With borders open again our very own intrepid adventurer, Andrew, (aka @ebike_andy) headed for Orange NSW over Easter to ride the amazing Orange Villages Bike Trail (OVBT). Enjoy Andrew's trip overview and the beautiful autumn colours. An adventure to put on your list!
Developed in recent years, the OVBT allows rider to experience the natural beauty of the region utilising secondary bitumen and gravel roads.
As the author of the "Five P's section" in our 'Touring Tips From BikePacking Pros' article (link below) its no surprise that Andrew's pre-trip preparation is very thorough :) As it should be.
For this trip, as well as getting his bike serviced to ensure his brakes and drive train were in top condition,
He also fitted Tannus Armour in his tyres to minimise the risk of punctures.
A top tip for anyone looking to do their own remote, multi-day ride trips.
He also assembled all the items he felt he needed to take in the week prior to the trip to ensure they were in good order.
Recommended Reading: Touring Tips From Bikepacking Pros
I parked my car securely at the Conobolas Caravan Park ($5 per night) and commenced my journey in glorious sunshine.
The ride through the streets of Orange was a treat with the trees showing off all the colours of Autumn. It wasn’t long before I started climbing out of the town, passing numerous wineries that the region is famous for and heading toward one of the highest points on the whole trail, Towac Pinnacle.
This section shook out the cobwebs, but then rewarded me with a wonderful 6km downhill to Lake Conobolas.
My set up garnered a lot of interest from some other cyclists at the lake. It turned out they were members of the Orange Treadlies cycling group who were instrumental in developing the OVBT. I had a lovely morning tea with them, exchanging stories and hearing more about the trail.
The ride continued in glorious sunshine on quiet backroads through the little townships of Nashdale and Borenore and I reached Molong, my destination for the night at around 1pm. I enjoyed a nice lunch at the Freemason’s Hotel before heading to my camp at Molong Showground.
As I found at all the campgrounds, the caretakers were incredibly welcoming, and Bev at Molong was no exception. She set me up in a nice, sheltered location, close to power and the amenities, and with a view over the first green at Molong golf club.
I unhitched the trailer and then rode back into town to explore Molong with its heritage listed main street, and it’s babbling brook that flows behind the old railway station.
Day 1 provided some of the best riding of the whole trip for me, and I went to bed that night excited for what else the OVBT would showcase in the coming days.
Day 2 dawned as day 1 had left off, in cool, crisp sunshine with only a hint of breeze. Most would call these conditions cycling nirvana.
An added bonus for me was the wonderful display of vapour trails in the sky from high altitude planes that resembled the lanes in an Olympic swimming pool.
The ride proved to be slightly less demanding, just a relaxing 35km from Molong to Manildra. The scenery changed from the colourful backdrop of Orange and Molong, into a more traditional Aussie bush landscape.
Gumtrees lined the roads and galahs and rosellas regularly took flight as I rode past. Another mixture of gravel and sealed roads, this section included some lovely, long descents that were truly exhilarating.
At one point, I had to pull over to allow what could only be described as a lawn mower on steroids to go by. They breed ‘em big out here.
I reached Manildra just before lunch and set up for the night at the showground where again the hospitality of caretaker Sandra made me feel very welcome, along with a wonderful group of grey nomads.
The facilities at the showground were first rate and I was able to watch the Easter Monday AFL clash in a big comfy chair in the undercover camp kitchen.
Manildra the township is dominated by the enormous flour mill that borders both sides of the main road into town, but it also has its share of charming character buildings, including the oldest continually operating theatre in the country.
Day 3 started in brilliant sunshine and ended with a huge thunderstorm.
The ride from Manildra to Canowindra was just over 67km’s, with the first 45k’s to the town of Cargo on some of the quietest back roads I’ve ever ridden. That made for blissful riding on some beautiful gravel roads.
To help me find my way along the OVBT, I used Komoot’s GPS navigation, but I was also very appreciative of the orange arrows that the Orange Treadlies placed at various crossroads, just for that extra reassurance.
Throughout Day 3, the low pressure system that vented its fury later that evening could be seen forming quite spectacularly across the wide open spaces.
The highlight of the ride was arriving at the little town of Cargo with its quaint cafe and beautifully restored pub. The cafe’s waffles and ice cream, and the pub’s chunky beef pie were a real treat. I hope to return one day and spend a night at the pub.
I reached Canowindra by mid afternoon after a pretty hairy ride from Cargo - big downhills and more traffic than I’d seen so far on the trip. I set up camp at the caravan park and then rode in to explore the historic main street. It’s a real step back in time, with 19th century buildings, many with beautiful facades and big first floor verandahs lining the uniquely curved street. The eclectic window displays of the homeware stores and art galleries were also a highlight.
By the time I got back to camp, the weather was very much on the turn. And only a couple of hours later I could be found seeking shelter in the camp toilet block along with the bike, such was the ferocity of the wind and rain. Fortunately, it was to be the only bad weather encountered on the trip.
Day 4 awoke cold and drizzly after the previous evening’s action. Fortunately, my little tent withstood the overnight barrage and I ended up having a restful (and dry) night’s sleep.
By the time I departed Canowindra the drizzle had passed, and the roads were starting to dry out. The ride to Cowra was literally “deliteful”.
The largely flat roads were devoid of cars, the air was calm, and the sun was winning the war with the clouds. And when I reached Cowra late morning it had turned into the most magnificent day.
I set up camp at the showground, and then spent the whole afternoon at the extraordinarily beautiful Cowra Japanese Garden, followed by the POW camp display for a long overdue history lesson. I enjoyed lunch sitting on the grass in the gardens and bathed in the glorious Autumn sunshine. I’m no green thumb but I do appreciate a good garden, and the Japanese Garden at Cowra is absolutely world class. A wonderful place to relax and reflect.
The POW camp display is a short ride from the gardens, and it’s essentially a walking trail through the ruins of this important piece of Australian war history. It features an audio history of the site if time is short, or alternatively you can walk along the trail and read the numerous display boards that detail the story of the camp, including the breakout that occurred on August 5, 1944, the largest prison escape in all of WWII.
I recommend both these attractions be on your bucket list.
Day 5 was more about the wonderful little villages I visited, rather than the riding itself. Just over 80kms with 20 of it on one of regional NSW’s busiest roads, the Mid Western Hwy. Fair to say it wasn’t the most relaxing ride of the tour. However, the cycling gods were smiling on me with roadworks holding back traffic for extended periods.
That meant I had the east bound lane of the highway all to myself for the better part of 15km’s. In hindsight I would recommend to anyone wanting to do the OVBT to consider the alternate route on quieter roads.
It involves more climbing but it would be more relaxing than going shoulder to shoulder with trucks.
The rewards for me on Day 5 were the wonderful hamlets of Woodstock, Mandurama and Neville. Special thanks to Maree at the Mandurama Royal Hotel for her hospitality and free use of a power point over lunch to give a quick recharge.
My home for the night was the town of Neville. Instead of camping I chose to stay in the self-proclaimed unique accommodation called Neville Siding. Neville Siding is a collection of old railway buildings and carriages.
My room turned out to be a massive goods shed that’s been converted into a multi room function/accommodation centre - and I had it all to myself, complete with roaring fire. I slept very soundly that night.
Day 6, the penultimate ride on my adventure, was my favourite day of the whole journey. Over 60km of virtually car free riding, crisp temperatures and beautiful skies, great scenery and two of the loveliest little towns you could ever hope to visit, Carcoar and Millthorpe.
Between Neville and Carcoar, the trail takes you via Lake Carcoar and Blayney Wind Farm. It was my first time getting up close and personal with those big blades and unsurprisingly I heard no noise, nor saw any birds get clipped.
As the sign to Carcoar reads, it’s the town that time forgot. Time may have forgotten it, but the punters hadn’t, as there were plenty of day trippers enjoying the sunshine and wandering down the streets of beautifully maintained buildings and homes, some dating back to the gold rush.
My original intention was to camp at the Carcoar free camp, which is on the shores of the lake, however there’s a reason the wind farm sits high above the lake, and the thought of a cold blowy night by the water didn’t appeal.
So, I pushed on to Millthorpe and in the absence of any camp ground there, I had to settle for the soft option of a motel room.
Millthorpe is another wonderful historic village to explore. I left the bike back at the motel and walked around, with the late afternoon sun casting an amazing light on the trees and buildings. Artisan crafts and chocolates, café’s, restaurants and wine bars could all be found down the main street. I ended up having dinner at the historic Railway Hotel with some “new old friends” who just happened to be staying at the same motel as me (members of the Orange Treadlies who I’d met on the previous Sunday). That was a nice surprise and a great way to spend my final night on the OVBT.
It was a leisurely, and uneventful ride from Millthorpe to Orange, via the little town of Spring Hill. The weather was cool and cloudy, and unfortunately not many vantage points for photographs so it ended up being a fairly quick ride.
As I reached the outskirts of Orange, I stopped at Gosling Creek Reserve, the site of Orange’s first water supply. It’s undergoing a regeneration program with native vegetation replacing an old pine plantation, and newly established bird hides with viewing platforms.
The reservoir is regularly stocked with yellow belly and trout for recreational fishing. This was a nice spot to take a moment and relax before riding the last few k’s into Orange and concluding my OVBT adventure.
For more information on the Orange Villages Bicycle Trail (including maps), visit the Orange 360 website
For more ride ideas and inspiration see our articles on:
Most electric bikes can take on the trails we’ve highlighted, but if you want an all-rounder which can take on more kinds of terrain we have an excellent selection of Adventure and Touring bikes to choose from.
You may also check out the EBB Owners Club for upcoming rides and connect with people who share the same passion for electric bike touring.