With the hills that we have around us in South East Queensland and Northern New South Wales, and the extra gear that you carry on bike tours, electric bikes are fast becoming the bikepacking bike of choice. Andrew, one of EBB’s fantastic staff members, shares his recent ‘delite’ful 5-day ebike camping trip around Murwillumbah and Mt. Warning. Some inspiration if you have been thinking of doing a trip like this yourself :)
If you have been into Electric Bikes Brisbane lately you are likely to have met Andrew. He’s a very friendly, helpful ebike enthusiast who is also a mad-keen bikepacker. Having not long taken delivery of his beautiful new Riese & Muller Delite and with a couple of extra days off up his sleeve, Andrew and mate Gary ventured down to beautiful northern NSW to explore around Murwillumbah and the iconic Mt Warning.
We parked our cars at Salt Resort Kingscliff, attached the trailers to our eBikes, loaded up and rode off in gorgeous sunshine at around 9.45am.
Our aim was to make Murwillumbah by mid-afternoon and set up camp for a couple of nights at the showgrounds.
We headed south via the popular walk/cycle way, with the R&M Delite handling the weight of the Mule trailer (approx. 35kg) with ease. This path hugs the coastline (though views of the water are rare due to the dunes and vegetation) and it didn't take long before we arrived at Cabarita Beach. The main road was very busy so we took some safer back streets to join up again with the cycle path.
Next stop was Hastings Point and a great photo opportunity. The glorious sunshine and westerly winds combined for the most perfect of surfing conditions, and the crowds were out to watch.
Then onto Pottsville for a coffee stop and to ready ourselves for some serious hills. We headed west along Pottsville Rd then Cudgera Creek Rd, crossing over the Pacific Motorway before hitting our first stretch of gravel road. Almost 10km’s of steep, winding, beautiful gravel awaited us, and the R&M Delite ate it up! There are great views back towards the coast as you rise.
Cudgera Creek Rd ultimately descends onto the old Pacific Hwy, now known as Tweed Valley Way. It’s still a busy by-way so caution was needed while riding along it. The shoulders were reasonably wide but given the speed cars were travelling at, there’s little room for error.
We took a side trip to the little township of Stokers Siding for lunch and enjoyed a conversation with a few of the locals. A war is being waged in the northern rivers over the proposed rail trail. From our side of the fence we can’t understand why anyone would object to it, but to these folks, the rail line that runs just behind where we were eating should be reinstated and trains start running again. You can probably imagine the lively conversation!
From Stokers Siding it’s a short ride into Murwillumbah, or Murbah as the locals like to call it. Our first stop was the information centre housed in the old Murwillumbah train station. We were greeted by e-bike rider Stephen Brown, who works as a volunteer there. Stephen is a mine of information and gave us some great tips for the next few days.
It was getting late so time to head to the showgrounds for the night. Upon arrival we were greeted with the “house full” sign. Despite their being a wealth of spare land, the manager informed us that the council in their wisdom have only allocated 25 sites and all were booked for the coming week.
Disappointed but unperturbed, we headed for the caravan park we saw on the way in. Not what we’d hoped for, but it had a large grassy area for us to set up our tents and a hospitable neighbour who allowed us to use his power to charge our batteries.
We awoke on Monday to clear blue skies and a crisp temperature. With no real plan where to ride. All we knew for sure was that we wanted to leave the caravan park.
We headed into Murwillumbah and ran into Stephen again who set us on the road to Tyalgum, 25 km’s west of Murwillumbah. It proved to be the best recommendation we could have received as you’ll read about later.
The ride along Kyogle Rd and then Tyalgum Rd was largely stress free, with reasonably wide roads and minimal traffic.
The route followed the Oxley River. The Hari Krishna community at Eungella is the major point of interest on this stretch of road, along with the numerous views of Mt Warning, standing sentinel over the whole region.
We reached Tyalgum at around 11am and were immediately struck with how charming this little village is. We enjoyed a coffee at the recently refurbished general store before exploring the main street. The town was preparing for the annual O’Heart Festival which was taking place the following weekend. A few weeks later the famous Tyalgum Music Festival is set bring crowds to the town.
Our original intention for this trip was to ride to a destination each day, set up a camp for the night and take off to a new destination the following day. That plan was thrown out as soon as we saw the camping facility at Tyalgum.
By camping standards, it’s 5 stars with a flat, grassy campground, a brand new amenities block and a fantastic communal kitchen / dining area. It’s a haven for grey nomads with ample powered sites, but for tent campers like us, it was equally appealing. We found a huge area to set up our tents, complete with fire pit and stunning views to Mt Warning.
We ended up camping here for the next 3 nights, deciding to do a couple of day trips on the Tuesday and Wednesday, before heading home on Thursday. It was great to have the freedom to make changes like this to our original plan.
Our Tuesday destination was Tumbulgum, 40km’s north east of Tyalgum. Our route followed Limpinwood Rd and Numinbah Rd, through the towns of Chillingham and Crystal Creek.
The first half of the ride undulated through some scenic hills before we reached Chillingham for morning tea. The eBikes garnered great interest from both the proprietors and patrons at the quaint Chillingham General Store. I was more interested in the supply of Whittaker’s Peanut Slab – the greatest chocolate bar on earth!
After Chillingham, we headed through Crystal Creek to join up with the Rous River which became our constant companion along the road to Tumbulgum.
Along the way we stopped to watch the burning of a cane field and look at an old homestead called Lisnagar which is reputed to be haunted. Even in broad daylight it looked creepy….except for the Bronco’s flag hanging from the verandah. A striking feature of the house is its huge bamboo forest which is reported to be over 150 years old.
The riding was comfortable and relaxed by now and we reached Tumbulgum right on lunchtime. Nestled on the banks of the Tweed River, the town dates back to the 1880’s and was the major town in the Tweed before Murwillumbah took the crown in 1897.
Like much of the region it’s had its fair share of floods over the years, with the most recent one in 2017 courtesy of Cyclone Debbie. The sign post indicating the flood height dwarfed me (not hard) and every building along the river.
It was a beautiful place to stop and enjoy lunch before turning around and heading back to Tyalgum.
We woke on Wednesday to a thick fog casting an eerie pall over the campground. Our bovine neighbours didn’t seem to mind and went about their morning business.
Our plan for the day was to circumnavigate Mt Warning and we took off as soon as the fog lifted, sometime around 9am.
The ride tracked south west of Tyalgum along Brays Creek Rd and Byrrill Creek Rd, offering stunning views of the cloud capped Border Ranges to our right. We hit dirt road as we entered the Wollumbin State Conservation Area and enjoyed this for the next 10-15 km’s. I'm constantly amazed by how well the R&M Delite handles gravel road as well as bitumen with the heavy load - sheer heaven!
We rejoined the bitumen southwest of Uki, travelling along Kyogle Rd with a nice detour to Clarrie Hall Dam.
We arrived at Uki at Coffee O’clock and parked the bikes next to the big boys as the photos attest.
After coffee, it was lunch time and we headed to the Mt Warning Hotel, a legendary establishment that was recently rebuilt after being razed to the ground by fire.
After lunch, we continued along Kyogle Rd towards Murwillumbah before turning left on to Tyalgum Rd and base camp.
Back at camp we lit the fire and enjoyed the sensational late afternoon sunlight on Mt Warning.
Thursday was home day and while it’s every camper’s wish to awaken with a dry tent, alas it wasn’t to be for us with another heavy fog greeting us.
It also meant we wouldn’t be able to get away as early as we’d hoped for as we weren’t keen to ride in fog. Anyway, it meant we could have breakfast and pack up in a relaxed manner. With everything packed, soaked tents included, we were able to get away around 9am.
We headed towards Murwillumbah via Tyalgum Rd and while we had ridden this road 3 times over the previous few days, it’s amazing the different point of view you get when you travel in the opposite direction. It proved to me that bike rides don’t always have to be circuits to be enjoyable.
We reached Murwillumbah an hour later and decided to head to Kingscliff via Keil Vale and Reserve Creek. Reserve Creek Rd climbed steadily and offered us stunning views to the west towards Murwillumbah and Mt Warning.
We enjoyed a few more k’s of gravel before joining up with Round Mountain Rd, riding over the top of the Pacific Motorway and the run home to Kingscliff via Cabarita.
We arrived at Kingscliff just prior to midday for the obligatory celebration photos, before packing the cars and heading home.
If you have an e-bike touring story and route that you would like to share, or are interested in joining other e-bikers on biketours such as this, drop us a line here >>.
For more ride ideas see Andrew's Stradbroke Island trip.
If you are curious about how an ebike works or are keen on a particular type of ebike then EBB hosts a number of group rides or specialist demo events where you can try one. See what's coming up.
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