalls Road and ride towards Tarana. If I needed another spot to stop, Rydal is about 6km to the north and there is a pub here too. Now, Tarana is only 14km away, and I know it’s a net downhill, but I also know there a few cheeky climbs and one with a 9.5% grade. I also know there are some great views through the valley, and if I’m lucky I’ll spot a train on the aging and windy rail alignment that snakes it’s along parts of the Fish River and onto Bathurst.
There is a Café and a pub at Tarana. Mumma Snow’s is a popular and friendly café for travellers, locals, and cyclists. The pub is also excellent if you are there when it’s open and it also has accommodation. I choose to stop for a coffee at the café, and then jump back on my bike and continue west towards Gemalla, Locksley, Wambool and Brewongle.
This is a lovely road to ride. Yes, it’s patchy pothole-sealed mixed with ageing bitumen but the views are excellent. It’s a bit up and down too, as the road shares the same route as the western railway line along the Fish River Valley. The road is generally pretty quiet, and I always take the time to stop for a photo and a look at the landscapes through here.
I pass through the old village (or locality) of Brewongle around the 54km mark, and then crest a small summit after 55km revealing the open plains of the Bathurst valley and views towards Wahluu Mt Panorama. I ride down to the O’Connell Road (60km).
As I ride towards Bathurst on the O’Connell Road, I make sure my rear blinky red light is on. There is a good shoulder, and I use it well as I climb gradually before cresting the rise and then seeing Bathurst proper for the first time. I ride downhill and then past Scots All Saints College before a short climb and descent to the Great Western Highway (67.4 km) where I turn left.
There’s a good shoulder here for cyclists on a dual lane hot mix road. Before I know it, I’m into the CBD and looking for my end-of-ride refreshments. All-in-all, a fun time out on the bike.