Local knowledge gave us, a night a rainforest, waterfalls and kangaroos. Brilliant view at small beaches and a route away from the busy roads.
Day one – 11/10/10 :
Our journey further north started a day earlier than planned, because we had to hunt down a new front light for me. The sad news was that the only shop that had it was in Melbourne and there was not much time for it to be shipped to Brisbane before we left for New Zealand. We then called around a few bicycles shops in Sydney to see if they had any ideas.
City Cycle Depot in central Sydney, who helped Anthony with the route out of Katoomba and came highly recommended by him, said that they did have an SuperNova E3 triple in stock, but that was not what I was looking for. Though they did say they’d call us back in an hour and try to sort something out for us.
An hour later they called to say that one of the staff members had one which he’d bought for his personal use but hadn’t got around to installing yet, that we could buy from him at stock price. Result :)
En route to the bicycle shop we stopped and had lunch with Becky whom I used to work with in London. Peli had a tiny vegetarian meal, a taster board with tiny taster dishes (e.g. a spoonful of beetroot sorbet) accompanied by four different beers for me and Anthony to share (not a great choice for a teetotal cycling vegetarian, but the chips made up for it). It was great to catch up with Becky after about eight years, and get some good advice about everything from jobs to buying property.
We headed over to City Cycle Depot to talk with the guys there about the light and look some bicycle porn. As soon as they figured out what we were doing over the next few days suddenly one of them had a map out and was showing us a great route north, including details of National Park camping grounds where we could pitch the tent.
We then did a quick tour of the town again thanks to our great guide Anthony, including a visit to ‘The Australian’ pub and a trip to a fancy chocolate shop before we headed back to pack for our journey north.
While planning this trip the talk had been going to and fro about how to do the journey between Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. We weighed up trains, planes and automobiles to cover the 900 odd Km from Sydney to Brisbane and made the decision that renting a car was the best option, as it allowed us to actually see the sights and make the odd stop-off. Also, it meant that we could avoid having to pack up the bikes again for flying, and paying excess luggage charges again.
Day two – 12/10/10:
We got up and headed over Sydney Harbour Bridge via the bicycle shop to pick up my light which turned out to be the “lefty” version. Then over to the car rental place to pick up the 4×4 for our journey north. The fella at the bicycle shop said to just blast up the motorway past Newcastle before ducking off the highway to enjoy the countryside.
At Seal Rocks we had a quick break and a dipped our toes on the ocean and headed toward our first night stop. As we pulled into Hat Head National park just South West Rock we spotted a Kangaroo on the road in front off us. Peli grabbed the camera and jumped out of the car to take pictures of the kangaroo mum and the little Joey. Though our camera is playing up so Peli only managed to take around 10 photos of blackness.
We pitched our tent and started to cook dinner among the noise of the animals which just seemed to get louder as it got darker. Again we had a great night sleep even though we were woken up a few times during the night by animals ruffling our tent.
Day three – 13/10/10:
When we cycle we have no problems with stopping and seeking out water. But for some reason in a car we lost track and didn’t pick up any, so we were rather dehydrated in the morning. So we set out hunting for water and petrol, which we found at a petrol station. We were running low on cash, too, so we used our last ten dollars to buy some much-needed food (not-so-great greasy chips, but they were welcome nonetheless for our starving bellies).
Still heading north towards Coffs Harbour, we then headed inland towards Casino and Lismore, through some good old countryside. We were told about the Minyon Falls in the Nightcap National Park for our second night’s camp, in a rainforest. The drive up to the Minyon Falls was stunning, right along a ridge with steep drops each side of the track. We caught a glimpse of the stunning 100 metre-high Minyon Falls along the way through the trees, and stopped off at a viewing point to take a few piccies.
A bit further up the track and we found our resting place for the night: in the Whian Whian State Forest at the Rummery Park camping ground, a lovely little clearing by a creek with flat grassy pitches, some eco-loos, barbecue sites dotted about, and a rainwater tank. We didn’t make the mistake of the previous night, and had a spare 1.5 litre bottle of water to hand. We had the place to ourselves that night, apart from a few thousand wild beasties and bugs, which seemed to vastly turn up the volume as soon as we were ready to turn in for the night. In the morning we noticed a camper van had arrived during the night; they waved us a cheery goodbye as we set off for our final day’s driving in Australia.
We reflected that had we not lost our expensive light at Jenolan Caves, we wouldn’t have met the friendly bike shop chap who directed us to these wonderful National Park camping grounds. A silver lining!
Day four – 14/10/10 :
Breakfast was cooked in the back of the car while taking in the fantastic rainforest, before we went out to the sea and saw the hippie capital of Australia, Byron Bay. I can’t remember much from when I was here last, 16-17 years ago, but boy has this place turned commercial. So we just had a quick drive up to the lighthouse and then headed for Brisbane.
We arrived at our friend’s SandyV work where she had boxes for our bikes all ready, we had showers at her office and a quick chat, before my friend Ian came and picked us up.
Click over here to see the photos : Road to Brisbane