10 bucks goes a long way in Moruya. The Tradie’s Breakfast, at the local greasy spoon, came complete with a bacon and egg roll, hash brown and bucket sized cappuccino. It wasn’t half bad either.
Departing Moruya, we crossed back over the Deua River - a water-stop in the valley the day before - which we then followed out of town towards the Pacific Ocean.
To avoid the busy Princes Hwy, we took a detour around Garlandtown and Mossy Point, tackling the steep double track through the forest up Mogo Hill.
After a fun section of roller coaster-like fire trail, we crossed over the highway onto Runnyford Road. Only a couple of hundred metres along, we met a local making a stop to check out an old car wreck off the side of the road. The poor old fella had been in the wars - suffering from a terminal illness, and now searching for his missing dog (hopefully not the one sitting behind him in the back seat - we were too polite to ask). He implored us to “keep an eye out”. We assured him we would.
Still holding good pace on the smooth gravel road, it wasn’t long before we passed a number of signs proclaiming ‘RUNNYFORD BRIDGE CLOSED’. At this point, though, there was no real need for concern. Esjay reasoned that the bridge might simply be closed to cars, and we’d be able walk across, or, in a worst case scenario, swim.
Descending to the riverbank at speed, our progress soon came to a definitive halt. The Runnyford Bridge really was closed, with a dozen or so workers repairing its central span. We wouldn’t be getting to the other side without getting wet.
We crossed a paddock to reach the water’s edge. Summers was spooked by an inquisitive horse, the rest of us more focussed on the river. Our baudy confidence in being able to simply swim across suddenly looked foolish. This was not an insignificant body of water (even though it was, thankfully, low tide).
Preparing on the bank, readying ourselves for the swim, we hatched a new plan: two people would swim across the river and come back with a couple of borrowed canoes that we’d spotted on the opposite side. We would then shuttle our bikes across without having to submerge them and risk our gear.
It was a solid plan, but in the end it wasn’t required. A hi-vis hero came to our rescue at the 11th hour and saved the day. He kindly offered the use of his punt to cross the deepest section of the river. We waded through the shallower section with our bikes, loaded our gear onto the punt and were soon on the ‘snake infested’ opposite bank. Success!
A bit of soggy shoe cleaning later and we were back on the road, moving forwards again. Still, the empty promise of a case of beer for our saviour seemed to float alongside us, our dishonesty haunting us in the breeze.
Nelligen, Begin Again
After tackling a few solid, winding climbs through the eucalypts, gravel turned to tarmac once more as we rolled into the somewhat forgotten town of Nelligen.
Ever since the Clyde River punt was upgraded to a bridge in 1964, people have tended to blow right past Nelligen in favour of the larger and more coastal town of Batemans Bay. In fact, there’s little left to suggest that the place was once an economic powerhouse during the Gold Rush.
Still, we’re a bit old-fashioned and nostalgic for such things - so we made a point of stopping to eat. Lunch was chicken & gravy rolls, fish and chips and a round of cokes from a takeaway on the banks of the Clyde. Summers ate too many chips.
The River Road
Not content with our meagre economic contribution, we were literally chased out of town by an irate dog (perhaps belonging to the tradie who had, by now, discovered his case of beer wasn’t coming anytime soon).
The next section of road was riding nirvana, following the Clyde River and dipping in and out of rainforest and lush green farming land. This section of gravel was also undoubtedly the smoothest of the trip - like plush velvet compared to the bone-rattling goat track of the Araluen Valley.
Shallow Crossing, a ford across the river, was the perfect opportunity to freshen up and refill our bottles from what is a truly pristine water source. Had it been any hotter, it could also have served as the perfect spot for a mid-ride dip.
Our next stop was Brooman, a ghost town with a relatively obscure, one might say almost non-existent, history. There were, from what we could gather, a few run down, clearly abandoned houses, a weathered sign, and a somewhat bewildered-looking donkey. Otherwise, there wasn’t a whole lot going on. We just wanted to be able to say we rode through a ghost town really, as a handy call-back to the haunted hotel on Day 1.
Home n' Hosed
The GPS profile made it look like we were in for an easy, downhill run into Milton. Of course, the GPS doesn’t have to worry about small trifles like a hammering headwind. Still, being this close to the end our redemption saw us find another gear - and grind our way into town and to the IGA.
So there you have it, we finally made it through the Budawangs, on our second attempt. As an underachieving Meatloaf might say - one out of two ain’t bad - and at least we got to, finally, show you this beautiful part of the world in all of its subtle splendour.
As for us, there was little more to do than pack up the cars and start the drive home - via the nearest KFC.
A great way to wrap up The Budawangs Part II. Some excellent gravel riding on day 3. The River Road being the standout of the trip, and with the addition of Shallow Crossing for a potential mid-ride dip, perhaps one of favourite roads yet.
We rode Giant ToughRoad SLR GX and Giant TCX cyclocross bikes. We kept things pretty close to factory spec, with the exception of some more ‘adventure-friendly’ gearing for those 20%-plus dirt gradients. Most of us ran 1X drivetrains with a 40t chainring up front and 11x40t cassette at the rear. There is no harm in having some decent 40mm rubber too - WTB Nano or Maxxis Ramblers will rarely let you down.
We weren‘t camping on this trip, but still needed to carry a fair bit of kit. Saddle & frame bags by Revelate Designs, Topeak & Ortlieb allowed us to carry plenty of food & water, clothes, spares & camera gear.
We drove straight back to Sydney after our arrival in Milton - but if you were interested in staying, both Milton & Mollymook have plenty of good options.
Food & Water:
Another day with no issues around supplies. Nelligen provided us with a perfect lunch stop, food & water fully stocked. A refill of water (and even a swim) from the pristine waters of the Clyde River at Shallow Crossing serves as a perfectly timed option to bring it home to Milton.
At the time of our trip the Runnyford Bridge was closed. Things worked out for us, but you may come across the river at high tide, and the swim may not be the best option. You could get lucky too, or chance the swim (but you’d want to wait for the tide to go out). Probably best to just check when the bridge is to reopen.
More from The Budawangs Part II
Choose from any of the three days we spent riding, or the Road Book, for all the maps & information you need to get out and explore the area yourself.
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