|Today’s Distance: 62km
||Total Distance: 1046.5km
Today we passed 1000km and today was meant to be the second day of this hard stretch in NSW.
We started on a great cycle path that wound it’s way through bush in town. It’s always a nice way to start the day’s biking as it eases you into it. After such a nice start, we were then on the highway again. The first few kilometres were hard work as there was no verge and it wound it’s way through towns and had lots of traffic. After 20 minutes it opened out in the countryside and the verge became better.
There were some substantial hills in the morning. We cycled over some impressive viaducts that spanned gullies on the biggest hill. As we got further north the traffic increased and the road got more congested. It was a pleasure to turn off down a quiet country road to St Georges Basin then on a long cycle path all the way to Huskisson on Jervis Bay. We enjoyed most of the cycling today and it’s nice to know that is the hardest stretch finished.
We like Huskisson!!! Will went for a swim on a beautiful beach and then we walked along the beach to town, had a beer at one of the many bars then had a curry for dinner. Huskisson feels a bit like Wanaka and has a buzz even at this time of year. A very nice place.
Highlight of the day: Huskisson
Starting on a great cycle path
Swimming in Jervis Bay
Huskisson beer with a view
|Today’s Distance: 53km
||Total Distance: 984.5km
Batemans Bay to Ulladulla didn’t sound like it was going to be enjoyable. The Lonely Planet says today and tomorrow are the hardest days in NSW, mainly due to the highway and hills.
We got up and were on the road by 9.20am. The first couple of kilometres were through suburban streets and on a cycle path. We then joined the Princes Highway for the rest of the day.
At this point we would like to make a confession. We’ve been calling the number 1 highway the ‘Princess Highway’. While turning onto the highway this morning, Will noticed the sign said ‘Princes Highway’ and thought it was a spelling mistake. When we saw another sign with the same spelling, we thought it might be a different road. This evening we looked it up and it turns out there is no ‘Princess Highway’, only a Princes Highway. It was named after the Prince of Wales during his visit in 1920 which annoys Will as it should have a possessive apostrophe and Prince’s Highway.
As soon as we joined the Princes Highway we saw two cycle tourists ahead. They were biking at the same pace as us and we eventually caught up with them when they stopped for a break. The two Korean cyclists are on a trip from the west of Melbourne to Cairns and they started the same time as us although have travelled a different route. We had a quick chat then carried on and then had morning tea with them and saw them again during the day. They are the first cycle tourists we have seen and we are the first they have seen. It was nice to swap stories and chat about cycling.
Although the entire day was on highway, it was a nice ride, there was a reasonable verge and traffic was OK. It was made special by seeing other cyclists.
Ulladulla was a pleasant surprise. Will didn’t have high hopes because the town has ‘dull’ in it’s name. In reality, Ulladulla is set on a beautiful harbour and the caravan park was in a prime location with great views and big trees. Today was warm, 22 degrees and it’s getting nicer the further north we get.
Highlight of the day: Meeting other cycle tourists.
Great to meet other cyclists
Lunching in a bus shelter
Camping in Ulladulla
Will enjoying a beer in Ulladulla
A nice shot of Will’s bike
|Yesterday’s Distance: 28km
||Total Distance: 931.5km
Yesterday we had a very short and relaxing morning’s bike from Broulee to Batemans Bay. It rained overnight but the weather cleared and it turned into a nice warm day. We packed up the wet tent and were on the road by 9:30am. We cycled through Broulee (followed by a friendly dog) then leisurely cycled through the villages towards Batemans Bay. We stopped at Malua Bay at a café and had a cup of tea while watching the surfers. At Batehaven we picked up the cycle path which took us all the way into Batemans Bay.
After checking in at the Big4 Caravan Park and treating ourselves to the cabin, we showered then walked back over the bridge into town. We grabbed some lunch then wandered around town, did some shopping and Will got a haircut. Later in the afternoon we went to the movies to see Company You Keep with Robert Redford (it was OK, average). Going to the movies in the afternoon always seems like a treat and a real holiday thing to do.
Today we are having a day off, our first since Merimbula 6 days ago. We’ve dried the tent, done some laundry, planned the route ahead and updated this blog. Later we’ll go for a walk and look around Batemans Bay some more. We are looking forward to Jervis Bay further up the coast.
Highlight of yesterday: Looking forward to a day off today.
A cuppa on route
Batemans Bay foreshore
Another cuppa later in the day (note the bike path sign behind) (also note the umbrella behind Jen, it’s not a crazy hat).
|Today’s Distance: 60.4km
||Total Distance: 903.5km
As the title says, today was a mixed bag of riding with the best cycle paths and the Princess Highway.
We started the day in luxury as the Narooma to Dalmeny cycle path ran right past the front of our tent. After crossing the Wagonga Inlet we cycled on the boardwalk then a wonderful wide paved cycle path. The path followed the coast and we past beautiful little beaches. It was a pity it was early in the day as the beaches looked so inviting. We stopped and asked directions from a friendly lady who invited us in for a cup of tea. The cycle path took us a full 10km through Dalmeny and basically joined the Princess Highway.
We then had 35km of biking on the Princess Highway as there is no other option. Mostly the verge was wide, mostly the traffic was considerate, and most of the hills were tame. Nothing much more we can say about biking on the highway other than maybe local councils could work on a cycling alternative.
We arrived in Moruya and picked up the local cycle path from the TAFE into town and had lunch in the park by the river and watched the sea gulls. That was the end of the highway biking for today. After Moruya we cycled the remaining 13km to Broulee on a remarkably flat road for NSW. Broulee is a little town by the beach which looks like a nice place to have a holiday home. We are just passing through and didn’t see much of Broulee.
Highlight of the day: Narooma to Dalmeny cycle path. Nice work organisers!
Will on the Narooma boardwalk
Luxury cycle path from Narooma to Dalmeny
A quiet stretch of the Princess Highway
|Today’s Distance: 36.7km
||Total Distance: 843.1km
The day dawned bright, warm and clear. We packed up and were on the road by 9:15am. Bermagui is obviously a popular place judging by the number of caravan parks we passed in the first 10km of biking. Lake Wallaga near Bermagui was spectacular and flat as a millpond (or as Steve would say, “glassy” :-).
We made our way along the C road to the junction with the big kahuna, the thick purple road on our maps, the Princess Highway. Today was our first real biking on the Princess Highway. Although it is only single carriageway, there was a wide verge. The cars were going past fast but we felt safe on the wide verge. That said, we don’t want to spend any more time than necessary on the highway, so we took a diversion onto the Old Highway. What a find!! Lonely Planet, Google Maps and other cyclist blogs all take the Princess Highway, but looking on the map, the Old Highway looked feasible. The Old Highway was packed dirt for the first few km then sealed. It was very quiet and went through beautiful old growth forest, then very well groomed lifestyle blocks then as we got closer to Narooma, expensive houses in the bush. The loudest sound we could hear biking was the Australian Bell Birds beeping away.
We arrived in Narooma at midday and setup the tent at the Big4 holiday park right on the water. We then sat and admired the view for quite some time. Narooma is a wealthy looking town with beautiful surroundings. We will be on the move again tomorrow aiming for Broulee further up the coast.
Highlight of the day: The beauty of the Old Highway
Jen on the Old Highway
Camping at the Big4 in Narooma
|Today’s Distance: 44km
||Total Distance: 806.4km
The weather today was perfect with a blue sky and 17 degrees. We cycled along the coast and through the Mimosa Rocks National Park from Tathra to Bermagui. The road was up and down with very little flat riding. On the whole, we enjoyed the hills as our legs are getting fitter and fitter. There was one hill with a short section of gradient at 18% which was very tough. The traffic was light with groups of cars then quiet periods.
We had lunch on a beautiful Cuttagee beach, sitting on the sand and watching the surfers. We arrived in Bermagui at 2pm and after the normal check-in, set up tent and shower, we went for a walk down to the marina and back via the supermarket and pub. This town has a recreational fishing focus with many chartered boats and private boats. We later sat on the headland and watched them all returning. There must have been a huge queue at the boat ramp!
We can hear the surf breaking from the tent, and it will be an early night, as 18% gradients are tough going. Tomorrow we will be biking on the Princess Highway as there are no other options in getting to Narooma.
Highlight of the day: Lunch on the beach.
Starting the day in Tathra
Mimosa Rocks National Park
Lunch on Cuttagee Beach
Going for a walk in Bermagui
Watching the sun set in Bermagui
|Today’s Distance: 28.4km
||Total Distance: 762.4km
We only needed to cycle a short distance today to set us up for the next days. Merimbula to Tathra is only 28km but there are some very steep hills. Nothing high or particularly long, but famously steep. Straight out of Merimbula the road rises steeply to get over a hill. At lunch a couple of days ago, the friendly roadside mower told us he sees many cycle tourists pushing their bikes us the hill. That spurred us on to not push the bikes and we ground to the top in granny gear. It’s certainly the steepest hill since leaving Melbourne.
After the first hill it was rolling from sea level to about 180m over a couple more equally steep hills. We arrived in Tathra with pumped legs though not particularly tired. Tathra is a pretty seaside town with a real holiday feeling. We checked into the Big4 holiday park and setup the tent. The friendly lady from the reception brought us some home baked banana cake made because the ‘big boss’ from Big4 had visited this morning. As a result of the inspection, the place is spick and span.
This afternoon we went for a walk along the beach and up the cliff stairs to the pub and shop. It was nice having a beer on the hotel deck with a great view of the ocean.
Highlight of the day: Making the top of the brutal hills.
Camping under palms
A rare selfie (we took 6 trying to get one with Jennie’s eyes open)
|Today’s Distance: 0km
||Total Distance: 734km
After arriving relatively late yesterday, and the forecast of wet weather today, we decided to have another day off. Overnight it poured with rain and the locals are really pleased as the area needed it. By morning, most of the bad weather had passed and the day got better and better.
We had a lazy morning sleeping in then doing laundry and visiting a bike shop. This is the first bike shop since Bairnsdale. After lunch we went for a long walk around town and along the beautiful beach. Merimbula is like a seaside version of Wanaka in that it’s a small town with lots of motels, restaurants and bars. It’s certainly been worth spending a day here though we suspect Merimbula is typical of coastal NSW towns and we’ll see a lot of this in coming weeks.
Tomorrow we start the push north through the little towns of Tathra then Bermagui and Narooma. We estimate we will be visiting Dan and Em in Shellharbour in two weeks and passing through Sydney in not long after that.
Highlight of the day: A long walk around town and along the beach.
At the beach in morning while the weather cleared
Jen at the caravan park
windswept Jen in Merimbula
Kite surfers on Merimbula Beach
Happy to be beside the seaside
|Today’s Distance: 87km
||Total Distance: 734km
Today was our longest day of cycling dropping from the plateau down to sea level. We woke to a cold foggy morning in Bombala. We learned later that nearby Cooma got down to -7C overnight. It wasn’t frosty in Bombala probably because of the fog but that made it very cold with no sunlight. We have all the gear for cold weather cycling which made it OK. Will looked like a Ground Effect fanboy wearing his Daddy Longlegs, Juggernauts shorts and Storm Trooper jacket.
We left Bombala at 8am and made our way through the mist to the old town of Cathcart. Not long after Cathcart the sun game out and the fog dissolved. The scenery was spectacular and reminiscent of the Lewis Pass in NZ. We made good time getting from Bombala to the top of the pass which separates the plateau from the descent. This also marked the shire boundary as we entered the Bega Valley Shire.
From the top which was 920m above sea level, we dropped rapidly down the Mount Darragh Road. It wasn’t as cold as we expected and after 20km of coasting we got to the pretty little town of Wyndham at 300m. It was hot and we felt overdressed so stripped off down to shorts and a t-shirt. We had lunch in the domain and chatted to a very friendly council roadside mower who was also having lunch. He was a mine of information and was also interested in our trip. We asked all the questions that had built up, things like “what is the bird that makes that sound” etc. He told us about the route ahead.
After lunch we dropped down to Pambula at sea level. As we approached the coast we could smell the sea and the air felt thicker and warm. Just before Pambula we met a friendly cyclist who is a retired Physio. He is planning a cycle touring trip and we chatted for 20 minutes on the roadside about cycle touring gear and local area.
From Pambula we cycled the remaining 6km on a flat cycle path. 4km short of our destination it started to rain. It poured down. We arrived at the friendly Merimbula Big4 Holiday Park at 3pm and checked into a cabin for 2 nights as the weather tomorrow is meant to be bad. We can hear the surf pounding above the sound of the heavy rain on the roof of our cabin.
If we’d biked faster today, or not chatted so much, we would have arrived dry. But we wouldn’t change the day for the world. The scenery changed from high country tussock and grasslands to coastal beach. It was a great day of cycling and meeting people.
Highlight of the day: The interesting friendly people we met.
The clearing mist on the plateau
Approaching the top
|Today’s Distance: 0km
||Total Distance: 647km
Today we are relaxing in the pretty village of Bombala. After the two big uphill days then the shorter day yesterday, we felt we needed to give the legs and body a rest. Tomorrow will be a big day so having a break sets us up for the ride ahead. We plan to bike 84km from Bombala to the tourist town of Merimbula on the coast. Although it’s a long distance, it is mostly downhill which will be nice. The weather today is cold and overcast and it is forecast to be slightly colder tomorrow with a high of only 12 degrees. We’ll have to dress warmly as hours of downhill will be cold. We are looking forward to getting to the beach again.
As we are having a day off today, we thought we’d reflect on cycling in Victoria. Most of our riding was flat, very flat. Gippsland has a reputation as an industrial area but we saw very little industry. If your route doesn’t go near a desalination plant, coal mine or power station, all you see is farmland. Mostly we saw farmland and forests as we made our way across Gippsland. Victoria is very well endowed with rail trails, cycle paths and facilities for cyclists. In some respects it’s sad so many railway lines have closed but Victorians have made full use of them as cycle paths. We found drivers were almost all very considerate of us and we felt safe cycling in Victoria.
We developed our route as we went. Originally we planned to follow the Lonely Planet route but this is over 10 years old and things have changed. Most of the rail trails seem new and many of the cycle paths are the same. So each day we would look ahead, consider the LP guide, local advice, Google Maps and any other information before deciding on our route. In general Google Maps routing for cyclists does a good job of providing a route. It includes rail trails and cycle paths so we generally follow Google Maps unless we get local advice to the contrary. Sometimes Google wants to send us down gravel roads but we generally prefer to stick to the seal if possible. Our touring bikes and posteriors thank us for not cycling on gravel.
We enjoyed Victoria and found people friendly. We are a bit of a novelty cycling at this time of year. It seems we are also a novelty that we aren’t Germans as most cycle tourists seem to be. We haven’t seen a single other cycle tourist and only seen a handful of other cyclists on the rail trails. Probably most Australians think it’s too cold at this time of year, but we think the day time temperatures are perfect, although it’s cooler up on the plateau in NSW. Temperatures between 15 and 18 have been normal with suits us fine.
So tomorrow, we head down to tourist land. Most towns we’ve stayed in so far have one Caravan Park. Merimbula has five which is a sign of it’s touristiness. We’ll have to dress warmly for the descent!!