We decided to take the direct route to Grafton along the Omara Way rather than hug the coast on the Pacific Coast Highway. We’re very happy with our decision as the two- day ride was a change of scenery and terrain with wide-open vistas, hills and valleys, and small towns catering to Sunday tourists with cafes, brick oven pizzas, cold beers and plenty of sunshine.
The climb out of Coffs Harbour is fairly steep but after that climb, the rest of the day is filled with gentle rolling hills and lots of flats. If you’re lucky, like we were, you’ll also have a nice tail wind to push you along.
A great lunch stop is the small town of Glennreagh. We enjoyed a picnic along the river at the Lion’s Club Park but the tavern was hopping with motorcycles and other Sunday tourists.
After Glennreagh, the road degenerated but the traffic was also less so it didn’t seem too bad.
The bridge across the Clarence River is VERY narrow but just before the bridge (it’s unmarked) we found a pedestrian/cycle path on the left path attached to the railroad bridge below the car bridge.
Grafton is known for it’s Jacaranda Festival in the spring with lots of tree-lined streets in full purple bloom. It also hosts the July Racing Carnival where women wear fancy hats just like Ascot in England.
We were pleasantly surprised with Tourist Drive #22 leaving Grafton. Although the road is in poor condition, it is flat with little traffic which gave us ample opportunity to appreciate the grazing cattle, sugar cane farms and widest river in Australia, the Clarence.
On this road we cycled past a farm selling macadamia nuts so we stopped and bought a kilogram.
After lunch at the Lawrence Tavern, we headed north to catch the ferry.
My favorite part of the ride were the 10 kilometers between the ferry and McLean. The road meanders along the river with great views.
Everything about this town appears to be Scottish from the store fronts, to the banners to the plaid patterns painted on all the telephone poles. A picnicking family even used a plaid wool blanket for their tablecloth.
The last 10 kilometers into Yamba were nerve-wracking due to tiny roads and lots of traffic. But, the scene from our campground took all the stress away.