Article content: A 1,000km road trip around NSW from Sydney to Leura, Bathurst, Oberon, Goulburn, Kangaroo Valley and back to Sydney again.
Every now and then I like to get out of Sydney and go on a road trip. As a husband and a dad, it can be tricky to eek out the time to do this so they tend to double up as romantic getaways and activities for the 2 year old lad. The beast of burden for the trip was my daily drive, the R32, and the romantic destination in question was Bathurst.
As a long time admirer of endurance racing and a follower of the 24 Heures du Mans, I’d been meaning to get to the Bathurst 12 Hour pretty much since the GT category was relaunched. This year was the year I was going to make it, well, no actually, even with the ticket booked, ear muffs purchased for the little boy and accommodation locked in it just so happened that I didn’t actually get there. Family came first but I did get to watch a good portion of it on the TV and what a finish it was. Full credit to the Nissan NISMO computer trained geek team for such a strong finish and I can’t wait until 2016 now that the Bentley Endurance Racing team has unfinished business (having dropped from 1st on the penultimate lap to 4th at the finish line).
So we stayed in the Blue Mountains in the excellent The Greens of Leura B&B for 3 nights (an excellent B&B by the way), chilled out and bush walked. Un-signposted walks allowed us to escape the tourist crowds. Staying overnight meant we were much more relaxed than on previous trips to the Blue Mountains.
So after the weekend, my wife headed back to Sydney for work and the boy’s week long road trip began in earnest. The next stop was the Avaleigh Elms farm stay in Black Springs about 30km south of Oberon which just so happened to take me on one of my top 5 drives in NSW, that is, the Jenolan Caves Rd. If you haven’t been there, go and do it, just do yourself a favour and do it on a weekday to miss the weekend traffic. The current speed restrictions are a little disappointing (40kmph) but is indicative of how challenging the road is. A cave tour makes for an enjoyable break. The drive on the east side of Jenolan is massive fun. The road on the west side of Jenolan is very tricky with many unsighted tight, steep chicanes.
Once in Black Springs the little guy was also made up with all the farm animals. He loves mutts and the farm cattle dog was his favourite.
For a while now I’d been keen to drive the Tablelands Way from Oberon to Goulburn. Mostly because of the fun I’d had driving the roads around Oberon on my last road trip. My plan was to head from Oberon, down Shooter’s Hill Rd and Abercrombie Rd all the way to Goulburn, do a quick stop off at Wakefield Park Raceway for lunch (as I’d never been there), and head via back roads as far as possible to our next stay at Kangaroo Valley.
Tablelands Way was fabulous, with its 100kmph limits most of the way, fast flowing roads and sweeping bends. The absolute standout part of the drive is the few kilometres around where Abercrombie Rd crosses the Abercrombie River. Much like at Jenolan, steep descents, tight corners and narrow roads made for super engaging and fun driving.
Wakefield Park was also an unexpected highlight, more by luck than judgement on my part, I happened to be there on a bi-monthly ‘Golden Era Auto Racing’ Club day which featured a whole host of cars up aged up to 1963 engaged in ‘friendly racing’ as one spectator put it. The sounds were great, and the 2 year old was more than happy taking photographs of his feet.
From there we made tracks to Kangaroo Valley. I’d previously discovered Kangaroo Valley after visiting Berry for a friend’s wedding back in 2007 when I still had the much missed Peugeot 306 GTi6. Descending into the valley from Fitzroy Falls is an event. However, the Kangaroo Valley Rd from Berry to Kangaroo Valley is the jewel in the crown. On the two passes I did there was mist over Berry Mountain which gives it a very magical feel, as well as steep ascents/descents, tight corners, narrow roads and varying road surfaces and conditions. As you can imagine, it too is on my top 5 favourite list of NSW drives.
We’re back in Sydney now and all that remains to do now is to give the car a well deserved scrub…
…and thank my gorgeous but long suffering wife, who was enduring a week long work conference whilst the boys were out on the road having fun, with me indulging my driving obsession.