Cycling in Sydney: The Cooks River Cycle Way, from Strathfield to Botany Bay.

Location - Sydney, Australia
Ride - The Cooks River Cycle Way
Distance - 63 km (return) approx
Terrain - Mostly separated bike path with a few on road connections. Sealed for the full distance.
Difficulty - Flat and easy.
Highlights - Sitting watching the planes take off and land on the Botany Bay runway.

Another beautiful Sydney cycle path!  With much of the trail running along the Cooks River, the scenery is magical. At the mouth of the river, the path runs past the airport until it joins the Grand Parade at Botany Bay.  This is a great place to have lunch. There are great views across to Sydney Airport where you can watch the planes land and take off from the Botany Bay runway. David likes to get his smartphone out here, log in to FlightRadar, and give me a running commentary on flight paths and destinations. Have I mentioned before that I am married to one of the world's great talkers?

One of the prettiest stretches of the Cook's River

The Route -  We generally begin at Chain of Ponds Nature Reserve. The path is well marked with clear signs and maps every few kilometres. At Tempe Station it briefly disappears into the station car park, reappearing again at the southern end of the car park where it leads into an underpass just before the Princes Highway. After crossing the river, turn left into Cahill Park and right at Marsh Street. Connect again with the path just before it ducks under the M5 east, or better yet come armed with a street directory and work your way, as we do, through the back streets via Robert Lane and Valda Avenue. This way avoids the very busy Marsh St. You need to ride along the Pacific Highway for a couple of hundred metres but we take the footpath for this bit. It is technically illegal to do so but I'd rather be fined than flattened by semi-trailer.

Just past Tempe Station

Once you emerge from the tunnel under the M5 it's a final easy run to The Grand Parade and Botany Bay.

Just before reaching Botany Bay the path runs for a few kilometres adjacent to several acres of Chinese market gardens. A throwback to the past, in the middle of what is otherwise an ordinary inner suburb, we often wonder how these gardens have defied the attentions of property developers. For a local blogger's description of the gardens and their history click - here.

Chinese market gardens not far from Sydney Airport.

For some reason this ride is always longer on the way home but there is no shortage of landmarks to give a mental checklist of how far you have to go.  An underpass just a few centimetres too narrow to ride through, acres of football fields and the spot where the tidal nature of the river ends and it quite abruptly becomes just a trickle.

Cafes - There are surprisingly few cafes along the route. The Adora Handmade Chocolate Shop, Marrickville does tea/coffee and chocolates if you are desperate for a sugar hit and the C Side Seafood Cafe at Brighton-Le-Sands does a pretty good fish and chips meal.

Looking across to the runway at Botany Bay - you can just see a Qantas plane landing.

Extending the ride - It is possible with a few on road connections to start this ride at Parramatta by connecting with the Parramatta River path. - Click here for a description. While we always turn around at Brighton-Le-Sands the path continues along next to The Grand Parade until it crosses the Captain Cook Bridge at Taren Point. A few streets past the bridge a new path begins which takes you all the way either to Kurnell or Cronulla.

Have you cycled, walked or run this path? Do you have a favourite cycling/walking/jogging path?


  1. Close to my heart, I used to be an enviro project officer at Canterbury Council before I moved to McLaren Vale. Spent a lot of effort trying to improve the Cooks and its' recreational and ecological values - great to see it enjoyed! Cheers, Louise @ Willunga Wino

    1. Thank you. We really appreciate the effort and so, I am sure, do lots of others. It is a great resource for the community.

  2. Interesting, I recently got my sister a bike and bike locker next to Bondi Junction station, so on my expeditions to Sydney I've been looking at cycleways, the train stations have elevators, Wolli Creek seems to be a bit of a resource. Cycle South, there's the Grand Parade, along Brighton le Sands, North West there's the Cooks River cycleway, I hate the hills, as I'm disabled, so I cheat a lot, cycle down to Central, from Bondi Junction, catch the light rail to the greenway cycleway, by the canal. Get back on the light rail, skip the hills, get to Dulwich Hill light rail station, use the elevator, cycle down to the Cooks River cycleway, cycle to Wolli Creek station, direct to the bike locker.

    I have a bike locker of my own at Tuggerah station, one hours commute from Newcastle where I live, the Tuggerah Lake cycleway, is both magnificent and flat, I've managed to cycle to North Entrance and back in a day, but for me 50 kms is ambitious. Let alone 63, with hills, respect, I dofs me cap at ye, keep on chugging.

    1. I don't think your comment disappeared. It appeared twice in my comments folder along with the bit where you say you thought it disappeared. I have often wondered whether anyone used those bike lockers. We do a lot of cycling in Sydney and my intention is to finish writing up the paths we do over the next few months. They will all eventually go under the heading Bike Paths and Rail Trails.

      We are coming to Newcastle next month to cycle the Fernleigh Rail Trail. We might check out Tuggerah Lake while we are there. We've done the path from Gosford to Woy Woy next to Brisbane Water a few times and it is just lovely.

  3. Actually I'm staying in the Lake Tuggerah area for 2 weeks soon, it'll be paradise, if I cycle the Fernleigh track, I go up Jewells, down to the Newcastle Bypass, through to Cardiff, train home, the esplanade around the lake in Newcastle is beautiful. You'll see, I gave you access to my g+ feed, lots of pictures there.

    1. Thanks. We will check out the esplanade while we are there. I have followed you on g+ so I'll have a look at the photos.