The baker’s half dozen

The popularity of gravel bikes and gravel riding opens the door to routes in the Bega Valley that aren’t possible on a road bike, and require too much highway time to be fun on a MTB. These roads can be hard to find, and making usable loops out of them is even harder. Bicycle Network President James Garriock has combined his 20 years of riding in the area with local gravel whisperer Kerrie Loch. They’ve come up with the six best gravel rides from the famous Wild Rye’s bakery in Pambula. Read on for route descriptions, links to the routes for you to download, and even some bakery suggestions for those who can complete these challenges. Welcome to the Baker’s half dozen.


Bikes and gears: The routes are best enjoyed on a gravel bike with 35-45mm tyres. However, some readers might have a road bike with 28mm tyres, or a hardtail MTB. For each route we’ve asked ourselves which bike we’d choose out of these two. Routes 1 and 4 could be done on a road bike. Routes 2, 3 and 5 would be better on a hardtail; and route six would be pretty rubbish on either of them.

Difficulty: As much as we would love to offer a selection of beginner rides, there are no easy gravel routes from Pambula except the paths to Pambula Beach and Merimbula. These rides are all for experienced riders with a degree of skill. Of course, they can be done slowly, but the extra time could make water and food a challenge. At ten-hour Peaks Challenge pace, you’ll average about 20kmh for these routes on your gravel bike, so be warned.

The Princes Highway (A1)

Part of the impetus for putting these routes together is to help riders stay off the Princes Highway. Many holiday makers end up riding on the A1 due to lack of local knowledge. Most of the routes spend a few kilometres on the highway, if only from Pambula to South Pambula, but the sections they use are mostly downhill, with wide shoulders and good sight lines. Nevertheless, caution should always be exercised, particularly in caravan season.

Other hazards

Logging trucks, milk tankers and wildlife are three other hazards hereabouts. Always be conservative and ride to the conditions. This area has had a tough time with fire and flood, so check that the roads are open.

Food and drink

All routes start and finish at Wild Ryes in Pambula. This is mainly to ensure that people based in Merimbula and Pambula Beach have easy access. There are many great retail outlets on the Sapphire Coast, so spread the economic benefit of tourism around.

Mobile reception

As of 2023, all of the routes have some sections without mobile reception. Take spares, know how to use them, and go easy on the descents.


You need to be responsible for yourself and your safety at all times.

The baker's half dozen 1: Kingfishers and Myrtles. 65km, 1350m, 30% gravel

  • Route on Strava
  • Kingfisher Road, Myrtle Mountain, Towaridgee Lane and Millingandi Rd
  • Roadie with 28mm tyres or Hardtail? Roadie.

This is a great starter loop with some of the easier gravel in the district. Starting with a 20km road section it turns right onto Kingfisher Road, and climbs to Myrtle Mountain where there is a turnoff to a view of the Bega Valley. The sealed descent is thrilling, before the second gravel section on Towaridgee Lane. Watch out for milk tankers! After a short stint on the highway we avoid some A1 kilometers by using Millingandi Road. You will only have earned a green tea and a cinnamon doughnut afterwards though.

The baker's half dozen 2: Slaver's Road. 69km, 1450m, 50% gravel

  • Route on Strava 
  • Ben Boyd Road, Ruggs and Nethercote.
  • Roadie with 28mm tyres or Hardtail? Hardtail.

Ben Boyd was a self promoting scoundrel who you can read about after this ride. In addition to starting a bank and defrauding his fellow shareholders, he kidnapped and brought people from Melanesia to the Sapphire Coast to work as slaves. The entire endeavour failed, but he was remembered and lionised in the district as a founding father for many years. Ben Boyd National Park existed from 1971 to 2022 and has been renamed Beowa National Park after the killer whales which worked alongside the Yuin people and then European whalers to catch migrating baleen whales. However, this route follows Ben Boyd Road, and is called slaver’s road to remember his misdeeds.

You’ll be slaving away on Ben Boyd Road too. This ride is more than 50% gravel including a couple of challenging bits. Commencing with a 20km bitumen stretch towards Wyndham, it turns onto Ben Boyd Road and immediately starts to climb. Will this road be renamed like the national park? Either way, the road will remain a good one where you are extremely unlikely to come across a car.

Keep the route up on your head unit, because there are a couple of intersections and turns, especially onto Nullica Road.

Ultimately, the route brings you out near the quarry – watch out for trucks for 2kms, and don’t miss the hard left onto the Bimmil South fire trail, which turns into Ruggs Road. What a sneaky shortcut!

At the end we recommend a filled turkish bread and carrot cake, plus a coffee.

The baker's half dozen 3: Wet feet and ocean views. 56km, 1100m, 60% gravel

  • Route on Strava
  • Nethercote Road, Broadwater Road, North Point lookout, Eden boardwalk.
  • Roadie with 28mm tyres or Hardtail? Hardtail

On a gravel bike you’ll be pushing to average 20kmh on this challenging loop. There’s sandy gravel and rocky gravel and even a tiny creek crossing. A very different landscape to the other rides in the set and probably the most diverse.

Head south on the highway and right into Nethercote Road. Not long after you hit gravel, turn left onto Yowaka Creek Trail, cross the river (be prepared for wet feet if there's been a lot of rain) and turn left onto Broadwater. Cross the highway righty leftie onto the sandy track, which looks like it is headed for the tip. It is called North Head Track (the route has stuck to the highway for an extra 300m, but that's not for us!).

Follow the track all the way to North Head where you'll get a good lookout to Eden and the open ocean. In spring and autumn you’ll likely see whales on their annual migration. Turn around and after 4.4km, turn left onto an unnamed trail. There's a bit of singletrack which is fine on your gravel bike. Follow the route to the left, which will bring you gradually into the streets of Eden, and eventually along the boardwalk by the lake.

In Eden, Sprout café is popular with riders. Everything is good including vegan and GF choices. You could also visit the renovated Hotel Australasia on the main street for lunch and refreshments. After filling your bidons, head up the hill to Nethercote Road/Back Creek Road and enjoy the climb. Half way down the quick descent turn right onto Broadwater - don't miss it or you'll be climbing back up (we told you so). Come back down Broadwater and cross the Yowaka River the way you came.

At the end of this ride we recommend a cauliflower and blue cheese pie, a Portuguese custard tart, and a coffee.

The baker's half dozen 4: Towamba and Burragate. 93km. 2000m, 25% gravel

  • Route on Strava
  • Clockwise Ruggs, Towamba, Burragate.
  • Roadie with 28mm tyres or Hardtail? Roadie

Pre fires this ride was mostly gravel, but it is now mainly a ride on very quiet sealed roads. It is going to take two hours to cover the first 30km, but after Nullica Road there's a fantastic descent to Towamba. The route will take you to the community centre which has toilets and drinking water. Otherwise, this is newly sealed all the way to Honeysuckle, where you'll turn right all the way back into Lochiel and South Pambula. Allow 1.5 hours from the start of the bitumen to Honeysuckle, and another hour back to Wild Ryes. Today you've earned a seafood mornay pie and a slice of the mushroom frittata.

Crossing at Yowaka River

The baker's half dozen 5: the Snake Track. 103km, 2300m, 65% gravel

  • Route on Strava
  • Roadie with 28mm tyres or Hardtail? Hardtail.
  • Clockwise: Nethercote, Back Creek, Ruggs, Nullica, Towamba, Ben Boyd, A1, Snake Track, Towamba, Ben Boyd, Nullica, Ruggs, Back Creek, Nethercote, Princes Highway.

The Snake Track is so good, so legendary, that it is worth the effort to get down there. This route uses local knowledge to keep highway riding to a minimum, and picks up some secret gems of roads along the way. There’s no food or water on the route, but there is an easy diversion to get some.

This ride starts in the same way as route 3, but avoids the little creek crossing by going all the way to Nethercote. After turning left at the village hall, turn right onto Ruggs Road, which you came down the other way in route 2. Turn left onto Nullica Road and head down the hill all the way to Towamba Road.

This is really where the fun begins. Towamba Road turns back to gravel after a couple of kilometres, and then at 32km you’ll turn left onto Ben Boyd Road (another Ben Boyd Road) for a sublime gravel descent back to the highway.

Snake Track Road

After just 2km on the highway you can turn right onto the Snake Track, and if it is nice and warm you might just see one. However, if you continue just one more kilometre on the highway you can resupply at the Kiah store, where there's snacks and water.

The Snake Track is one of the best gravel roads in the district – lots of undulations with a climb at the end. There are fantastic views of the Towamba River and very, very little traffic.

Turn right at the bitumen and keep climbing up to where Ben Boyd Road goes off on the left. Just over the crest you'll turn right onto Nullica Road, which you'll take down past the quarry – be careful of big trucks! Then hard left up the Bimmil South Firetrail to Ruggs Road, Back Creek Road, Nethercote Road and South Pambula.

Our food and drink recommendations are a chunky steak pie with a vanilla slice and a coffee, and maybe a lie down.

The baker's half dozen 6: Big Jack and Tantawangalo. 127km, 2600m, 50% gravel

  • Route on Strava
  • Roadie with 28mm tyres or Hardtail? Neither.
  • Wyndham, New Buildings, Big Jack, Tantawangalo, Candelo, South Wolumla Road, Millingandi.

You asked for it! Here it is. There are four types of gravel riding out of Pambula: the sandy tracks of route 3, the coastal hills and valleys of rides 2, 4 and 5, the Bega Valley of route 1…and then there’s the Monaro. This ride climbs the coastal range on a gravel monster up to the Monaro, and descends it on a second secret gem with a name you won’t stop repeating to yourself. With two refreshment opportunities, plan to be gone for at least six hours. Check road conditions before you go.

Turn right at South Pambula and ride all the way to the village of Wyndham, where you can resupply at the shop. This route is the regular Saturday ride of the local bunch and sees many visitors, too. While those on road bikes continue up the Mt Darragh road – a great 600m climb, you’ll be turning left 2km out of town on the ironically named New Buildings Road. Another right onto Big Jack Mountain Road and the adventure begins. This is remote country. Although the climbing begins at 51km, you’ll be deep in the forest until you suddenly burst out onto the windswept grassy plains of the Monaro.

There’s water at the village of Cathcart but no shop, so after one kilometre heading west on the bitumen,m you’ll turn right onto the Tantawangalo Mountain Road, which will be your friend for almost 40km. Be cautious on the descent, especially if there are corrugations on the corners. If you have time you can stop for a rest at Six Mile Creek, and enjoy the little bushwalk there. Otherwise, head back into the Bega Valley and stop at Candelo at 97km to refuel.

The return leg from Candelo takes in South Wolumla Road and Millingandi Road, both of which have short gravel sections.

At the end of this ride the bakery might be closed, but you’ll find a warm welcome at Longstocking Brewery at Oaklands. Whatever refreshments you choose, you’ve earned them.

Longstock Brewery

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