Dish To Dish - Tidbinbilla to Parkes 10-day Tour


$500.00 incl. GST per person


10 Days; 10 Nights

Departure date:

15th September 2024

From (GST inc)

  • $4,448 pp twin share
  • $5,235 single

Bicycle NSW Members Only Tour

Our NEW Dish to Dish Tidbinbilla to Parkes 10-day Tour marks the debut of a series of exclusive small group (14 max) fully supported cycling tours available to new and existing Members of Bicycle NSW.

If you are not a Member you can still book by joining Bicycle NSW. Use our 20% discount code (Mulga20) to receive 20% off a new Bicycle NSW membership by signing up here.
All Bicycle NSW Members receive a 5% discount on all our scheduled tours. Our 5% discount will cover the cost of your annual Bicycle NSW membership! Use our discount code from your Member Only Benefits page when booking this tour.

We eagerly anticipate welcoming you on this new tour! If you have any questions or need assistance, please don't hesitate to Contact Us.

Daily Overview

Payment Methods:

Payments can be made via Visa, MasterCard or electronic funds transfer.

Start/Finish Locations:

Start: Forrest, ACT

Finish: Parkes, NSW

Total distance:

Approximately 505km (22 km unsealed).

Daily distances:

Average 63km.

Ranges from 52km to 81km per day.

Tour Grade:

Grade 2

Find out how we grade our tours

Elevation Profiles:

Our daily elevation profiles offer seamless comparison due to the same scales being used across all days.

Download the elevation PDF here.

Note: The PDF file is provided as a single wide page to illustrate the changes in elevation for the entire tour. If you view this file on a mobile device you may need to zoom into the PDF file to be able to see each day's profile. The elevation profiles may not be to scale and are for illustrative purposes only.


For an understanding of the weather experienced in September review the weather statistics recorded at


Accommodation, 10 x breakfasts, 7 x lunches; 2 x dinners; breakfasts provided are continental; drinks and snacks from the tour support vehicle, tour guides, use of support vehicles as required.


All drinks at dinner; alcoholic drinks, food, beverages, and other personal items you purchase; room service and mini bar charges; telephone calls made from the telephone provided in your accommodation (see note on credit card pre-authorisation in Important Information); laundry costs; parts required to repair your personal bicycle and repairs to your personal bicycle undertaken by Mulga Bicycle Tours or in a third party’s bicycle shop.

Bike Hire:

If you do not wish to bring your own bike, you can hire a analogue pedal bike from us for $500 or an Avanti Explorer2 E-bike (limited numbers) for $820. Please select your desired "Bike Hire" option when completing the booking form. For more information on our hire bikes click here.


Guests are responsible for transfers to and from the tour.

Getting Home from Parkes.

  1. We offer a transfer back to the Forrest Hotel & Apartments in Canberra on Day 10 arriving in Canberra about 5pm. Cost: $40 per person. Select "Transfer back to Canberra" when making your booking.
  2. Alternatively, the Parkes Visitor Information Centre lists the Air, Rail, Bus, Taxi and Hire Car travel options on their Getting Here web page.

    Bike Boxes:

    We will have limited space to carry bike boxes. If you are considering bringing a bike box with you please contact us to discuss options.

    Parking while on tour:

    Parking for your car whilst you are away on tour is available with Wilson Parking at the Forrest Tennis Club which is next door to the Forrest Hotel and Apartments. More info can be found here.

    Frequently Asked Questions:

    Answers to our most commonly asked questions can be found here - Multi day tours – FAQ

    About This Tour

    From the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex’s 70 metre antenna to the legendary CSIRO Parkes radio telescope Murriyang, colloquially known as ‘The Dish’ and inspiration for the movie of the same name, this is a journey that intertwines a cycling adventure with a celebration of science, history, art and poetry with the diverse natural and agricultural landscapes of the ACT and South West and Central NSW.

    You can view the trailer for the film “The Dish” on Working Dog Productions YouTube channel. The full movie is currently available on Netflix.

    As we pedal back through time, we find history on display in the old towns and villages shaped by the riches unearthed in the NSW gold fields that transformed the colony of NSW.

    This was a time of confidence that saw Sir Henry Parkes, a five times Premier of NSW, successfully advocate for the unification of the six Australian colonies to form the Commonwealth of Australia, with Canberra emerging as the National Capital. For his leadership in advancing the cause of nationhood he was accorded the title ‘Father of Federation’. The suburb of Parkes in Canberra, which is home to the Federal Parliament, and the New South Wales town of Parkes, are named in his honour. So rather than simply a journey from Dish to Dish, this tour could equally be dubbed Parkes to Parkes.

    Poetry weaves into our story, with Banjo Paterson's upbringing in Binalong and Henry Lawson's connection to Grenfell infusing our route with literary richness. Paterson, who was influenced by the colourful characters (swagmen, bushman, drovers, shearers and bullockies) he met and Lawson, who has been hailed as one of the pioneers in capturing Australia's emerging national identity, paint vivid portraits of the Australian spirit through their verse.

    Today, agriculture forms the backbone of the economy with our route passing through rich grazing and cropping country - sheep, cattle, wheat, barley, and canola. The orchards and vineyards surrounding Young, the Cherry Capital of Australia, stand as an illustration to the region's agricultural diversity.

    This is very pretty country, and one thing is for sure, in September it should be very green and possibly a bit pink with cherry blossoms, and yellow if the canola is in flower.

    This journey isn't just about the kilometres ridden, it's about the stops along the way offering glimpses into the essence of Australia that will resonate long after our wheels stop turning.

    What is included:

    • 10 nights accommodation in 3 or 4 star properties, including pre-tour accommodation in Canberra
    • 10 x breakfasts, 7 x lunches (including end of tour lunch), 2 x dinners
    • Hot/cold drinks and snacks from the support vehicle
    • Daily photos to capture your memories
    • Support vehicles provided every day - ride as much or as little as you please
    • Custom built support trailer for careful and safe carriage of your bike and luggage
    • Luggage transfer between your accommodation
    • UHF radio link between yourself and the support vehicle
    • Mechanical assistance and support (limited spares)
    • Tour guides - the owners of Mulga Bicycle Tours are with you every day

      Optional Extra

      Return Transfer from Parkes to Canberra with Mulga Bicycle Tours

      We offer a transfer back to the Forrest Hotel & Apartments in Canberra on Day 10 arriving in Canberra about 5pm. Cost: $40 per person. Select "Transfer back to Canberra" when making your booking.

        Tour Itinerary

        Pre-Tour Check In: Meet in Canberra

        We'll gather at the Forrest Hotel and Apartments on Sunday afternoon for our pre-tour checks and briefing. At this time, we'll also prepare the bikes, packing them in the trailer for our journey to the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex at Tidbinbilla the following morning.


        Day 1: Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex to Parkes (ACT) - 52km

        This morning, we'll be chauffeuring you to the 70-metre dish at the Canberra Deep Space Communication Complex (CDSCC) near Tidbinbilla, which is the starting point of the tour. We will learn more about the 70-metre dish and its connection with Murriyang ('The Dish') at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory after we arrive at the CDSCC.

        Our cycling route back into Canberra will be along the western section of Tourist Drive 5. This route winds through rural leases bordering Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve and Namadgi National Park, eventually crossing the Murrumbidgee River at Point Hut Crossing before reaching the suburbs.

        Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve is the location of the ACT's oldest known site of occupation by Australia’s First Peoples. Newspaper records from the 1890s and archaeological investigations from the 1980s show a connection to Tidbinbilla, spanning an astonishing 25,000 years.

        As we ride back into Canberra and on to Parkes (NSW), remember to acknowledge and reflect on the countless generations of Australia’s First Peoples who have traversed this land before us.

        We will be having lunch in the Tuggeranong Town Centre which is approximately the half way point for today’s ride.

        From its inception, Canberra has been meticulously planned as a purpose-built city, with development carefully contained within valleys while preserving the surrounding hills as nature reserves, earning the city its nickname, "The Bush Capital."

        As urbanization progressed, construction took place around a series of new towns, each with its own centralized town centre housing retail facilities and office buildings. The town centres are linked by a network of parkways, their layout influenced by the region's topography, resulting in a formation resembling the letter Y, and so this urban planning approach became known as Canberra's Y-plan.

        Tuggeranong sits at the base of the Y, and over the next two days, we'll cycle the length of the city, passing through Woden's town centre, the suburb of Parkes, or National Triangle as it is also known, crossing Lake Burley Griffin, and ultimately reaching Gungahlin, which is situated at the top-right corner of the Y. To showcase the city's highlights, we will ride with and guide you through the suburbs. Along the route, we'll make stops at several points of interest, including Parliament House, allowing you to fully experience the richness of Canberra's landscape and culture.

        Our morning ride along Tourist Drive 5 from Tidbinbilla into Tuggeranong will be fully supported with our two vehicles. The guided afternoon ride through the suburbs back to the Forrest Hotel and Apartments will be unsupported so please be prepared to carry everything, including spares, that you may need for the afternoon.


        Day 2: Parkes (ACT) to Murrumbateman - 81km

        Today marks the longest day of our tour, yet it is very achievable. Passing through the Jerrabomberra Wetlands and the Royal Military College Duntroon we'll get a look at Duntroon House which was the first home built in the region, in 1833, long before Canberra had been contemplated. A poignant stop in Duntroon will be Changi Chapel which serves as the Prisoner-of-War National Memorial.

        From Duntroon, we’ll join the off-road cycleway alongside the Majura Parkway, which will lead us to the suburbs of the town of Gungahlin and past the predator-proof wildlife enclosure known as Mulligans Flat Woodland Sanctuary where Eastern Quoll, Eastern Bettong and Bush Stone-Curlew have been reintroduced. After a short café break we will cross the ACT/NSW border, where we will again join our support vehicles.

        A picnic lunch awaits in historic Gundaroo, nestled in the picturesque Yass Valley with its 19th-century charm and National Trust listed buildings.

        Our final stop for the day, Murrumbateman, is renowned for being the centre of over 20 boutique world-class wineries celebrated for their exceptional cool climate wines.

        Tonight, dine at the local pub or cook your own meal in the hotel's communal kitchen with ingredients from the nearby supermarket or the hotel pantry. Local wines and are also available for purchase at the hotel.


        Day 3: Murrumbateman to Binalong - 71km

        Our journey to Binalong takes us along the scenic back roads of the Yass Valley, passing through Yass and Bowning. From there we will follow the Burley Griffin Way weaving through sections of older side roads all the way to Binalong.

        Throughout today's journey, you'll observe the agricultural landscape shifting from cattle, sheep, and fine wool production to also include land dedicated to growing cereal crops like wheat, oats, canola, and lupins.

        Binalong began to form in the late 1840s and by the time alluvial gold was discovered in 1860 at Lambing Flat, near Young, Binalong was a busy Cobb & Co staging post on the road to the goldfields. With the arrival of the Main Southern Railway line in 1876, Binalong gained prominence as an important watering stop for steam trains. Today, the town retains a few well-preserved Victorian and Federation buildings a testament to these prosperous times.

        Notably, Andrew Barton 'Banjo' Paterson, famed poet, solicitor, journalist and war correspondent spent his formative years at Illalong on the outskirts of Binalong, drawing inspiration from the many characters he encountered on his way to school for his iconic works like Waltzing Matilda, The Man from Snowy River, and Clancy of the Overflow, and with a tongue-in-cheek connection to ourselves - Mulga Bill’s Bicycle. (Read about the story behind our name.)

        Note: There is 3.5km of gravel road today.


        Day 4: Binalong to Young - 60km

        On the edge of Binalong lies the grave of bushranger 'Flash' Johnny Gilbert, who met his end in a police shootout in 1865 at the age of 25. In 1892, Banjo Paterson immortalized Gilbert's story in his poem 'How Gilbert Died', a tale he would have heard during his days at Binalong’s School that stands a mere 200 metres from Gilbert's final resting place. We'll make a brief stop at the site to give you the opportunity to read about Gilbert's intriguing story.

        We pass the base of Mt Bobbara this morning on our way to the small Hilltops Region village of Galong. Mt Bobbara is the dominant “hill” you would have seen as we approached Binalong yesterday, on its summit is one of the many radar towers used by Air Services Australia to manage Australia’s busy airspace.

        Galong's non-indigenous history intertwines with that of an Irish ex-convict named Ned Ryan, who, upon receiving his ticket of leave, settled on land near Galong in the 1830s. By the 1850s, he had amassed substantial land holdings stretching from Wallendbeen through Galong to Boorowa. Ryan's homestead, though not grand, earned the moniker "Galong Castle" due to his renowned hospitality, extended to all, regardless of social standing.

        Ryan's generosity extended beyond his lifetime after he bequeathed Galong Castle to the Redemptorists of NSW, who now oversee St. Clement's Retreat & Conference Centre on the property, continuing his tradition of hospitality. You will be able to see the front of the centre as we ride past the gate.

        As we leave Galong we will be entering the Hilltops Region and our destination for the next two nights is Young, the Hilltops largest town. Be prepared, being located in the Hilltops, Young is at the top of a steady climb.

        Known as the "Cherry Capital of Australia", the region is known for its rich red soil and distinct seasons, ideal for growing stone fruits. Young’s annual, National Cherry Festival, celebrates the region's cherry harvest and attracts visitors from all over the country. Apart from cherries the region also grows fruits like nashi pears, strawberries, peaches, nectarines, plums, prunes, apricots and wine grapes.

        When we visit we can expect to see some of the orchards in full in bloom.

        Additionally, Young is recognized for its gold mining history that started with the discovery of gold at Lambing Flat in 1860. You can learn more about this at the Lambing Flat Chinese Tribute Garden.

        For dinner tonight and tomorrow night you have the choice of investigating Young’s restaurants and pubs or you can cook your own meal in your self-contained cabin. Three major supermarkets are within easy walking distance of our accommodation.

        Note: There is 8.3km of gravel road today.


        Day 5: Young - Cycling Free Day

        Free day in Young with no itinerary.

        Visit the Hilltops Region website for things to do of which there is a lot.


        Day 6: Young to Grenfell - 57km

        One of the highlights of our reconnaissance for this tour was our ride to Grenfell as much of the journey was a gentle descent, making for a leisurely and enjoyable day. The Old Forbes Road, in particular, stood out for its tranquillity, which resonated with us as ‘The Dish’ at Parkes, received the video footage of the first ever Moon walk from the Sea of Tranquillity.

        During our ride to Grenfell, we had the pleasure of meeting a local cyclist from Young who described the Old Forbes Road as the perfect cycling route - a sentiment with which we wholeheartedly agreed.

        Grenfell is a delightful town brimming with historical significance. Like Young, it's another gem on the NSW Gold Trail, rich with tales of the gold rush era, bushrangers, and notable figures such as Australian poet and short story writer, Henry Lawson who was born in 1867 on the Grenfell goldfields. Each year, the town pays homage to Lawson's life and legacy during the Henry Lawson Festival of Arts.

        In 1866, Cornelius O’Brien, a shepherd, discovered a gold-bearing quartz reef close to where Grenfell is today that became known as O'Brien's Hill. Within four months of his discovery between 20,000 and 25,000 miners were on the Grenfell goldfield. However, due to the difficulty in extracting the gold from the underground reefs the numbers quickly dwindled.

        As with the other towns we've visited, the discovery of gold ushered in an era of prosperity that saw the construction of grand buildings that still grace Main Street today.

        Bushranging in the region predates the Grenfell gold rush with the Weddin Mountains, which we passed on our way into Grenfell, serving as a refuge from the law for bushrangers who were attracted to the riches being extracted from the Young and Forbes goldfields. Notable figures such as Ben Hall, Johnny Gilbert, and Frank Gardiner found sanctuary in these hills, adding to the region's colourful history.

        Today the town is an agricultural centre servicing the region's cropping, sheep and cattle properties.

        For dinner tonight your options are the local pubs and club.


        • Grenfell Motel

        Day 7: Grenfell to Forbes - 68km

        Today is another day we particularly enjoyed on our reconnaissance ride due to the quiet roads and varying scenery and, most importantly, the route “trends downhill” all the way to Forbes.

        Forbes is a stylish town noted for its fine parks and gardens and its handsome heritage buildings, a few of which featured in the Australian movie "The Dish." Adding to its allure, Forbes boasts a touch of quirkiness, thanks to the scattering of unconventional sculptures throughout the town. During our reconnaissance, these whimsical artworks provided us with plenty of enjoyment and added character to our visit.

        The explorer, John Oxley, was the first non-indigenous visitor to the region in 1817. He did not think very highly of the land so settlers were slow to follow and did not begin to arrive until the 1830’s. Today Forbes is considered one of the richest primary producing areas in NSW.

        Gold was discovered in the region in 1861 not long after the discovery of gold at Lambing Flat but some 5 years before it was found in nearby Grenfell. After the initial discovery 30,000 people moved to the goldfields, but three years later this had dropped to a tenth of the original numbers. The decrease was largely attributed to the challenges posed by extracting gold from the waterlogged diggings situated near the Lachlan River.

        Continuing the bushranging story we started on Day 4, Ben Hall, one of Australia's most prominent bushrangers, was shot and killed by police near Forbes on May 5, 1865. He is buried in the Forbes Cemetery. Unlike many bushrangers, Hall wasn't directly responsible for any deaths, so his killing stirred controversy as it occurred prior to the enactment of the Felons Apprehension Act 1865, which permitted the shooting of named bushrangers without warning.

        Tonight's dinner options are flexible: you can either enjoy a meal at one of the local pubs or restaurants, or if you prefer a cozy night in, you can whip up your own dinner in your room. Simply grab ingredients from one of the two supermarkets conveniently located within easy walking distance of our accommodation.


        Day 8: Forbes to Parkes - 64km

        “The Bogan Way” – how quintessentially Australian is that for the name of a tourist road? So in keeping with the theme:

        "Well listen up mate! Today's directions are as easy as pie. Just stick to the Bogan Way till you hit Henry Parkes Way, then swing a right and pedal your way to Parkes. Piece of cake, isn't it … ‘cept for the little incline."

        As with nearly all the towns we have visited, Parkes' history and development is intricately tied to the discovery of gold. The area remained relatively unsettled until gold was found in 1862 near the current town site, and again in 1871 at Bushman’s Hill, located immediately behind our accommodation. Bushman's Hill is a small urban reserve with walking tracks to the summit passing by some interesting historical relics. The site is also the location of the Wiradjuri Ampitheatre and Garradyang Garden adding cultural significance to this natural setting.

        In 1873, Sir Henry Parkes, then Premier of New South Wales, visited the Bushman's gold fields, prompting the renaming of the settlement to "Parkes" in his honour. Under Sir Henry's influence the proposed railway to Forbes was rerouted through Parkes, significantly shaping the town's future development and trajectory.

        Today, the railway remains a vital aspect of Parkes's commercial activity, with the town emerging as a crucial inland transport hub at the junction of the east west Trans-Australian Railway and the new yet to be completed Melbourne to Brisbane Inland Rail.

        The region is a rich primary producer, growing wheat, barley, canola, oats, oilseeds, winter legumes, and playing a significant role in both the wool and sheep meat markets. The region is also seeing significant investment in solar farms and the mining of copper and gold.

        Tourism is a vibrant local activity, drawing visitors to Parkes for two main attractions.

        The first and the reason why we have come to Parkes, is 'The Dish,' the iconic radio telescope that played a crucial role in the 1969 Moon landings and inspired the Australian movie of the same name.

        The second is the renowned Parkes Elvis Festival, a world-famous five-day program and pilgrimage for Elvis impersonators and fans alike.

        We have two nights in Parkes. Evening dining options include a meal at one of the local pubs or restaurants, or if you prefer you can cook your own dinner in your room. Simply grab ingredients from one of the two supermarkets.


        Day 9: Parkes to 'The Dish' and return - 52km

        Our ride begins today with a brief detour up Memorial Hill to the Shrine of Remembrance, overlooking Parkes. Not only does the memorial hold a fascinating cycling connection, but the 360 degree views from the top make this side trip well worth while.

        Construction on the 33-metre-tall memorial began in 1934. The principal builder resided in a modest hut on-site during construction, while his workers commuted from Forbes each day on their bicycles. The direct route entails a 70km round trip, considering the workers laboured all day, they must have been incredibly fit and hardy individuals.

        Apart from our detour up Memorial Hill, today's ride to Murriyang ('The Dish') at the CSIRO Parkes Observatory offers a relatively level route.

        Murriyang stands as one of the southern hemisphere's largest single-dish telescopes dedicated solely to astronomy, receiving signals from space without transmitting any. In contrast, the 70-metre antenna we encountered at Tidbinbilla, both receives and sends signals.

        As you already know, the Australian film 'The Dish' was inspired by the telescope's real-life role in receiving video footage of the iconic first Moon walk by the Apollo 11 crew.

        We will learn more about this remarkable instrument and how it has been involved in astronomy and the tracking of spacecraft when we visit the telescope.

        Note: There is 10km of gravel road today.


        Day 10: Return transfer to Canberra

        Today your tour ends at checkout.

        Mulga Bicycle Tours is offering transport from Parkes back to Canberra. Simply select "Transfer back to Canberra" when making your booking if you would like to take up this option.

        This cycling adventure promises to be the ultimate spring escape. Where else will you find a journey that combines the camaraderie of the road, intertwines scientific discovery with historical narratives, embraces the comfort of cozy accommodations in charming country towns, and treats you to breathtaking vistas at every turn?

        Book your spot on this extraordinary tour now and create memories that will last a lifetime.