The Lions Road
The sporting rivalry between NSW and Queensland is well documented, and sometimes fierce. But no such rivalry exists for motorcyclists thanks to the neighbouring states sharing ownership of a brilliant stretch if road. Official the twisting strip of bitumen has multiple names, but everyone knows it as the Lions Road. It's a shining example of interstate collaboration and Aussie willingness to fix a problem when bureaucracy fails. There are two types of motorcyclists in Australia, those who have experienced the awesome 96km riding joy of the Lions Road, and those who want to.
AT A GLANCE
Total distance: 192km
Estimated duration: 2.5 hours, or as long as you want it to take you
Due to its geographical location, straddling the NSW/Queensland border, the condition of the Lions Road can vary from one end to the other, due to different government bodies being responsible for certain sections. Much of the road is quite narrow, and a single lane in each direction. First-timers need to be mindful not to allow themselves to build up excessive speed only to be caught out by a sharp bend, particularly on steep mountainous stretches. There are also many bridges over small creeks that have steep approaches.
The 96km Lions Road joins Summerland Way which starts at Kyogle, NSW and Mount Lindesay Highway which starts at Beaudesert, QLD. Officially opened in 1970, it is now recognised as one of the best riding roads in Australia.
Originally two pre-existing rural roads, the project is so named because most of the funding, planning, and voluntary labour for its construction came from the Kyogle branch of the Lions Club. Riding the Lions Rd is best done at a steady pace, not because the road is dangerous, but because there is a lot to see and take in. Pick the right day and you will encounter very little traffic, making it easy and enjoyable to stop and check out old deserted dwellings and sheds sitting amongst the rich green backdrop of the local countryside. The road passes under old railway lines, and across small bridges that make a fabulous backdrop for photographs.
When riding from the southern end, The Northern Rivers region town of Kyogle is a great place to kick things off. Visitors will have no trouble finding quality accommodation and an enjoyable bite to eat pre- or post-ride.
From Kyogle the 54km run along the Summerland Way to the Mount Lindesay Road intersection helps clear away the 9-5 blues. Once the road swings north towards the border, the fun ramps up as you cross from NSW into Queensland while enjoying kilometres of left and right-hand bends of all shapes and sizes. The tree-lined road stretches all the way to Collins Gap where the landscape opens to wide countryside.
The gorgeous rural town of Rathdowney is the perfect place to stop for a mid-ride leg stretch. The locals understand the motorcycling community’s connection to the local road and are welcoming of all visitors.
From Rathdowney the road opens up but is no less enjoyable as it makes its way through the rolling landscape of Tamrookum Creek on the way to Laravale.
Wildlife and local cattle do wander onto the roads, especially when traffic is light, so it’s always best to expect the unexpected. There are few opportunities to pass slower drivers taking in the sights, so make the most of what there is - safely.
For most riders, Beaudesert will be the turnaround point, but don't be in too much haste to leave. Parking the bike and taking a stroll around town will provide an opportunity to admire the heritage-listed buildings and the relaxed nature of rural Queensland. It's also a great place to enjoy lunch, and if time permits, check out the Beaudesert Historical Museum.
Mounting up and pointing your front wheel south will allow you to enjoy the Lions Road in the opposite direction and have you back into NSW in time for afternoon tea.