Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

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Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby snickelly » Fri Feb 08, 2013 9:41 am

I have been using the BNA Touring Forums for the last 18 months for both entertainment and education. Given this is my first post on the forum – I apologise now if the format is incorrect. I am still trying to work out how to load images of maps so this might follow later.

Echoing Tim’s post of Sun Feb 03, 2013, a mate and I recently returned after the best 2 week holiday we’ve ever had. We completed our first cycle tour riding just over 1600kms from Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray River over 13 days beginning in Sydney on January 9. We documented our daily experiences by blog which requires some minor edits but has more photos as well and can be found here:

http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-blog/kierenmott/1/tpod.html

So for this forum I thought I would just summarise the trip and general thoughts.

Summary of the Route:
Day 1 – 110km Sydney to Mittagong (via Bulli, Appin)
Day 2 – 135km Mittagong to Crookwell (via Wombeyan Caves, Taralga,, Wowagin, Laggan)
Day 3 – 127km Crookwell to Harden (via Rugby, Boorowa)
Day 4 – 139km Harden to Wagga (via Jugiong Road to Cootamundra, Bethungra, Junee)
Day 5 – 131 km Wagga to Albury (via Uranquinty, The Rock, Yerong, Henty, Culcairn, Gerogery Road)
Day 6 – 107km Albury to Yarrawonga (via Howlong, Corowa, Mulwala)
Day 7 – 147 km Yarrawonga to Echuca (via Barooga, Cobram, Yarroweyah, Katunga, Picola, Barmah, Moama)
Day 8 – 85km Echuca to Cohuna (via Torrumbarry, Gunbower)
Day 9 – 96km Cohuna to Swan Hill (via Kerang, Lake Charm, Lake Boga)
Day 10 – 134km Swan Hill to Ouyen (via localities (no services) Chillingoah, Chinkapook, Mittyack)
Day 11 – 180km Ouyen to Lameroo (via Walpeup, Underbool, Murrayville, Pinnaroo, Parilla)
Day 12 – 116km Lameroo to Wellington (via localities Parrakie, Geranium, Peake, Sherlock, and town Tailem Bend)
Day 13 – 117km Wellington to West Beach, Adelaide (via Langhorne Creek, Strathalbyn, Meadows, Kangarilla, Clarendon, Brighton)

We had loosely decided on the route beforehand but had not booked any accommodation as we wanted to give ourselves flexibility for distances and direction. We had planned to discuss daily routes with locals which didn’t quite turn out as useful as we had thought. The translation from local car driver language to touring cyclist language was always difficult.

The overall route was enjoyable – with variety between hilly days and flat days. The highlights were cycling along the Murray River and the last day through the Adelaide Hills.

A day or so before we started the ride, we had been recommended the website http://www.willyweather.com.au and this proved invaluable and accurate for weather conditions and planning over the next few days along the route.

We had read on other blogs of tourers in Australia that you should be careful not to assume that a place named on Google Maps appears to be a town – it may be just a locality or abandoned town. This was definitely the case over the whole trip. Asking the locals generally gave us answers as to the ability to get drinks/foods on the day’s routes (although there was a notable exception which caused a minor dummy spit when not able to get a cooked breakfast after 50kms of riding on one day).

As we wanted to avoid major roads/highways, we struggled to find decent printed maps of the whole route before we left. Some of the Information centres at major towns were helpful and had half reasonable maps of local areas but it was often hard to get enough detail for more than one day’s riding. Ultimately we were glad to have the Garmin Edge 800 with Topo Maps when we moved away from the bigger towns along the route.

We averaged around 125kms per day through one of the hottest summers in decades. We were carrying up to 35-40 kgs of gear on the bikes which included up to 10-12 litres of water at the start of some of the days. We carried emergency rations for dinner/lunch in case we were unable to make it to towns, but only used these on a couple of occasions. We cooked porridge to start each day which laid a solid foundation for cycling.

The bikes were a Stevens Xenith-lite Tourer (Flat Bar with 700c wheels) and a Surly Troll with 26 inch wheels. We will update the blog with full details on the set up and running gear of each bike and full gear list, but both bikes were comfortable and performed well. We would both advocate a stand for a touring bike, the rear side stand seemed to be better suited for bikes with the weight we were carrying but the centre stand was more useful in event of mechanical issues.

We commute roughly 180-200kms per week into the Sydney CBD which gave us the chance to work through tyre choices and bike set up. Even though we did 75kms of the tour on graded gravel tracks, we were both very happy with the Schwable Marathon Supremes which I haven’t punctured once in 9000kms of riding (purchased new tyres for the tour so an additional 1600 puncture free kms so far on the new tyres). We didn’t have any mechanical issues either so the tools and spares were not required but would always take on a remote ride.

Like Tim, we researched a lot of blogs/trip reports through this site, CGOAB and direct blogs and found them incredibly useful as a guide. Having said this – we made adjustments to gear and expectations based on our own needs and perceived abilities. Probably the biggest adjustment made on the road was the fact we ended up staying in motels/hotels for all but one night where we camped. We had anticipated camping at least half of the tour but found 2 factors influenced us:
1) we never struggled with the distances required to make it to a town with accommodation
2) the lure of a “more” comfortable bed, airconditioning and toilet facilities was difficult to resist along with a pub meal for dinner after a long day on the bikes.

Given the time of year, we anticipated the heat and chose cycling clothes accordingly with lightweight collared, long sleeve, button up, high UV rating outdoor shirts being the garment of choice. We both used Ortlieb panniers (front, rear and rack pack) which never missed a beat and the Ortlieb 4L water bags were fantastic (the Ortlieb waterproof toilet paper holder was the only bit of gear we didn’t end up using…surprisingly for 2 blokes on bikes for 13 days straight!).

There were only a couple of superfluous items in the gear…but the most useful items were the two Kathmandu folding hiking stools which each weigh around 700gms. They gave us the ability to pull off the road virtually anywhere we could find shade (and one time create shelter from the rain) and comfortably rest for anywhere from a quick drink to lunch + coffee). We would definitely recommend this as an inclusion in any gear list. The other slightly luxurious item that we will always take was the Airspresso coffee machine. Given the incredibly poor standard of coffee we found at most towns, making our own good, reliable espressos was at times incredibly uplifting.

We were not disappointed by the experience of cycle touring and found time slowed for the whole two weeks. Reading other’s blogs etc we found a common theme of cycling allowing an experience where the traveller smells, tastes, hears, sees SO much more than by car. We knew that beforehand but were continually reminded of this as we progressed.

Where I thought the responsibility of doing the blog daily would become a chore, it actually became an integral part of the trip not only for us but for our friends and, more importantly, immediate families. Taking 2 weeks of annual leave to do something as selfish as this, leaving young families at home, can be a big issue. By updating the blog daily, our wives and children were able to gain immediate understanding and appreciation of what we had gone through emotionally that day. It actually became a positive part of the tour experience for us all.

One thing that constantly surprised us was the fact that in the 2 weeks, we only had a couple of approaches from other cyclists/motorists/tourists/locals to find out what we were about. In the end, we decided that having two of us probably made us seem capable and not needing anything so people were shy to approach us (whereas the one other cycle tourer we saw on the route said he was being approached regularly by all manner of people to be asked his story and offering help). Other cyclists (particularly maml's) tended to be far more stand offish than what they should be.

Having completed the tour a day early, we were able to enjoy riding around Adelaide for a day before surprising our wives at the Airport (they thought they would be picking up a car and driving into the Adelaide Hills to meet us).

We both can't wait to do the next tour and given the impact on family - will probably try to do more local 2-3 day weekend trips to/from/around Sydney. Dreams of touring New Zealand, Europe, Asia, South America, Tasmania, FNQ etc may have to stay dreams for some time yet.

Until then….happy touring and thanks for all your (invisible) help

Sean and Kieren


Day 2 - Lang Rd near Wombeyan Caves
Image

Day 4 - Jugiong Rd near Harden
Image

Day 4 - near Albury - 13 degrees and raining
Image

Day 6 - near Mulwala
Image

Day 7 - Barmah on The Murray
Image

Day 8 - Near Cohuna - 38 degrees and way too tempting
Image

Day 9 - Cooling off in Lake Boga - 45 degrees
Image

Day 10 - Chinkapook Tennis Club for morning Tea
Image

Day 12 - The Red Plains
[imghttp://images.travelpod.com/users/kierenmott/1.1358587360.its-barren-out-here.jpg][/img]

Day 13 - Near Clarendon in the Adelaide Hills
Image
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by BNA » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:43 pm

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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby Tim » Fri Feb 08, 2013 4:43 pm

Bicycle touring really is one of life's great experiences.
Congratulations on a much more strenuous tour than my walk in the park. I've only read part of your journal, I'll get to the rest tonight. I love reading of other's wanderings, this forum has given me a huge amount of knowledge and entertainment. I only wish I had some of the writing, computer and photographic skills of most of the participants here. Not to mention the wealth of practical touring experience. It is a terrific resource. Join in more frequently. Thanks for detailing your tour.
I'm hopelessly addicted after one small taste. Off again tomorrow. Heading east this time. Into the Croajingolong region of far East Gippsland (Vic) for around 10 days. Can't wait to get rolling.
ps My knowledge base is expanding. The flies around here can move at 25 KPH. Faster than that and they can't keep up.

A technical question. I nearly lost about half of my tour data from the Edge 800 when it froze up. What procedure do you follow at the start and finish of each day or section ie. which buttons do you push?
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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby il padrone » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:12 pm

Jeez ya did it the hot and hard way :shock:

125kms per day and carrying 35-40kgs. The wide open Murray valley (= miles of flat country). In summer :shock:

But then, these crazy Germans did it still more extreme (but really not advised).

Great effort guys and a thoroughly detailed post. I will have to look through your blog. Next time you may enjoy your touring more by choosing the time of year to match the best season for the region you tour. I've decided that in Jan-Feb now, I pretty much don't go too far from the south coast, the high country or Tasmania.
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby snickelly » Fri Feb 08, 2013 5:39 pm

Tim - agree with your comments regarding reading other's journals. It is addictive but provides an escape from the humdrum of work (my wife has barred me from following at home for the time being....similar to the barring of reading about climbing Mt Everest!).

Regarding the Edge 800, at the end of each day's ride, I would stop the timer (RH button) as we rolled to a stop, take a note of all the stats we were following and then just hit "Reset", the left hand button for the 4 seconds. I did lose about 25kms of data on the half day in Echuca...couldn't work out why and it remains a mystery but was able to upload the rest to Strava when we got back to Sydney.

Regarding the heat and tour course - part of the reason we chose to go along the Murray was to take advantage of the water for a few days and we enjoyed falling in regularly. Having young families - it took a lot of coordination to get the two weeks off work, families AND find a destination where our wives would feel happy to join us at the end. Hence Adelaide and the Tour Down Under timing...the time of year was secondary. Also worth noting that we both feel comfortable in the heat and were confident that if it got too hot, we would just slow down or take a midday siesta (or both). As it turned out, we never came close to implementing this strategy as even on the day it reached 48.5 on the road, we had enough water on the bikes and in Lakes that we were able to cool down. This is where the access to a good weather website had helped our day to day route planning.

It took 18 months of planning to do this (mainly giving our wives 18 months notice) so suspect the next one might be sometime. Very jealous that others are able to tour regularly and that Tim is going off again within a couple of weeks.
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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby GregLR » Sat Feb 09, 2013 5:16 pm

What a great tour in trying temperature conditions - well done !
snickelly wrote:As we wanted to avoid major roads/highways, we struggled to find decent printed maps of the whole route before we left.

Having not long ago cycletoured in the same general area, I just thought I'd comment about maps, for the benefit of others who may be planning a tour like yours - at the risk of saying things that you considered or are obvious.

Last October my partner Toni & I cycletoured the Murray from Goolwa to Swan Hill, after starting in Adelaide and riding around the coast to Goolwa. To plan this trip, using mostly paved backroads, we obtained hardcopy regional maps issued by the motoring organisations RACV (Victoria), RAA (South Australia) and NRMA (NSW). These are relatively small scale but we found that they provide sufficient information on minor roads. We ordered the Victorian & South Australian maps online directly from RACV and RAA (the NRMA has branch offices in Canberra, where we live).

For example, in the case of your trip, the RACV map "Mildura and the Murray Outback Regional Map" covers the area from Swan Hill to Pinnaro in 1:450,000 scale, while the RAA map "Upper Limestone Coast" covers the area from Pinnaroo to Tailem Bend and Murray Bridge also in 1:450,000 scale.

After deciding on planned daily routes for our Murray tour we photocopied sections of these maps in A4 size, highlighted the routes and scanned in the A4 maps. We took the highlighted photocopies with us and had files of the scanned copies on our I-Pad. We also drew maps for each day's planned course electronically on BikeRouteToaster and uploaded these to my Garmin 800 which has the 1:100,000 topo maps. However, because there aren't many turns I didn't use the Garmin's 'course' function on this trip because consulting the relevant highlighted A4 photocopied map or the 1:100,000 maps on the Garmin (or street maps for towns, if relevant) from time to time was sufficient for navigation.

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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby FatGuts » Sun Feb 10, 2013 8:26 am

"Flies swallowed" - bahahahahahahahaa
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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby FatGuts » Sun Feb 10, 2013 10:01 am

Great read, I just wasted my Sunday morning reading it.

I was in Adelaide for work the week of the TDU, my workmate (who also rides) and I also noticed a lot of people on expensive oddly named bikes not going too fast or far. They seemed to be happier sitting in the cafe's in Glenelg mony balony than actually riding anywhere.
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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby arkle » Sun Feb 10, 2013 11:06 am

SUPERB! THANK YOU!

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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby clackers » Mon Feb 11, 2013 10:34 am

As an ex-Swan Hill boy, I think you were nuts about the timing but loved reading about your adventures anyway. Great stuff. :smile:
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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby snickelly » Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:00 am

Having not long ago cycletoured in the same general area, I just thought I'd comment about maps, for the benefit of others who may be planning a tour like yours - at the risk of saying things that you considered or are obvious.


Greg - thanks for the input and I had only gone as far as visiting my local NRMA branch. While the staff were friendly and gave me some helpful maps of the NSW Riverina, they weren't particularly knowledgeable and didn't suggest looking online at RACV/RAA. This was one of the reasons I thought it worth mentioning on this forum given the wealth of combined experience and initiative you (collectively) document so that other tourers might find maps easier to obtain.

Question for all - is it worth posting the gear list and bike specs on this forum or is that too much detail?
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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby welly » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:02 pm

Going to read this properly. It looks like an amazing trip! I'd love to do something like this. Very jealous.
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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby FatGuts » Wed Feb 13, 2013 8:30 pm

snickelly wrote:Question for all - is it worth posting the gear list and bike specs on this forum or is that too much detail?



Yes!


On the map thing, camping shops are a good source of local maps, in particular topographic maps.

Cartoscope also do quite a few free printed and online maps. Every time I stop in an information centre I rat around for the free Cartoscope maps. They look like cartoon maps but are surprisingly accurate. They dont cover the whle country though.

http://www.cartoscope.com.au/
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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby il padrone » Wed Feb 13, 2013 10:21 pm

FatGuts wrote:Cartoscope also do quite a few free printed and online maps. Every time I stop in an information centre I rat around for the free Cartoscope maps.

Yes! These maps are brilliant, much better than maps you'd pay good money for. I used them in 1998 for a tour from Sydney to the Qld border and they have a great wealth of local information, tourist routes and points of historic or scenic interest. All the tourist information centres have them available for free.
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Re: Sydney to Adelaide via The Murray

Postby timbo » Thu Feb 14, 2013 11:26 am

Uranquinty, Yarroweyah, Chillingoah, Chinkapook, Mittyack, Walpeup.

You have to love the names of some of our country towns. A detour via Manangatang would have topped it off nicely.
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