Saturday, May 31, 2014

Soaked through! Kempsey to Nambucca

We woke to find that it had rained during the night. Kempsey was shrouded in a heavy mist.

The forecast was for rain and rain it did - starting with a light drizzle and developing into a downpour.
With the rain, spray from passing traffic and spray from our own rear wheels, we were soon soaked.
We arrived at Nambucca cold, wet and grubby.

We took a cabin at the Aurora Caravan Park on the Pacific Highway and close to a small shopping centre. Spent the afternoon cleaning up and drying off.

Did 62kms today.

Friday, May 30, 2014

Yet another bridge to cross! Kew to Kempsey

And we thought that the hills were behind us! Had to walk a couple today and the information centre in Kempsey tells us that there are more stinkers ahead of us!

It was cooler today and we had the odd light shower so jackets were worn to start today's ride.

New South Wales is endowed with numerous rivers and creeks.
Crossing bridges is always a challenge and we seem to have crossed more than usual today.

Whether long or short,  bridges have a single lane each way and rarely have a cycle lane. We have to pedal like mad as close to the left as possible until we reach the end where there is usually a small shoulder. Meanwhile the traffic roars past in both directions, so we have to keep our cool - and keep a straight line!

Today we crossed the bridge over the Macleay River into Kempsey. It's claim to fame is that it is the birthplace of country singer, Slim Dusty.

We took a motel unit in the city centre. For the first time we were advised not to lock the bikes outside because of the risk of theft, so we wheeled them into our unit. 

Did 68kms today.

Thursday, May 29, 2014

The final map! Taree to Kew

Glorious weather! Flat, easy cycling! What more can I say?
We decided that, in lieu of a very overdue rest day, we'd have a short cycle today to allow for a bit of relaxation and planning in the afternoon.

Kew is a sleepy little settlement with a garage, pub, general store, motel and a spacious, well manned information centre. Kew's claim to fame is that a famous aviatrix, Nancy Bird Walton, was born here in 1915.

Del spent the afternoon studying our last remaining area map - Merimbula to Tweed Heads - and working out stopovers.

We have decided to avoid cycling into Brisbane because of the heavy city traffic. Instead we are contemplating finishing our ride in the Gold Coast at Coolangatta for the convenience of finding accommodation, bike shops (for bike boxes), and airport within close proximity of each other.

The end is in sight!

Did 46kms today.

How we are tracking:

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Eye for an 'i'! Bulahdelah to Taree

A little hillier today on the Pacific Highway with fabulous downhills that we could confidently freewheel and enjoy on the wide, smooth shoulder.

We set off at 7.30am as usual and, taking short breaks every 10kms to break from the saddle, we arrived in Taree at 1.00pm.

Our first port of call at every destination is the local information centre. Manned mainly by volunteers, they are so helpful in locating accommodation, the nearest food store and the best way to rejoin the highway.

Taree is a bustling country town beside the Manning River. It too has been bypassed by the new Pacific Highway, but, unlike Bulahdelah, it is thriving.

Did 71kms today.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Pedalling the Pacific Highway. Raymond Terrace to Bulahdelah

So far we are most impressed with the cycling conditions on the Pacific Highway - wide cycleway with a good surface and mostly flat. There were even several rest areas along the way with toilets and picnic tables - providing a welcome break from the saddle.

We set off at 7.30am and even with stops every 10kms, we were in Bulahdelah by 1.00pm.

The highway quickly took us back into the countryside, the roadside flanked with native bush hiding farmland behind.

Bulahdelah has just over 1000 inhabitants. It's a small village with at least 6 cafes! It has recently been bypassed by the new highway and, sad to say, is slowly dying.

There is little accommodation available here so tonight we have a cabin in a very basic motel.
Did 68kms today.

Pedalling the Pacific Highway
Mountain View Motel Bulahdelah

Monday, May 26, 2014

Coals to Newcastle! Swansea to Raymond Terrace via Newcastle

A good day's cycling on the Pacific Highway. Very heavy traffic but an adequate cycle lane most of the way.

At Newcastle, decided to visit the information centre to verify today's route. Big mistake! Followed signs which eventually petered out resulting in 5kms of riding in circles through the city. Eventually used our instincts and found our way to Raymond Terrace.

Newcastle is an industrial city and port, famous for its coal. Long coal trains rumble through the city regularly.

South of Sydney we would often see nothing but trees all day. Since Gosford we have been cycling through cities and suburbs.

The temperature was 25 degrees C today. Never sweated so much in my life!
Did 55kms today.

Sunday, May 25, 2014

North of Sydney at last! Gosford to Swansea

We took the scenic Central Coast Highway out of Gosford and, after a couple of very steep hills, had a dream run through The Entrance and Budgewoi to Doyalson, where we joined the Pacific Highway.
Although busy, the Pacific Highway has a good cycle lane, which allows for enjoyable, carefree cycling in spite of the heavy traffic.

We arrived in Swansea around 1.30pm and, for a change, had time to shop for food and explore the town.
Swansea is a small town on the edge of Lake Macquarie and is a popular fishing spot.

We're hoping that the good road conditions continue tomorrow!

Did 65kms today.

Words of wisdom on our motel wall, Swansea

Saturday, May 24, 2014

Going, Going, Gong! Shell Harbour to Gosford

The Orewa Express was back in action again with a flat fast ride to The Gong (Wollongong) arriving around 9.30am.

Checked in at the railway station for train schedules and found that a train was due soon for Sydney Central. We decided to buy tickets to Gosford, north of Sydney, changing trains at Sydney Central, to avoid the city traffic.

Both connections were close calls.
Not only did we have to get the bikes and trailers onto the trains, but Del had to carry them up flights of stairs and manoevre them into lifts to get on and off platforms.

We were both tired and hungry by the time we arrived in Gosford at 1.30pm.

We contacted a couple of likely places to spend the night but they turned out to be unsuitable. We were beginning to despair when a kindly bus driver told us of a motel 2kms away. We arrived at The Willows around 3.30pm.

Food shopping, some washing and a salad tea and we were ready for bed. What a day!
Did 25kms today - by bike!

Friday, May 23, 2014

Snakes Alive! Nowra to Shell Harbour Village

Local news reports that a man was bitten by a poisonous snake in Kaima yesterday. Lo and behold we spotted one as we entered Shell Harbour Village today.  It was dark brown, around 0.5m (looks more like a threadworm in the photo) and we gave it a wide berth.

Weather continues to be gloriously warm and sunny.

Had a mixed day of cycling. Contrary to the advice from the 'i' centre, we decided to avoid the mad traffic on the Princes Highway and, instead, take the coastal Bolong Road. Good decision! 27kms of flat, fast road with minimal traffic.

Eventually it rejoined the Princes Highway where we struck 2.5kms of major road works. Cycling would have been too dangerous so we walked it instead, as close to the barrier as we could, with a continuous line of heavy traffic roaring past - really nerve-wracking!

From Kaima we discovered an impressive dedicated cycle lane that took us all the way to Shell Harbour. We're hoping that it continues to Wollongong tomorrow.

Did 56kms today.

Warm enough for a swim. Shell Harbour Village

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Traffic increasing! Ulladulla to Nowra

Had some enjoyable cycling today, interspersed with the usual hill walking!

The traffic was noticeably much heavier and there were a few white knuckle moments when the shoulder ran out and there were major roadworks restricting traffic to a single, narrow lane! We want to avoid battling heavy traffic through Sydney, so we'll need to look at safer options nearer the time.

Nowra is a busy city. Its name comes from the aborigine, Noora, meaning black cockatoo.

Apparently, in Kaima (our destination tomorrow), the warm weather is bringing the snakes out of hibernation!

Did 64kms today.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014

White crosses - Grim reminders! Batemans Bay to Ulladulla

A roller coaster ride today through national forests. Traffic was busy as usual.

Saw an inordinate number of white crosses on the roadside of this stretch of the Princes Highway. They serve as grim reminders of its dangers. Most seemed to be in remembrance of young people - speed most likely to be the cause.

Ulladulla is another pretty harbour town on the Shoalhaven Coast. We arrived soon after lunch and had time to investigate the town and its harbour. I even managed to get an overdue haircut - short as!!!

Did 51kms today. Only 225kms to Sydney!

Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Having a Heatwave! Bodalla to Batemans Bay

We were the only guests at the Bodalla Arms Hotel last night. At 7.30am we tiptoed along dark, eerie corridors to the hotel garage to retrieve our bikes from amongst the woodpiles and equipment.

In April we had record cold temperatures and now we're having record highs.

We took the alternative coastal route from Moruya, that hotelier Terry had suggested. It was 14kms longer, but fewer hills were promised. The first 14kms were flat and fast but after that we hit the hills again - and walked 20 of them!

The road took us through pretty seaside towns to Batemans Bay. It's an attractive, harbour town on the Shoalhaven Coast with launches and yachts moored in the estuary which is spanned by a 200m bridge. We arrived at Big 4 Batemans Bay Caravan Park only to find that they didn't have tent sites, so we took a comfy cabin.
Sleeping in a bed again tonight!

Did 60kms today.

Monday, May 19, 2014

Del's interview and Bodalla hospitality! Bermagui to Bodalla

Hilly, roller coaster terrain made this another challenging day. Spent as much time off the bike as on, making progress slow. Just out of Tilda we rejoined the Princes Highway - and the heavy traffic was with us again.

At 12.00pm we stopped for lunch and traipsed into the bush, away from the noisy highway to find a quieter spot for Del's Radio NZ interview with Simon Mercep. Nowhere to sit so he squatted amongst the ant trails and chatted like a pro - relaxed and eloquent!
By late afternoon we'd pedalled wearily into Bodalla only to find that the accommodation we had expected was non-existent.

Eventually, the owners of the 106 year old Bodalla Arms Hotel, Terry, Chris and Janelle Cavanagh, took pity on us and offered to make up a room for us. It was basic but comfy. Apart from the owners, we were the only guests. Their hospitality was timely and much appreciated. They also advised an alternative, flatter route to Batemans Bay.
As there were no food stores handy, we raced over to the Cheese Factory opposite, just in time before they closed, to buy filled rolls for tonight's dinner. Then it was early to bed.

We did 54kms today.

Del's radio interview by the roadside.
Radio NZ interview with Simon Mercep: listen here

Sunday, May 18, 2014

Hills and more hills! Merimbula to Bermagui

Today we left the Princes Highway and took the coastal route along the Sapphire Coast Drive. This is probably the hilliest section we've encountered so far - and the steepest! On one hill, our walking speed was down to 2.5kms an hour - and we had to stop every few metres to recover!

The weather has been perfect - warm and windless, but in spite of an early 7.30am start, we still didn't arrive at Bermagui until 3.30pm, averaging about 8.5kms an hour!

There were a record number of dead kangaroos on today's section of road, and countless numbers of termite mounds.

There were also several controlled burnoffs in the region resulting in a hazy, smoky day's ride.

Did 66kms today.

Saturday, May 17, 2014

Along the Sapphire Coast - Eden to Merimbula

We set off at 7.45am with trepidation. We had been warned that the route entailed climbing Little Bellbird Hill, then, soon after, B-I-G Bellbird Hill.

On the strength of that info, we decided to keep the day as easy as possible and head for Merimbula. It has a bike shop and Del wanted to get his front brake checked out.

We had to walk both hills but knocked them off quickly, arriving in Merimbula at 11.00am. No technician at the bike shop, though.

Bellbird calls have been the predominant bird song through Victoria and so far in NSW. They become agitated as we pass by and their warning calls follow us for kms.

Merimbula is an attractive town with cafes galore, every kind of shop and a beautiful salt lake dotted with oyster farms.

We had a relaxing afternoon visiting the impressive Sapphire and Imlay Bowls Club and enjoying delicious coffee and muffins overlooking the lake.
Only did 25kms today!

PS. Have been tracked down by NZ National Radio for an interview on Monday 19th at 2.10pm NZ time!

Friday, May 16, 2014

Taking it Easy. Rest day in Eden

We were unconscious as soon as our heads hit the pillow last night.

Today we explored Eden, the small town on the hill. Our legs felt quite leaden.

Eden has beautiful sea views and an old, historical port. It has a rich history of whaling and today whale watching is a major attraction. We visited its Whaling Museum and learned some absorbing stories of the town's rich whaling history.

The weather continues to be unseasonably warm and we managed to do a big wash and get the tent dry.
Had a great rest and ready to attack more hills tomorrow.

Thursday, May 15, 2014

Over the Border! Genoa to Eden

A cold start in the tent and heavy dew this morning. Woke to find another puncture in my back tyre - due to a faulty valve this time. Del fixed it but our planned early start was delayed.

Beautiful fine weather all day. Crossed the border from Victoria to New South Wales following state forests and crossing many creeks and rivers along the way.

Arrived at Eden, (which is on a hill!) at 3.30pm, tired and weary having walked for kms.

We decided to take a budget motel unit for 2 days to rest and recover as there are still many days of hills ahead. We did 61kms today.


Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Bare Necessities! Cann River to Genoa

As expected, we had a hilly start and cycled or walked for 25kms through several national parks. With glorious sunshine and no wind, the forests were eerily quiet and still.

For the last 20+kms to Genoa we had lovely downhills, which made up for all the walking.

Genoa was once a busy village, but now is derelict except for a run down hotel. It's the last village before we cross the border into New South Wales.

No other choice than to free camp in the local recreation reserve. Tonight it's emergency rations and cold water.
Did 48kms today.

Tuesday, May 13, 2014

A Challenging Day. Orbost to Cann River

We left Orbost at 7.15am with a thick mist hanging over the Snowy River valley. We were instantly into hills that continued all the way - some steep and most seemingly never ending. We must have walked 10kms or more.

The Princes Highway snaked through National Forests for most of the way. They seemed very quiet with no obvious bird life.

Big trucks and non existent shoulders kept us on our toes.

We arrived at Cann River tired and hungry and 8hrs after setting out. Tomorrow we can expect more of the same! We did 74kms today.

Monday, May 12, 2014

The first puncture! Lakes Entrance to Orbost

We set off at 7.40am on a sunny, windless day. Hit hills immediately and then had a roller coaster ride of hills through numerous state forests.
Around 15kms from Orbost, my bike felt sluggish. Del checked it for punctures. Sure enough, my back tyre was flat. Del set to and quickly replaced the tube. The rest of the run to Orbost was flat and easy.
Orbost is a small, sleepy town on the legendary Snowy River.

Today's hills mark the beginning of our traverse of The Great Dividing Range.
Tomorrow will be a big day. Early bed and energy foods are definitely on the cards.

Did 58kms today.

Sunday, May 11, 2014

Mothers' Day. Rest day in Lakes Entrance

The sun is shining and Lakes Entrance looked glorious this morning. A rest day was quickly decided.
Had a lovely lazy day. Walked the length of the Esplanade then over the footbridge to the spit and the surf beach beyond.

Tonight a special treat for Mothers' Day - dinner at the Lakes Entrance Bowls Club next door.
Tomorrow we're on our way again.

Happy Mothers' Day to Kim and Julie, and to all you Mums out there!

Hire boats - Lake Entrance
Preening pelicans - Lakes Entrance

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Soaked! Bairnsdale to Lakes Entrance

Warm and overcast this morning. Planned a short ride today hoping to arrive at Lakes Entrance well before lunch for a good "look see". As we set off the rain began. By the time we'd reached our destination we were cold and soaked through.

Staying in a budget cabin at Woodbine Caravan Park to dry out.

Lakes Entrance is a pretty fishing town popular with tourists in the summer. Commercial fishing boats are moored along the Esplanade and there are several impressive carvings chainsawed out of large logs by sculptor John Brady.

Tomorrow marks 4 weeks since we set out from Adelaide and the start of our journey north towards Sydney.
Did 35kms today.

WW1 soldier, chainsaw carving - Lakes Entrance
Pioneer family, chainsaw carving - Lakes Entrance

Friday, May 9, 2014

Brrrrrr! Stratford to Bairnsdale

Woke to a decent frost this morning. First of the season apparently - lucky us! Had to wait until the tent fly had defrosted before we could pack so had a delayed start.

Very heavy traffic along the Princes Highway. Cyclists need nerves of steel!

Visited Bairnsdale's main attraction, a lovely ornately painted church, St Mary's.

No accommodation in town due to a big Field Day being held locally so we'll tent again tonight.

Did 51kms today.

St. Mary's Catholic Church, Bairnsdale

Thursday, May 8, 2014

Sunshine at last! Traralgon to Stratford

What a difference a sunny day can make!

We had a great ride along the Princes Highway from Traralgon to Sale and arrived so early that we decided to push on to Stratford on Avon. Yes! There's another one - and it has the most amazing bakery! We munched through a 'Paris Brest' - a sumptuous creation made of choux pastry filled with custard and cream and topped with vanilla icing.

Tonight we're tenting at the Stratford Caravan Park on a site overlooking the Avon River. Too cold for mozzies thank heaven!

Did 78kms today.

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Autumn colours - Winter chills! Leongatha to Traralgon

Rode and walked 47kms of hills by lunchtime today! Evidence of major forest fires along the way - and an obvious fire on the hills throwing up billows of brown smoke into the sky.

Had to ride on a very poor and sometimes non-existent shoulder, which meant slower speeds as we also had to contend with busy traffic racing past.

Lovely autumn colours in Mirboo North and Traralgon, although with frozen fingers this morning, it certainly felt like winter. Temperatures have been around 14 degrees maximum and 8 degrees minimum.
A week of rain has added to wintery feel!

Did 72kms today.
Autumn leaves at Mirboo North

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

On the Road Again! Koo Wee Rup to Leongatha

Left our cosy cabin at 7.30am, waved off by the motelier in her dressing gown.

Shared the road with fleets of trucks and trailers carting sand. Very tense cycling at times.

Stopped for coffee at historic Loch and arrived in Leongatha in heavy rain. Took a very small cabin and shared it with a very big spider, all of us trying to keep warm.

Investigated the township and bought stores between showers, then back to the cabin to plan tomorrow - and go on a spider hunt!

Did 61kms today.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Chilling out! Rest day in Koo Wee Rup.

Rained last night and all morning. The sun emerged during the afternoon and we took in the sights of Koo Wee Rup. Didn't take long!

Koo Wee Rup was originally a swamp. Italian and Greek workers were brought over to dig and drain it. Koo Wee Rup means "little black fish".

Huge truck and trailer units roaring through this small town all day long to and from Lang Lang. We'll be seeing lots of them tomorrow as we're heading that way ourselves.

Heavy traffic in Koo Wee Rup

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Tumble in the Rain. Dromana to Koo Wee Rup.

Bi-passed Melbourne in cold, wet, windy conditions this morning. Not good for cycling. At an intersection out in the countryside, I accidentally clipped Del's trailer wheel and tumbled onto the road. Bruised knee and fingers and a sore right bicep. Luckily no following traffic.

Made our way to the nearest village, with the quaint name of Koo Wee Rup, to sit out the bad weather in a little motel. 58kms today.

Saturday, May 3, 2014

On to the Mornington Peninsula. Queenscliff to Dromana

Caught the 9.00am ferry and an hour later arrived at Sorrento on the Mornington Peninsula.

A faulty direction at the local 'i' centre had us climbing endless hills and finishing up at the Point Nepean National Park. Help from a local put us back on track - and back to Sorrento!

The ride along the coast to Dromana was a joy - a good, flat cycle lane and little wind. Cycled through Rosebud and Rye, attractive beach towns.

On arrival at the Dromana Caravan Park, the heavens opened. To our surprise they had no vacancy so we headed for the nearest motel.  Rain stopped cycle today! Only 36kms.

Just turned over 1000kms!

Friday, May 2, 2014

End of the GOR! Anglesea to Queenscliff

It took 2kms of walking in the cold and wet to get out of Anglesea this morning. Victoria is having its coldest May in decades!

Had a smooth cycle through Torquay (the end of the GOR) and Barwon Heads to Queenscliff.
Many thanks to the unknown woman who rushed out of a shop and presented us with a couple of bottles of water and encouraging words as we waited at traffic lights.

Arrived at Queenscliff with bikes, trailers and bodies covered in dirt splashes and grit from the wet road. Needed a good clean up and warm up so took another cabin for the night.

Catching the ferry to Sorrento tomorrow.  65kms today.

Here's how we are tracking so far:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Hugging the Coast. Apollo Bay to Anglesea

Got away at 8.30am. Weather overcast and chilly. B100 hugged the rugged coastline all the way. Hills and hollows kept us working hard, and walking occasionally.

Had morning tea at Kennett River cafe, together with bus loads of tourists enjoying the attention of friendly parrots and rosellas.

Had lunch at Lorne, a popular beach resort like Apollo Bay, then decided to push on to Anglesea.

Rain is forecast for tomorrow, so we've taken a cabin just in case. 73kms today.