The story of how I saved money, quit my job, sold my possessions,
and set off to endlessly travel by bike around the world.
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South Wales (NSW), Australia Cindie's Blog and Daily Journal.
Travel Writing, Travelogue
(February 10 - April 24, 2007)
||Jindabyne (970 meters) - Ngarigo Camping Area. We
were ready to leave Jindabyne but the weather was getting bad, a
thunderstorm was developing. We waited to see if it would clear
and it did, for a short amount of time. We decided to head out
towards Threadbo, there were a number of places to go if it started to
rain. The climbing began 2 km from town, the first climb was up to
a higher valley with ranches on both sides of the road. As we continued
to climb the thunderheads began to build, to the point where I was
looking for shelter along the way, just in case the storm hit and we had
to take cover. We eventually climbed up to the entrance station to
Kosciuszko Nation Park. Bike get in for free and camping in the
national park is free. At first we were going to camp at Threadbo
Diggings, it looked like a nice spot but we rode on the Ngarigo because
it was 4 km closer to Threadbo where we were going to go hiking.
We pulled into the campsite and pitched our tent just before the sky
opened up. Whew! everything is dry. It rained on and off the rest
of the afternoon and into the evening. I think the fire on the
other side of the mountain is probably out now. It seemed like it
rained most of the evening. If the weather is clear we will hike
up to Mount Kosciuszko tomorrow. ascend 590 descend 340
||Ngarigo Campground. (1300 meters) Well the weather made
our decision for us, it was raining at sunrise. It is now 2 in the
afternoon and it has been raining all morning with no sighs of letting
up. This is the first time we have been caught in the tent in rain
in a very long time. Time to pull out the books and read. At least
the tent does not leak. I am beginning to get claustrophobic, Tim
I love ya, but you are taking up more than half the tent. :) It is
suppose to clear tomorrow. The wildflowers should be good after
all this rain. Just when the rain let up a little our neighbors
Zol and Leila came over and gave us two bananas and a chocolate bar to
eat, yeah that was nice.
||Ngarigo Campground. The rain finally stopped falling
about 11 in the morning. We decided to take a stroll at the
Threadbo Diggings campground about 4 km away. We were both feeling
pretty stiff from being copped up in the tent for nearly two days. I
strained my right knee on our ride into Jindabyne a couple of days ago
and the damp air and lack of movement has made it sore. This is
the first cycling related injury I have had since we have been on this
trip. It really is my own fault, I was trying to push a bigger gear and
now I know that was not a smart thing to do.
||Ngarigo Campground. It was a clear morning and we want
to hike to Australia's highest point, Mount Kosciusko at 2228 m (7,308
feet). Since my knee was still bothering me a bit I suggested that
we take the lift up, and we did. The summit was about an hour and
half hike from the top of the lift. The wild flowers were out
maybe not to the glory of previous years but still a nice display of
alpine flowers. We even saw a little mouse, he was too cute to be
a rat, under the boardwalk. The lift in Threadbo is 11.25 km from
the campground, the closest place to camp from Threadbo. After our
hike we tried to find some internet, it was pretty dismal, there were
kiosks in a few places for $10 Au ($7.77 US) an hour, It still amazes me
how much internet costs in this country. Then we got a real
shocker, we could connect our computer for $16 Au ($12.32) an hour, oh
and it was dial up speed. We passed, it would have blown our
budget for the day, the lift was enough for the day.
||Ngarigo Campground - Geehi Campground via Threadbo.
We stopped in Threadbo for a few more supplies, from there it was a
steady 4 or so km climb to Dead Horse Gap 1584 m (5180 feet), not the
last of our climbing put pretty close. There was a lot of evidence
of Brumbies, wild horses, but sadly we did not see any. Then we
took the plunge down towards Leather barrel campground. It was a
good thing too, the thunderheads were building fast and we wanted to get
away from the rain. We rode through some of the fire area, it
smelled like eucalyptus oil and was already rejuvenating. We kept
riding down and down, it was so steep that we had to stop and cool the
brakes. I am really glad we were not riding the other way.
At the bottom just as the sky was about to open up and rain, we turned
into Tom Goggin campground. Before we reached the picnic table we
heard a helicopter of all things and then boom, it was flying over the
tree tops. Seconds later a park ranger came in and said that there
was a fire not too far away. She asked us where we were going, not
to panic, and watch for the fire trucks on the road. I would
really be bummed if they hauled us out of here by truck. We waited for
the thunderstorm with tones of lightning to pass. Tom Goggin
Campground looked like a nice place to camp but we wanted to push on to
Geehi. We had a bit more climbing to do before Geehi and it took
us a while to get there. As we were flying down the hill to Geehi
we rode through gravel from a flash flood and the road was very wet.
I guess we waited the right amount of time because we came in after the
huge downpour. Geehi is a great campground, eastern grey kangaroos
out in the open field, a beautiful stream with trout. So
many trout they were jumping everywhere. There had to be a
platypus in this stream and sure enough there was. I had my camera
man at my side, that Tim, and we set off to film this elusive creature.
We did get some footage, hopefully it is better than the footage we got
in Tasmania, none of that was useable. Ah the end of a very fine
day. ascend 1050 meters descend 1755 meters
||Geehi Campground. My knee is still a bit sore so
we took a day off and watched wildlife all morning. The trout are
amazing they are jumping completely out of the water, what a sight.
We planned to film the platypus again and spent the evening following
him/her up and down the stream. It almost seemed he/she knew we were
filming, it would disappear underwater and then come up right in front
of us. Hopefully some platypus footage shows up in a future video
Tim makes. The Tasmania video is just about done and should roll
|Feb 16 - 17
||Geehi Campground 400 m - Khancoban Caravan Park 300 m.
It was a steamy morning for riding, we had two climbs the first one to
800 m and the second and larger climb to over 1000 m. We passed by
the Murray River Power station, we took a look at the Snowy hydro project
that was built in the 1960's. Just an amazing project that moved
water from the Snowy River over to the Murray river, believe me it is
more complicated than that. It was developed to sustain the area
during a drought. We decided to stay an extra day in Khancoban, we
needed to do laundry and buy supplies for the next couple of days.
865 meters descend 990 meters
||Khancoban 300 m - Clover Flat Campground 1100 m. We
climbed and climbed today. It was hot and the thunderheads were building
again. We were worried that there would not be any water at the
campground because all the creeks were dry. When we arrived at the
Clover Flat Campground the road was closed because a tree had fallen
across it. We just went around and set up our tent. Ah sometimes
it is nice to be on a bike. We had a light
rain in the afternoon and yes the creek had water. Yeah.
||Clover Flat Campground 1100 m - Bradley Hut 1500 m It rained
for a couple of hours in the morning so we got off to a late start.
The next campground at Ogilvie's Creek is 14 km from Clover Flat and looked
like a nice place to camp. Since there were fires in the park there
isn't much shade there but still a nice spot with a nice running creek.
The Tooma and Tumut dam were at 1100 m. A good thing too and a hard rain for many hours in
the afternoon. no rats.
ascend 735 m descend 330 m
||Bradley Hut 1500 m - Three Mile Dam Campground 1400 m
Cabramurra, the only town with a grocery store on this section was at
about 1400 m. Lots of climbing and descending on this stretch.
I was talking to the guy in the store and he recommend that we take the
dirt road toward Mt. Selwyn, he said it was 5 km shorter and less
climbing than the paved road. So we took the detour, I knew it was
not going to be a tough road when I saw a huge bus coming around the
corner. This is where the cross country ski huts are, the dirt
road was 9 km long and the rest was sealed. We took a left at the
T and camped at 3 mile dam campsite. A beautiful place to camp. Light rain in the afternoon.
680 m descend
||Three Mile Dam Campground - Adaminaby 1000 m. It
was a pleasant ride to Kiandra a former gold mining boom town. We were
now on the Snowy Mountain Highway. The terrain was rolling and
traffic light. Near Adaminaby the national park changed to
farmland it was the first green hills we had seen in a long time. The
drought has made everything so brown. All the catchments were full
and we could hear the frogs singing in low baritone. They would
stop when we were next to the pond and start again when we left. Sadly,
we have also begun to see more and more dead animals on the road, and
the smell is god awful. Oh my poor stomach. We arrived in
Adaminaby in time for a second lunch and a hard rain. When the
rain took a break we headed for the caravan park to camp. The
Alpine Tourist park cost $18 ($us14) we set up our tent before the
second wave a rain came. It is good to see it rain and everything
turn green, it just slows us down a bit. Lars and Jan run the
caravan park, it was a comfortable place to stay Tell Lars Tim and Cindie said
725 m descend
||Adaminaby. We took the day off to do laundry and buy more supplies
for our last leg into Canberra. We were glad there was a nice rec
room here because it rained hard for at least two hours today. How
are we going to get to Canberra with all this rain.
||Adaminaby - Bradshaw Hut. The weather forecast
was for rain in the afternoon so we planned to stop at the Mt. Clear
Campground 36 km from Adaminaby. Canberra is 106 km from Adaminaby
via Shannon Flat and Naas and Tharwa. 40 km of that is dirt.
10 km from Adaminaby we left the pavement and started on dirt. We
rode past large ranches or stations. The area was green and it is
a welcome change from burned trees and dry brown hills. This area
has been getting rain over the past two weeks, the drought has broken
here, for the moment. The road undulated up and down with a few
steep hills and descents. 17 km from Adaminaby we turned left,
just follow the signs to Canberra. At the turn I was looking
around at the horses and great scenery and I was not paying attention to
where I was riding, I rode into a grid (cattle guard) at the wrong
angle, I couldn't clip out and before I knew it I was on the ground. I
couldn't move and Tim had to help me clip out of my other pedal, hmm I
am going to have to check those pedals. I came down on my right
side and most of the impact was on my right knee, the one I have been
nursing back to health. I dusted myself off and started riding before I
felt any pain. Then my knee started to feel tight and I looked
down and I had a huge knot on my knee, great. Tim suggested I put
my ace bandage on before it swelled any more and it was a huge help.
The sky started clouding up like it was monsoon season, we got to the
top of a rise and there it was in the middle of a field, a hut.
The Bradshaw Hut, it was a hundred years old and perfect. We dived in
the weather was cloudy the rest of the day with light rain on and off
for the rest of the day. Sunset at the hut was a delight, there
were small groups of kangaroos and there young babies all over the
place. What was missing was water. Tim took the bike and
rode to the Mt. Clear Campground, he said the creek was low and it had a
layer of algae on it, so Tim collected water from the rain tank instead.
The campground was 3.5 km away and 150 m lower, so Tim was gone for
quite a while. He said the campground is 1 km from the road.
||Bradshaw Hut to Nanagi National Park Orroral
Campground. The last big climb was today, just over 3 km from the hut
the climb started and continued for 6 km, the first 2 km was the
steepest and the top of the climb was about 1400 m. Then it was
long descents and short climbs until the pavement. We were on
pavement 17.5 km from the hut. We took a short break at a lookout and
that is when the rain came in with a roar and we had no where to take
cover. We try not to get caught out like this but it can not
always be avoided. We waited for the rain to stop and the road to dry
before we rode on. I am not sure why but the drivers on this road
are unbelievably rude, we are riding on a gravel road and they fly past
us at high speeds throwing gravel at us, ouch, I was stung on the leg
once. Is it so hard to slow down? Well we had other things to
worry about, another storm was coming in and fast. We were going
down hill as fast as we could and whoa a lyrebird (the one with the huge
feathers, kinda looks like peacock) ran by. We continued on even
though Tim wanted to go back and find him, it was certainly male it has
the cool feathers. We rode on and the storm was chasing us, I
wanted to ride faster, Tim had to keep reminding me that I could not out
run a storm. We took a left on Orroral River Rd and rode three km up
hill, ugh, in the stormy weather to reach the campground. We arrived
just in time for the rain to start.
||Orroral Campground - Richardson (suburb of Canberra).
It rained all night and the tent was really wet but we had to get
moving, we were meeting Randy Miller in Tharwa at 11 pm. (no relation to
Jon Miller, but they do know each other from the Melbourne Bicycle
Touring Club, it is a small world). We arrived in Tharwa and Randy
was there with Rhianne his 2 year old daughter. After hanging out
for lunch from the general store we headed into Canberra. The
bridge was out at Tharwa so we had to go around, I am not sure how long
the detour was but it was paved. We jumped on the bike path system
right away and then I was lost. The bike path is separate from the
streets, nice but difficult to find your way around. There wasn't
a sign anywhere either, lucky for us we had Randy leading the way.
We arrived Sunday afternoon and had a barbeque with some of Randy and
Jodie's friends. Whoa, it was a bit of a culture shock going from the
national forest to socializing, we easily made the leap. After a night
of good food and drink it was time to sleep. We had not slept in a
bed since Melbourne, oh a month or so. Although I have gotten use
to sleeping on the ground it was heaven to sleep in a bed.
|| 45 km
|Feb 26 - March 4
||Canberra. We spent a week at the Miller Family's
home and had a grand time. We did see some of the sights in
Canberra. We also did an interview with Gabriel with the Bike
Tourist Podcast, here is our interview
MP3 Audio: Bike Tourist PodCast Interview (54 minutes)
We went to the new Parliament building and watched a
question session. It was fascinating to watch, question session is when
the Opposition party gets to ask questions of the majority party in this
case it was the Liberal Party. John Howard and his ministers in one row
and Kevin Rudd, the leader of the Opposition party Labor party and his
colleagues on the other side of the table. They threw questions
back and forth like did you met with so and so and discuss the location
of future nuclear power plants? Who is going to control the water in the
Darlington/Murray basin? ect. Ah democracy in action I love it!
It was the highlight of Canberra for me. It is funny I never use
to give a hoot about government but ever since I have traveled in
communist countries I really value that ability for two sides to debate
an issue openly. The USA has it's style of democracy and I find
the Australian style of democracy very interesting. It took from
the British Westminster system and the USA system so it has a house of
representative and a senate but it does not have a president. The
elected party chooses the Prime Minister who is currently John Howard.
The other important position of power is the Attorney General (I know I
do not have this name right) but I think he sacked the Prime Minister in
the 1970s if anyone knows that story please fill me in. I would
like to round out the brief description I have here. The other
thing that impressed me about Canberra was it's design, I liked it.
It has about 5 city centers with shopping and the suburbs are built
around that connected by highways and bike paths. I never really
felt like I was in a big city. We also had an opportunity to go to the
National Museum, it was free and so was the tour of Parliament.
The museum had all kinds of interesting facts, we wandered around for 5
hours or so. Finally, it was a treat to spend the week with Randy,
Jodie, Rhianne (3) and Emma 9 months. It has been a while since we
have been around such little ones, it was fun to watch how much they
grew in a week, things happen fast. Randy is a history buff and we
watched a couple good movies on the Lewis and Clarke expedition and the
Alamo. Two exciting times in US history. The week went by so
fast, before we knew it we were loading our bikes and getting ready to
get back on the road.
||Richardson - Lake George Rest area. It was a
record today for me. A record number of flats, 2 flats about 20 km
apart. We were riding through glass often and I thought for sure
that was it but no a huge staple ran through my tire all the way down to
the rim and the second time a screw punctured the side wall.
Ugh!!! welcome home to the road. Tim and I have the tire change
thing down so it was not the time just the delay. We scooted
through Canberra and headed for the Federal Highway that goes towards
Goulburn, we didn't think we would get all the way there. We never
plan a big day when we leave a city and a good thing too between the
flat tires, headwind and stormy weather we pretty much barely got a full
day of riding in. In hind sight we could have taken a more
pleasant way towards Goulburn but we took the direct way on the Monaco
highway to the federal highway at 31 km from Richardson. The
Federal highway has a huge bike lane so there is plenty of room although
the noise of cars whizzing by got to me by the end of the day.
|| 55 km
||Lake George Rest area - Gouldburn. the next rest area
with water is 12 km towards Gouldburn. We got off the highway at
Collector a cute little town and rode north through farming country.
Even though the pastures are getting green the cattle was out on the
road eating the extra long grass along the road way. some of the cattle
looked like they were about to die of starvation, we could see their
ribs and hips. Hopefully they get healthier with the change in weather.
We rode past many herds of cattle and at one point we were chasing a
herd down the road. Honestly they would not stop and let us pass.
We got to Breadalbane and decided to get back on the Hume Highway and
get into Gouldburn. When we got into Gouldburn we stayed with
David and Linda and there son Nicholas (7 months). David was
really helpful with maps for Australia. Thanks David. Oh and it
rained when we were eating dinner. I think the drought is over or
at least it is raining everywhere we go. another thought, I think
Australia is in the mist of a baby boon.
the ride - we followed the
highway to Collector and took a break. We decide to get off the highway
and ride north to Breadalbane. In hindsight we should have taken
the roads up the eastern side of the federal highway because we added
extra kilometers and those kilometers were into the wind. ugh.
|March 7 - 11
||Gouldburn - Moss Vale.
We had plans to stay with Scotty and Kate in Moss Vale. We had met them in Honduras 4 years ago,
my how time flies. We weren't sure if they were at home or not, I
had sent them an email and sent a message on their phone but I only gave
them a day notice. We were in luck, they were home. On our
way into Moss Vale we were stopped by a women running across the street,
we pretty much ignored her until she yelled our names, we about ran her
over, turned out that it was Kate's mom. Then her Dad came over
and introduced himself, nice folks. We easily found Scotty and
Kate's house. Those two had not changed much except Scotty had
shaved his beard. We got to tour the area with them and went on a
nice hike in Morton National Park. Kate worked on revegetation projects
in the area so she knew most of the plants we were looking at. It
was great knowing what plants we were looking at. Time flew and
before we knew it the weekend was over. Before we left they gave
us a phone they were not using. Cool, we haven't had a phone in 5
years, we really didn't need one in foreign countries but now that we
were in Australia a phone would come in handy, little did I know that
using it would be costly at 60 cent/ minute. whoa you could spend
some money pretty quickly just yaking on the phone. Monday morning
I picked up a prepaid SIM card and decided to use the phone only for
The ride - we rode the Hume Highway again for 33 km to Marulan on to
Highway 16 towards Moss Vale the road was heaven, quiet, rural and
green. We rode through small towns including Wingello, Penrose,
Bundanoon and Exeter and on into Moss Vale. The ride was rolling
|March 12 - 13
||Moss Vale - Shoalhaven Heads. We turned towards
the coast and rode through Kangaroo
Valley, what a pretty spot and very green. I assumed that Kangaroo
Valley was actually a graben (a valley with faults on both sides.
This meant we rode down into the valley and up the other side over Barry
Mountain. We were heading to Shoalhaven Heads where Jennifer
lived. We met Jennifer with two of her friends, Denise and Fiona
in the middle of nowhere in Laos over a year earlier. Jennifer
followed our web page so when we were in the area she invited us in.
We stayed with Rob and Jennifer for two nights, during that time, with
the help of Rob we did a radio interview with ABC (Australian
Broadcasting Corporation) and an interview with Nowra newspaper.
Rob is a DJ with Triple U and he had all kinds of contacts with the
media, he would make a great press agent. Jennifer and I did a
walk in the evening to go bird watching. She was getting ready for a six
day kayak trip on the central coast of NSW. Awesome. She
said we could use the kayaks to check out the river but we were so busy
we never got the chance.
MP3 Audio: ABC Radio, Interview 10 minutes 19 min
||Shoalhaven Heads - Wollongong. We were off in the
morning but not before we did another interview. We had plans to
stop in Kiama and visit Fiona for lunch. On the way we came across
a road construction crew and we said hello as we went around the guy
holding the stop sign. He said, "Hey I heard you on the radio
yesterday, I recognize your accent". It was a strange feeling to
be recognized like that. It was good to see Fiona, she had quite
the spread for lunch. It was heavy traffic so not very pleasant.
Wollongong was a nice city, it seemed to be filled with triathletes.
We even saw a swimming pool built next to the ocean where the waves came
in, filled the pool and then drained slowly. very interesting.
The ride - The terrain was flat with a few good climbs, traffic was heavy
but there was a decent bike lane on the highway, it was just noisy.
We tried to find the bike path but it was hard to find. If you can
find it it is a more pleasant way to go.
||Wollongong - Waterfall (train into Sydney). Road
down the bike path to Thira and landed in a residential area that was
hard to find our way out. We continued on towards the Royal National Park.
We met a couple of French cyclists who happen to stay at David's house
in Malaysia about a week before we did. They were ending their
trip in Sydney and had been cycling for at least two years. We
could tell they were sad about going back home. I called Catherine
from the summit before the Royal National Park, nice to have a phone,
that is when I realized we did not have enough time to ride all the way
through the National Park so we rode to the Waterfall
train station to get into town to meet Catherine and Malcolm.
Catherine had been following our web site since Mexico, yes Mexico, and
she invited us to stay with her and Malcolm when we arrived in Sydney.
They had a great flat in the Redfern district, I felt like I was staying
in downtown New York.
The ride - rolling to very hilly traffic was
heavy and the road narrow until we reached the Royal National Park then
traffic was next to nothing. Nice park but the climbs are long.
|March 16 - 26
||Sydney. We arrived in Sydney on a Thursday evening
and were off to the New Zealand Consulate on Friday. We want a Visitor
Visa for 9 months so we had to apply for a visa. Normally we could
fly in for 3 months without having to get a Visa. Because we had
been to many countries on their list of countries with a high risk of
tuberculosis we had to get chest x-rays again, they would not take our
Australian Visa X-rays we had taken 1 year earlier. We also were
in Sydney for the 75th Anniversary of the Harbor Bridge. We tried
to sign up for the walk but registration was closed by the time I got to
the web site. We decided to go anyway. We went early in the
morning and had no problem walking across the bridge. It was great
fun and quite an emotional experience for the Australians around us.
While in Sydney I had to work on our taxes, boy that just zaps the fun
out of life I tell ya. We had an opportunity to visit the Sydney
Aquarium, Kate gave us a buy one ticket get one free. Catherine and
Malcolm do not have a TV but they do have a huge library of books and
CDs, it was a real pleasure to look around their stacks of books and
read a little here and there. One of the things I miss the most
while on the road is reading, I can carry only so many books, mostly one
at a time. Catherine and Malcolm are great cooks and it was good
to get out of the routine of our one pot meals. Just before we
left we did an interview with John with the Columbia News Service. The time flew by
while in the city, there was just so much to do there. Before we
knew it we were loading up our bikes and jumping a train out of town.
It will take a life time to repay all the hospitality we have received
in Australia. It warms my heart to receive the hospitality we have
received. I try and make a point to spread the kindness around
when I can.
||Sydney - Bateau Bay. We took a few pictures around
town and the jumped on a country train at Central Station. We decided to
take the train all the way to Gosford, the same as Ian Duckworth's,
Cycling Australia. It was already late, just past 3:00 when we
arrived in Gosford by train. The ride through the National Park
was lovely and a part of me wished we had ridden through rather than
take the train. We did want to get a move on north so that is what we
gave up. Gosford seemed like a small town but it had heaps of
traffic on the road. By the time the day was over I felt like I
rode 50 km and not the 25 we did.
The ride - From the train station,
we rode down the Pacific Highway towards Dane Dr. We were riding
out on the Entrance Highway but traffic was bumper to bumper so we got
off that road We turned off onto Ash st. (I think) and up
over the hill to Wells Street, crossed the highway on to
Barralong/Terrigal Rd. At least this route has a bike lane. Then
rode that to the end and turned left on to Ocean View Dr. and back to
the Entrance Highway. The second time the road was wider. We
made it to a caravan park in Bateau Bay.
||Bateau Bay - Stockton. We were trying to get to
Nelson Bay today but the headwind slowed us down. Seems that in these
parts you either have a headwind or a tailwind nothing in between.
Traffic was still heavy all the way to New Castle. We took the
ferry over to Stockton for $2.10 Au each. That is where we met Michael at the ferry
he was getting on and we were getting off. We asked where the
caravan park was and he said "You can
stay at my house I take in strays all the time. I guess we are a couple
of strays. We had dinner with Michael and had a great
||Stockton - Hawks Neck. We left Michael's house
early and had all day to get to Nelson Bay and then the ferry over to
Tea Gardens. We stopped at the Fighter Jet Museum but we were too
early plus it cost ($7 Au) US$5.60 to go inside, out of our budget.
We arrived in Nelson Bay around noon and had to wait until the 3:30 pm
for the ferry to Tea Gardens. The cost $10 Au for each of us and
$5 Au each for the bikes. The ride took an hour. Port
Stephens (the bay we crossed) is famous for the many dolphins that call
the area home. We expected to see them in our crossing and were
disappointed when we entered the mouth of the river and still had not
seen any. Not 10 minutes into the river we spotted some dolphins
and the ferry driver actually turned around to follow them, now that is
a first. We never met up with the pair but farther down the river
we had 6 dolphins swimming with the boat. Since the ferry wasn't
full there was plenty of room for everyone to get a good look at the
dolphins. One dolphin rolled on its side and waved a flipper at
us. Really. We then docked at Tea Gardens and rode over to Hawks
Neck Caravan Park to stay the night.
We had plans to meet Bridget a freelance photographer living in
Melbourne who wanted to take photos of us for a New York Times travel
section article called "Why they Travel". When she first contacted
us by email I read the email in disbelief, ya right us in the New York
Times, a little hard to believe. Well we continued to correspond
and planned to meet north of Sydney. Turns out that we were
recommended to her by Jon in Melbourne, the president of the Melbourne
Bicycle Touring Club. By the way, thanks Jon for doing that.
Bridget arrived just before dark and camped with us.
The ride - flat except for a few small hills near Nelson Bay. We
followed the Lonely Planets route, out of Stockton then the highway to
Nelson Bay and for brief reprieve from the traffic onto Fuller Cove Rd
that came out near Williamtown. We thought the traffic would die
down through here but it didn't.
||Hawks Neck - Seal Rock. We began the day with our
daily routine of drinking coffee and there was Bridget, taking photos,
yikes I hadn't combed my hair yet! I thought she was going to take
a few pictures of us riding instead she started taking pictures of what
we do like packing the bags and taking down the tent. We were on
the edge of Myrall National Park so we took the opportunity to get some
photos along the beach. We decided to take the dirt track, it
didn't look all that bad. Bridget took some pictures of us as we
went around some large puddles. We planned to meet on the other
side in about two hours. We started up the track and the beginning
wasn't that bad but it turned to a rocky road within the first
kilometer. We had a number of large puddle crossings and on the
second one Tim's front brake cable broke, great. I expected to
ride through some sandy patches but we never did. We bounced along
over the rocks and after 8 km the track smoothed out and we were
cruising at 20 km an hour on dirt. It took us about 2 hours and 15
minutes to meet Bridge with the first 5 km taking an hour. We met
Bridget and turned west onto road that went down to Seal Rocks.
The caravan park there cost $30 Au $24 US to camp for the night. What a
great secluded place. The only draw back was the steep hill going
The ride - the first 20 km or so are paved and flat, it was nice
to have a tailwind through this section. We were now at an intersection
of a dirt 4WD road that is 19 km long or the paved to Bulahdelah and it
was 53 km to the same spot and with some hills. We took the dirt
track. The first 8 km were a bit rough over a rocky path and at
least 15 large puddle crossings at the road it was 5.5 km to Seal rock,
2.5 were dirt and one steep hill on the pavement to go down.
||Seal Rock - Forester. We enjoyed a breakfast
while watching the Kookaburras and Australian turkeys. Oh we had a
steep hill to climb and it woke me up for sure. The 2.5 km dirt
section went fast. We made it out to the Lakes Way in less than an
hour. It was a short day, we wanted to take a few more photos with
Bridget. We ended up in Forester pretty early and took a few more
photos up along the beach. We were in luck, we saw dolphins
swimming close to shore, awesome.
The ride - rolling hills until after
Tarbuck Bay then flat, nice with a tailwind. The road narrow and
the drivers not so nice. We had a cement truck try to run us off
the road. What is it with these obnoxious drivers. We had another
encounter with a driver in Forester, I was riding in the bike lane and
stood up to stretch my legs, the car next to me started honking the horn
and yelling at me from the drivers side. Why I am not sure.
Aggressive drivers seem to be the daily occurrence lately.
|April 1 -2
||Forester. a couple of down days. We are
frantically trying to catch up with the web page and continue to work on
those dreaded taxes.
|April 3 - 9
||Forester - Diamond Head campground, Crowdy Bay National
Park. This has been one of the flattest riding days we have had in
a long time. The last 18 km was dirt but the road wasn't too bad
on a bike. We landed at Diamond Head campground and were very
surprised to see how crowded it already was. Easter weekend was
coming up and everyone was trying to get in early. The next
morning we sat on a picnic table and tried to decide what to do.
Do we continue up the coast while traffic is heavy and the price of
Caravan parks are double or do we stay at Crowdy beach. It was the
view that convinced us that we should stay, the price was right too, $10
au (US$8) for the night. The coastline along this park is
stunning, the wildlife is abundant as well, grey kangaroos graze near by
while goannas, a type of monitor lizard stroll past the tent and
dolphins swim close to shore and ride the surf. The first person we
met was Cathy the Park Ranger, she was an abundance of knowledge on the
local flora and fauna. She made this great poster about not feeding
the kangaroos and posted it in all the toilets. It was very effective
because I didn't see anyone feeding the kangaroos while we were there.
Cathy was camping out with some friends from Bathurst, Brian and Judith,
and they took a couple of wayward cyclists in. Over Easter weekend
it rained every day and we were constantly taking refuse under there
dinning area. If it wasn't for them we would have been stuck for
days in our tent in the supine position. I also had the
opportunity to do another radio interview with Kathy. This time I
went into the studio and wore headphones so I think the sound quality is
better too. It was a fun interview.
After we did the interview we went to the Koala hospital
in Port Macquarie. It was a lovely but sad place. I read a story
about a koala that was at the hospital at least twice and then in the
end he was hit by a car. Oh the whole story made me weepy and
wouldn't you know it. I didn't have my wallet at the time but if I did I
would have emptied it as a donation. Then Cathy came over and
introduces me to some one while I still had tears in my eyes. It
took me a little while to realize that I fully expected that little
koala story to have a happy ending and when it didn't I was just
devastated. I think I have watched to many movies.
||Diamond head - Port Macquarie. We managed to
avoid the short rain showers today and landed in a caravan park near
Flinders beach. We were happy that the inflated holiday prices
were once down again, we paid $22 Au for the night. We both needed
hot showers badly. Tim looked like a new person when he was done.
We had the pleasure of having a koala above our tent.
||Port Macquarie. It was a fine day but we decided
to stay the day and finish the dreaded taxes. I spent the morning
reviewing our forms and the afternoon sending them from the internet
cafe. Then it was back to the caravan park where we met a local
farming family. It was great fun talking with them, a few of the
questions from the kids were : Do Americans know anything about
the outside world? Do Americans care that they are the biggest polluters
in the world? well there were certainly interesting questions to answer.
Sometimes it is hard to explain to people what America is like. I
wish that Ranger Kathy was home, here house was right around the corner.
We saw two koalas this evening. It seems funny that the caravan park
allows dogs, when I was at the Koala hospital I saw a photo of what a
Koala looked like after a dog attack, not good.
||Port Macquarie - 10 km north of Crescent Head. It
took forever to get out of the caravan park, we talked with the family
all morning, I kept guiding Tim back to the packing. Well it
wasn't so bad we were not in a big rush.
We rode 7 km to Sentinel Point and caught the ferry across, it is free
for bikes. Then we headed north, left, towards Maria River road. That is
when we met Pete a cyclist from England and we decided to ride together.
Maria River Rd is dirt for about 25 km the first 10 km or so is well
graded and after that it was a bit bumpy but conditions always change,
the terrain was flat and the wind was from the south. We rode into
Crescent Head and picked up some supplies, then rode north. This
part of the road is sealed. Traffic was light and the pedaling
pleasant. We went to the beach at Hat Head National Park and then
camped after that.
||Camp - Macksville. The first half of the day was
on pleasant country roads and then we came to the Pacific Highway, the
only road through the area. We arrived in Macksville with plenty
of time to spare and stopped and got our email. We camped 3 km out
of town at Nerabucca (?) River Caravan Park. To our delight they
had a trampoline pillow. It is a huge trampoline and everyone had
to have a go on it. My legs soon tired after all our riding.
It was a pleasant place to camp, even with the sound of the Mack trucks
going by all night. We have slowly changed to a subtropical environment
and every morning we try to dry out the tent it seems that it has been
wet since we camped at Diamond head.
||Macksville - State Forest. We rode the Pacific Highway
and it was full
on traffic all the way to Coffs Harbor. It was narrow in places
and school holidays are in full swing. The road was slightly rolling to
flat so we cruised as fast as we could to Coffs Harbor. We stopped in
and watched an air show while we ate lunch. We met some seventh day
Adventist who shared their Saturday lunch with us. The were
vegetarians and introduced us to nutaline. A tofu type texture
paste made from peanuts. At Coffs Harbor we turned inland on West High
Street, the traffic lighten up and suddenly it was very tropical, we saw
banana and papaya plants, we had not seen these plants since Singapore.
Then we had to climb a good 100 meter hill. It was a long sweaty
hill at the end of the day. We camped in the state forest where we
saw all kinds of birds and I think a bandicoot.
||State Forest (near Karangi) - Grafton. A very hilly day, short steep
hills and short descents. I personally would rather climb all day
then go up and down and not gain any elevation, all that work and no
view. We arrived in Grafton on Sunday and Pete needed to fix the
wheels on his trailer. We rode 4 km out of town to the Big 4
Caravan Park, a fancy 5 star, it was the only place we could camp and we
all needed a shower. IT was $28 Au for the both of us.
||Grafton - Rest Area. We rode back into town to fixed the
wheels and internet. Grafton has a great bakery near the National
Bank, I bought some low GI bread with linseed, poppy seed, oats and
rolled together very tasty. The ride was rolling today with a lot more flat
sections. We stopped at the Braemar Rest Area and ended up staying the
night. The rain came about 4:00 pm and stayed with us until after
sunset. This rain keeps following us around, maybe we should ride
to the drought stricken areas and bring them some rain.
|April 17 - 21
||Rest Area - Nimbin. The ride into Casino was fast
and mostly flat. After Casino we took the road to Bentley for 13 km.
It was rolling with a few good hills especially the hill 4 km from the
junction with the Lismore - Kyogle rd. This road is busy and has
some lung busting hills, the first hill you come to is a warm up for the
steep maybe 500 m long hill that comes next. Sometimes it is
tempting to stop and get off the bike when the road is that steep but
don't do it, you will never push your bike up a hill. Just keep
repeating to yourself, I can do it. We rode for 10 km on this road and
then turned left on the rock valley road, at the next junction turn
right and follow the signs to Nimbin. It was 25 km to Nimbin from
the junction. The road was windy sometimes narrow through lush
vegetation and farm land. Again the hills were short and steep,
one particularly long one 2 km from town. Then a fast short
downhill and a long 1 km moderate climb up to town. My legs were
spent when we arrived in the surreal town of Nimbin, the hippy capital
||Nimbin - Mullwillumbah. It was Sunday and the
road were a bit busy with Sunday drivers. The countryside was
dotted with dairy and cattle farms. The terrain was rolling with a
short climb out of town until we topped the edge of the Tweed Caldera
and then started our gradual descent towards Mount Warning the stock or
neck of the volcano. We stopped at a fruit stand that had
fantastic vegetables, fresh and reasonably priced too. The weather
was a bit stormy so we took cover in the park across the street from the
Mount Warning Hotel. There was only one caravan park in the
Mullwillumbah area and it was 2 km south of town, it wasn't too bad a
ride in the wrong direction, at least it was a flat ride.
||Mullwillumbah - Mudgeeraba. It rained at sunset
last night and we woke to a dense fog. We had a long day planned
so we needed to get moving. We were meeting Jerry who lived in
Mudgeeraba located near Spring brook National Park. We two ways we
could get there, the easy and the hard. This route is in the
Lonely Planet Cycling Guide under Border loop for Queensland. We
debated whether to stay near the coast where it was flatter or ride out
of the caldera down the backside of the slope and then back up and over
it again. We chose the harder route, we wanted the views. We
headed out of town towards Chillingham. As we rode into town the
vegetable stand had a sign that read: Chocolate covered Bananas
$2. I could not resist and talked Tim into stopping for a break.
We had a chocolate covered banana and I would recommend it to anyone
about to climb out of the caldera. It was nice we had a route
profile from Lonely Planet because we had two good climbs ahead.
The first climb started gradual and was rather steep at the top.
The hardest part of these climbs for me is making sure I don't overheat.
It isn't hot but it is very humid, this climb would be brutal on a hot
day. We reached the first pass around 1 pm and as I looked back
over the caldera I could see the waves of thunder clouds racing towards
us. ut oh I hate getting caught in the rain, I know I won't melt it is
the thunder and lightning I don't like. The short rain storm
passed, I texted Jerry where we were and we continued on. We took
a break for lunch and Jerry and his daughter Mikela came to meet us.
We still had the steepest climb to go. We continued heading north
and took our first right towards Spring brook National Park. The
sign said steep grades for the next 4.9 km. Whoa and it was steep,
towards the top I felt like I was lifting weights more than riding a
bike, it was all about balance and grinding up the hill. We topped
out at 500 meter, I thought we would climb to 600 meters so mentally I
was prepared to climb more but we didn't and I was quite relieved.
It was now getting late and we had to keep moving I sweated so much up
the hill I was drenched, Tim who usually sweats buckets anyway was
dripping too. We had to put on our jackets on the downhill. Oh and
what a blissful downhill. A nice gradual descent for over 10 km.
Lonely planet takes you in the opposite direction on this route and now
I see why, it is certainly easier to a gradual climb up over a longer
distance. We met Jerry near the beginning of our descent and he
took us to his house off Austinville road. Turns out that Jerry
and his family run a small campground on their property so we settled in
a bunkhouse instead of the tent. A nice change.
||Mudgeeraba. We were thrilled to be in such a
pleasant campground and we thought that the place was perfect to finish
our book about South America. Physically I want to keep on riding,
our endurance is good and we could ride and ride. However,
finishing the book is the priority at the moment. It isn't often
we find a quiet place to work. So that is what we have been doing for
over the last week or so. I would say it is more intense than
doing taxes. It takes a couple of days to get into the writing and
editing mode again. It is the last chapter that seems to take the
most time to write. The book is coming along nicely it just takes
time. In the mean time we have ridden to a lookout called Best of all
Lookout and it had a great view of Mount Warning and into the caldera.
It was also a 900 meter or 3000 foot climb, it wasn't too bad unloaded.
Our family is coming out at the end of May and will be landing in
Brisbane. That is the reason why we are not in a rush to keep
riding. It has been over 2 and a half years since we have seen
our family so I will be thrilled to see my sister and nephew and Tim's
sister and family as well. Tim has been working on a couple of new
movies and I think they are the best so far. He will be getting them out
in a newsletter soon. Yesterday we did an interview with a
reporter from the New York Times. A photo of us riding near
Forster will be featured in the travel section. Essentially it
will be a photo with a caption. Maybe a feature article is in the cards
for us in the future. So we continued to keep busy. During
our down time I am looking into changing the style of my blog, things
have changed on the net and I just haven't made the leap into web 2.0
yet. we will see what we come up with. I look forward to
getting some work done and concentrating on our photos and my journal
when we get back on the road again in mid June. As always emails
9-15-06 to 9-15-07
Tips & Advice
Tools and Spares
Pots and Pans
Preventing Flat Tires
Bike Touring Shorts
Have Learned On The Road
Injustice of Poverty
Much MORE Gear Here!
Cycle Touring Racks
Tents and ground