I was smitten by my first visit. It's rare to visit a regional town so bursting with pride, hospitality and apparent upwards tourism direction attracting new visitors. Dungog, NSW is awesome.
We gathered a group of friends, squeezed our bodies into some tight cycling jerseys and got around some of the riding and hospitality on offer in what probably is the cycling/mountain biking mecca of NSW.
Dungog is a short 1.5 hour drive from Newcastle ( a bit further from Sydney). At the foot of the Barrington's, the area itself is such a contrast to the Hunter and further south. You'd expect this type of country inland from the South Coast NSW not a short stones throw from Port Stephens.
Surrounded by green rolling hills, gravel roads and absolutely picturesque countryside, Dungog is a visual delight. Our crew was mostly ex-country kids so a trip to regional areas is a bit of a treat - it's like going home really.
We arrived at about 9.30am on Saturday morning and filed into Cafe Deaddog for a vegetarian breakfast and a great coffee. Howard from the Royal Hotel (where we were staying) obviously recognised the dad bods from Instagram and said hello, letting us know we could check in early.
By this stage, as we chowed down on our "bacon" and egg rolls (top shelf by the way), it was apparent how proud people are of their town and businesses. We were instantly welcomed by everyone (which is not always a thing in a small regional place).
Now it was time to do what we came here for. Riding bikes. We picked a few routes on RideDungog.org and hit the road.
Let's get one thing straight - no-one was in shape by any level of fitness. The hills were tough, there was swearing but it was a good chance to see more of the surrounding area on two-wheels.
You can check out the routes we rode below.
On arrival back into town, we washed up and crossed the road, ordered a round of Brisket Burgers and a couple of thousand beers from Tinshed Brewery. What a spot!
By this point, the kilometres were forgotten, many suds were enjoyed. There is something about beers and bikes that go hand-in-hand. It's like, you can't have one without the other.
The Royal Hotel was next on the list, so we crossed the road and settled in. More drinks were had over dinner. Some of us went to bed a little earlier than others.
We were incredibly looked after by the team. The Royal Hotel in Dungog is a clear winner for groups, cyclists and weekenders.
An Art Deco style building from the 40's, The Royal has been beautifully restored. Andrew from the team said there was a newspaper from 1939 underneath the carpet when they were renovating. Neat huh!
Our rooms were comfy and an added bonus is that there is bike storage out the back complete with a wash-up bay and some tools.
Our crowd was up early (despite a few too many frescas the night before) and had breakfast at Stella Bistro. That brekky was like Robert Smith to us after the night before - The Cure.
Again, we were incredibly well looked after even though we were difficult with extra shots, alternative milks and breakfast substitutions (too much time apartment living in cities for this crew)
After coffee and a bite to eat we were back on the bikes to do Fosterton Loop with a quick dip half way at Fosterton Bridge.
Bikes were loaded back into cars and stopped for ice cream at Cafe Deaddog (that's life in the fast lane kids) before heading home. We will be back.
How bloody great is Dungog?!
Bikes & Routes
Credit to RideDungog.org - Routes and local knowledge galore.
Eat & Drink
Cafe Deaddog - Vegetarian and great coffee
Tinshed Brewery - Epic burgers and excellent craft beer
Stella Bistro - Great brunch spot, superb
Royal Hotel - Great dinner specials and plenty of space on the back deck to soak it all in
Royal Hotel - Single, double and twin rooms. Pub style accommodation of a high quality. Bike lockup storage