Touring with Gibbo:
Local Tour # 7
Top to Bottom of the Clarence
The Clarence Valley is truly a wonderful place to ride through and around. There are 6 other tours here, each with their own flavour. You will find parts of the other local tours in this as well, but this on it's own is a great day out.
I had the UNEMCC lads down at a working bee in May 2019 and I wanted to give them a decent ride over a day that would show the breadth of the Valley, West to East, top to bottom. Well given that most of the lads are on touring bikes and crusiers, this puts the very top, up in the gorge country where it really is 'chook chaser' territory out. Notwithstanding this, we saw a lot of country, with as much as possible being on roads less traveled.
Squeakygate, Lillydale, Copmanhurst, Ulmarra.
Leaving Squeakgate and back to the Pacific Hwy. A1, across the bridge, (fill up in Maclean if you wish), then across the MacFarlane Bridge straight to the Lawerence Ferry, or the figure of 8 of Woodford Island (see Local Tour #1) and the Southgate Road to Grafton. Its a good idea to top up in Grafton as there isn't much fuel up in the hills. At South Grafton, turn right onto the Gwyder Hwy., which takes you up to Glen Innes. Just before the Mann River (about 30kms out of South Grafton) turn right on the the Cangai Rd., then right again onto the Jackadgeri - Lillydale Rd.. This is dirt, but good dirt unless its been raining. Follow it, turning right onto the Winegrove Rd.. This will take you across the upperish reaches of the Clarence. There is a camping place on the left across the river, so it you are camping, this may be of interest.
Follow Winegrove Rd., as it turns hard left (now back on tar) and ride until you hit Clarence Way. Turn Right. Follow Clarence Way through Copmanhurst, until you meet the Summerland Way, turn right, then almost immediately left into Red Lane. At the T, turn right into Trenayr Rd., then hard left into Experimental Farm Rd.. Follow this until the T with the Lawerence - Southgate Rd., turn left. Take the Lawerence Road through Southgate, just after the Southgate township, turn right taking the Southgate Ferry Road across to the Ferry. This is quite a long trip across the Clarence, which gives you a good sense of just how big this river really is.
From the ferry ride up the approach, taking considerable care turning right onto the Pacific Hwy.. It's a shit of a thing. I suggest lunch in Ulmarra. There a few options. The Ulmarra Hotel is pretty good, but not as good as it once was food and service wise. But on a fine day dining on the banks of the river is pretty special.
You can simply ride back to Squeakygate Retreat via the Pacific Hwy. which is quick but boring...
Ride across the Hwy. taking the Wooli Rd. Follow the signs to Wooli and take the turn left to Minnie Waters Rd.. Minnie Waters is quite gorgeous. There is only one shop, the general store, but it does have fuel if you need that. The beach is quite beautiful, usually very few people on the beach, and you can ride on the beach if you wish. It's also a great place for a dip.
When you are done with Minnie, take the road back the way you came, but note the Y intersection take the right option to Tyndale on the Tucabia Tyndale Rd.. This will bring you through Tubacia, odd little town, and out onto the Pacific Hwy., turn left and ride a few kms, turn right to go into Cowper. It is signed. The turn is at the end of the short divided road section. Turn left across the 'Coathanger Bridge'. You may want to turn left at the Brushie Pub. A great spot for a cleansing ale or a bite to eat.
Take the South Arm School Rd. Until the T intersection, turn left at the Woodfordale Rd.. This is narrow and a few tightish bends, right on the North Arm of the Clarence. You will ride past the Lawerence Ferry approach you took earlier in the day. This now becomes the Lawerence Rd., and you continue into Maclean across the McFarland Bridge. You may want to stop for a coffee at Botero, or continue back to Squeakgate Retreat.
This is a big day out but a wonderful Clarence experience. A cleansing ale at Squeakygate Retreat will be just the ticket.
The Liliydale Road.. Good dirt.
The Liliydale Road. Close the gate. That's important.
River crossing near camp ground.
The Upper Clarence.
Minne Waters on a busy day
The Ulmarra Ferry from Southgate to Ulmarra.
The Ulmarra Hotel, nit a bad spot for lunch. Right on the River.