I have an ambitious project, but, first things first buy a bike. After much rummaging around on Gumtree I find something which might fit the bill. It's owner is a man from Lithuania and I get a good price on this:
From Canberra to Sydney via the Southern Highlands - Well Sans Souci. A bit of a training trip
Someone has done this before here.
(But it turns out his map and description were not entirely accurate, bugger.)
The route leaves the city and heads towards the parliament building and then out to Queanbeyan where it is so cold I have to buy a pair of workman's gloves to stop my poor pinkies being frozen. The route goes on to the left of Kowen Pine Forest where I make an "unplanned" detour of about 15 klicks. More fool me, and it was uphill. Then into the forest which is a pleasure except all the ups and downs. The man who did the route and put it on "Bikemap" seems to have fled across a field to get to Bungendore, but I don't have the option, so make another detour. Getting a little tired by now, this being the first day and all.
Pull into Bungendore for a spot of lunch.
Onwards up to Tarago.
And overnight in the Loaded Dog
Nice people giving me great directions for the following day, and discussions about planting tart apples for cider making.
The following morning the Lumley Road awaits.
30 klicks of pressed dirt and almost no traffic. Observed by a few birds, cows and sheep.
Then one of these - big. I don't see how this can become "road carpet" unless there are really big trucks around.
Up through Bungonia where there is nothing, well no coffee or shops. And onto to Marulan for some more rest.
The hotel has several open fireplaces and a live band playing too.
After a great breakfast from Stewart in the General Store next to the hotel it's off towards Tallong, Wingello and Penrose where I see the difference a set of councellor's can make.
Then into Bundanoon.
I turns out that it is a thriving metropolis - It's market day.
And this wonderful YHA, clean and very friendly with another open fire in the evening.
The next morning I cycle through Exeter, not the one I was born in.
The long run down the Illawarra Highway is helped by a following wind and a delicious pie at the famous Robertson's Pie Shop
They have a new delight - Beef Bourginon
Then a swift descent into Jerrara - quite quick. Then Kiama
Where I see this beasty. As a good friend says: "Suck, squeeze, bang, blow,"
The train takes the strain the following morning to Woolengong and from there back on the bike to Coalclif via this pretty Sea Bridge.
And mostly train back to Sans Souci.
Total around 380 klicks. Phew.
5-SEP Now, for the Coast. Sydney to Brisbane
I am taken to the local railway station and board one of those great commuter trains to Circular Quay.
For coffee and to catch the ferry to Manly, with a view of the two main attractions of the harbour. We depart past this icon.
And looking back I can see both of them.
From Manly it is up and down along the coast to Avalon Beach and then Palm Beach to wait for the ferry.
And what a ferry - amazingly fast to Ettalong for the night. Only 30 Klicks.
The following day is a lovely ride around the bay to Gosford. And, because it's Father's Day I get the big breakfast.
The route from Gosford is wide, but there is some drizzle which soon moves on yielding to the sweet perfume of Clematis and the more pungent Mimosa. I get into "The Entrance" and find the Backpacker's. 45 klicks only. Later I wander down to the inlet and the pelicans are being feed by a local charity. Big birds - and pretty hungry too.
Then to the cinema to see "Last Cab to Darwin" which I much enjoy.
Up bright and early for breakfast the next day and over the estuary bridge for a surprise. I hear a coupl of pings like the noise high voltage electricity releases make, then comes the attack on the head. Very Hitchcockian I'm sure. Youtube has a video of a lady being attacked. So glad these clever Chinese have designed a sturdy helmet. Wait, it wasn't them was it? On to Swansea for a coffee at the Tides Café.
Another attack follows a short time later and it is quite a while before I find the cycle path. Who remembers a certain Dr. Beeching who had many branch railway lines torn up in the UK? When the coal ran out in this area, the line was turned into a cycle path - sensible or what?
A few klicks later Newcastle comes in view. 70 klicks
The YHA there is great. Very friendly staff and I get a bed in a big room, it not being the weekend and all. Do the washing, shopping and it's Pizza night. This used to be the Newcastle Businessmen's Club, then a nurses home - for the hospital across the road.
The bike picked up a puncture on the last 100m before the YHA, so this has to be fixed today. The guys at Cycle Ftness Nutrition are really friendly - fixed me up in no time.
Took a walk along the beach, around the point to see the Sea Pool - and people swimming to keep warm, the temperature being a bracing 16 degrees.
And a view up the coast.
Then it's off to the ferry which goes to Stockton.
The next YHA is the Samurai Beach Bungalows Port Stephens.50 klicks with some diversions via the coastal path and road.
The ferry from Nelson Beach to The Tea Garden gives a view of a dolphin and her younf one feeding.
And it means the bike gets a good view.
This place has cabins between trees and a pool where I practiced my "poolboy" skills and rested my knees.
During the night it rains almost constantly. Sleep is not easy because the room has a very noisy occupant - not me. When I get up about 06:30 the rai is easing off, but it doen't look good. This was not what the weather forecast said. I get to the ferr terminal and we take about an hour to cross to The Tea Garden, where the rain restarts. Coffee is followed by a visit to the very friendly Tourist Information service for maps and more advise on the route I should take. The rain gets worse but eases off as I get to the ferry at Bombah Point.
Then there is a gravel road which is heavy going before getting onto the main road for a short while. Then there are hills. It becomes a very long, tiring ride.
Rewarded by a view over a lake as the sun sets. 150 klicks done in all. Phew.
I rewarded the achievement with some hot, spicy Chinese food, as you do. The Golden Sands Motel has friendly staff, a great hot shower and large comfortable bed. The next day it's coffee and eggy in Tuncurry with a view across the bay, then up to the A1 on the Manning Road before Tarre and beyond to the Harrington turnoff. I find riding on the highway where there is a whole lane for bikes (and emergency stoppers) to be safer than a small, or non-existant strip on a normal road. Not too many idiots who don't give bikers the required, safe room, but there are some.
The Harrington Hotel is an older place which is now a gambling bar, and also a foodery - which is good for me because I am hungry.
Some local fishermen are cleaning their catch
While being admired by onlookers. With some diversions 70 klicks today.
Next morning it is a long trek again on a gravel road which seems to get worse and worse, some walking done.
Don't see much of the shoreline, but when I do.
There are also quite a number of "bumps" in the road towards the end and an annoying headwind too. A good 70 klicks again.
The YHA is pretty good, with a pool and aparrot who says rude words.
The city is full of people, it neing a weekend. The point has a campground, a skate park, its own bech and rocks which people have been creative - painted with their names and messages.
Great Sushi at:
And, now for a look at the rest of the ride:
Hoping for some decent weather. Zeus - are you listening? In the town there are a number of groups of young school children off for a ride on a boat, but first they look around the fish shop, including the mud crabs - lots of excitement and retraction of fingers.
More warnings of creepy-crawlies at the YHA:
The resident parrot sat on my shoulders the first day, but wouldn't do it again afterwards - so no picture. After 3 nights it's back on the bike to Settlement Point to catch the ferry
But they have some issues with the diesel engine so we are delayed by an hour or so, much to the delight of the school children waiting on the other side.
Then a gravel road, and some hills and warm wind in my face to Kempsey and the next overnight stay. 50 klicks of hard work.
This is a traditional (old) hotel with high doors and full of road workers in the evening. Iorder workmen's food and chat with the locals including snake stories and how best to get to the next stop - not on the backroads.
I fully expect to get wet the following day, but the slight shower during the night heralds a cloudy day and the ride to Macksville is uneventful. And another hotel. This one's reputation as a great place preceedes it. And the verandah and the bar area are not a disappointment.
Right on the Nambucca river. Another traditional hotel with the right food too. 50 klicks.
The next leg is up to Coffs Harbour
with some precipitation in uruga where there is a boardwalk extending into the bay.
Coming into Coffs Harbour there is this:
The YHA is as friendly as ever. A good 65 klicks today with a shower - on the bike.
And when the sun breaks out I walk to the beach.
The weather forecast seems poor for the next few days with even some snow in the hills. Should I have bought snow tyres?
It turns out not, even the wind is in the right direction, so up on the A1 past the banana plantations in the sun. 80+ klicks to Grafton is long, but not difficult.
We go over the river by the bridge which is well past its use-by date.
And it's another traditional hotel for the night - first opened in the 1860s.
The town is pretty lively and has some interesting, historical architecture.
The following day 19-SEP I am not well, but manage the trip to Yamba in stages. Mostly flat, lot of cows and then sugar cane in abundance. The third, fourth and fifth magpie attacks are taken without too much difficulty. It seems they don't like me shouting at them. I have also noticed they seem to have their nests close to residential buildings - I wonder why? Lawrence over the bridge and then the ferry.
Lawrence Ferry over the Clarence River.
And after a coffee and cake in Maclean - Yamba
62 Klicks today.
This is a large YHA, purpose-built.
A rest day, well it's Sunday, begins with rain and cloud, so coffee with a local rag - obviously a quality newsheet.
Nice place this Yamba wit a beach
A lighthouse on the headland:
On the 21-SEP I discover puncture #3 but the cycle shop opens early, just up the road from the YHA and so I get another inner tube. The putt, putt noise of the ferry to Iluka is charming as is the view.
Then it's up to the A1 and then down to Evan's Head for a night in another old pub. 65 Klicks today and 3 more magpie events, but less severe. (Total 8 so far.)
The next stage is up another beach road to the A1 again and into Ballina for apple cake. Leaving the town and around the port are three pods of dolphin.
Lennox Head YHA I learn is up for sale.
About 50 clicks today with magpie attacks 9 and 10. Oh, and puncture #4 just after coffee in Byron's Bay.
It rains during the night and by the morning there is a gentle breeze - going in my direction.
It is 75 klicks to friends of friends in Nunderi. On the way I spy a tea plantation and pop in for a cuppa, but they only package it there. Still one of the ladies takes pity on a POM and makes me one. How grand the Aussies are.
Oh, and bananas too.
The next morning the sugar mill is in full operation, even as some of the fields are being burnt to take off the excess dross from the cane.
The A1 turns into the motorway and then I have to take the coastal road for a view of the skyscrapers on the Gold coast.
And another 55 klicks done!
I spend two nights at the YHA at Surfer's Paradise, The early morning sun is warming ond a very long beach with crashing waves and few people.
And when the sun goes down, from the verandah, overlooking the gin palaces.
26-SEP, so time to head to Brisbane via Helensvale
At the Roma Station I get a ticket for the ride to Sydney and walk to the YHA Brisbane
Which has a rooftop eating area, swimming pool and a stunning view of the city
It turns out a walk down by the river and a stroll through the city
are followed by a supermoon
flyover by an F18 pilot - lots of noise, some helicopters
and then a few fireworks.