All about touring, whether you are a local or visiting from overseas.
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We've done a few long-distance cycling trips in the past - the last one with a 2 yr. old. This year we are planning to do one in Australia with 2 kids in order to escape the Canadian winter. We'll be in Australia from roughly December to February. Any recommendations for what would be the best route - south or east? What would be the best place to start - all flights seem to go into Sydney? Need to consider factors such as road safety, traffic, road shoulders, temperatures (i.e. not too hot!), etc.
you'll see far more on the east than west coast, also less distance between destinations.
you haven't mentioned the ages of your kids or the type of bikes you'd be riding. the bike friday tandems seem a good option for touring with younger kids that can keep up the pedalling.
also will be the hottest part of the year, watch for snakes!
A heads up to start: If you live in one of the Maritime Provinces then the travel time to the west coast of Australia (WA) via Europe is about the same as to the east coast of Australia via LAX and SFO. However, if you live anywhere else then you are almost certainly going to enter Australia through Sydney. It is possible to fly from the west coast of the US directly to Cairns or Brisbane, QLD, but you will want to avoid northern QLD for reasons given below.
First, it is the wet season at this time of year in northern Australia. So northern QLD, the Northern Territory and northern WA are not suitable. (The last two would not be suitable if the kids are under about 15 at any time of year.)
This leaves New South Wales, Victoria, Tasmania, South Australia and southern Western Australia. If you are worried about heat then I would look at Tasmania. Also, if the kids are quite young you may want to look at New Zealand.
The only state I have cycled in is WA so I will give a quick description of the south west of this state. The south west is (looking at your map of southern WA) west of a line drawn from Albany to Perth. This is the most heavily populated area of the state. It is also the coolest part of the state although daily maximums will within the time you give be over 35 degrees C and sometimes over 40. This is the area of the state that contains the wineries and forests. It also has lots of good and relatively safe beaches. Beyond the south west of the state is an area know as the "wheat belt" which is hot and beyond that is arid pastoral land which is hotter.
In general, highways in Australia are not as good as ones in Canada and shoulders tend to disappear outside the metropolitan areas and towns. And this is true of the highways in this area as well. However, traffic is light and local and truck drivers are very considerate. (There are some highways to avoid though.) But there are many back roads throughout this are and local cyclists make use of these where they can.
From December to February in Australia it is generally not much fun to be caught on the black top after about 11AM. Cyclists usually start riding early in the day and finish about this time. This means that destinations will be about 5 hours apart. I am assuming that, with kids, you may not want to move camp every day.
You can get some idea of the various areas of Australia by looking at "Australia" at crazyguyonabike.
In the time period you are looking at I'd keep my touring to south-east NSW, eastern, central and soth-west Victoria and Tasmania. Tasmania is a lovely scenic place to cycle, but it is considerably hillier than Victoria so you will need to moderate your distances with the children. The beauty of Tasmania is that temeratures are generally about 5 degrees cooler than the mainland. We were there 2 years ago in January, with our kids, and had few days over 25.
Victoria does have some significant advantages - a denser road network with many excellent minor country roads, towns generally more closely spaced, a good variety of historical and natural landscapes and a rail system that is fairly extensive, forming a network that enables you to carry bikes on the train to boost your travel distances.
In summer I'd keep well away from the northern states, as advised, but even Sydney and northern NSW can be very humid and wet. One suggestion - if you were able to juggle your travels to come here during March to May you would have a great deal more options open to you. In many areas the heat drops down and we have marvellous fine, stable autumn weather.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
Kids are 7 months and 6 years. Will likely pull both in a Chariot double trailer (or 2 chariot single trailers- haven't decided yet).
Do we need to watch out for snakes everywhere or is it more in the North?
Last edited by cyclefamily on Tue Sep 30, 2008 1:40 am, edited 1 time in total.
No flexibility on the time. It's hard to find a good country for cycling in those months.
In that case you should look at touring from Sydney, south down the coast, choosing secondary roads, rather than the Princes Hwy. Maybe try to head up towards the Monaro Plateau, Cooma and Jindabyne.
Continue into Victoria in the New Year. Just be aware that the south of NSW and East Gippsland in Victoria have only a few small towns with longer distances (60-100kms) between them, and there's really only the main highway (Princes Hwy) or from the Monaro Plateau you can come down the quiet Cann River Hwy, or the Bonang Hwy through Delgate and Bonang (hillier, and few tiny towns, but a lovely ride). There is a scenic rail trail (gravel surface) that takes you from Orbost through forest and farmlands all the way to Bairnesdale. However off this there is Buchan, with its caves to the north, and Lakes Entrance and the Gippsland Lakes to the south. Backroads to avoid the Highway will take you from Bairnesdale through to Traralgon across the flat plains. Maybe go into the hills of South Gippsland if you're fit for hills by now. Come into Melbourne via Phillip Island and the ferry from Cowes to Stony Point, then ride to Frankston, or take the train all the way into Melbourne's city centre.
In February go across to Tasmania on the ferry Spirit of Tasmania. Go through the Midlands or across to the east coast for some lovely beaches and spectacular Freycinet and Maria Island.
Snakes will be about, including in Tassie, but are an over-rated risk in Australia. Teach your kids to stamp solidly when walking in areas where snakes may be about, avoid long grass. Most importantly if you do encounter a snake, leave it alone. Most people get bitten by tampering with snakes. They are just as scared of you and will almost always go the other way. Chappel Island tiger snakes are, I believe more agressive, but you're not going to visit this obscure Bass Strait island. Oh, and people worry about our sharks! Also so over-rated, I'd be more worried about the plane flight over, the risk is much higher for death or injury.
Towing kids in a trailer is hard work, I know, I did that with my two. Great when they can ride free on a trailer-bike, or on the back of a tandem with kiddie-cranks. Mine began this at about 4 yrs. Would this be an option for your eldest? Of course transporting tandems is a more complex task but a trailerbike is a possibility.
Here's a useful site with a wide range of cycling info about touring in Australia (has a bit of a focus on South Australia and outback touring).
il padrone has already given good advice re snakes. i would add don't lift logs or sheets of building material. snakes definitely an overated risk, but worth being aware of. bikes can be quiet and not alert snakes of vibrations, just make sure upcoming sticks on the road are what they appear to be.
Friends of mine have just come back from a month cycletouring in Canada and the USA. Over there on a bike you might sneak up and surprise a grizzly bear or a cougar. Yoweeeee!!
I'd be much more worried about them than a few little snakes. They eat people
A stick on the trail that Tony seemed to be ignoring
They like to sun themselves on open ground especially in the morning or cooler days. He was too busy listening to the cricket on his walkman
For me, I'd do 2 laps starting from Melbourne:
1 - To Bairnsdale via the low roads and return via the foothills/Healesville.
2 - Portland via the mid roads and return via Great Ocean Road.
All up about 1600km.
I'm a runner, but I sure love to ride!
il padrone ^^ that picture is freaky ass!!!! I have a snake phobia, but love to ride more! i just say a lot of prayers!! Curious though, from that shot, assuming it was you who took it (knowingly noticing the snake), did you set your mate up?? hehehe... makes for an excellent proverbial bubble in the corner somewhere!!..
No set up at all. We were on the East Gippsland Railtrail near Nicholson and came across the snake sunning itself on the trail. We sidled calmly past him.
While I was taking a photo he began to exit stage right, and Tony was approaching. We called out "Tony, snake!" but he was listening to the 3rd Test on the walkman We yelled louder and waved, and he suddenly realised it wasn't a stick and swerved away.
As I've said, don't have a phobia about snakes. They are fairly uncommon, but when you encounter one, observe it from a distance, leave it alone and move on. Only if it's near a house or workplace should you do anything else - but even then, leave it alone, observe where it goes and call a herpetologist (snake catcher). They are protected native species.
I have come across quite few while mtb'ing in Sydney...they just don't hear you coming.Seen 3 or 4 brown snakes in Epping.One only just managed to bunny hop at last moment and it came up for the bite.A very good sized python descending on the road into Bobbin head...had to stop quick and stop a few cars while it got off the road.Even saw a very nice python in Kings Cross back alley mixing it up in the hookers spots...someone was waiting for RSPCA to turn up for that one.The best was on a trail at manly dam when i came up on one very fast and it shot of the side of the cliff at such speed that it launched itself at least 5 meters!.
Even in France I have seen a couple of vipers on the road...dead .
So they are around when you least expect them.
Holy Craaap! I would carry around a med-pack filled with anti-venom if I came across that many snakes!!!!LOL
padrone! That looks like a bloody brown snake!!! 2nd most deadliest snake in the world!!!!!...
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