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  1. #1
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    Australia/NZ - the plan!

    Our plans for Australia and New Zealand are starting to take shape. Posted here for information and any advice people would care to offer. After the replies here to our thread about budgeting and some other information we gathered I think we will be fine on A$50 a day, hopefully less but we'll have to wait and see what happens on the ground.

    Our thoughts are now to fly into Perth around mid-December and try to find a quiet place to wait out the Christmas rush... any ideas? A national park perhaps or any remote loop where we can just load up on food and head out for an adventure, without need to rely on expensive hotels. We can carry food for a week - that's 300-400km of relaxed pedalling.

    After that we'll take the train to Adelaide, cycle Adelaide-Melbourne (maybe Great Ocean Road but maybe inland a bit depending on traffic and back roads), then 3-4 weeks in Tasmania and back to the mainland. If we still have time we'll see a little of the area between Melbourne and Sydney.

    We'd like to be in New Zealand no later than mid-March and we'll go straight to the South Island, then back up north and out on May 20th on a cargo ship bound for Seattle. Phew, it's tiring just writing all that!

    So, any ideas of what to see and do? Special places we might not find in the tourist brochures? We can look up the main highlights but it's the secret spots that are great to learn about. And any ideas for what to do over Christmas would really be appreciated.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

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    In OZ, I liked the Grampians / Halls Gap. The G.O.R., though insanely touristy, would be a better choice IMO than inland, b/c inland victoria is rather flat and agricultural (not my personal favorite, but you may like). Tassie is a must-see, and do get off your bike at the parks (Freycinet, Maria Island) and do some hiking. The animals there are insane. Hobart is a neat town, worth visiting.

    I cycled NZ mid-Feb through early April, and by late March the mountains in the south island were getting to be too cold / wintery to be reliably ridden. I failed to get over the northern pass 2ce, due to weather. If you want to stick to the coasts of the northern S.I. you should be OK, but if you want to cross the southern alps, and check out the fijords, you might want to try to go earlier. In fact, I would just go earlier, blow off the Melb-Syd part, it's highly populated, highly touristed and sparsely highway'd. (someone correct me if I'm wrong about this, this was the decision I made, to not go there, based on researching the area a bit). I found 5 1/2 weeks on the S.I. to be a little too short.

    I rode the east cape of the North Island at the very end of march/first week of April, and it was fantastic. Much less traffic than other parts of the N.I. (not that I did much there). I didn't have time for more, and regretted it.

    Happy planning!
    ...

  3. #3
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    Everything we're reading is pointing to a lot of time in NZ. Do you think 4 months would be too much? We could take a cargo ship Jan 29th to NZ, getting there Feb 4 (Auckland). We'd then have until May 20th to kill in NZ. Quite doable? It doesn't look like such a big territory but I guess there really is a lot to explore in a small space. We have family there too to visit.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

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    Since you're flying to Perth, it's worth spending a day biking around Rottnest Island. Catch a ferry from Fremantle. Very pretty, and virtually car-free. Also, you might want to consider biking in the SW corner of Western Australia. I didn't have enough time to go there myself, but it sounds like a nice region for biking.

    Definitely spend some time in Tasmania, which was by far, my favorite part of Oz for biking. I wouldn't cut back that much on Australia to catch an earlier boat to NZ, however. But in mid-summer, heat could be a problem on mainland Oz. I suspect you'll find it pretty comfortable compared to what you've been experiencing in SE Asia, however.

    If you like architecture, don't miss Napier on the east coast of the North Island of NZ. It has the best collection of art deco buildings I've seen anywhere in the world.

    While there is a lot of nice and varied scenery in NZ, I think 4 months might be a bit too long. If you enjoy hiking in addition to cycling, the national parks in NZ are wonderful.

    BTW, I really like your website. You've put lots of useful information in it for the various countries you've toured in, and your website is pleasant on the eyes.

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    Quote Originally Posted by avatarworf View Post
    Everything we're reading is pointing to a lot of time in NZ. Do you think 4 months would be too much? We could take a cargo ship Jan 29th to NZ, getting there Feb 4 (Auckland). We'd then have until May 20th to kill in NZ. Quite doable? It doesn't look like such a big territory but I guess there really is a lot to explore in a small space. We have family there too to visit.
    I´ve never been to OZ but I can guarantee you won´t regret spending the entire trip in NZ. There´s so much to see. I spent 3 months touring around NZ and could have easily gone for another 3 months. Valygrl mentioned the East Cape on the North Island, which is excellent. Most of the South Island is excellent as well.

    Although we did spend a majority of our time cycling, we also managed to do some great backpacking and kayaking. There are endless opportunities for having fun in NZ.

    Arriving is Feb. is a great idea. The local kids are back in school and thus there´s fewer camper vans crowding the roads and campsites. We stayed until early May, when it started getting wet and cold. March and April were beautiful.

    Have fun!

  6. #6
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by avatarworf View Post
    Our plans for Australia and New Zealand are starting to take shape. Posted here for information and any advice people would care to offer. After the replies here to our thread about budgeting and some other information we gathered I think we will be fine on A$50 a day, hopefully less but we'll have to wait and see what happens on the ground.

    Our thoughts are now to fly into Perth around mid-December and try to find a quiet place to wait out the Christmas rush... any ideas? A national park perhaps or any remote loop where we can just load up on food and head out for an adventure, without need to rely on expensive hotels. We can carry food for a week - that's 300-400km of relaxed pedalling.

    After that we'll take the train to Adelaide, cycle Adelaide-Melbourne (maybe Great Ocean Road but maybe inland a bit depending on traffic and back roads), then 3-4 weeks in Tasmania and back to the mainland. If we still have time we'll see a little of the area between Melbourne and Sydney.

    We'd like to be in New Zealand no later than mid-March and we'll go straight to the South Island, then back up north and out on May 20th on a cargo ship bound for Seattle. Phew, it's tiring just writing all that!

    So, any ideas of what to see and do? Special places we might not find in the tourist brochures? We can look up the main highlights but it's the secret spots that are great to learn about. And any ideas for what to do over Christmas would really be appreciated.

    I'd look to be in New Zealand by around Mid-February if possible, then head for the South and work your way up. There are passes where summer snow is not unheard of. The prevailing wind in New Zealand and Tasmania is from the west, and it can blow strongly -- I copped 90km/h winds near Invercargill when I was there. It's worth having the flexibility to shorten a day or two in case that happens. I'd definitely ride the west coast from Queenstown, through Wanaka, Haast Pass up to Westport (with visits to the glaciers along the way). Milford Sound is also worth checking out -- personally I found the ride along the road to get there was almost as impressive as Milford Sound itself.

    Also, you might consider your options immediately after Adelaide. There aren't really a lot of route options until you Mt Gambier near the Victorian border. The only route along or near the coast is the Princes Highway, and while it passes some nice areas (the Coorong in particular), it does carry a high volume of traffic. It pay to spend an extra day or two riding in the Adelaide Hills, then jump on a bus to Mt Gambier (which is definitely worth a visit, particularly the Blue Lake).

    The Great Ocean Road could be heavily trafficked if you're there in January (the school holidays usually finish around the end of that month), but in saying that, my experience has been that Victorian drivers are pretty good by Australian standards. Accommodation could be more expensive at that time too. Most of the attention around Port Campbell is focussed on the 12 apostles, but I found some of the other limestone formations (Loch-Ard Gorge, The grotto) to be more interesting.

    In Tasmania, my top picks are Bruny Island (South of Hobart), the Tasman peninsula (camp at the backpackers at Eaglehawk Neck, the owner has a heap of information about things to see in that area), Cradle Mountain (you could spend an eternity hiking around that area) and the west coast. Also head for Freycinet National Park and Maria Island as suggested earlier.

    Contrary to popular belief, there are a number of different route options between Sydney and Melbourne if you take the inland route through the mountains. That said, you'd be just as well off doing a loop through eastern Victoria, because that's where most of the scenic interest is, and it's easy to get a train back to Melbourne from anywhere in the state. I wouldn't rely on getting a cargo ship between Australia and New Zealand. Virtually all of the information I've read about NZ suggests it's surprisingly difficult to get to by sea.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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  7. #7
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    Hi Chris, thanks for that detailed report. Running to get the map....

    Just a point on cargo ships, they are possible if you can make the schedule work. One goes round at least every 55-60 days and we are looking at booking that one from Adelaide. Cost is about 500 euros and sailing about 6 days from Adelaide to Auckland. I am checking to see if there are other sailings too. Anyone interested in this form of travel can contact me for more details or keep an eye on this page, where we will add info as we go:

    http://travellingtwo.com/resources/cargoship

    You can only book the ships 6 weeks ahead of time so we won't know until we're in Australia whether we have a berth or not.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  8. #8
    Slowpoach
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    500€ sounds more exie than a plane from Melb to Christchurch - are you sure you'll be saving money?

    Definitely head south of Perth - the Margaret River region and the tall timber country is great. If you surf, WA has fantastic (but BIG) surf. I would prefer to spend time in WA rather than Gippsland (southeast Vic) if time is tight.

    Re Victoria - the Grampians are nice. You could head north from the Great Ocean Road if you want. Western Victoria inland is pretty flat, there are some interesting desert parks and some wine areas as you get to the central highlands but I'd not bother.

    If you take the great ocean road, when you get to Geelong don't head directly to Melbourne. Instead take the ferry from Queenscliff to Sorrento and ride up the east side of the bay - much nicer.

    From Melb, rather than riding, you could take a train to Wangaratta and do a 4-5 day ride around there. Beechworth is nice. Bright is a pretty town (better in Autumn but that won't suit you), the area around Rutherglen has good wineries (famous for muscat and tokay fortifieds) or in the other direction you could ride the King Valley to Whitfield then through the hills to Mansfield (fewer tourist attractions but nice countryside).

    I'll try to give you a few more ideas for Victoria when I have more time. Rowan, if you read this, any comments about central Vic eg the North or east then south loops from Wang?

  9. #9
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    When I look at the flights around that time, the cheapest I can come up with is on Air NZ at $521 U.S. each plus we'd have to figure on excess baggage charges. The cargo ship fee of 500 euros is about equal to $700-750 U.S. so by the time we add in baggage we're not that far off and we don't have any airport stress plus we have a 6 day cruise, all meals included
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  10. #10
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    Just did another search on iwantthatflight.com.au - great site! - and it came up with something totally different for the same dates.... about $400 Aussie dollars. Now that would be significantly cheaper. We are open to both options so we'll see when we get there.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

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    How does Aussie dolars compare to US?

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    RE: Where to go, how much time, etc. I really liked NZ better for cycling than OZ - if I go to OZ again, I'll rent/buy a campervan - the interesting bits are spread so far apart, with lots of flatness in between (I hate flat riding). And the drivers are less friendly than in the US. The animals were the best thing about OZ, the traffic the worst. Admittedly, I didn't go north/east of Melb, which I bet would be both more interesting and more traffic, and the continental divide mtns would be of interest.

    OTOH, NZ is incredibly diverse in very short distances, and there are tons of things to do off the bike (hike, backpack, mountain bike, kayak, paraglide, bungee jump (if you like that sort of thing) ). NZ was less 'different' than the USA than OZ is, but the land forms are just amazing - and that's what I like in a tour - amazing landscapes, interesting hills, great views, challenging riding...

    After 7 weeks in NZ I was bummed I had to go home. After 5 cycling (and another 6 climbing) in OZ, I was ready to go home. That might be me, not the place, so FWIW, YMMV, etc. etc.

    Oh, and I would disagree with an above post characterizing the wind direction in NZ. The prevailing wind is "head" - It's strong, and changes direction 90 degrees daily, I'm not making this up.
    ...

  13. #13
    Every lane is a bike lane Chris L's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by mwl6464 View Post
    How does Aussie dolars compare to US?
    Last I heard (about 36 hours ago) it was around 83 Aus cents to $1US. In the current market, it's likely to have changed by now, and will probably change even more by the time you read this post.
    "I am never going to flirt with idleness again" - Roy Keane
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    Yes, the Aussie dollar is worth a bit less than the American one so A$400 would be about half the price of a $700-750 U.S. fare to NZ. There is so much great information here. I won't reply to all of it but we are saving it all on our computer to take a good look at when we don't have internet access, somewhere on the road...
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  15. #15
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    I agree with valygrl about long flat distances in some parts of Australia. Planning to use the train for part of your trip is a great idea.

    I think southwest WA is not to be missed if you are flying into Perth, it is a beautiful part of the world. The Margaret River area (beaches south of Perth, wine area and surf beaches between Cape Natrualiste and Cape Leuwin, Hamelin Bay), the tall timber country and the southern coast are great. You could cycle to Albany or maybe Esperance, but I'm not sure where you can pick up the train to Adelaide - I don't know if you'd have to bus back to Perth, or if you could get to the train from Albany or Esperance.

    In SA I only know the area around Adelaide. (BTW if you like steak make sure to have a meal at Gaucho's in Adelaide, it is incredible). McLaren Vale is a wine area easy to get to using the suburban train and a bike. The Clare and Barossa valleys are a bit further. Kangaroo Island is also popular but I don't know much about it. I'll let others advise you about getting from Adelaide to Melbourne. The Grampians are probably not a viable side trip on reflection.

  16. #16
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    Train-and-bike options from Melbourne:

    1. Train to Kyneton. Cycle Kyneton - Trentham - Daylesford (1 day; hilly.). Check out the wood-fired oven bakery at Trentham. Daylesford has lots of little cafes and shops, and the Chocolate Mill is a chocolate shop in a strawbale building maybe 20km to the north of Daylesford.
    Daylesford - Creswick - Wattle Flat - Ballarat or Ballan (1 day) then train back.

    2. Train to Wangaratta. Cycle to Beechworth. Stay there or cycle on to Yackandandah. From Beechworth / Yack you can either head North to Wodonga (either direct or via Talangata) then to Rutherglen and back to Wangaratta (total 3-4 days). Beechworth is a pretty town and Rutherglen has wineries.
    Or, you could get to Mount Beauty, cross Tawonga Gap (climbing), then to Bright, then Myrtleford. From there, either back to Wangaratta via Milawa (wine, cheese, mustard), or down the King Valley to Whitfield, then Mansfield (crossing the range again) +/- Eildon, then cycle back to Melbourne via Healesville.
    Last edited by Cave; 09-23-08 at 07:51 PM.

  17. #17
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    Haven't read all the posts, but I live in Melbourne, and have now done a few tours in Victoria. A few quick points:

    - The Grampians/Halls Gap *are* nice (just rode through there this weekend!) - a bit out of the way, but really interesting scenery.
    - Gippsland can be very pretty, in a pleasant agricultural way - not as flat as one poster suggested. The Grand Ridge Road makes a very good scenic trip.
    - The great ocean road is suicide during weekends or school holidays.
    - There are more rail trails in Victoria than anywhere else in Australia.
    Overall, most of the scenery I've seen from a bike in Victoria I would describe as "nice" or "pleasant" rather than "breathtaking" - I'd certainly be spending more time in Tasmania or NZ (esp South island) if I had the choice. And they're both well suited to cycling - compact, and sparsely populated.

    >The Grampians are probably not a viable side trip on reflection.

    About 3 hours on the train to Ararat, then a 50k ride from there to Halls Gap. We left Melbourne at 8am and were in Halls Gap by 4, having visited a winery. And some of the views up there are just stunning...

    Steve

  18. #18
    Senior Member cycotourer's Avatar
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    I know after two years of cycling you may not want to linger too long down under or any longer in Asia .... but you are arriving in Australia at the worst time to be cycling ... the hottest time of year and exactly when every man and his dog will also be on summer holidays. Accommdation, campgrounds and road traffic will all be at maximum capacity.

    I would extend in Asia, maybe do sub-tropical China or head over to Borneo to see the Orangutangs, or ride down Malaysia to Singapore then arrive into Perth around late Feb or March. School goes back at the end of January, and university starts up in early March. Spend 6 months in Australia (do the south in late summer/autumn then go North for the winter: Fraser Island, Whitsundays, Hinchinbrook Island, the Daintree, Atherton Tableland, Great Barrier Reef - endless possibilities!) and head over to New Zealand for spring (still cold!) and summer.

    Or go to NZ 1st and back track to AUS if the costs are not prohibitive.

    If you don't want to delay getting back to Canada and your timeframe is still set for arriving in Australia around Christmas here are some suggestions:

    (With the following weather disclaimer: You may be lucky with the weather, but last year South Australia had a shocking summer, with a record number of days over 100F and even Hobart at the bottom of Tasmania had at least one day well over 100F. Then again it might snow around Cradle Mountain in the middle of summer! All of the southern part of Australia was hotter than the east coast last summer.)

    For Western Australia definitely the south west corner, Margaret River region and the stunning Karri forests. The WA gov has built some excellent bike paths to get you out of Perth and down south.

    There is an excellent bike trail (gravel) but I'm not sure if the track will be suitable for your touring bikes. Its the Munda Biddi, http://www.mundabiddi.org.au/ , and has the following facilities:

    "Purpose-built cycle-friendly campsites have been built every 35-40km between towns. Campsites have a composting toilet, two water tanks, picnic tables, undercover bike storage facility, sleeping quarters for 25-30 people, and cleared tent sites. " National Geographic listed it as a world top 10 cycle trail. I can't comment on the accuracy of the ranking! :-)

    Also ask at the WA Cycle Touring association for good places to cycle and whether you could do all, or sections of, the Munda Biddi: http://www.ctawa.asn.au/

    You have made a very good call to take the train across the Nullabor!

    In South Australia there is some outstanding cycling out towards the Flinders Ranges and Wilpena Pound - again on a dedicated cycle track, but I think it would be too hot at that time of year. Google Kangaroo Island - that would be terrific cycling and has outstanding wildlife (its just about a must do!). You could cycle down the Fleurieu Peninsula (south of Adelaide) dropping by the Mclaren Vale wineries and then ferry across to KI. If you have time you might like to cycle through the Adelaide Hills to the Barossa Valley and/or Clare Valley, the wine growing regions north of Adelaide.

    In Victoria the Great Ocean Road, the Grampians and Otway National Park are on my cycling to do list. Anywhere along Victoria's southern coast would be terrific. I ditto the idea of catching the ferry across from Queenscliff to Sorrento once you get to Victoria.

    All of Tasmania should be terrific. Try to do the wilderness areas in the west as well as the more trodden paths.

    If you extend your trip, I know most cycle tourists take (or recommend) the inland, mountain route from Melbourne to Sydney (or vice versa), but we are planning the coastal route. The south coast of NSW and north east Victoria is terrific, has heaps of wilderness, wildlife and National Parks. Loads of free camping opportunities!


    If you "cruise" from Adelaide to NZ, Bass Straight can be absolutely shocking, and the Tasman Sea made even Josie Dew sea sick, so don't forget the sea sickness preventatives. Josie's book on cycling New Zealand is really good, and has an outline map of her tour there. Josie went by cargo ship from Europe to NZ then from NZ to Melbourne.

    BTW Lonely Planet are releasing 4 new editions of their Australian guide books in October: Tasmania 5th edition, QLD & the Great Barrier Reef 5th ed, East Coast Australia 3rd ed, and Melbourne & Victoria 7th ed. You could download the portions you need or get free info from TICs.

    Ok, I could write a book, better stop here!

    Just ask if you need specific information instead of ramblings!
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  19. #19
    Slowpoach
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    Another place to get route ideas is the Bicycle Victoria website www.bv.com.au
    Go to the Great Rides section; there should be route maps for the Great Victorian bike rides, also some out-of-state ones inc. Tassie and WA.

    >The Grampians are probably not a viable side trip on reflection.

    About 3 hours on the train to Ararat, then a 50k ride from there to Halls Gap. We left Melbourne at 8am and were in Halls Gap by 4, having visited a winery. And some of the views up there are just stunning...
    Yeah, train to Grampians is a better idea than cycling from the coast.

    +1 on the views esp from Mount Zero looking west at sunset (Nb. make sure you leave enough time to get back down before it gets too dark)

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by valygrl View Post
    if I go to OZ again, I'll rent/buy a campervan - the interesting bits are spread so far apart, with lots of flatness in between (I hate flat riding).
    This is certainly true. Australia is all about wide open spaces. Personally I like it (and can't stand hills), and I love that feeling of riding 100ks between pubs. But it may not be for everyone.

    Steve

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    This is all great stuff. It only makes us sad that we don't have endless time to spend. We've promised our families that we will cross Canada next summer - the first time in nearly a decade that we'll spend more than a few weeks in our home country - so we better not disappoint them. Anyway, the cargo ship is now booked from Auckland to Seattle for May 20th and the flight from Singapore to Perth on December 2nd. We know it's going to be busy in January but we'll just have to deal with it. Better busy Australia than none at all!

    Thanks again everyone. I hope you don't mind we aren't replying to every post. Would never get out of Chiang Mai if we did! But we will post our 'final' plan - if anything is final - and reports afterwards. Of course if we can help anyone at all with information we gather, just shout.
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    A word of caution. I would strongly suggest you thoroughly research the immigration and visa issues. I am a resident of Australia, and didn't know, for instance, that a visa is required to visit the country if you are a foreigner. It's easy to get one, apparently -- Machka does hers on-line and I gather it costs nothing.

    However, from what I have read for both Australia and NZ, and confirmed by my own experience on entering Canada, you had better have all your documentation for exit flights or ship out of each country that falls within the expected length of the visas, especially if you are arriving by means other than commercial air flight.

    In addition, you might have to prove that you have enough cash resources to support yourselves for the duration of your stay. The immigration people also may well want to have every detail, including how you support yourselves, too.

    It's not just Australia -- it happens now to me every time I go to Canada after a land entry at Coutts several years ago. Plus, a former poster here messed up his visa arrangements in Australia and has now been banned for three years from entering the country.

    While all this might seem melodramatic, it can, I assure you, have an unpleasant effect on your touring plans if you don't get it right.

    As to Victoria, I rather like the Goldfields Country. In 2005, I did a three-week ride on what I called my Golden Circle Tour, from Melbourne to the Murray River and back again in a big loop that took in the Goldfields and across to Mildura.

    I actually would suggest spending some time in Melbourne. During off-peak, the trains are wonderful for getting you around, but Melbourne itself has something that attacts me in terms of its architecture and art and sculpture; so if you have an interest in such things, Melbourne could be impressive.

    I've also never had any real issues riding in Melbourne traffic, and when I was there again several weeks ago after returning from Canada, there did seem to be quite a lot more cyclists about.

    I also like the coastal region basically from Frankston right around and down to Wilsons Promontory. Wilson's Prom is one of my favourite destinations in Victoria, and presents some challenging riding. Again, you could possibly catch a train out to Sale and ride south from there. Unfortunately, Wilsons Prom is likely to be very busy at that time of the year, so you should attempt to book a campsite as soon as you can. It's not really practical to ride in and out on the one day.

    I live in the Yarra Ranges, and there are all sorts of riding possibilities here, but no real summertime destinations of note except Lake Eildon.

    I'm still proudly Tasmanian, and I reiterate what I said in another recent thread that the Central Highlands are an oft-forgotten and very beautiful part of Tasmania; often left off itineraries because it doesn't fit with the coastal circuit everyone on a fly-drive/ship-drive/cycle-touring holiday does. It features myriad lakes and spectacular scenery.

    Incidentally, 100 deg C days are not unusual in Tasmania. It's a fallacy that the state is the coldest in Australia. You might have to watch out, however, for bushfires and very strong hot northerly winds into late January. And yes -- it can snow on the top of Mt Wellington, overlooking Hobart, in January, as it did when I provided the MTBs for the mountain climb in a series of The Mole back in the late 1990s.

    Another word of caution -- wear sunscreen and lip balm, a lot, if you are in Tasmania. Again, because everyone thinks its cold there, they think they don't have to put on the stuff, and then suffer from acute sunburn. If not creams and balm, at least long cotton trousers and shirts.

    In addition, I have ridden the Nullarbor from Norseman to Port Augusta, and while it's not to everyone's taste, I found it excellent, for its solitude, its scenery and its surprises.

    The Audax Australia website (www.audax.org.au) has route instructions for what is called a raid from Melbourne to Sydney or vice-versa. It takes the highly scenic and challenging inland route. I've done a five-day dash from Canberra to Melbourne through the Alpine area along much of the same route, and can attest to its challenging nature; but the scenery is also pretty darned good.

    As far as Western Australia is concerned, a loop down through Busselton, and on to Albany via the coastal route and Margaret River, then across to Esperance and up to Norseman and back to Perth via Kalgoorlie might be an option. I did an inland diagonal across to the coast and on to Esperance... the inland was a bit boring, but the coast was pretty good, with one significant national park along the way. As to picking up the train, most likely it would be at Kalgoorlie, which is pretty well straight north from Esperance and Norseman.

    Of interest, the train line runs 20km or more north of the highway across the Nullarbor, and as such runs through completely different terrain -- desert if you like -- compared with the more coastal scrubland and sea plain. I've not travelled the train, but I was told that many Japanese rode either bicycles or motor cycles along the unsealed service road that parellels it because it presented more challenge than the sealed highway.

    I second the comment about getting across the Rottnest Island while in Perth. It's a great place to chill out and has no traffic, some interesting wildlife and isolated coastal areas. The hills east of Perth also add some variety and there are some nice little towns in there, but I don't recall any as being exciting cycling destinations.

    Certainly, they don't really measure up compared with the wineries of the Adelaide Hills. Adelaide is also another arty town, known as the City of Churches, and there is (or was) a nice bike path that runs parallel with the River Torrens.

    I've done the Great Ocean Road several times on weekends, and haven't really had much hassle. There is a decent shoulder, as I recall, on both sides of the road for a fair percentage of the coastal route. Then the road deviates up into the hills. As Chris L said, the sandstone formations are the most interesting aspect.

    Good luck with your arrangements. PM me (or the collective us in Victoria) when you get here and let's see if we can do an Aussie-Canadian version of the BikeForums ride.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  23. #23
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rowan View Post
    A word of caution. I would strongly suggest you thoroughly research the immigration and visa issues. I am a resident of Australia, and didn't know, for instance, that a visa is required to visit the country if you are a foreigner. It's easy to get one, apparently -- Machka does hers on-line and I gather it costs nothing.
    We are already on the ball with this one! We have our ETA visas for Australia and NZ will soon be sorted too. The only question is if we need an onward ticket to get into Aus. I gather sometimes the airlines make a stink about this. We'll work it out. Can prove money easily enough.

    Many people have mentioned the temperatures. We cycled through plus 40C temps in Eastern Europe two summers ago so I think we'll survive Oz. We can nap for 4 hours in the shade and get up at 5am if necessary.
    We blog about bike touring, with reviews, tips and cycle touring podcasts at Travelling Two

  24. #24
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    Not the airlines kicking up a stink, but Customs and Immigration. In my dealings, I've found that even unconfirmed round-the-world tickets with expiries after the visa period are not acceptable; they want confirmed exit arrangements and proof thereof.

    Anyway, glad to see you are on the ball. Probably to be expected with your world touring experience.
    Dream. Dare. Do.

  25. #25
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    Coming to NZ?
    Get these PEDALLERS' PARADISE books, they are fantastic.

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