This day ride is a great 83% gravel ride that gives plenty in a short space of time.
If you are doing this in the summer, I recommend leaving in the afternoon to enjoy the lowering sun. If in the winter time, a slow morning with warm coffee in town before making a day of it.
This route is 100% free because of the length of the route, a lot of work goes into route making and if you would like to make a donation - that would be hugely appreciated. You can do so here -
Coming out of Walcha we take a tiny tour through the back street of the town. Passing the old stock yards built in the 1950’s. A nice way to avoid the 100 km/h Oxley Highway as long as you can.
Turn onto the shaded tree-lined Scrubby Gully Road which gently rolls you into the neighbouring valley.
In the new valley, views widen and the pace quickens - if you are anything like me, it takes 15 km to warm up. The burn is gone and I’ll be driving power into my pedals. The imposter syndrome disappears and I feel like a true, natural born athlete. The gentle decline helps you really achieve that God Level feeling.
As Gods we meet the MacDonald river for the first time - the beautiful 169km long perennial river. If it is a hot day, perhaps a cleansing swim? The MacDonald River is my favourite in the area. The banks are steep, it widens and narrows across the landscape. It has a lot of character.
While Willow tree’s are a destructive and invasive species, if you look past their often diseased and greedy personalities - they do add a weeping beauty to the river banks.
Woolbrook, a nice place to rest. Population a booming 220, hosting a school of 20 children, the AIF Memorial Hall and St John’s church which was built in 1929. The Main North trainline which runs through Woolbrook was finished in 1882, the station was closed 20 or 30 years ago. But! The heritage listed single-span wrought iron lattice rail bridge is a beautiful addition to the township. Worth a look.
If you are a railway enthusiast and would like to see more of the construction on a multi day tour, you can do so on the Walcha Grand South 3 day Tour or the Walcha Southern Loop 3 day tour where the line weaves over and under Danglemah Road.
After Woolbrook, we point towards the south east towards a quick-to-reward climb. Half way up you will get the vast views of the Moonbi Ranges to the west. Depending on your leave time, the sun perhaps will be lower in the sky and will treat you to some blues and purples.
The highest point in the route is on the pale, sandy road that runs through the protected Aberbaldie Nature Reserve. The reserve contains important habitat for an array of forest species in a relatively cleared farmland landscape. It is also a nice break from the pastures. Three threatened animal species, including the vulnerable Eastern False Pipistrelle Bat, and two bird species listed under international agreements have been recorded in the reserve. So consider bringing your pocket binoculars.
Pop out the brief reserve to a quiet and peaceful property of Kilburnie. The grasses overgrown, a scattering of cattle, the signs tilted, it appears to not be in use. And in my opinion, an abandoned farm has the same scent as an abandoned theme park. The feeling that lots of stories can’t get told again.
The long grass houses a scrambling of kangaroos in the evenings.
Back down to Niangala Road, some speed again to the junction of Scrubby Gully to return back to Walcha for a well earned meal. If you want to see some hot spots for dining in Walcha….visit the Walcha tourism page.