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Published: July 12th 2015
A final photo before I leave.
All good bloggers are supposed to blog about their adventures…usually right away. I've gotten into the habit of thinking I would wait until the adventure was over to write about it and then, once the adventure was over, wanting to just move on to the next adventure. Consequently, I have a ton of fun things I've done in the last two years that I haven't blogged about. I don't think I qualify in the category of "good bloggers." Anyway, I've always thought I would try to do better but it rarely happens. Hopefully, this is the start of the "doing better" part I'm going for.
I went to Brisbane to visit MaryAnne who is now is med-school. (Yay!) She was busy studying and there really are only so many days I can sit and do nothing before the wheels start turning and I begin planning another adventure. A cycle tour seemed the most logical; I wanted an up close and personal experience with Australia and I wanted to do something fun.
I bought a Trek at the Uni Cycle Shop on the University of Queensland Campus and they outfitted it for me. I was on
Spent most of the day in the rain.
my way two days later. I'm a light traveler anyway so didn't take anything more with me than what I absolutely needed. I used a Topeak Trunk with the built-in panniers. I had the cycling clothes I wore and just washed them out each night. This works if ultra-light is the goal, but there were times I had wished for a second set of cycling clothes, especially if mine were not dry by morning. I had fleece pj bottoms with me, but could have saved space with a pair of merino wool long johns. I also brought a sweatshirt with me, an unnecessary luxury. It took up a ton of space, as all sweatshirts do, but I wanted it for those times I was off the bike and every time I wore it I was glad I had it with me. I also have a Pearl Izumi cycling jacket with zip off sleeves. I wore that everyday on the bike. Oh, and a stuffed Koala I bought from the Koala Lone Pine Sanctuary went with me, too.
Day 1 - BRISBANE TO REEDY CREEK
Brisbane to Robina by train (safest way to get out of the
Stopped to dry off and got a muffin and a coffee. In Australia a regular coffee is called a "long black." I don't know why.
city) and then Robina to Reedy Creek which is really less than 6 miles but Reedy Creek was my final destination for the night as this is where good friends live and I spent the night there drinking wine and eating vegetarian pie. Pie, in Australia, refers to a pastry dish filled with vegetables and gravy and some sort of meat for the carnivores of the world. My friends are from South Africa and have a world of experience between the two of them. They are ultra-athletes who travel the world for their racing adventures and their house is filled with things they have collected during their travels. I hadn't seen them since the LA Marathon we all ran a few years ago. (The marathon we all infamously ran in the pouring rain.) We all had a great time catching up.
Day 2 - REEDY CREEK TO OCEAN SHORES
After a quick coffee, I finished packing the panniers and we were all out the door at 0730. My friends to head to work and me to head over to the Gold Coast Highway. Day 2 was overcast and within a few hours it was raining. I
Sometimes the route took me off the road and onto a bike path. The bike paths were my favorite parts of the route.
stopped at a little cafe in Tugun for breakfast and coffee and waited an hour after to see if the weather would clear up a bit. I didn't so I got a garbage bag from the proprietor, cut holes in it for head and arms and was out the door and on my way again. For the next several hours I rode in the rain. I had been wet before I put the garbage bag on, but with the garbage bag blocking the wind, I was considerably warmer. I had another garbage bag for my panniers but really needed a rain cover for them. A few things got damp but nothing was damaged. After this experience, I learned to pack everything in large plastic bags inside the panniers By the time I made it to Coolangatta I was officially in New South Wales. The weather cleared up in Coolangatta and it was sunny and warm. This would only last until I was out of Coolangatta and on my way south again. I stopped in Kingscliff to take a photo of the ocean, it was still raining, and by the time I got to Pottsville it was pouring and I was
forced to seek cover under an awning. Fortunately, right under this awning there was a small coffee shop just closing and I was able to get coffee, hot soup and an egg-salad sandwich before they closed. I bought an extra sandwich for later, not knowing when I would see food again. I was glad I did because that sandwich turned out to be dinner.
Shortly after Pottsville, Google Maps guided me into the Billinudgel Nature Reserve, which turned out to be nothing more than jungle and as the sun was going down, it was not a good place to be. I followed what looked like single track which came to a dead-end. I turned around to backtrack, wondering how long it would take anyone to find my body if I couldn't find my way out. Fortunately, I made it out and was back out on a main road before dark.
The sun goes down at 1630 in NSW, I think there must have been a time change but was never able to determine this while I was there. It didn't seem like the sun set this early in Brisbane and 1630 seems awfully early for the sun to
set but for the entire rest of the trip I tried to find lodging by 1600 to avoid being on the road after dark. By the time I got to Ocean Shores it was close to 1830 and had been dark for two hours. Thankfully, I came upon a motel at the edge of town. Day 2 was a frustrating day. I wasted a lot of time waiting for the rain to abate and wasted even more time trying to get through a jungle that was impassable. I was glad when this day was over.
There really is nothing like a hot shower and clean clothes (fleece pajamas and sweatshirt) after riding in the rain most of the day. I made a cup of tea and ate the sandwich I had bought earlier. I was asleep shortly after.
Day 3 - OCEAN SHORES TO BALLINA
Not a cloud in the sky today as I went up one hill and down another all day long. I have learned that Australia is a country of hills. I got to see Byron Bay, Australia's most eastern point. Byron Bay would be a great place to spend several days.
The surfing looks to be really great here and most of the people in this town walk around barefoot and look like they've just come from the beach. It looks like every one surfs here, even the older people. I spent extra time in this town and went up near the path to the lighthouse. Visiting the lighthouse would have meant that I would have had to leave my bike and though I could have locked it up, I didn't want to unpack the bike and carry the panniers and extra equipment with me. I opted to skip the lighthouse.
A few miles down the road I got my first and only flat tire of the whole trip, which is surprising since I there is quite a bit of broken glass on the side of the road. It was my back tire, the hardest one to change, but I got busy changing it and was finished fairly quickly. I had two spare tubes with me so rather than repair the tube on the side of the road, I took it with me and patched it when I got to my motel later that day. I had forgotten to carefully
examine the inside of the tire for whatever caused the puncture before putting the tire and tube back together and spent the next 10 days worried I might have left a piece of glass in the tire wall. The possibility of another flat tire was never far from my thoughts.
Further down the road I came to Lennox Head which might be the most beautiful place I've ever seen. I keep saying that every time I see another new beautiful place, but Lennox Head was a wow and I had to stop, not only to take in the surroundings but to find water. I was almost out. I climbed the hill to the park area above the beach and filled my water bottles from a fountain that was conveniently put there for my benefit, or so it seemed at the time. There were benches overlooking the ocean so I took a break and ate whatever I could find in my bag.
I rode in to Ballina just as the sun was setting and found a little motel with an available room. Beautiful little town.
Day 4 - BALLINA TO TYNDALE
This was a long
day's ride and fairly uneventful except for the Kookaburra I came upon sitting in the road. Further research has revealed Kookaburras hunt for food on the ground. They are carnivorous birds and eat whatever they come across that might look like a tasty little treat. I didn't know this at the time and thought he might be injured. He wasn't, he just stubbornly refused to move out of the road and loudly squawked at me at any attempts to make that happen. I tried explaining to the bird that sitting in the middle of the road was going to get him squashed. He didn't seem to care but did seem to want to move out of the way of my foot that was trying to swoosh him off the road and in this manner I was able to get him closer to the grassy side of the road. Once we had that settled, I told him a joke. They are, after all, supposed to have a great sense of humor and enjoy a good joke with hearty laughter. Unfortunately, he didn't even crack a smile.
Tyndale had the most lovely little tourist part with small cabins for rent, which
I found in the nick of time. The sun had set by the time I rode by and stopped to inquire. There was a cafe inside a general store that also served as a gas station. I ordered a veggie burger, fries (which they call "chips"), a kit-kat bar and a ginger beer, which tastes very similar to ginger ale. I ate everything in less than five minutes…although I doubt I was starving, I was really hungry and the fact that there are many miles between towns means there are many miles between food. I keep some food with me at all times, but it's not enough to make a meal. Usually just cheese. crackers and cookies to get me through to the next meal.
In the cabin I found a tiny tree frog. He was just hanging out in the windowsill of the bathroom with his big eyes just watching everything. I thought it was a toy until I got closer and saw him move. I moved him outside, which I'm sure made him happy.
Took a shower, washed out my clothes for the next day and went to sleep. I haven't had much trouble sleeping.
Day 5 - TYNDALE TO COFFS HARBOUR
This was my biggest day cycling at just over 75 miles. Rode into Coffs Harbour late afternoon. Found a motel and was able to make it out to the ocean just before sunset for a few photos. The beaches are gorgeous along the Gold Coast and there hardly seem to be anyone on them at any one time. Quite the opposite of the overcrowded California beaches that people have to pay to use.
Day 6 - COFFS HARBOUR TO MACKSVILLE
Day 7 - MACKSVILLE TO PORT MACQUARIE
Day 8 - PORT MACQUARIE REST DAY
Day 9 - PORT MACQUARIE TO KEW
Day 10 - KEW TO BULADELAH
Kew to Bulahdelah because there is almost nothing else between these two towns. I got an early start this morning knowing I was going to have a high-mileage day. 71.4 miles (119 km). This photo shows the crest of a hill I'm about to descend. Descending hills is a blast but in Australia I have learned that at the bottom of every awesome hill that I fly
down is the beginning of another hill I get to climb. My quads are trashed tonight but it's completely worth it. Tomorrow I head to Newcastle
Day 11 - BULADELAH TO NEWCASTLE
Bulahdelah to Newcastle. 60.1 miles (96.7 km). I'm finally back along the coast, my favorite part of this beautiful country. Newcastle sits right on the South Pacific Ocean. It's hard to describe the beaches here, except to say that they are the exact opposite of California beaches. The beaches stretch for most of the east coast of this country and they are perfect in every way. The sand is fine and clean, the waves are rolling and big and there are very few people on the beach at any one time. Everything is flawless here. Australia has to be the world's best kept secret. Tomorrow I'll be in Sydney. This trip went way too fast!!
Day 12 - NEWCASTLE TO BUDGEWOI
Newcastle to Budgewoi. 38.7 miles (62.28 km). I thought I might make it to Sydney today but there was just too much to see. There was the beach and the surfers and the pelicans and the fishermen
and of course I had to see it all. There is no telling how far I'll get tomorrow. I'm traveling the Central Coast Highway that parallels the ocean, which is the same thing as saying I'll be stopping a lot.
Day 13 - BUDGEWOI TO SYDNEY
Budgewoi to Norah Head to Hornsby to Sydney! Epic adventure!
Tot: 0.496s; Tpl: 0.019s; cc: 11; qc: 55; dbt: 0.0133s; 1; m:saturn w:www (220.127.116.11); sld: 1;
; mem: 1.4mb