For a day out on the bikes, we combined Tourist Drive 14 through coastal villages Scotts Head, Grassy Head, Stuarts Point with a detour through Yarriabini National Park then Tourist Drive 12 to South West Rocks and Gladstone on the Macleay River. The riding is easy, with many options to stop for coffee, lunch, to admire the view or stretch the legs on a short walk.
Tourist Drive 14 – Coastal villages Scotts Head, Grassy Head, Stuarts Point
Scoot down the highway to join Scotts Head Rd near Warrell Creek. Tourist Drive 14 follows Warrell Creek towards Scotts Head, then skirts around Scotts Mountain and Mt Yarrahapinni, passing Grassy Head and Stuarts Point. There’s fishing here, avocados, macadamias and holiday parks.
The Adventure Riders Detour – Way Way Creek and Yarriabini National Park
For a little bit of dirt adventure on back roads in Way Way State Forest and Yarriabini National Park, before you get to Scotts Head turn right at the brown tourist sign pointing to Yarriabini NP onto Way Way Creek Road. Follow this through some creek crossings (bridge and causeway) to Pines Picnic Area. Stop here for a short walk (yes you can do it in your bike boots) through the pretty subtropical rainforest beside Way Way Creek. Admire the stories on the mosaic rock artwork at Pines Picnic Area, and later lookout for the mosaic Whale Tale picnic table and Last Wave at Scotts Head.
From the picnic area you have some options:
- Continue another 6km on Way Way Creek Road and Tower Road to the Lookout atop Mt Yarrahapinni, then return to the picnic area
- Turn up Jimmys Ridge Road at the picnic area and follow Jimmys Ridge, Grassy Head Forest Rd and North Kinki Spur Rd to rejoin the bitumen
- Or simply return the way you came along Way Way Creek Road to Scotts Head Road and continue with Tourist Drive 14.
Tourist Drive 12 – Explore the Macleay River villages Jerseyville, South West Rocks, Kinchela and Gladstone
We turn off Macleay Valley Way toward Jerseyville and South West Rocks to pick up Tourist Drive 12. The road tracks the Macleay River before crossing the bridge at Jerseyville. The short Boyters Lane Bird Hide walk is near here.
Up at Smoky Cape lighthouse, we met a bloke on a very old motorcycle, a Waratah. I hope I can climb that hill when I’m as old a this beautiful old bike! The view from Smoky Cape lighthouse (built 1891) is a beautiful thing on a clear, sunny day. Can you spot the wallaby that photo-bombed us?
From Smoky Cape lighthouse, head down the hill to visit Trial Bay Gaol and South West Rocks, a good spot to stop for refreshments.
Back on the bike we cruise beside the Macleay passing through Kinchela. Young Aboriginal boys were forcibly removed from their families and placed in the notorious Kinchela Aboriginal Boys Home from 1924-1970.
Gladstone is an old river port, with some nice restaurants (check opening times) and galleries at the bright red Gladstone Hub with lovely street art out back in the yard. Nestle have a factory at Smithtown, just over the river – we can see the tall factory stacks as we wait for our coffee at Steam and Cedar. The factory was built in 1921, Milo was invented by a Sydney man during the Depression and first produced here in 1934.
We cross the Macleay on Major Oakes Bridge, the same bloke for whom Oakes Crossing on Allgomera Creek is named. Just over the bridge we pass through Seven Oaks, the station that Major Oakes leased back in 1840. Then we head for the motorway and home.
Fun facts about the Macleay River
- the month of the Macleay River was near Grassy Head and a mile wide, but a new entrance opened near South West Rocks during a flood
- the 3.2km Macleay River road bridge opened in 2014 is the longest road bridge in Australia
- Milo is named for Olympian wrestler Milo of Croton who lived an extraordinary life back in 6th century BC and suffered a gory end.