Photo courtesy The Truffle Farm - Photographer Lean Timms
Photo courtesy of Woodlands and Wetlands Trust
Rug up for an unforgettable winter experience with everything to offer: culture, history, wildlife, nature – and a thrilling truffle hunt.
Begin and end your tour with the beauty and charm of Canberra in winter, where brisk winter mornings give way to sunny days under wide, perfume-washed skies.
Then join us on a wonderful journey that takes in all the sights and delights of our majestic Capital Region, sweeping through historic villages, rolling pastures and spectacular, ever-changing scenery.
Among the many highlights of this glorious winter ride are two unique truffle-themed experiences that reveal the fascinating link between one of the world’s most highly-prized gourmet delicacies, and a tiny marsupial almost hunted to extinction.
Today we take to the bikes to explore some of Canberra's greatest delights. From Kingston, where the tour begins, we’ll take a short ride to the Jerrabomberra Wetlands. One of the ACT’s most valuable wetland habitat areas, Jerrabomberra is a refuge for an abundance of migrating birds from the northern hemisphere and inland Australia.
From the wetlands, it's on to Duntroon, the home of The Australian Army's Royal Military College, where we'll ride through peaceful, leafy streets and see historic Duntroon House and the Changi Chapel. We’ll then tackle the short climb up Mount Pleasant – a tranquil lookout that offers one of the most spectacular views of Canberra and the Brindabella Mountains to the west.
From Duntroon, we’ll join part of Canberra's newest bicycle infrastructure, the off-road cycleway alongside the new Majura Parkway, which will take us to one of the highlights of this tour – a visit to The Truffle Farm. Canberra’s only black truffle farm is fast becoming known for its quality black Perigord truffles and truffle hunts. We’ll watch the truffle dogs in action and learn how these highly valued delicacies are harvested and prepared for market.
Scientists estimate that there are more than 1200 truffles species native to Australia. What few people know is that truffles are just as valuable to their forest landscapes as they are to human connoisseurs, storing water and sharing nutrients that are crucial to the survival of trees in times of drought.
Vital to the propagation of the precious truffles are bettongs – adorable, rabbit-sized wallabies nicknamed by ecologists as ‘nature’s engineers’. Truffles form more than 50% of the diet of these tiny jumpers, who each dig up to 100 water-preserving holes per night, and spread truffle spores far and wide as they criss-cross their territory in search of food.
Hunted almost to extinction by humans, cats and foxes, Eastern Bettongs disappeared from the Australian mainland in the 1920’s. In 2012, a small population of Tasmanian Eastern Bettongs were reintroduced to Mulligan’s Flat Woodland Sanctuary in Canberra’s north. This evening we will be guided through the Sanctuary on a thrilling twilight nature tour, where we’ll learn more about the Eastern Bettongs and hopefully get to see one at work.
Today’s ride snakes its way through the suburbs and along the edge of Mulligan’s Flat Woodland and quickly enters rural NSW. Our journey follows a popular local cycling route, and you will soon understand why Canberra is referred to as the Bush Capital.
On the way, we will see remnants of European settlement from the time before the city of Canberra was established.
Lunch today will be at historic Gundaroo, a unique town that has retained its special 19th-century character. Before we leave, we’ll visit the workshop of renowned ‘Bikecologist’ Wayne Kotzur, a bespoke bicycle builder who specialises in custom vehicles for people with visual or mobility impairment.
After lunch, we’ll tackle some steady climbs affording gorgeous rural views. This is an area famous for wind turbines, and these sometimes controversial structures dot the surrounding hillsides. We’ll arrive in the peaceful town of Gunning in time for a well-deserved afternoon tea.
Today takes us to the highest point of the tour. Crookwell is nearly 1,000m above sea level, and while short, today’s cycle features a steady, constant climb with a reasonably kind gradient – although a few short sections will challenge the legs. You will be rewarded, of course, with stunning views across the countryside, as well as a lovely, 4km descent to our destination.
On the way, we’ll pass through Grabben Gullen, named after the local Aboriginal term for ‘small waters’. This town is known for gem fossicking, and sapphires, zircons, and garnets can still be found in the many streams that feed through the area into the Lachlan River.
We’ll arrive in Crookwell in time for a late lunch, and you are invited to tour a famous Crookwell landmark – the Lindner Sock Factory – in the afternoon. Here colourful, Australian socks, including hand-dyed local merino versions, are made by this family-owned company.
Today we’ll cycle through quiet backroads before taking the main road to Goulburn, reaping the benefits of yesterday’s climb and finishing the tour with a mostly downhill run into one of Australia’s first inland settlements. Before we arrive, however, we’ll stop at the locality of Roslyn for morning tea. Roslyn, formerly known as Cotta Walla, was the birthplace of Dame Mary Gilmore, who appears on the $10 note. We’ll arrive in Goulburn in time for a late lunch, and you are invited to spend an afternoon relaxing or exploring the town before we meet again for dinner.
Leaving Australia’s oldest inland city, famous for its rich history, agricultural heritage and the iconic Big Merino, we’ll set off at a relaxed pace across the relatively flat southern end of the Goulburn plains. We’ll ride through the village of Lake Bathurst before arriving at Tarago, known most recently for its renewable energy projects. After lunch, we’ll take in a tour of the nearby Woodlawn Eco-Precinct and Bioreactor. Then we’ll jump back on the bikes for the undulating climb and a final, rewarding 5km descent into the charming village of Bungendore, home to a thriving local arts scene, galleries, and cafés.
We’ll spend the night at the historic Carrington Inn, built in 1885 as a stopover on the Cobb & Co. route, now a cosy getaway.
Except for the short climb up Smith’s Gap, today is a relaxed, undulating, downhill ride into Canberra.
With this relatively easy day done, we’ll have plenty of time to explore the Parliamentary Triangle, an area in the heart of Canberra that includes the Australian War Memorial and ANZAC Parade, and Canberra’s oldest building St John’s Church. Other sites around Lake Burley Griffin include the National Library of Australia, Questacon, and the National Gallery with its stunning sculpture garden. We’ll finish with a circumnavigation of new Parliament House before arriving at our accommodation in the thriving hub of Kingston, known for its lively restaurant and café scene.
Today the tour concludes at checkout. You may wish to spend some time exploring the many museums, galleries and cultural experiences on offer in this fascinating city before heading home.
While Canberra may be best known as Australia’s political hub, it’s also the place to discover more about Australia through an array of national attractions that hold and tell the nation’s story. If you’re creative at heart, see glass artists in action at the Canberra Glassworks in Kingston and try your hand at making your own glass product. For the urban foodie fix, venture over to Lonsdale Street in Braddon or New Acton to explore some of the best of Canberra’s food and wine scene experiences.