I’m in Sydney, NSW. I arrived here on 5th January, having cycled 3,400 miles since leaving Perth on 3rd December.
At the end of the last update, I was in Apollo Bay, a coastal town on the Great Ocean Road. From there I cycled east towards the outskirts of Melbourne. As I mentioned in my last update, there had been some wild fires in that region and they were still clearing up all the damage. As a result of this, a big detour was needed. That part of the Great Ocean Road has the sea on one side and big hills on the other. Since the coastal road was closed, it meant that a big climb (at Skenes Creek) was needed to get to the top of the hills. I then had to cycle 10 miles east (including a dirt road), before coming down another hill to rejoin the Great Ocean Road after the road closure. The climb was actually pretty fun: the road slowly winds up through the forest, with glimpses of the blue ocean whenever I was facing in the right direction.
As I approached Melbourne, I decided to go south of it, in order to avoid cycling through another city. (My previous experience of cycling into an Australian city (Adelaide) had not been very fun, with lots of busy roads with no shoulder and very little infrastructure for cyclists). I therefore headed for the town of Queenscliff which has a ferry service to bridge the gap between Queenscliff and Sorrento. I then followed the bay around before again heading east towards New South Wales. I don’t think there was much difference in distance, but it allowed me to ride around the bay (which is really pretty), rather than jostle for space on some very busy Melbourne roads.
Up until that point, the weather had mostly been very sunny (as you would expect for an Australian summer). Unfortunately, the good weather wasn’t to last. As I approached New South Wales, the sunshine turned to rain. It rained solidly for the final 5 days. Sometimes it was torrential. There was the occasional hour when it would let up, but other than that, it rained pretty much the whole time.
One night I was camping on a hill near the town of Moruya. I had found a spot where the hill levelled out for a few metres, which seemed like a good bit of ground to pitch the tent for the night. I put up the tent and went to sleep.
Shortly after midnight I woke up suddenly. Whereas I had gone to bed on a Thermarest, when I woke up I felt like I was sleeping on a water bed. I slowly realised that the torrential rain outside had been running down the steep hill and accumulating on the flat bit of land that I had chosen to camp on. The bottom of my tent is waterproof so at that point no water had breached the tent. But when I looked outside, it became clear that the water was pretty close to coming in, and as I looked around, the water finally came in through the tent door. Everything that wasn’t in my panniers got wet: sleeping bag, Thermarest, and all of the inside of the tent. Thankfully, my electronics were all bagged up, so they all survived.
At that point I had to do an emergency relocation of the tent. I moved it so that it was on the steep bit of the hill, with the door pointing downhill (which at least made it easy to get the water out). I got back into my soggy sleeping back and tried to get a bit more sleep.
The following day I packed up all of my damp kit and loaded it on the bike. Again, it rained all day, so it was very difficult to dry anything out. Even my towel was soaked, so I couldn’t use it to dry my kit.
That night I stayed at a Warm Showers host in the town of Gerroa, on the NSW coast. As it turned out, she had a few cycling guests staying there already, so it was quite a full house. Amongst the guests was a family who were cycling around that region to promote the book they had written. The book is about how the two of them went cycling around Australia for a year together with their dog and two children. It was really great to meet all the cyclists there and I was really thankful to be inside after being rained on for so long. I also managed to air some of my kit out to stop it going mouldy.
Warm Showers has been amazing on this trip. Although the site has an unfortunate name, it’s a great way of meeting up with other cyclists and sharing cycling stories. Earlier in the week I had stayed with a couple who live in the coastal town of Marlo, where one of them gives tours of the local area on fat bikes. Again, they were really interesting people with a passion for cycling. They also had a cycle courier staying, so I was able to quiz her about being a cycle courier in Melbourne.
On the final day of cycling I had to get between Gerroa and Sydney. It’s less than 90 miles, so should have been pretty manageable in a day. I also decided to follow the Google Maps cycling instructions: they sometimes highlight good cycle routes, which, although much slower than the main roads, would allow me to avoid some of the city traffic.
Sadly the route suggestions weren’t brilliant this time. When I was still 50 miles away from Sydney, the route took me to a mud track, which it instructed me to go up. That track was only 700 meters long according to the instructions, and it would take me up to a ridge at Sublime Point, before getting back on a major road again. As I was apparently so close to that major road, I figured it was worth giving it a shot. But I quickly found that the mud track had steps on it, so there was no chance of cycling up it. After about 50 meters, I met a group of people coming down from the ridge. One of them told me that there was a vertical ladder as part of the route! At this point I realised it was probably best to go a different route: I can get my bike up steps, but there was no way that I could have carried it up a ladder. I retraced my steps and got back onto a more reliable road. At this point I decided to come up with the route myself rather than blindly following instructions (I normally plan the route myself rather than following navigation instructions, but at that stage I just wanted to get to Sydney as quickly as I could).
I reached Sydney late on 5th Jan. In Sydney I stayed with a friend of my sister, who had very kindly offered to have me to stay whilst I was in the city. I did very little sightseeing in Sydney because the weather was so miserable and I just wanted to be dry for a while. The sun did come out as I was cycling to the airport, but it was a bit late to enjoy it at that stage.
I’m now at Sydney airport. From here I fly to New Zealand which will be the final part of my trip.
Here is the entire route that I took across Australia (3400 miles):