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Touring Eastern Australia - Advice / Route Planning

Old 04-11-12, 07:32 AM
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Touring Eastern Australia - Advice / Route Planning

Hello,

I'm currently planning a fully-loaded tour of the Eastern Australian coast beginning this May for about a month (their winter). I'm hoping to make it from Cairns down to Sydney, putting in an average of about 55mi/day (~89km/day). Does anyone have any insight or experience with this region? I haven't found a lot of pertinent routes, guides, or even blogs, which worries me a little.

Thanks!
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Old 04-13-12, 07:53 AM
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I suggest you check out the touring Australia sub-forum at the Australian Cycling Forums. Lots of helpful advice to be found there.

Andrew
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Old 04-14-12, 01:43 AM
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You might consider doing the trip in reverse otherwise you will most likely have a tremendous headwind riding south. So much to see in between going via the coast or inland but you gave yourself a lot of time to mix it up a bit. Bellingen is an amazing place and you won't want to leave.
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Old 04-14-12, 02:17 AM
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I've cycled from Cairns to Brisbane ... and then I took the bus to Sydney.

There is some info on my website. The Cairns to Brisbane route starts on about December 2.
https://www.machka.net/australia/ride.htm

BTW - May isn't winter here ... it's late Autumn. And that far north won't likely have very wintery weather.
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Old 04-14-12, 10:59 AM
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Originally Posted by aroundoz
You might consider doing the trip in reverse otherwise you will most likely have a tremendous headwind riding south. So much to see in between going via the coast or inland but you gave yourself a lot of time to mix it up a bit. Bellingen is an amazing place and you won't want to leave.
I was actually planning on North to South based on the wind maps I've found here . Unless I'm reading it wrong, it would appear that the wind will mostly be in my favor, N to S, for winter. It is quite possible that I'm reading it wrong, though - never used a wind map like that.

Originally Posted by Machka
I've cycled from Cairns to Brisbane ... and then I took the bus to Sydney.

There is some info on my website. The Cairns to Brisbane route starts on about December 2.
https://www.machka.net/australia/ride.htm

BTW - May isn't winter here ... it's late Autumn. And that far north won't likely have very wintery weather.
Very impressive site and trip! Thanks for the input. I have found decent documentation on Brisbane to Sydney routes, but almost nothing from Cairns to Brisbane. I've just confirmed my flights - I'll be arriving on May 24 and leaving July 2, so the majority of the trip will be "winter" (or whatever Australians call it... seems pretty mild comparatively if you're from Canada and I'm from Chicago). Either way, I'm prepared to be cycling in 50-60F (10-16C) weather. I sweat too much to do this in the summer!

So, the duration is about 40 days. I'm planning around 50-60mi (80-95km) per day, leaving myself a little time for breaks in the middle and sightseeing on each end, too.
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Old 04-14-12, 11:52 AM
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I landed in Brisbane in May and traveled counterclockwise around Australia and that was by far the direction most cyclists were traveling. I/we had an incredible tailwind all of the way to Cairnes. I contacted a couple bike shops/groups in Australia before I left and they also confirmed the above. You might want to do the same just to be sure. I would not have wanted to have ridden south into that wind. You would also be traveling away from fall/winter in the south and heading to where it is warmer vs. ending in Sydney in June when it can be much cooler.

The way I read the wind map, confirmed the above.

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Old 04-14-12, 08:42 PM
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Originally Posted by sailingbynight
Very impressive site and trip! Thanks for the input. I have found decent documentation on Brisbane to Sydney routes, but almost nothing from Cairns to Brisbane. I've just confirmed my flights - I'll be arriving on May 24 and leaving July 2, so the majority of the trip will be "winter" (or whatever Australians call it... seems pretty mild comparatively if you're from Canada and I'm from Chicago). Either way, I'm prepared to be cycling in 50-60F (10-16C) weather. I sweat too much to do this in the summer!

So, the duration is about 40 days. I'm planning around 50-60mi (80-95km) per day, leaving myself a little time for breaks in the middle and sightseeing on each end, too.
June 1 is the first day of winter ... although I think it might be a different date in Queensland.

You'll likely experience those sorts of temps in Sydney ... I don't think I've ever experienced anything other than that in Sydney ... but Cairns will likely be a different story. Cairns will likely be quite a bit warmer ... somewhat tropical.
https://www.weatherzone.com.au/climat...=site&lc=31011


One thing to be aware of is that much of the area you'll be travelling through has gone through some significant disasters lately. They have been bombarded with cyclones, hurricanes, etc. both last year and this year. Towns I went through back in 2004, have sustained a lot of damage.

So just be aware that it is possible some services may be a little bit limited ... and be sensitive to the fact that a lot of places along there haven't had it easy in recent years.
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Old 04-14-12, 11:06 PM
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Between Mackay and Rockhampton take the coast road. Several people have been murdered on the inland route - but that was years ago and I haven't heard any bad stories for years.
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Old 04-16-12, 09:46 AM
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Alright, this is all really helpful so far, thanks. #1 goal is survival.

Does anyone have any input on logistics as far as planes go? I'm flying into and out of Sydney from the US with an S&S coupled bike. I have one contact in Sydney where I can hopefully leave an S&S box and a duffel bag to hold all of my panniers in one spot. What do I do when I make it to Cairns, though?! Somehow have my S&S box shipped there or order a cardboard box? Other ideas? I liked the idea of going N to S because it's easier logistically, but if I'd be riding into miserable winds the whole time, I think it's worth figuring out how to reverse the trip.
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Old 04-16-12, 04:29 PM
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If it were me, I'd go with a cardboard box.

So ... which direction are you planning to go?
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Old 04-21-12, 06:48 PM
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I concur with using a cardboard box to get there and just picking up one and cutting to size in Cairns when you leave. If you are set on the S and S box, you probably could have it sent ahead to a bike shop, hotel, B and B or even Oz Post. There policy is to hold something for up to a couple weeks but if you call them, they will hold it longer.

If the winds blow the way they normally do, you won't regret traveling north.

Sounds like a great ride and I am very jealous.

Don't forget to go to Bellingen if you have time. I personally preferred to go inland a bit when I could. The beaches are great but I really enjoyed the Great Dividing Range and rainforests.
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Old 04-21-12, 09:11 PM
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i did the loop counterclockwise as well. wasn't keen on the heavier traffic on the coastal road,
so headed inland from sydney, thru bourke, back to the coast at mackay. then followed the coast
to cairns. no problems with the route, wasn't murdered, but warned several times by locals
in bourke to never leave my bike unattended.....(as in, i could lock my bike up to go buy
groceries, but the panniers would be gone when i return.)
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Old 04-22-12, 08:45 AM
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Thanks for the input, everyone. I guess I'm really considering the counterclockwise direction now.

I was recently advised by a couple of Australians that I'm crazy for wanting to do this and that it's very unsafe. They said there's a 600km stretch on nothing but trucker roads through 15ft sugar cane fields and no towns to stop in. They also advised not to camp anywhere because of snakes. Are they just being paranoid or is there some truth to this?

Originally Posted by saddlesores
i did the loop counterclockwise as well. wasn't keen on the heavier traffic on the coastal road,
so headed inland from sydney, thru bourke, back to the coast at mackay. then followed the coast
to cairns. no problems with the route, wasn't murdered, but warned several times by locals
in bourke to never leave my bike unattended.....(as in, i could lock my bike up to go buy
groceries, but the panniers would be gone when i return.)
Did you bring your panniers into the grocery store, then?
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Old 04-22-12, 07:04 PM
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Originally Posted by sailingbynight
I was recently advised by a couple of Australians that I'm crazy for wanting to do this and that it's very unsafe. They said there's a 600km stretch on nothing but trucker roads through 15ft sugar cane fields and no towns to stop in. They also advised not to camp anywhere because of snakes. Are they just being paranoid or is there some truth to this?
Did you actually talk to Australian touring cyclists or people who drive 4WD and think they know about the outback? Have you posted in the Australian Cycling Forums? If not maybe you should if you want serious advice from locals who might have a clue about cycle touring in their own backyard.

Andrew
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Old 04-22-12, 09:14 PM
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I would have to say that 99 percent of the time people (non-bike tourists) say there is nothing to see and not to do it, it turns out to be totally rewarding. Most if not all of the Australians I met thought I was nuts for being on a bike in the outback (maybe I was) but I had a blast and preferred the desert over the beaches any day.

But having said that, I have heard the New England Hwy is a main trucker route and can be quite busy. I would definitely get some local input from bike tourists on that.

If this is your first time to Australia, I would take the coastal route and detour into the dividing range when available. You would at least get a lot more variety and the coastal towns cater to travelers so there are tons of hostels along the way.
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Old 04-22-12, 09:20 PM
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What exactly is the route you're planning to take?

Starting where? Ending where?
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Old 04-25-12, 04:08 PM
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Originally Posted by Aushiker
Did you actually talk to Australian touring cyclists or people who drive 4WD and think they know about the outback? Have you posted in the Australian Cycling Forums? If not maybe you should if you want serious advice from locals who might have a clue about cycle touring in their own backyard.
That's a good point. I'm not exactly sure, they are friends of my family and I've never met them. I don't believe they are cyclists, though, and I know one of them is originally a fellow American - are we soft compared to you guys?

Originally Posted by aroundoz
I would have to say that 99 percent of the time people (non-bike tourists) say there is nothing to see and not to do it, it turns out to be totally rewarding. Most if not all of the Australians I met thought I was nuts for being on a bike in the outback (maybe I was) but I had a blast and preferred the desert over the beaches any day.

But having said that, I have heard the New England Hwy is a main trucker route and can be quite busy. I would definitely get some local input from bike tourists on that.

If this is your first time to Australia, I would take the coastal route and detour into the dividing range when available. You would at least get a lot more variety and the coastal towns cater to travelers so there are tons of hostels along the way.
Originally Posted by Machka
What exactly is the route you're planning to take?

Starting where? Ending where?
I will plan on taking a more coastal route. This is my first trip to Australia and also my first solo, self-supported tour. I suppose I will start in Sydney and end up in Cairns. I've heard good things about Townsville, Mackay, and Brisbane along the coast. Hitting the dividing range would be great, too, if it's not too far out of the way. I'm not all too familiar with Australia and which towns would be best for cyclists/anyone to visit and pass through. That's what brought me here! I'll make a post in Australian Cycling Forums, too.
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Old 04-25-12, 06:47 PM
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Originally Posted by sailingbynight
That's a good point. I'm not exactly sure, they are friends of my family and I've never met them. I don't believe they are cyclists, though, and I know one of them is originally a fellow American - are we soft compared to you guys?
Once you get out of the cities and see the people in the 4WD having an "outback" experience I suspect you will find "soft" is so-often a very good descriptor. As many a cycling tourist or a bushwalker will tell you, getting advice from non-cyclists/walkers or for that matter at times fellow cyclists is not that great an idea.

Distance and conditions are seen from such a different perspective from the soft seat of 4WD where all your effort is put into wiggling your big toe.

I would take a moment to read the various journals at Crazy Guy on a Bike to get a taste of riding in Australia. GJ Coop whilst not covering your planed route yet is a great read never the less for the humour and sense of Australia.


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Old 04-26-12, 12:59 AM
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Wow... all that stuff! Unbelievable.
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Old 12-26-12, 11:11 PM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
Wow... all that stuff! Unbelievable.
If you read where GJ goes and for how long you'd wonder he didn't have more. He's been places 4x4 drivers
wouldn't tread. Really recommend anyone to read his blogs/web pages although you need to be prepared
to be sleep deprived and will be in danger of selling all your belongings and ripping up the mortgage papers to follow in his tyre prints. If not you might as well shoot yourself now as I wouldn't be surprised if an audio tape of his writings were played in a cemetery the very dead would be motivated to take up cycle touring in Australia. I reckon anyone uninspired needs their pulse checked.
https://www.cycletrailsaustralia.com/

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Old 12-26-12, 11:27 PM
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sailingbynight ... tell us about your trip! I would imagine that you're done and back by now.
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Old 12-26-12, 11:32 PM
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I know the guy who created some of the first tyre tracks through the desert country of WA and the NT back in the 1990s.

Robin lived down the road from me in Victoria. He didn't tour with half the gear this guy has on his bike and trailer.

Mind you, Robin is as crazy as a cut snake (and craziness is always a matter of perspective), but that doesn't take away from his pioneering achievements through this sort of country. As well as the other guys who were "competing" with him to be the first to do the same trails.
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Old 12-26-12, 11:58 PM
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Robin is also a cartographer who makes excellent and informative maps of Victoria (and possibly elsewhere too), with the usual information you might find on a map, as well as a whole bunch of other information about much remoter parts of Victoria.

I have several of his maps, and they're really good.
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Old 12-27-12, 12:57 AM
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Originally Posted by Rowan
He didn't tour with half the gear this guy has on his bike and trailer.
Hi Rowan
I'm sure Robins achievements are worthy of note. Not to steal any of his thunder and assuming you've read GJ's blogs, was Robin "on tour" for similar durations of trip? I reckon GJ has been certified by a few unqualified shrinks in his day

Either way, I'd recommend his musings as a good read and whether you personally dislike his gearlist or not perhaps you might enjoy some of his perspectives that he's taken the time to put down if not on paper exactly at least on the electronic medium that we currently seem to favor reading from.
Hope you enjoy.

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Old 12-27-12, 01:15 PM
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Hi, all!

Sorry I never updated this post after finishing! I toured from late May to the beginning of July. I started in Sydney, biked to Melbourne, flew back to Sydney, biked, took trains and a plane up through Newcastle, the Gold Coast, and Brisbane, finally flew up to Cairns to meet up with a friend and do some diving and other non-cycling activities.

Sydney to Melbourne was the main leg of the journey as far as cycling goes; I was focused on finishing that as its own tour and seeing the most I possibly could - from the seat of my bike or any other way - for the rest of the journey. I met a ton of fantastic people along the way, many of whom helped me out immensely.

I have one lingering question for Australian cyclists, though... WHERE ARE ALL OF YOU?! I met only ONE other bike tourist during the entire trip, who was, unfortunately, going the other direction! Despite meeting and riding with a few day-riders, is it safe to assume that the winter weather and short days keep most of you inside?

I kept a blog through all of it (which I'm very happy to have done). You can read it all here: https://www.m-u.us. On top of the site, I'm more than happy to pay it forward and offer up any advice to those considering touring in the area!

Thanks,
Mike


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