Score: 6.5 / 10
There are some good playgrounds and great scenery, but it’s tough!
Star Rating For Difficulty (out of 5):
5 star because of the 900m elevation gain in only 40km, the large amount of stairs and bush tracks.
Options to reduce the difficulty:
- Rather than taking the dirt track around the West side of Greenwich, which is really a goat track, when you get to Mary Carlson Park (Greenwich Park), simply make your way back along the local roads.
- The playground at the Northern end of Gore Creek Reserve Greenwich (Bob Campbell Oval) is very nice, but getting back up out of there with kids is a nightmare. I took this route with the kids to try to avoid being near River Road, but those stairs around Lillypilly Falls are exhausting! 150 rock stairs of variable sizes. Carrying kids bikes up there one by one (and mine) was like being a contestant on one of those survival shows (perhaps a bit of an exaggeration, but don’t do it unless you really really want to give yourself a challenge, they are stairs that are too hard for kids to take their bikes any portion of the way up). I did this to avoid being on a footpath near River Rd, but without personally going on that footpath, I’d look at that as an option next time.
- The loop around Norwood isn’t entirely necessary, there’s a steep hill out of there.
- Longueville Park is nice, peaceful, quiet and has a picturesque view, but the climb out of Longueville along the Northern aspect of William Edward St, and then the steep little dipper on River Rd West is tough on kids. I made it ½ way through the dirt track on Warraroon Reserve, and turned around due to previously being burnt twice on bush tracks on this ride, however, in retrospect, looking at the maps, the easiest way out of Longueville is continuing this bush track (only another 10m elevation) into Karingal Rd Riverview. Therefore, I would keep Longueville in this ride!
- Learn how to push your kids on their bikes. This takes time and bike handling skills on both your parts, but if they can learn to keep their handlebars straight, keep pedalling and you push them gently on their lower back, if your legs are strong enough, as a team you can conquer any hill. The thing to be most careful of is that your handlebars and theirs don’t entwine – so keep yours a little bit back from theirs. It may require you to loop back and push every single child (so 3 x each steep hill for every child), but it’s another one of those parent-child bonding moments where your children will see and feel that you’ve got their back in all circumstances (literally). Sometimes these intangibles are worth it to grow your family bonds.
- So… in short … this is a tough, but bonding ride for a fit family looking for a serious adventure!
Notable Sites, Cafés, and Playgrounds Along the Way:
The Lower North Shore of Sydney is beautiful and has wonderful walking tracks, but while these routes can be ridden, they are tough! Dirt tracks, rocks, steep hills etc… It’s an amazing way to build resilience and teamwork in your kids, and it’s awesome to see them help each other carrying their bikes over big boulders, but this is not for the feint hearted. Do this if your kids are really fit and experienced, if you are willing to carry their bikes up hundreds of stairs (literally) and if you think that they are ready for an exercise that will bring them closer together in terms of teamwork.
As mentioned above, Gore Creek Reserve playground is nice and quiet, but I don’t think it’s worth the ride with the kids down to there.
Longueville Park has a nice playground (nothing spectacular, but good) with therapeutic views and has a peaceful and relaxing feeling. Not far from there as you make your way away from the water is the playground on the South West side of Longueville (Kingsford Smith) Oval. Which again is decent, but not spectacular.
The ride up and around Riverview continues to be hilly and legs can be tired by now. Dip down through Burns Bay Reserve and then through Linley Point Reserve and up the steep little hill into Hunters Hill. Harry Shelly Memorial Playground is a simple shaded playground, but a good spot for a well-deserved snack and time off the bike.
We ride through Woolwich down the main drag with the occasional side street. We feel that with primary school kids that the footpath is safest as there aren’t many safe parallel streets which are quiet (or not rather hilly). Woolwich is an interesting suburb, it’s like a transition suburb from the lower North Shore, the architecture is different and again the kids will notice it and chat about it. The playground at Weil Park Woolwich is again good, but not spectacular. Perhaps worth stopping at on the way back and it has some clean public toilets there too.
For a feed, Hunters Hill shops has a bakery, a café, pizza and sushi, so it’s worth popping in there for some nutrition. Then ride in the bike / footpath over Tarban Creek Bridge and then over Gladesville Bridge down to Drummoyne Wharf. You will note on our ride we accidentally took a slight detour to Wrights Point Drummoyne, which was unnecessary, so that’s been removed in the route to go straight to Drummoyne Wharf.
While having a feed check out https://transportnsw.info/ to see when the ferry will be leaving Drummoyne Wharf so you can make it in time.
On the ferry, if you’ve got the energy you can stop off to Cockatoo Island for some extra sightseeing, or simply catch the ferry to Barangaroo, then to Luna Park and ride up to Milson’s Point train station to catch the train back to Wollstonecraft with a simple roll back to the car.
Parking & Toilets
We usually park in Russell St Wollstonecraft, where you can usually find a park and ride through the bike / walking path towards Wollstonecraft station. Note, there are parking limits.
This route has a bit of a lack of public toilets, so you may need to think ahead a little.
There are apparently public toilets at Longueville Wharf, just near the playground, but we didn’t see them (we weren’t looking either).
Tambourine Bay Park Riverview
Weil Park Woolwich