I love it when a few visionary and passionate people get together and bring their crazy ideas to life. This is exactly what happened in the Central West of New South Wales when a few cycling enthusiasts realized that if they connected a whole string of little-known backroads, they could create a 400km cycling route chockful of peaceful, scenic trails, cute villages and small towns.
The Central West Cycle Trail (CWCT) was born.
Where Does the Trail Go?
The trail is one large loop which includes:
- Mudgee and Gulgong in the Mid-Western Regional Council area
- Dunedoo and Mendooran in the Warrumbungle Shire Council area
- Ballimore, Wongarbon, Geurie and Wellington in the Dubbo Regional Council area, and then back to
- Goolma, Gulgong and Mudgee.
Each of the towns and villages vary dramatically in size and available infrastructure, including accommodation, so it does pay to plan and book ahead. For a ‘big city’ experience some people ride to Dubbo from Wongarbon, enjoy a couple of rest days there and then double back to connect to the trail again.
There is no set start point for this ride and you can cycle it any direction – clockwise or anti. Simply start at the most logical point for you, especially where you can connect to transport.
Stages & Distances
It is entirely up to you how far you want to ride each day to cover the almost 400km loop. I have heard of groups of MAMILs (Middle Aged Men in Lycra) riding the entire circuit in two days, but a more realistic and enjoyable plan may look like:
- Mudgee to Gulgong: 30km
- Gulgong to Dunedoo: 58km
- Dunedoo to Mendooran: 51km
- Mendooran to Ballimore: 53km
- Ballimore to (Wongarbon/Geurie) Wellington: 71km
- Wellington to (Goolma) Gulgong: 81km
- Gulgong to Mudgee: 30km
As the availability of accommodation increases, especially in rural areas, the length of these stages may further reduce.
Where to Stay?
The establishment of the CWCT has created a mini-economic boom for many of the towns and villages on the route. Small pubs offering basic rooms and shared bathrooms are now fully-booked and new, small guest houses and farm stays are opening to cater for the increased traffic through their communities. Most of these lodgings are very reasonably priced for a good dose of country hospitality. Some communities also have caravan parks or free camping areas if that is your budget.
For a handy summary of what beds are on offer and where, have a look at the CWCT website.
When to Ride the CWCT?
As the route follows designated public roads, it is possible to ride this trail at any time of the year – weather permitting. As the trail tries to keep you off the main tar roads, the majority of the surfaces are dirt which can get pretty muddy and boggy or are subject to flooding. Please be careful in extended periods of wet weather.
I would also recommend that you avoid the worst of the Summer heat or plan some very early morning starts (and finishes) as there is little to no water in between villages.
What Sort of Bike to Bring?
As mentioned above, the majority of the trail is on dirt back roads so fancy road bikes would find it very hard going. Most people ride mountain or gravel bikes to handle the conditions, especially through the sandy Goonoo Forest section.
E-bikes are becoming more popular too. Just check where you can access recharge points. I understand this is still a bit of a problem on the longest Wellington-Gulgong stretch.
What to Carry & Pack?
With any sort of outdoor adventure in Australia, make sure you carry plenty of water, and wear a hat under your helmet, and oodles of sunscreen. Pack your lunch and snacks for the longer stages, although some enterprising farmers are now offering morning tea, lunches and farm tours to break up the day’s ride.
If you are riding during a wet period, I also recommend you pack a small towel and some sandals etc for crossing creeks and causeways. Needless to say, do not cross any waterways unless it is 100% safe to do so.
Who Can Help?
It seems that many touring groups have a support vehicle which can carry the bulk of the group’s luggage and can help with repairs or emergencies. If you don’t have that sort of support and would like it, you could join a tour or have access to back-up via Cooper Cycle Tours based out of Dubbo. Mick Cooper has been heavily involved with the development of the CWCT and knows the route intimately. Other cycle touring businesses, bike hire etc also support the trail. Have a look at the CWCT website for more information.
Getting There/Getting Away
As mentioned previously, you can start this loop at any convenient point. Public transport services the majority of locations although I understand, carrying bikes on trains is still quite problematic with limited capacity to carry a bike unless it is boxed. Go figure?
You can put bikes on buses if they are boxed. Alternatively, bikes can be hired in Mudgee and Gulgong.
Where to Find Out More?
- Website: The CWCT website is the go-to place for everything CWCT-related including maps, GPX files, and information about accommodation options.
- Facebook: The good volunteers of the CWCT group operate a very active Facebook page and it is an excellent resource for the latest trail conditions and local intel. Riders also share wonderful photos and information about their experience which should inspire you to jump on your bike.
What are you waiting for? Dust off your bike and head bush!
- Central West Cycle Trail – find out more – HERE
- Mudgee Tourism – find out more – HERE
- Dubbo Tourism – find out more – HERE
- Warrumbungle Tourism – find out more – HERE
- Mick Cooper Tours – find out more – HERE
#travelinspo #CentralWestCycleTrail #mudgee #adventurebeforedementia #gulgong #australianbush #cyclingadventures #bikesintheBush #destinationnsw #greatoutdoors #crosscountry #exploreonbike #visitnewsouthwales #cycletouring #bikepacking