This is roughly a 40km ride, with a 15km detour to Bar Italia for pizza and gelato. Although the 55km ride may be a little too long for many kids, if they are fit and adventurous, this detour takes this ride from an 8/10 to a 9/10.
Star Rating For Difficulty (out of 5): & 1/2
3&1/2 star because of the 50-55km distance and also the 540m of vertical elevation.
Options to reduce the difficulty:
This would come back from a 3&1/2 star to a 3 star if the Bar Italia feed was chopped out. 15km would be cut out, plus each of the two hills in Drummoyne (to and from Bar Italia).
If you want to do the whole ride and remove some elevation, take St Georges Crescent in Drummoyne each way to and from Bar Italia (rather than Wrights Rd going South East, and Thompson St going North West), but this will add perhaps another 1-2km to the total distance.
Notable Sites, Cafés, and Playgrounds Along the Way:
If Parramatta River / Sydney Harbour was to be divided into 5 segments (Parramatta Park to Rhodes, Rhodes to Drummoyne, Drummoyne to Sydney Harbour Bridge, Sydney Harbour Bridge to Mosman / Watson’s Bay, and Balmoral to Balgowlah to Manly) this is the mid-Western part of the River where it starts to open up. We’ve timed our rides around here to end near sunset at Breakfast Point and the red, pink and orange hues over the water are spectacular (eg: the first picture here: https://bicyclensw.org.au/3-kids-and-a-tandem/ ). The river opens up to become a wide body of water and there is so much to see as you ride along. With the intention of capturing the setting sun at Breakfast Point, we do this route clockwise, starting from Bicentennial Park.
Anderson Park at Putney is perhaps a place for a first playground stop. Nothing spectacular, but a nice place for a quick drinks stop.
This ride has a number of steep-ish hills. Delange Rd Putney is the first. It’s no shame to walk the bike up there. I think it’s a better option than the alternate Dyson St. Along Morrison Rd Gladesville we choose to take the footpath rather than the road. There is a bike lane, but we feel safer with little people on the path here.
Gladesville Hospital is an interesting place to ride through and the kids love the tunnel that takes you through to Karrabee Ave and to Huntley’s Café (Google Maps has it as MMM catering) which is a good place to stop for a coffee, brownie, or caramel slice after some undulating territory.
After you go over the Gladesville Bridge, if you want to take the shorter, 40km route, loop West under Victoria Rd (and along Victoria Pl) down to Taplin Park, where there is quite a nice playground by the water. Great place for the kids to play and you all to enjoy a peaceful snack with a lovely view.
If doing the 50-55km Bar Italia route, when you get to Drummoyne, take St Georges Cres, rather than Wrights Rd – it’s quieter and less hilly. It takes you out to Birkenhead Point Outlet Centre. We like to wander through walking our bikes and try to find the most expensive “label” shoes in the windows.
Follow the bike path along Iron Cove Bridge, and then follow it South West along the Bay Run. You go past Leichhardt Park Playground. There’s a small playground there and public toilets, but you aren’t far from Bar Italia. Continue on the Bay Run underneath A4 CityWest Link Rd along the Hawthorne Canal Shared Path. You then come across the Richard Murden Reserve Playground where there are also public toilets, but you’re nearly at your meal break, so encourage the kids to stop there on the way back. Cross the road at Hawthorne Station and ride up Allen St in the bike lane, it’s sufficiently quiet that I’m content riding in the bike lane with my kids – that being said I ride next to the back child on the traffic side.
Stop in at Bar Italia on Norton St. Your kids will forever remember this ride for the great pizza and awesome gelato that they had in the middle of it!
Then retracing your steps stop off at Richard Murden Reserve Playground to work off a bit of your lunch. Rather than crossing the bridge across the canal again, go under the A4 on the other side of the canal and enjoy the Bay Run on your bikes. Again, great scenery. Either complete the Bay Run all the way around to Birkenhead Point and go up St Georges Crescent and around to Taplin Park (the flatter, but longer route), or up and over the hill at around Thompson St.
Use the routes function on the map for the next section, which is tricky, but Hen and Chicken Bay, Cabarita, and Breakfast Point are beautiful, particularly in the last couple of hours of the day as the sun is setting.
My kids love to play in Cabarita Park before we enjoy a picturesque ride around Breakfast Point. As the sun is setting sit on the little hill on the point of Breakfast Point, enjoy the setting sun and have a snack. My kids love running up and down that hill.
The 700m of road (with no footpath) along the busy part of Norman street is what pulls this ride back ½ a point (that and the early hills). The cars go faster than they should and it’s a point where the local councils have let pedestrians and cyclists down. In future rides, we’ll try to pop across the grass from the quiet end of Norman St to Concord RSL. From there it’s a bit of back street jiggling and back to the start (and some more public toilets).
Apart from those 700m, and if your kids can do some steeper hills on the first part of the ride, this is a route that should be on the family bucket list! My kids, albeit from 1st to 5th grade when first doing this ride, quite like to talk about the houses they go past, the diverse architecture, and have started to talk about how they will construct their “dream house” when they grow up taking positives from all the houses they’ve seen – quite an intriguing and humorous conversation to listen to. The conversation has continued on subsequent rides.
Parking & Toilets
We always park at Bicentennial Park near Café Waterview. If you’re riding with friends, the café here is a good spot to wind down at the end of the ride. Note, some sections are 2 hours and others 4 hours for parking. There is plenty of parking at least 4 hours.
The Public Toilets outside Café Waterview are perfectly located for the beginning and end of the ride.
Most of the other toilets are at the café’s and restaurants we ate at, as well as at Birkenhead Point Brand Outlet.