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Old 09-13-06, 10:43 AM   #1
bobbotron
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Australia by bike?

So, I'm going to be traveling to Australia soon (yee gods, so soon!) I don't have any distinct travel plans as of right now (although I do have a few must see destinations.) Any suggestions for good destinations? I'll be heading into Perth..
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Old 09-13-06, 12:09 PM   #2
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Generally, the south, from Margaret River across to Esperance would be, in my estimation, your best bet if you are considering a longish tour.

Perth is well served by bicycle infrastructure, as I recall from my time there about 10 years ago. The Perth suburban area is basically on a sandy coastal plain, which means flat riding. The infrastructure basically follows the Swan and Canning Rivers and along the coastline.

To the east, where the mountains start are national parks and some wineries. The hills can become quite challenging as I discovered when I returned to the city in late 2004 for a 200km randonnee. Farther east is Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, both mining centres, but they may be a bit of a stretch. You have to have a definite empathy with the desert landscape to enjoy it (as I did on my 1997 crossing from Perth to Adelaide).

The Margaret River region is supposedly famous for its wineries, while towns further south-west (mainly around Albany -- pronounced as Al-beny -- an old whaling town) have based their tourism on the jarrah forests. Busselton was a coastal town I really liked with its beautiful beaches and long, long jetty... it also is south of Perth, and before Margaret River, but was well on its way to becoming a major tourist trap even then.

To the north, things become spread out, a lot. There are some interesting things to see along the way, but the distances between centres make cycling a bit intimidating, especially if you are on a schedule. My favourite township north of Perth was Kalbarri, but again I was there just before plans to make it a tourist trap were implemented.
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Old 09-17-06, 08:33 PM   #3
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My Wife and I rode from Perth to Albany. It was fantastic and is still one of our most favourite "local" tours. The route was roughly what was described in the Lonely Planet Cycling Australia book
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Old 09-17-06, 09:42 PM   #4
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I'm in Perth, there are several directions you can go, but it depends on what time of the year you intend to ride. Generally in summer here, going south is cooler, and in winter, going north is better.
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Old 09-18-06, 10:05 AM   #5
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Be sure to read "Cold Beer and Crocodiles" by Roff Smith. It is highly entertaining account of his cycle trip around Australia.
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Old 09-18-06, 05:15 PM   #6
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Thanks for all of the suggestions guys! I'm heading into Sydney, so Perth is out, unless I find a cheap and decent transportation to get me there (I wont be in Australia long enough to get there by bike!)

Oh yeah. What kind of camp stove fuel is usually available in Australia?
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Old 09-18-06, 05:31 PM   #7
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You said you were going to Perth?!?!

I rode the Great Ocean Road, which is the coastline west of Melbourne, and around Tasmania. The G.O.R. was pretty on the touristy side of what i like. Tassie was more remote, beautiful, and very very very very steep. Did I meniton it was steep? Sustained 15% grades were common. I also rode from Horsham (middle of nowhwere unless you are a rock climber) through the Grampians and down to coast, and that was nice.

The Lonely Planet has a cycle guide which is a good starting place, especially if your tour time is shorter. I didn't ride the Blue Mountains, but saw pictures and that would be where I would go if I was launching from Sydney. I found the car traffic in OZ to be a bit unfriendly in the more heavily populated areas, and that was a factor in my deciding not to ride the coast from Melbourne to Sydney, which I had considered.

Camp fuel is the same as the states (sorry, I don't know where you are from) - easy to get white gas (they call it something else) and propane for MSR type propane stoves.

Bike and camping stuff there is very similar (often identical) to the USA, only more expensive. Don't expect good bike shops away from the big cities, but I found nice ones in Melbourne, Hobart, Devenport, & Launceston.

There are lots of bus and train options, some of which require bike boxes and some which do not. Hitchhiking is easy too, many people drive pickup truck type things.

Have fun!!!
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Old 09-18-06, 09:36 PM   #8
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Tasmania should definitely be on your list, although you may not have time to ride there directly. If you want to ride toward Melbourne, you might consider taking an inland route through the mountains, then following the coast from somewhere around Bairnsdale. Some of the coastal scenery around Wilson's Promontory may actually be better than what the Great Ocean Road offers.
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Old 09-18-06, 10:00 PM   #9
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Terrific Tasmania

I endorse the Tasmanian option, particularly the West Coast taking in Cradle Mountain, Strachan, Queenstown and Derwent Bridge/lake St Clair. There is some breath-taking scenery and a remote feel that makes the ride special. A good place to start is Launceston and/or Deloraine. That said, there are some reasonable climbs entailed.

Given that you're going to Sydney, a nice day ride is to go south from Sutherland (on the outskirts of Sydney, accessible by train) through the national park and then down on the coastal bike path to Wollongong, from where you can get the train back.

I also endorse the Great Ocean Road if you're in Victoria, although try to do it during the week - its jammed on weekends with Melbournians seeking to escape!

If you make it out Canberra-way (my home town), there is some beautiful cycling in the Brindabellas, just to the west of Canberra. Further, the Snowy Mountains, about 2 hours south of Canberra, also have some great roads in summer, although the climbs are definitely tough.
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Old 09-19-06, 12:24 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valygrl
You said you were going to Perth?!?!

I rode the Great Ocean Road, which is the coastline west of Melbourne, and around Tasmania. The G.O.R. was pretty on the touristy side of what i like. Tassie was more remote, beautiful, and very very very very steep. Did I meniton it was steep? Sustained 15% grades were common. I also rode from Horsham (middle of nowhwere unless you are a rock climber) through the Grampians and down to coast, and that was nice.
Tasmania very, very steep. Nah... Tasmania is flat as a pancake... oh... yes, it is my home state, and my cycling grew up there, so hills aren't really that much of a challenge. Yes, there are 15% and steeper hills, but the rewards are stunning overlooks, and great downhills on the other side.

Actually with cheap flights aboard Virgin Blue, it would not be much trouble at all to get down to Tasmania. But put aside a reasonable amount of time (three weeks) if you want to do the island circumnavigation. Otherwise, pick a region and cycle around/along it (East Coast from Hobart to Launceston, West Coast from Launceston to Strahan to Hobart, Huon Valley, Tasman Peninsula). Hobart to Launceston or vice versa through the middle is not particularly inspiring despite the historic nature of the region.

Victoria is also a great place to cycle. The Dandenong Ranges, the south-west coast (including the Great Ocean Rd and into the Grampians as suggested), Wilsons Promintory as also suggested, and through the central areas from Bendigo north and past Ballarat all provide good cycling.

I suggest Virgin (for travel just about anywhere within Australia) because they are very bicycle friendly. No extra charges (the bike box is rated at 7kg of total luggage even if it weighs 32kg), durable bike boxes available at the airports, friendly staff, great airfares, and even instructions on their website for bike travel. The opposition, Qantas, has outgrown its patriotism as the national carrier, can be expensive by comparison, and controls the other cheapie airline, JetStar that is proving unreliable on scheduling, and charges like a wounded bull if you are overweight.
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Old 09-19-06, 12:54 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by bobbotron
I'll be heading into Perth..

Quote:
Originally Posted by bobbotron
I'm heading into Sydney, so Perth is out ....
Now I'm confused.

Of course there are good roads from Sydney to Perth.

Cycling across Australia is a wonderful experience. I've done it five times so far. I've started in Perth each time to catch the prevailing wind at the time I've cycled.
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Old 09-19-06, 01:24 AM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by valygrl
I rode the Great Ocean Road, which is the coastline west of Melbourne. I also rode from Horsham (middle of nowhwere unless you are a rock climber) through the Grampians and down to coast, and that was nice.

The Lonely Planet has a cycle guide which is a good starting place,

Camp fuel is the same as the states (sorry, I don't know where you are from) - easy to get white gas (they call it something else) and propane for MSR type propane stoves.

There are lots of bus and train options, some of which require bike boxes and some which do not. Hitchhiking is easy too, many people drive pickup truck type things.

Have fun!!!
i actually found the great ocean quite boring ... really interesting for the first few km, then the development set in, and it became busier and over crowded ... new zealands west coast is much superior as a coastal ride ...
grampians were nice though, and the ride down to penshurst was pretty cool, but then it was a slog out to the coast [port fairy] into a incessant headwind ...

lonely planet's cycling australia is a good start, but i found it quite restrictive ...

on my last two trips i found getting gas cannisters quite difficult, or they were stocked in the most unlikely places ... going to take my msr whisperlite or my trangia next time ...

had both good and bad experiences trying to get on public transport with a bike ... depends on who you strike, like anywhere else i guess ...
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Old 09-19-06, 02:13 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by hoogie
lonely planet's cycling australia is a good start, but i found it quite restrictive ...
That seems to be a common theme with Lonely Planet's cycling guides generally. I looked at the New Zealand one before doing the South Island earlier in the year, and ended up leaving it at home for similar reasons. I think they're aimed more at the "part time" cyclist who intends to basically travel on buses and do a bit of riding here and there. While they do contain useful "general information" about an area, they probably aren't ideal for planning routes. You're better off getting your own map.
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Old 09-19-06, 09:52 AM   #14
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Neil Irvine, a journalist and very fit touring cyclist, wrote the original Lonely Planet guides for Australia and NZ. The result was a relatively impractical guide for the average cyclist -- the day distances were unrealistic in some (many) instances.

As to fuel, the Trangia is my only cooking heat source, and methylated spirits (methyl hydrate) is available in hardware shops (cheapest) and outdoor shops (expensive-est). Petrol (gas) is available everywhere there is a service station. Outdoor shops and stores like Kmart (Wal-Mart does not exist in Australia, yet) carry Coleman fuel, but getting it in small, remote towns might be difficult.

This webpage provides probably the most realistic cycling guide of Tasmania:

http://www.biketas.org.au/giro.php

Last edited by Rowan; 09-19-06 at 10:31 AM.
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Old 09-19-06, 10:54 AM   #15
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cycling Australia

One word for you - Tasmania.

Spent several weeks there a few years back. Stunning scenery, non-busy roads, cheap, and the friendliest people anywhere.
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Old 09-19-06, 07:24 PM   #16
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So if you had one month to do a tour in OZ where would you start and end?
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Old 09-19-06, 10:15 PM   #17
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If you are starting in Sydney, I would get away from the beaches and do the Great Dividing Range. The birds, rainforests are amazing. Sydney is great for a large city but not very bicycle friendly. I spent about 10 months cycling Oz and my favorite areas were the deserts and the rainforests but as people above stated, Tasmania is also amazing but not easy. I had 8000 miles behind me and was looking forward to an easy month in Tas. Tas kicked my butt but it was worth it. Bring your walking shoes because you won't see the best there is to see on a bike. Like Maria Island and several other hikes down by Port Arthur like the Monument. Almost forgot, the Snowy River area by Melbourne was also amazing. Well graded dirt roads and fabulous scenery. You are making me bring back so distant memories.

Actually since you are leaving soon, Tas has a small window of good weather like late December and January. Bad time to be in the tropics so by default, you will be needing to stay south. If you read Cold Beer and Crocodiles, it doesn't have to be that hard. He was in the wrong places at the wrong times of the year.
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Old 09-20-06, 10:16 AM   #18
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I spent 3 months cycling around Australia. I landed in Sydney and cycled down to Melbourne, going over the Snowy Mountains (beautiful but challenging), and taking in Wilson's Prom (breath-taking!) and Philip Island (veryinteresting).

From Melbourne, I rode the Great Ocean Road and up into the Grampians during the Great Southern Randonnee. I enjoyed both the Great Ocean Road and the Grampians and would love to have spent more time in those areas.

Then I flew to Tasmania and spent three weeks cycling there. I could have probably spent the entire three months there!! Tasmania is a truly beautiful and varied place.

I flew from Tasmania to Cairns and cycled as far north through Queensland as there are paved roads ... up to Cape Tribulation. I was completely taken with the tropics of Australia!! I loved the heat and jungles and ocean and banana plantations and ripe mangos by the side of the road and everything!! I cycled back down and made it as far as Tully before catching a bus to Airlie Beach (because of an accident which rendered me unable to ride for a few days). I took the bus from Airlie Beach to Rockhampton, and then cycled down to Brisbane.

From Brisbane I took the bus to Sydney, spent Christmas in Sydney where I visited the Blue Mountains, and then flew back to Canada.

You can read all about it, and look at some photos here:
http://www.machka.net/australia/ride.htm
http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/mac...=/c652&.src=ph
http://ca.pg.photos.yahoo.com/ph/mac...=/5893&.src=ph


I'd recommend visiting all those places!!
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