Sydney - The Gold Coast

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Sydney - The Gold Coast

Postby IrishJames » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:12 am

Hey could anyone help me?!
I’m planning on coming to Australia (from Ireland) for a year, possibly longer, in the hope of getting some architectural related work in the Gold Coast.
I wanted to start my trip by cycling from Sydney to the Gold Coast. I’ve been doing a bit of research into it and I’d really appreciate if anyone had some local advice for me.
I was hoping to complete the cycle in about 10 days. The maximum in one day I expect to be able to do would be about 160km (I have done plenty of triathlons before so I’m not too worried about my level of fitness).
The routine I expect will be something like getting on the road by 7am and covering 80km (4hrs (AT) 20kph avg.). Then resting for the hottest part of the day and back on the bike after lunch about 2 or 3 and covering another 80km. That would be the most demanding days. Other days I expect to be covering about 100km.
I’ve been reading about the Pacific Highway and the feeling I’m getting is that I should avoid it if I can. There does seem to be some stretches that it looks like I’ll have to stay on it.
Basically I just like to find the most scenic route possible and not to be stuck on the highway. Could anyone suggest places/routes I should definitely see/take?
What are the best maps to get? I don’t want to rely on google maps or sat nav at all. I want to do it ‘old school’ with good maps. What are the best maps to buy? Can I get them online?
Also (probably a really touristy question!), what about croc’s and snakes...should I avoid swimming in lakes etc.
I have the route pretty much worked out but if anyone had any advice I’d really appreciate it! I’m really looking forward to experiencing you country!
Thanks,
James.
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by BNA » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:30 am

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Re: Sydney - The Gold Coast

Postby grw » Tue Nov 17, 2009 8:30 am

James, the lonely planet do a book called 'Cycling Australia' (ISBN 1 86450 166 9) which has a route from Melbourne to the Gold Coast via Sydney. Might be worth getting hold of a copy?
I've ridden parts of the highway. It seems safe enough, although not much fun. Busy, and avoids a lot of the nice scenery.
Natmap topographic maps through Auslig cover the whole country. NRMA also do a range of maps which vary in scale but were generally detailed enough for me when I toured.
You're inviting scorn asking about snakes and crocodiles on this site. I did the same thing so speak from experience. Somewhere else in this forum 'Animals' or something like that?
Gareth
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Re: Sydney - The Gold Coast

Postby elantra » Tue Nov 17, 2009 11:35 am

grw wrote:James, the lonely planet do a book called 'Cycling Australia' (ISBN 1 86450 166 9) which has a route from Melbourne to the Gold Coast via Sydney. Might be worth getting hold of a copy?
I've ridden parts of the highway. It seems safe enough, although not much fun. Busy, and avoids a lot of the nice scenery.
Natmap topographic maps through Auslig cover the whole country. NRMA also do a range of maps which vary in scale but were generally detailed enough for me when I toured.
You're inviting scorn asking about snakes and crocodiles on this site. I did the same thing so speak from experience. Somewhere else in this forum 'Animals' or something like that?
Gareth

Yeah definitely have a look at the Lonely Planet "Cycling Australia"

If you are travelling in Summer (December till April) you will not want to venture too far away from the coast.

There is a great shortcut across Port Stephens on a ferry boat. This is a must-do. Then you can travel close to beach as far as Forster/Tuncurry although last time i was down there some of the roads were relatively narrow and full of potholes. (but sometimes we do fix roads in Oz)

Further north check out the route used on the recent "Rainbow ride" from Byron Bay to Currumbin (a suburb in the Gold Coast) as this was a terrific route and avoided the main roads brilliantly although not the hills.
As long as you are ON THE BICYCLE snakes are not an issue, but you will see some flat ones on the road and maybe even a live one or 2
But cars and trucks are an issue and riding on the highway is best avoided even if it seems safe enough it will be hot and noisy and unpleasant.
From the Gold Coast to brisbane catch the train (at Robina or the new Varsity Lakes station which might be open soon)
"Technology gives us much more information but Education is never be able to give us the skill to evaluate it"
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Re: Sydney - The Gold Coast

Postby il padrone » Tue Nov 17, 2009 5:52 pm

Here's some maps of my route from Sydney to Qld (did it 10 years ago) avoiding the Pacific Hwy as much as possible:

Getting out of Sydney

The Hawkesbury to Port Macquarie

Port Macquarie to Murwillumbah

The Pacific Highway is just not at all pleasant for a bike tour. You'll get lots of fast-moving buses, B-double trucks, camper vans and fast car drivers. It is very easy and much more pleasant to avoid it - and you get to see the country much more as the highway often bypasses the nicest towns and country.

If you're planning to begin this tour soon you'll have hot and humid conditions as you head north. Generally the best time to head north is anytime from April onwards until maybe September - the weather will be drier, comfortably warm for cycling and less risk of cylones in Qld. Can you delay it into next year? Going the other way around (if you're planning to do the full around Oz tour) wouldn't be very wise as you'll tend to get headwinds all the time.

And note that your idea of a siesta in the hottest part of the day is good, but in summer the hottest part of the day is more likely to be from midday right through until 5 or 6pm. Riding at 2pm will put you out in the worst of the heat. Water is your friend in summer - stop and swim in it (Qld and NT rivers with crosodiles being the exception), drink it, pour it over your head and clothing as you ride. Make sure you have good water carrying capacity - 2-3 bidons plus a good sized water bag (4-6L) to strap on the rack.

A couple of points about maps - if you're a member of a motoring organisation you may be able to get the NRMA maps for free in NSW. But also, all up the NSW north coast, many of the town tourist information centres have free local maps that cover overlapping areas all the way to Qld, and they often have many local attractions, national parks and places to camp that are invaluable to a touring cyclist. Look out for these maps on your journey.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Sydney - The Gold Coast

Postby IrishJames » Wed Nov 18, 2009 6:12 am

Hey! Hows it going?! Thanks a million guys for all the advice! I can’t stop thinking about it now! Just really want to go asap!

Gareth, I checked that book out, and have ordered one on amazon. I also found another similar book which has a route from Sydney to Brisbane which I ordered as well. I also checked out the NRMA maps and there’s a whole set which covers both NSW and Queensland, they’re cheap enough and I reckon will be money well spent! Thanks for the advice.

Elantra, thanks for the areas/routes you’ve suggested. I will definitely go via those points! Just the kind of advice I was looking for!
Il Padrone thanks for your advice also! So are you saying that if I went this time of year that I would be cycling against headwinds? I could fly over and maybe once I’ve settled in and get a bit of time off I could go next year Brisbane to Sydney. But I just don’t think I could wait. I just want to get out there and do!

Thanks everyone for the advice about crocs and snakes also. Could I ask another wild animal question?!!!...How tame are kangaroos? If I’m cycling and one is near would it be possible to stop feed him/her? Or is this not advisable at all?

I was actually planning on flying out to Sydney for new years eve and then set off on the cycle a couple of days after that. Am I crazy to cycle this time of year in the heat? I’m expecting 28/30 degrees Celsius. I think I could cope with it. Although it is about 5 degrees C in Ireland at the moment!

Also I was going to go with slick/racing tyres on my (Giant racing) bike. Should I replace them with a hybrid type tyre?

Thanks to your advice it will be a great trip. It will be a cycle of a lifetime! I really appreciate the time you’ve taken to reply on the forum. My email address is [email protected] . Drop me a line and I’ll send you some photos once I’ve done it!

Slainte!!! (an Irish word for cheers...it actually means health).

James.
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Re: Sydney - The Gold Coast

Postby elantra » Wed Nov 18, 2009 8:49 am

Hi James.

It is always a pleasure to discuss travel issues especially bicycle touring.

I think your journey would be OK in January.
But be quite conservative with your daily distances.
Allow yourself some "acclimatisation", make the first few days short distances.
Weather usually unpleasantly humid north from Byron Bay to brisbane.

I think you will probably find that winds at that time of year between sydney and brisbane are very mild and tend to be mainly afternoon breezes off the ocean.

You do need to have a radio and if it looks like there will be a storm tune in to a weather report.
Kangaroos almost always run away from you, only rarely can you feed them but sometimes you can get close up to them for photos.
You also need to be aware that it is the aussie holiday season and many of the best seaside camping grounds will be "full"
"Full" often means the office will tell you there are no vacancies so it is sometimes better to sneak in and then pay the next morning as you are leaving.
Let me put in a good word for the council camping grounds at Trial Bay (South West Rocks), Sawtell, and Evans Heads.
All great spots, but especially South West Rocks.
And BE CAREFUL IN THE WATER - swim only between the flags.
Let us know how it goes.
Steve

Also I was going to go with slick/racing tyres on my (Giant racing) bike. Should I replace them with a hybrid type tyre?

I don't think racing tyres would be ideal.
I would try to get 700x25 or 700x28 preferably something that is not slippery on wet roads. (if such a thing exists)
But NOT too knobbly
The rain tends to come down in bucketloads sometimes and the roads can be wet for hours or days afterwards.
"Technology gives us much more information but Education is never be able to give us the skill to evaluate it"
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