This tour has three separate legs: around Lake Macquarie; the Fernleigh Rail Trail; and Newcastle harbour.
It took just under two hours to drive from Sydney to Booragul railway station on Lake Macquarie where I parked my car for the day. The dedicated bike path around the early part of the lake is excellent and very scenic. However, after about 10kms the path stops because of homes built to the water’s edge. This leg of the ride is not recommended for senior cyclists.
It is better go directly to Belmont and enjoy free parking adjacent to the start of the Fernleigh Trail. It’s a former railway line to Adamstown, and gently rises for 16kms through wonderful bushland and rainforest. It is sealed the whole way, has an interesting old train tunnel, and you can enjoy the symphonic sound of bellbirds and other feathery music echoing across several gorges and ravines.
From Adamstown head north-east for about 6kms on safe bike lanes and footpaths until you reach the port city of Newcastle. Many senior Sydney-siders remember it as a grungy industrial port and will be surprised at how beautiful it is now.
Sweeping foreshore walkways go on forever. You can head west around the bay on a scenic bike path or east towards the breakwater point. I went east, leaving the west path for my next visit.
Look back from the breakwater for spectacular views of Newcastle harbour, then head south to Newcastle Beach. Plan for several stops because there is much to see; my iPhone camera was in and out of my pocket all day.
Returning through town, stop to admire the post-modern architecture of the University of Newcastle.
I didn’t leave enough time to ride back to Booragul and I did not want to return via the first leg of the tour. So with 57kms on the clock and about 5 hours in the saddle, I hopped a train at Hamilton for the seven stop/20 minute ride back to my car.
I will definitely be doing this five-star ride again (minus the first leg). There is still so much sightseeing to enjoy.