The idea of a ride involving a temple and a lake lured me to the NSW south coast. There you will find the Nan Tien Temple close to Lake Illawarra and only 13kms south of Wollongong. A two-hour drive from Sydney and you are at the gates of the magnificent Southern Paradise Buddhist Retreat in Berkeley.
The Pagoda is the first impressive structure you find; its seven-tier structure represents the steps to supreme enlightenment.
Behind the Pagoda is a tall steep hill which overlooks the Temple grounds. On its slopes, you find the Nan Tien Gratitude Bell and the Buddha statue. The kangaroos are steel-plate statuettes.
You reach the main temple via a large quadrangle and everywhere you look there are intricate carvings and ancient architectural features. Cameras are not allowed inside the temple, but photography is OK everywhere else.
The lake is an easy 15 minute ride from the temple, mostly downhill. Once you reach the lake shoreline, the scenery remains the same for the next 40kms: wide open water views to be enjoyed mostly from a shared cycling path.
Half way around the lake, the path disappears for a while around Dapto and Kembla Grange. Being unsure of directions, I tagged behind a group of mountain bikers who turned out to be great company. The lead rider was a very cute poodle with excellent knowledge of local roads.
Its great meeting other riders, especially if you are lost. The group let me join them from Hayward’s Bay to Windang, and it was easy to find the way back to Berkeley from there. Thanks for the rescue guys.
This is a great ride of 55 kms in about three and a half hours. Over three quarters of it has excellent paths and the few kilometres of road -iding was on a wide and clearly marked cycle lane. Great views and good paths give this ride the ‘Safe and Scenic’ tick of approval.