Advice about Australia - CycleBlaze

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Advice about Australia

Jean-Marc Strydom

We're off to tour Australia for about four months from March 2024 and are hoping to glean some advice from the forum.

The current plan is to fly into Sydney, spend a few days with our nephew and then catch a train towards Canberra (or anywhere away from the big smoke) from where we will start cycling northwards to Cairns.  We need to include Brisbane in our plans so we can visit an old friend there but apart from that we would like to travel on back roads as much as possible.  Birding is probably going to be more important on this trip than it has on our more recent ones so we will hopefully detour into some National Parks as well.  We have no idea how we will return to Sydney (to catch our flight back to South Africa) from Cairns but I am guessing we might have to fly.

I have read a few journals that cover much of this area (Fred Spengler's on CGOAB and Vince McCarthy's on CycleBlaze have been most informative) but I am sure there are a few other folk who have two cents to add (Mike Ayeling and Graham Smith spring to mind immediately).

Thanking you all in advance.

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2 months ago
Graham SmithTo Jean-Marc Strydom

Jean-Marc I’m currently planning a Canberra -Brisbane tour next April so I also have been thinking about ‘heading north’ routes. I’ll go via an inland route for a few reasons.

One suggestion about trains. Sydney’s Cityrail network is bike friendly. NSW TrainLink system isn’t bike friendly. 

Hence, to exit Sydney, I suggest you catch a CityRail train to either Newcastle or The Hunter Valley (towns such as Singleton or Scone) and plan a route north from there. If you head towards Canberra, you’ll be heading away from Cairns.

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2 months ago
Mike AylingTo Jean-Marc Strydom

I am embarrassed to say that most of my touring has been in my home state of Victoria so I have little to contribute.

On the birding front the dawn call of a Kookaburra is quite pleasant but a flock of Sulphur Crested Cockatoos or Corellas can be extremely noisy!

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2 months ago
John SaxbyTo Jean-Marc Strydom

Thanks, Jean-Marc.  Hugely envious of you & Leigh.  Over the past ten years, I've enjoyed a lot of day rides in the Gold Coast and northern NSW.  Our son and his family live in the northern part of GC (Southport/Helensvale) and on our yearly visits to see them, I've taken a bike.  Unfortunately, we won't be there next March when you guys are in the neighbourhood -- price of flights has doubled since our last visit in March '22. :-(

But, I'll dig out my notes on different routes, and see what suggestions I can offer.  I should think that Graham will be able to give you a lot more info than I can offer on the what & how of the route(s) north from Sydney.  

In any event, enjoy your planning!

Cheers,  John

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2 months ago
Graham SmithTo Jean-Marc Strydom

Jean-Marc my ride plan is:

- Canberra to Brisbane via an inland route. Approximately three weeks and 1400 km. Aiming for an average of 70km per day. 

Main towns: 
Canberra-Gunning-Crookwell-Blayney-Orange-Wellington-Gulgong-Werris Creek-Tamworth-Barraba-Warialda-Inverell-Glen Innes-Tenterfield-Stanthorpe-Warwick-Toowoomba-Brisbane.

A few thoughts from previous tours.

1. Water supplies can be unpredictable and a long distance apart. Plan to be able to carry 10 litres+ if need be. 

2. I’ll carry a tent but will stay in country town pubs wherever I can. Camping is usually available but varies greatly. Vince’s journal is a great guide to camping.

3. Daily temperature ranges can be significant. Cool nights to very hot days. 20-25°C daily temp range isn’t unusual.

4. Excellent sun protection is essential. 

5. There are many excellent national parks. Tourist information centres in most major towns are a great source of information, maps and so on.

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2 months ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Graham Smith

Hi Graham, thanks for the feedback.

I had glossed over the information about regional trains in NSW, noting only that they accepted bicycles and missing the fact that bikes need to be boxed etc.  More research shows that various bicycle advocacy groups are putting pressure on the rail authorities to provide for roll-on bikes but that is unlikely to help us next year.

Our ideas change with the wind but the latest feeling is that, given that there seems to be a decent cycle path network,  we should cycle out of Sydney towards Dubbo and head northwards from there.  This means that your proposed "Canberra-Gunning-Crookwell-Blayney-Orange-Wellington-Gulgong-Werris Creek-Tamworth-Barraba-Warialda-Inverell-Glen Innes-Tenterfield-Stanthorpe-Warwick-Toowoomba-Brisbane" route is quite meaningful to us.  

To be honest, after the first couple of weeks, all bets on us sticking to a proposed route are usually off and we start looking at plans B to Z  but it is important for us to have a starting point.  Hopefully you won't be put out if we crib parts of your route.

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2 months ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Mike Ayling
Sulphur Crested Cockatoos or Corellas can be extremely noisy!

In the same league as Hadedahs half an hour before sunrise ?

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2 months ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo John Saxby

Hi John.  Air ticket prices are currently eye-watering.  Etihad had the cheapest flights but with long layovers in Abu Dhabi and arriving in Sydney the evening.  Qantas were next best - about a hundred USD more expensive but with shorter flights landing at midday which means we can (hopefully) cycle out of the airport.  It would have been great to meet up with you.  It seems as if we will miss Graham as well as he is heading north a month later.

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2 months ago
Graham SmithTo Jean-Marc Strydom

The Sydney  cycle-way network has been improved over recent years, and it can be accessed from the car park of the International Airport. I’ve only cycled the paths south of Sydney Harbour, so don’t know how easy they’d be to navigate out of the city to the north or west. Sydney sprawls to the west and south-west. 

The bike friendly CityRail train network reaches as far west as Bathurst, which is in the general direction of Dubbo. The beautiful Blue Mountains (say Katoomba) are easily reached by CityRail and would be another possible start point, though avoid cycling the Great Western Highway away from the Blue Mts. 

The Central West Cycle Trail (includes towns such as Dubbo, Gulgong, Mudgee etc) would be a good introduction to inland NSW.  It’s well documented. 

https://centralwestcycletrail.com.au/

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2 months ago
Jean-Marc StrydomTo Graham Smith

Thanks Graham, great info.

As an aside,  one of my birding buddies said I must try to get to Lamington National Park near Gold Coast.   Any thoughts ?

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2 months ago