Sydney cycling: “The La Perouse Loop”

We visit a popular cycling destination in Sydney early one morning to take a few photos and see riders from a different perspective. Instead of freewheeling past ‘The Turnaround’, Rob Arnold stopped there for an hour and caught the sights of La Perouse on a random Friday morning in April. 

Here’s a photo essay about The La Per’ Loop.




It’s a destination most cyclists in Sydney are familiar with. There are cafes there but riders rarely stop. La Perouse is the turnaround point.

“Where did you go today?”

“Just the La Per’ loop.”

Sound familiar?

Every town and city has its regular riding destinations. La Perouse is a perfect example for riders in Sydney’s eastern suburbs. From the city and back, it’s a little over 30km. An hour on the bike and you’re back home or at a coffee shop in town. And then, for many, it’s off to work after having done a bit of exercise.

That’s the weekday routine for many.

It happens on weekends too.

Aim for Anzac Parade and follow the wheels.

Most locals know the extras that can be added to get in some hills or extend the ride. Maroubra, Malabar, the golf club, ‘the containers’… it basically depends on your schedule. Add a little, subtract a little. Take it as you please but it often includes La Per’.




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With daylight savings over it’s almost possible to do the loop in the morning now without the need for lights. Not many do. It’s better to be safe, especially at that time of day.

Looking back up the hill that leads away from La Perouse any morning of the week you’ll see a trail of tail lights. Cyclists in big and little bunches – or couples, or solo riders – they come and they go. Occasionally they stop but usually the legs aren’t even really warm by the turnaround. It’s only 17km from the city.

Some ride there on the way to work, complete with a backpack.

Others do the loop, go back home, get changed and then set off for another daily routine.

Whatever your preference, it’s difficult to be alone on the road to La Perouse.




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On a random Friday morning, I decided to drive down to the turnaround with a camera and a little bit of time. Between 6.00am and 7.00am I wandered around the loop at the end of Anzac Parade and took in the scenes.

The aim was to be there as the sun came up and see who rolled by. I didn’t talk to anyone about why they were there – they were too busy taking in the scenery, or talking. And almost everyone was freewheeling.

The turnaround is on a slight downhill stretch of road. There’s no need to pedal.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s bright sunshine or overcast,” I heard one rider tell another, “it’s always gorgeous here.”

You get a brief view of Botany Bay, cruise down past The Boatshed – another cafe I’ve never seen any cyclist stop at – and then prepare for the return to wherever.




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A bit of history…

Back in 2007, Cadel Evans won his first stage of the Tour de France in Albi, the capital of the Tarn départment. It was a time trial. He was second on the day but months later he received a letter of congratulations. Retrospective rewards are never too exciting but at least there was some sense of satisfaction.

Beaten by Alexandre Vinokourov on the day, the Kazakh would later be stripped of that result because he’d injected someone else’s blood into his body. And Cadel would become the winner of stage 13 of the 94th Tour.

Albi is a great city to visit. I remember first seeing the Cathedral Sainte-Cecile on the day of the TT and it left a huge impression on me. It’s one of my favourite buildings in the world, apparently one of the biggest brick structures on earth… or something like that. Google it if you want more details. I’d highly recommend a visit if you ever find yourself in France.

After the Tour of 2007, we took a family holiday. I met my wife and young son in Paris after the race and we set off towards the south and onward to a gîte we had booked in the tiny hamlet of Noailles, nearby Albi. And we spent 10 days in a wonderful chateau. (I highly recommend doing this too…)

Anyway, what’s this got to do with the La Per’ loop?

Well, Albi, I’d discover during our stay, is near the birthplace of Jean-François de Galaup. His name is often extended to include ‘Comte de Lapérouse’. And it’s the Count of Lapérouse who turned up in Botany Bay in 1788 just days after the arrival of Captain Arthur Phillip and his so-called ‘First Fleet’.

The point of this anecdote is to explain how ‘The Loop’ at the turnaround point got its name.

La Perouse it is.




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La Perouse can be a destination for a fun day of meandering around, but usually it’s just part of a quick ride.

I know I’ll go back again. It’s too convenient to ignore.

From the office and back it takes an hour, at a fairly leisurely pace. Of course I too freewheel around the turnaround and take in the setting.

“It doesn’t matter if it’s bright sunshine or overcast…” etc.

I can’t count the number of times I’ve ridden to La Perouse and back. And I’m not alone.

It’s a great place to take the family too. Go there, see the snakeman’s show, walk to Bare Island or down to Congwong Bay or treat yourself to the bushwalk out to Cruwee Cove and explore the concrete bunkers and realise that there’s a fair whack of history out on this peninsula that is only a couple of hundred metres across the water from where Captain Cook stepped ashore all those years ago at what is now known as Kurnell.

La Perouse is a cycling staple in Sydney. And if you want to get a taste of what the riding culture is now like in our town, it’s worth a visit.




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Here are some photos from my morning of watching riders come and go, a glimpse of what’s around the place where so many riders turnaround.

“Where are you going?”

“Just the La Per’ loop.”

I might see you there one time. More likely I’ll bump into you somewhere on the way there… or back to town.



– By Rob Arnold
































































Author: rob@ride

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