It’s world-class cycling 2 hours from Canberra, 5 hours from Sydney and 7 hours from Melbourne.
Yes, it’s Jindabyne … gateway to the Snowy Mountains, the hub of Australia’s alpine region, and home base of Bicycling Australia’s 5th Gran Fondo cycling event, the Snowy Classic which makes its debut in March 2022.
Barely hours after Sydney’s latest (and hopefully last-ever) lockdown lifted, the letter’s J-i-n-d-a were typed into the GPS, ‘Go’ was entered, and we were on our way.
The van was loaded with the roadies, a gravel bike, kit for a week and all manner of cycling gear, and we were ready for a serious cycling holiday.
Getting to ‘Jindy’ is relatively easy from Sydney and Melbourne, and a cinch from Canberra and the South Coast. It’s a stunning drive too, taking in iconic Australian scenery, beautiful landscapes and passing many ‘got to ride that one day’ locations.
Jindabyne is a tantalising destination as well. Cresting that final short climb, the lake and snow-capped distant mountains appeared as we snaked our way through the closing few corners of the drive.
After a truly memorable roadtrip, we picked up groceries and supplies from the impressive Nuggets Crossing Shopping Centre. Then the final short drive to what would be home for the week, Touchdown Cottages, located high on the hill, on the Barry Way.
The Region’s Hub
Gateway to the Snowy Mountains, Jindabyne is the perfect place to stay and centre to the region’s diverse cycling options. You could just about spin a compass needle when deciding upon that day’s destination. There are several world-class road cycling options – the climbs to Thredbo and Perisher / Charlotte Pass being standouts, but also some seriously phenomenal gravel and MTB riding.
You can easily while away hours exploring the region’s ride options online – we’ll briefly cover the top two road rides below, but would recommend searching Map My Ride, Strava and Trailforks for literally hundreds of other options across the area. And yes, we’ve marked that Barry Way to Lakes Entrance as a future bucket list bikepacking trip!
Two of the ‘must ride’ challenges of the region feature in the Snowy Classic, Beloka (in both course options) and the climb to Perisher (in the 170km course). Here is a quick look at both of them.
Perisher / Charlotte Pass
The dream ride to the ski resorts of Perisher and Charlotte Pass initially follows the shoreline of Lake Jindabyne and is spectacular cycling. A few minutes after leaving town you’re passing sheep farms, rich pasture and a trout hatchery before a nice descent to the legendary Snowy River. Here the climbing begins and, settling into the ride, you find your rhythm and start the gentle but consistent ascent.
The gradient steadily ramps up as distance and altitude markers, plus occasional glimpses of distant snow-capped peaks, motivate you to get to the top.
Closing in on 1650 meters elevation and you see the resort of Perisher – the top of the KOM / QOM and turnaround point of the 170km Snowy Classic course. To get here you’ve climbed for almost 22km and gained close to 1000m since leaving Jindabyne.
10km further up the road is the historic ski resort of Charlotte Pass, the balance of this iconic out and back ride has been broken. Considerably easier, the road is now more undulating and even includes some gentle and enjoyable descents.
Around 30km out of Jindabyne and 10km from the charming village of Dalgety, Beloka is a pass between flattish farmlands and the main range. A QOM / KOM of the Challenge and Maxi events at the Snowy
Classic, there’s around 300m of elevation over just 3km.
Short, sharp and brutal, Beloka is one of Australia’s most feared and revered cycling climbs.
The worst of the climbing is right at the start. After a gentle left hand sweeper you’ll be seeing 12, 14, 16, then up to 18 per cent on the computer!
The secret here is to pace yourself, climb to your own ability, and do your best to settle in and maintain a steady rhythm. The climb levels out, to a degree, in the middle. There’s a reprieve in the form of 6 or 7 percent for around 600 metres, before the road starts to angle up for more 14 and 15 percent craziness. It really is a memorable climb, one well-worth ticking of the ‘must do’ list.
Where We Stayed
Located around 2km from Jindabyne, high on the hill and overlooking the lake, Touchdown Cottages would have to be the ultimate accommodation for visiting cyclists. The expansive property is owned by Gary Pearson, President of the Jindabyne Cycling Club, a strong rider and passionate local.
The private, standalone cottages scattered around the 30 acres of grounds. Each one is off-grid, and each are solar-powered, have tank water, a gas BBQ, wood heater, and full cooking facilities. Wildlife is everywhere, with kangaroos, sheep, a myriad of birdlife, the occasional emu or echidna, and even lazy lizards sunning themselves on the deck each day.
Located along Barry Way, a gateway to the roads of the region, the place is perfect for cyclists. The main decision of the day will be which way to ride – turn left to head to the high country climbs of Thredbo or Charlotte Pass, or turn right to head to Beloka or the endless gravel trails that start just 5km away. Full details at www.touchdowncottages.com
The Snowy Region Visitor Centre is on the left as you drive into Jindabyne. This place is a destination in itself, offering a glimpse into the region’s fascinating history along with accommodation information, advice on the best things to see and do while you’re in the Snowy Mountains, and the latest conditions or closures.
There are literally loads of brochures to help plan your Kosciuszko adventure, or buy books, gifts or souvenirs from the shop. National parks visitor passes are available, as well as topographic maps and even personal locator beacon hire. The Parc Cafe is also there – they have great coffee and are highly recommended.
Other Things To Do
Off-bike highlights included meals at many of the region’s great restaurants, a ride along the lakeside gravel tracks, and walks to Australia’s highest peak – Mt Kosciuszko- from both Charlotte Pass and Thredbo (via the chairlift that runs year-round).
The Wild Brumby Distillery is well worth a trip, and an afternoon on the deck at Banjos is absolutely awesome – it’s an iconic Aussie pub, with great food, sensational views over the lake, and the brilliant local ‘Kosciuszko Pale Ale’ brew.
The Snowy Classic
Bicycling Australia’s 5th Gran Fondo cycling event, the inaugural Snowy Classic will take place on March 26, 2022. Expected to be a sellout event, there are 110km and 170km course options on fully closed roads.
The AusCycling sanctioned RACE category will attract some of the nation’s top riders, and both courses cover challenging but super rewarding riding. For more on the event, and to enter, visit www.snowyclassic.com.au
With thanks to Touchdown Cottages, who provided the accommodation and local tips & advice during our stay.