Sydney

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.

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The diversion to avoid the clear up after the wild fires
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Back along the Great Ocean Road after finishing the 50 mile diversion

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.

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On the ferry for the 3 mile crossing from Queenscliff to Sorrento. It allowed me to avoid cycling through another city (Melbourne).
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More pelicans
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A wombat (having a rest)

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.

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It rained for 5 days solid. So much for the Australian summer

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Sheltering from the rain again

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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.

 

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Water, water, everywhere

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.

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This was the spot I had been camping in (pictured the following morning, after the heavy rains)
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And this was the spot on the hill that I moved to in order to avoid the water
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Fixing a puncture (the only one I had in my whole time in Australia)

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.

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Trying to dry everything out at the place I was staying the night after the flood
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This family were staying at the same Warm Showers host as I was. They were travelling around Australia for 3 months by bike to promote their book (which is about their previous cycle adventures on a 14 month cycle tour)

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.

 

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Along the coast towards Sydney

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).

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This was the route that Google Maps recommended. I did try going along it for a bit, but met a group who told me that part of the track consisted of a vertical ladder. At that point I turned back.

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Cycling in the rain means that the break pads disintegrate very quickly. It also means you need to clean the wheel rims very often, as otherwise you have very little braking power. You can see the part I have cleaned on the left and the dirty part on the right.

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.

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Sydney Opera House
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Sydney Harbour Bridge

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):

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5 thoughts on “Sydney

  1. Hi Angus,

    It’s a shame you were diverted on the Great Ocean Road as it is a stunning ride. Yes NSW has had unseasonal rain and flooding, not a great experience for you as Sydney is a beautiful city down around Circular Key.

    I have just returned from a road trip in WA and met several touring cyclists, fortunately we had some wonderful weather and I was able to cover some stunning areas by bike.

    I hope you have better weather in NZ, my favourite country in the world!

    All the best, Mark

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  2. Hi Angus
    Glad to hear you arrived in Sydney safely, sounds like the “summer rain” was a bit testing going up the east coast, but Australia is very prone to fire and flooding rain, hot days of 40PLUS hope you still enjoyed the experience. It was lovely to meet up with you in Gippsland, and we wish you good times in N.Z. on your wonderful trip.
    kind regards
    Jac “n” Marg (Yarragon)

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  3. So great to hear you made it to Sydney for your flight despite google maps sending you on the scenic route. It was so lovely to meet you in Gerroa and Claire’s. All the best from us in Orbost, Meg, Patrick, Woody & Zero xx

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    1. Great to hear from you. It was really good to meet you all, albeit only briefly. I just read your latest post post. Totally agree about the Prince’s Highway being not much fun to ride on. There was very little room for bikes and sadly no real alternative. Also quite a few aggressive drivers. Glad that bit of the journey is finished.

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