Cycling Adelaide to Great Barrier Reef
Replies: 6 - Last Post: Jul 22, 2012 8:52 PM Last Post By: melissaroman26
Jul 16, 2012 8:02 AM
I'm going to be doing a bike trip from Adelaide to the GBR in March of 2013 and was wondering if anyone has done this (or a similar) route and has suggestions for cities to stop in. We'd like to do our trip both along the coast and with inland detours and bike about 50 or so miles per day. Any suggestions would be great!
Jul 17, 2012 3:07 AM
1I've ridden from Adelaide to the GBR - it took me nearly 5 months of cycle touring/sightseeing.
This means that I stopped over 100 towns, too many to detail here. If you are cycling then you have to stay where you get to each day. For highlights and longer stopovers I suggest you look at a guidebook and decide what you want to see
My route was via the Great Ocean Road to Melbourne, then coastal Victoria and from Cann River up to Canberra. Down to NSW coast and up to Sydney and the Blue Mountains. Up the coast to Newcastle then up the Hunter Valley and down through The Bucketts (Gloucester). Up the coast to Brisbane, then inland to Melaney, back to coast at Fraser Island. Up the coast again, then another inland loop Gin Gin to Cania Gorge NP and Biloela. Up coast again then inland over the Atherton Tableland for Cairns or on to Cape Tribulation
Jul 17, 2012 8:41 AM
2Wow, thanks! Unfortunately, we only have a month for this trip. So, we figure we'll only get to Brisbane and then fly or rent a car to get up to the GBR. I'm going to get the Cycling in Australia LP guide. We want to do some coast riding (obviously) but also some inland loops. Were any guides particularly helpful? Any other insights you think we need to know?
Jul 17, 2012 10:17 AM
3You won't get that far in such a short time at 80km/day without vehicular assistance. According to google maps Adelaide-Melbourne-Canberra-Sydney-Brisbane is 2600km by a direct driving route. A scenic and pleasant cycling route will be rather longer, especially with seeing the sea and inland loops you talk about. At 80km/day (and sensibly you should have the occasional day off too) that adds up to a lot more than than the, say, approx 3 weeks you have for cycling, before you go and have your GBR tourist experience, which surely demands some time to justify the long travel distances involved.
For just a month, you either have to concentrate on cycling in a much smaller region of the country - New South Wales alone is rather larger than France - or else do some short tours in various regions and take transport between them.
Wherever you end up, I think you might then want to take an aeroplane, not a car, to somewhere you can have your GBR experience.
Jul 17, 2012 12:22 PM
4A month is not much in Australia. If you are going to Adelaide anyway then you could spend 3 days in the Adelaide Hills which is a very nice area. Then fly to Brisbane and then to Rockhampton or Mackay. From there you have three weeks and plenty of nice coastal country to ride in. Fly out of Cairns.
Jul 18, 2012 8:08 PM
5I agree that one month in Australia is not much. I cycled the Great Ocean Road as part of a 5 short week trip in OZ. Here's my long winded notes from an old bag:
Getting to the ride from Adelaide in the state of South Australia, short of time left in this wonderful country, I take a bus to Mount Gambier, a small town full of flower displays and a replica of Captain Cook’s ship at the visitor information center. From there, it’s a short 45 km ride through some mild headwinds to the small fishing resort village of Nelson. There’s a lively pub, and (don’t tell anyone on my softball team, but) I pitch my tent for the night at the River Vu Caravan Park run by a local Australian and French Canadian woman. A couple of dairy farmers, Gary and Gary, and I have a few pots of Victoria Bitter(VB) and more than a few laughs before I head back to the tent. The pots of VB mean a later than planned start for the morning ride through the national park to the town of Portland where I once again (and once again, don’t tell anyone on my softball team, but) I pitch my tent for the night. Yes – I do camp once in a while, as long as there’s a good breakfast joint or a lively pub for a nice meal and thirst-quenching pint at the end of the day.
On the way, flocks of black and yellow, red and green, white and yellow, as well as pink and white, exotic parrots, cockatoos, and other birds fill the air announcing their passing through the skies with screeches that pierce the silence. Australia’s birdlife is in your face, and I love it! The mammals are more a twilight/dawn affair, but there’s plenty of that too. Along the road, I pass my first of several dead Kangaroo in this place full of pine tree farms – even those that I don’t see signal their presence with the stench of decay. It’s a quiet ride with many long quiet intervals passing without logging trucks, cars or campervans many times throughout the 80 km day. My next stop, Portland, is just an overnight rest for tomorrow’s 110 km ride to Warrnambool where the Great Ocean Road supposedly begins. That day is relatively uneventful with mostly a lot of dairy farms, although I do add a few photos to my new photographic essay entitled ‘Carnage & Debris’ – aka – ‘Roadkill around the world’. I know it’s morbid and perhaps I’ll do nothing with it, but I am seeing a lot of it and it disturbs me. As I pass these dairy farms, I ring my bike bell, checking to see if the cows will run either away or towards me, as they did in New Zealand. As far as I can tell thus far, the cows here in OZ are trained for their feeding times somewhat differently. It’s silly, but after several hours on the bike, you do in fact talk to the sheep, and tease the cows with your bike bell.
Warrnambool is a small town that’s getting big. It’s getting a little big in the head, and more than a few of its citizens like to slag residents of the capital city, Melbourne. They may have a valid slag going – I’ll have to see if and when I get there. Meanwhile, they exhibit that small town/wannabe big town attitude that is a little much. Perhaps I’ve become so used to the wonderful hospitality of most Aussie’s and the country warmth that is found almost everywhere that I’m invalidly put off.
Morning arrives, and I’m on the bike headed for Port Campbell. Along the way, I pause at the Bay of Islands, which is a group of limestone rock outcroppings carved by the sea. In the distant past, they formed part of the continent, but through time they are eroded and will eventually be reclaimed by the sea. I think to myself that all I’m doing is riding, running, or climbing around the world looking at a bunch of Fickin’ rocks! Punakaiki rocks, Remarkable Rocks, Ayers Rock, the Chief, Bay of Islands, the Twelve Apostles and a bunch of Volcanoes. It’s just one rock after another and for what? But they do make me marvel and wonder at the beauty and majesty of time and nature. Some of these formations take millions and millions of years to form - others only a day. There’s a lot of texture and form in each of them: different colors, different shapes, and different sizes – a lot like the human race. If only we could always look at each other with the same feelings as most of the people who travel around seeing these geological marvels…appreciation.
I was tempted to edit that last comment.
More rock structures like the Arch, the Grotto, and London Bridge greet me on my way, but tomorrow is the main event: the Twelve Apostles.
The morning is cool and cloudy, so there’s no rush to get to the national park for the early morning light. Instead, I have a leisurely departure from the pretty town of Port Campbell, getting to the Twelve Apostles at around 11 a.m. The visitor centre is a busy place as this part of the coast is probably the most photographed piece of coastline on the Great Ocean Road. The centre recycles toilet water using the surrounding wetlands as a natural filter, before treating and recycling the water for toilet flushing only. Another widely practiced conservation method in Australia is the use of half and full flush buttons on virtually every toilet, both public and private – a practice I would like to see in North America.
The Twelve Apostles are pieces of the coastline that have been eroded by the endless pounding of the sea. Their steep edges of amber coloured limestone catch the sun and contrast beautifully with the turquoise waters. I’ve not sure there are actually twelve of these miniature islands, in fact, I think it’s more like seven or eight – but that doesn’t take away from the feeling that as these cliffs lose two centimeters each year, they will still be here for many years after we are gone, saying something about the brevity of human life on earth.
There’s a beach access about one kilometer from the centre, and I hike down to have some lunch while the sun glistens on the breaking waves as it makes it’s first appearance of the day. The light is better, so I head back to the main rocks for another photo. I see a few more dead juvenile blue penguins in the sand – perhaps battered about in the storms and too young or weak to survive.
In Port Campbell the previous evening, I had dinner with some of the motorcyclists that I have seen in the hundreds over the previous few days. They practice that international tradition of giving a wave as they pass you on the road. Heather and Al were attending the Ulysses Annual Meeting along with 5000 other members of the club for over 40 bikers. They all get together for about 5 days with the official meeting lasting about 10 minutes or so. Their motto is “Grow Old Disgracefully!” I think Heather is going to send me a badge.
I also met some Swiss guys named Roman and Cornelius who are willing workers for Organic Farms. They’ve been in Australia since November and have decided to take a couple of weeks and cycle the road. We are going in the same direction, so we will see each other often in the next few days.
Later in the day, there is a long 18 km climb up to Lavers Hill where I camp for the night. It’s a small caravan park with just four cyclists; Roman, Cornelius, a guy from Holland headed the other way, and myself. The caravan park, or trailer park/camping ground, has been owned by an ex police sergeant for the past three years. It’s a retirement project for Pete, and it includes a general store, petrol station, restaurant, café, and bar. Pete looks like he was the kind of cop you wouldn’t want to get on the bad side. We share a bottle of wine in the in the evening and a couple of mates of his try taking the piss out of me for being .... – all in good fun.
The next day’s ride is almost all downhill, and after a really beautiful walk in the rainforest with Roman and Cornelius, we say our goodbyes, and I head off to Wye River while they will camp in the bush for the night. Wye River is a pretty spot with one of Australia’s great pubs. It’s not that lively, but the river is appealing and I camp for the night. The most scenic part of the Great Ocean Road is over, but the remaining ride that hugs the coastline has its moments. I spend one more night on the GRO camping at a place about 15 kms from Geelong. Lying on the beach staring up at the southern sky full of stars listening to the surf or the sounds of the forest has been a highlight of this ride. It is too soon that I am in Melbourne and attending a Footy game at MCG Stadium after sight seeing around the city for the afternoon. Australia feels it is a nation at war, and the Footy security check is much the same as at an airport with the shoes off inspection a part of the overall pre-admittance screening. I think it’s a bit much, but once I am into the game, it is a great energy. After the tigers win in the game between Collingwood and Richmond, the fans sing a silly song and leave happy.
Jul 22, 2012 8:52 PM
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