Ok, so first it must be said that you can indeed go on a tour on any kind of bike, just some are better than others. My first one was in Australia and sent me from Beenleigh to Beaudesert (day 1), to Darlington (day 2), to Boonah (day 3), and ended up in Ipswich (day 4) and hopped a train back to Brisbane so I could make it back to Uni to get smarter. Stayed in a motel the first night, campsite the second, and a showgrounds the third night. I had my tent and sleeping bag strapped on to my seat post rack and everything else on my back. So back to my original comment. First don't ride with a back pack. It makes you so much more tired and puts extra stress on your bum and arms. Invest in panniers even if you think you'll only tour twice. Secondly, make sure to have a good seat. My bum actually has sores on it right now. Not too bad for to and from school but won't be doing this again on this seat or bike which brings me to my last point. Yes, you can do a tour on any kind of bike but one with gears and a freewheel is preferable. I did this tour on a track frame fixie. Unfriendly to touring in so many ways. I only had to walk about 3 times and 2 of those where just because I needed to give my bum a rest. I run 48-19 gear ratio which isn't too bad (high 60's gear inches I believe) and I managed to get where I needed to go. I must admit that throughout the whole trip I was dreaming about how much more comfortable I would be with the right stuff. None the less, this was good enough for me to know that I really do want to do a truly extended tour on the right equipment soon. Woohoo. That's it.
First of all Dan, glad you could finally make it to Australia! Welcome! I trust your travels plans with the bike all came through.
Yes, agree on the first and second points. I remember my first tour, my butt was rubbed raw to the point of having sores on it. So I can identify there. I have ridden a century with a backpack, but won't do that again. Good for commuting and shopping, not for touring.
As to fixed... hmmm... it's not that bad (I've got to stick up for FG touring). But picking the terrain (rather than the gearing) is a key to being comfortable both up and down. I run 39x17 which is good for an old guy like me and the hillier terrain around my place; it did OK in northern Europe last year, too.
Anyway, now you have a base point to compare all your future tours with. And believe me, there is LOTS to see in Australia before you even expand you horizons back in North America.
Hmm, I think this post confirms the "you can tour on almost anything" more than disproves it. OP took the worst possible bike for the job, and survived The only thing worse I could imagine would be a BMX with seat at lowest height, flat tyres, a unicycle, or something...