AT A GLANCE
Total distance: 115km each way
Estimated duration: 2.5 hour each way (with stops)
- Sections of this route are free-flowing with minimal traffic, the Monaro Highway just outside Cooma is not one of them. This area is heavily policed
- Across the top of Brown Mountain the climate can change dramatically. Be careful of with wet road surfaces and mist
- Some of the steeper downhill runs feature tight switchback corners; keep your eyes open for signs advising hairpin bends ahead
- Make use of the speed advisory signs
The road across Brown Mountain has been a vital link between New South Wales’ far south coast and the Monaro region since horse and cart made the trek. The run to Bega from Cooma is approximately 110km, so a return trip in one day - with numerous stops - is possible.
Things get underway with an easy cruise on the Monaro Highway through rolling hills and plains. This area is heavily policed, so the most sensible thing to do is take it easy and enjoy the scenery.
First stop is Nimmitabel at the 38km mark. Nimmitabel is a beautiful little country town with a population of less than 400. If you managed an early start, it's a friendly place to grab breakfast - try the local Bakery and say G’day to George the elephant.
Continuing your ride from Nimmitabel past the B23 turnoff and across the Bombala River, the road becomes more interesting. Look out for the first glimpse of the pine forests that mark the start of the Great Dividing Range.
The climate on Brown Mountain can differs dramatically to the surrounding plains, with heavy mists and a wet road surface appearing unexpectedly. On the descent, the road becomes very exciting as the corners tighten up on a good bitumen surface all the way to the Fred Piper Memorial Lookout located 61km from Cooma.
The series of corners from the lookout down to the valley floor are the main game on this route with lots of switchbacks and several tight bends as the road guides you down the mountain. The secret here is patience. You may get caught behind slow-moving traffic, so consider a quick stop to clear the head and break the rear-bumper fixation.
Once you reach the bottom, it's then just a short run into the village of Bemboka at the 77km mark. If you are keen to stretch your legs and get a bite to eat, Bemboka - known as Columbo in the mid-1800s - has a great pie shop and plenty of old architecture to admire.
Once back on the road and heading for Bega, there is a noticeable change of scenery as the gently undulating pastures stretch across to the rugged mountainous peaks that form part of the Great Dividing Range.
When you reach the intersection of the Snowy Mountain and Princes Highway, turn left and for Bega for that cheese you have been dreaming of.