Tropical Breeze

Day 64 and 65: Jun. 21 and Jun. 22 – Nambucca Heads to Coffs Harbour

Daily Distance = 54.04km, Trip Total = 1,918.91km, Today’s Climb = 385m

The first half of today’s ride was along the old pacific highway which for the most part ran beside the new highway.

The new highway is to the left and the old highway is on the right

The new highway is to the left and the old highway is on the right

 

The old highway varied from multiple lanes with a wide shoulder, divided highway and in some cases minimal shoulder.  But there was so little traffic on it, it was a peaceful ride the entire way.

I wasn't sure what kind of plants/trees these were...

I wasn’t sure what kind of plants/trees these were…

Varying degrees of shoulder on the old highway, but one constant: minimal traffic :)

Varying degrees of shoulder on the old highway, but one constant: minimal traffic :)

Overlooking Urunga (the old highway passes through this town, the new highway bypasses it)

Overlooking Urunga (the old highway passes through this town, the new highway bypasses it)

Another view from the outskirts of Urunga

Another view from the outskirts of Urunga

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About halfway into the ride the old highway reconnected with the new highway where I had a nice wide shoulder and heavily signed bike lane for about 10km.  At Lyons Road there were signs indicating that all bicycles had to exit the highway.  I’m not sure how long bicycles aren’t permitted on the highway at this point, but from Lyons Road I could take an alternative route into Coffs Harbour.

A bike path heading into Coffs Harbour

A bike path heading into Coffs Harbour

 

The last few km’s while riding on the path into Coffs Harbour I felt my very first warm breeze of the trip and just a small hint of humidity!  I think I’m getting to the edges of the tropic area!! :)

The following day was a rest, catch up and sightseeing day in Coffs Harbour where I checked out the Muttonbird Island and spent some time on the beach chatting with a Moroccan who has been in Australia for a couple of years.

So much sandy beach!

So much sandy beach!

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Heading up Muttonbird Island

Heading up Muttonbird Island

Looking at the Yacht club from Muttonbird Island

Looking at the Yacht club, Coffs Harbour and surrounding mountains from Muttonbird Island

A panoramic view of Coffs Harbour

A panoramic view of Coffs Harbour

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No whale sightings today

No whale sightings today

Rain Free

Day 63: Jun. 20 – South West Rocks to Nambucca Heads

Daily Distance = 62.90km, Trip Total = 1,864.87km, Today’s Climb = 265m

Guess what?  The forecast indicates there is only a light chance of rain today!  Yaaaay!

The first 10km’s of today’s ride ran along the opposite side of the Macleay River that I followed into South West Rocks yesterday.

Macleay River from the West side

Macleay River from the West side – opposite side of yesterday’s view

 

There was a healthy headwind for this stretch, but I knew it would be short-lived as my direction would be changing throughout the day.  After 15km’s I made the turn that would take me NW and then eventually NE back to the ocean.  Today’s wind was coming out of the SW and I noticed an immediate ease as soon as I made the turn at the 15km mark.  I could peddle with less intensity and my speed immediately went up as soon as I made the turn.  I luv tailwinds! :)

You can't tell in the picture, but I now have a tailwind :)

You can’t tell in the picture, but I now have a tailwind :)

 

After about 25km’s I found myself back on the A1 highway.  All of my scouting reports indicated that this stretch of the highway did not have a great shoulder for cyclists.  Unfortunately it seems to be the only real route through this area.  So I was pleasantly surprised when I got on the highway and saw this:

A massive shoulder for cyclists and another Brisbane km countdown!

A massive shoulder for cyclists and another Brisbane km countdown!

 

Unfortunately it didn’t last.  I was able to enjoy about 10km with a great shoulder on the road.  But then I started seeing signs for construction, the road turned into a single lane of traffic in each direction and the shoulder became non-existent in some places.  They are currently in the process of expanding this highway with construction expected to be completed in 2017.

Construction to expand the highway

Construction to expand the highway

 

Because of the ongoing construction, the speed along this stretch was dropped anywhere from 60 to 80 km/hr and traffic seemed to be adhering to it, so that was working in my favour I think.  Everybody was slowing down and most vehicles were moving over as much as they could.  I was still pretty happy when a few km’s north of Macksville I found a path on the side of the road and could ride on it instead of the highway.

Crossing the bridge in Macksville

Crossing the bridge in Macksville

 

The path north of Macksville carried through all the way to Nambucca Heads where I road along a boardwalk to my destination at a trailer park on a lagoon.

Boardwalk in Nambucca Heads

Boardwalk in Nambucca Heads

 

Shortly before sunset I headed out for a walk around the park and along the breakwall between the lagoon and ocean.

View of the ocean from Nambucca Heads

View of the ocean from Nambucca Heads

Watching the fishermen.  The speckles are the spray from the waves crashing against the break wall

Watching the fishermen. The speckles are the spray from the waves crashing against the break wall

Sunset in Nambucca Heads

Sunset in Nambucca Heads

Lagoon to the left, ocean to the right

Lagoon to the left, ocean to the right

This area has tidal influence and protected by much of the break wall

This area has tidal influence and protected by much of the break wall – I also liked the rays of sun coming out from behind the clouds

Palm tree with the setting sun in the background

Palm tree with the setting sun in the background

 

And guess what?  It didn’t rain today!!! :)

Hidden Gems

Day 62: Jun. 19 – Port Macquarie to South West Rocks

Daily Distance = 83.65km, Trip Total = 1,801.97km, Today’s Climb = 108m

With a day off I was feeling rested and refreshed.  I was on the road shortly after sunrise and made my way over to the ferry across the Hastings River.

A short ferry ride across the Hastings River

A short ferry ride across the Hastings River – the ferry was attached to a pully system

On the ferry

On the ferry

 

The other side of the ferry was really quiet.  The first town I would come to would be about 35km’s away, called Crescent Head.  But before that, I had about 30km’s of gravel road to conquer.

Farm land with mountains in the horizon

Farm land with mountains in the horizon

Starring contest with a cow :)

Starring contest with a cow :)

At first the gravel road just started out with pot holes, given there was no traffic these were easy to dodge

At first the gravel road just started out with pot holes, given there was no traffic these were easy to dodge

But about 15km's in it turned into a more sluggish mud

But about 15km’s in it turned into a more sluggish mud

Have I mentioned there has been a lot of rain lately?

Have I mentioned there has been a lot of rain lately?

But I made it through the other side and gave a fist pump and cheer when I saw pavement again!

But I made it through the other side and gave a fist pump and cheer when I saw pavement again!

Signs of a town again!

Signs of a town again

 

I actually ended up bypassing Crescent Head and continuing my way north.  Several km’s later I met up with the Belmore River which feeds into Macleay River which then feeds into the ocean.  The rest of my ride today would be following quiet, flat roads on the east side of the rivers until I got to the ocean (it is an easy navigation day!).

Following Belmore River

Following Belmore River

And now Macleay River

And now Macleay River

The Macleay river is getting wider - indication I'm getting close to the ocean?

The Macleay river is getting wider – indication I’m getting close to the ocean?

 

I went through some light on and off rain for the last half of today’s ride.  As luck would have it, I reached my destination and within 5min it started pouring rain.  It rained the whole time I got settled in to my accommodations and cleared up just when I was ready to go check out the town – super lucky timing! :)

The main street of South West Rocks

The main street of South West Rocks

 

South West Rocks is actually a little out of the way (I’ll have to backtrack about 10km’s tomorrow), but it came highly recommended from a previous Airbnb host, so I decided to make it a stop along the way.  I’m happy I did.  I’m even more happy the rain cleared for me so I could enjoy it!  This is a tucked away little town that is off the beaten path.  I spent a couple hours hanging out by the waters edge watching the waves come in, the surfers play and the sun go down.

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The waves in this area were quite wild to watch

The waves in this area were quite wild to watch

Because of how the rocks jutted out, there was an area the waves would actually reach each other at a 90 degree angle

Because of how the rocks jutted out, there was an area the waves would actually reach each other at a 90 degree angle

A signal outpost

A pilot station

Some info on how a signal outpost was used - this is one of just a couple that remain so intact

Some info on how a pilot station was used – this is one of just a couple that remain so intact

This would be a pretty cool campground - right on the coast!

This would be a pretty cool campground to stay at – right on the coast!

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Watching the sunset in South West Rocks

Watching the sunset (and surfers) in South West Rocks

A Dirty Bike

Day 60 and 61: Jun. 17 and Jun. 18 – Moorland to Port Macquarie

Daily Distance = 62.52km, Trip Total = 1,718.32km, Today’s Climb = 327m

 

I had another choice on my route today: 1) take the highway which would be 10km’s shorter and my host last night indicated had a good shoulder all the way to Port Macquarie  2) take smaller roads but about 25km would be on gravel which my host said could be quite rough if it hasn’t been graded for a while.  My host actually offered to take me for a drive last night to show me the road options I had so I could make a more informed decision, however I declined her kind offer and decided to keep it a surprise!

When I got on the bike I decided I would opt for the quieter roads.  And indeed they were bumpy!  There were a couple times going down small hills that I had to brake the whole way down so I wouldn’t go over my handlebars on a pothole.  However I’m pretty sure this was the more scenic option, so I’m standing behind the decision. :)

A canal on Coralville Road

A canal on Coralville Road

 

Bumpy roads

Bumpy roads – this was still Coralville Road.  The road actually got a bit better in the Crowdy Bay National Park

Crowdy Bay National Park

Crowdy Bay National Park

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About 20km’s in it started raining.  Even though I only cycled about 5km’s on the gravel in the rain it still created one heck of a mess of my bike and gear.  I was particularly concerned about my chain which for a bit started sounding far too much like a wooden roller coaster.

I was pretty happy to get to the entrance of the park and find myself back on a sealed road

I was pretty happy to get to the entrance of the park and find myself back on a sealed road

Gravel + Rain = the above

Gravel + Rain = the above

 

Shortly after getting back onto a paved road I found myself in a town called Laurieton where I pulled over in a park for a bit to let some of the rain pass.  I used this opportunity to oil and clean my chain a bit which is sounding much healthier again.

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North Brother of the Three Mountains is located by Laurieton

North Brother of the Three Mountains is located by Laurieton

 

After the rain eased up a bit, I continued my journey north on Ocean Dr to Port Macquarie.  Although ocean drive does run close to the ocean you only catch glimpses of the ocean as it’s usually blocked by trees or a slide grade in the terrain.

A rare glimpse of the ocean heading up to Port Macquarie

A rare glimpse of the ocean heading up to Port Macquarie

An example of the small towns you pass along the way.  There was one area in development that looks like it is going to be a fairly large resort community

An example of the small towns I passed along the way. There was one area in development that looks like it is going to be a fairly large resort community

No Koala sightings from the road yet....

No Koala sightings from the road yet….

 

Due to the weather I headed straight to my destination when I got to Port Macquarie which was on the western edges of town.  After getting cleaned up I headed to the grocery store to re-stock and then quickly fell asleep.

The following day was on and off rain all day.  So I made it a lazy one and stayed inside making it a rest, relax, catch up and research day :)

Canal in Port Macquarie

Canal in Port Macquarie

Back to the Highway

Day 59: Jun. 16 – Forster to Moorland

Daily Distance = 57.34km, Trip Total = 1,655.80km, Today’s Climb = 333m

I headed out of Forster and Tuncurry today, continuing north along the Lakes Way for just over 20km.  This stretch of the road was faaaaaaar busier than yesterday when I had entered Forster from the south.  Traffic thinned out a bit after the first 12km when there was a turnoff for traffic heading to south to Newcastle and Sydney.  But I was still pretty happy to get to the A1 highway as I had heard it has a pretty good shoulder on it.

The bridge connecting Forster and Tuncurry

The bridge connecting Forster and Tuncurry

Some of the road names are funny

Some of the road names are funny

The most colour in the trees I have seen for a while

The most colour in the trees I have seen for a while

Along The Lakes Way road (not as many lakes along the way today)

Along The Lakes Way road (not as many lakes along the way today)

After the last 20km, I was actually happy to see the highway!

After the last 20km, I was actually happy to see the highway!

 

This was my first time on the A1 highway (which runs along the perimeter of Australia) on my bike since Bairnsdale.  And I am happy to report that it does in fact have a very healthy shoulder, so I was able to ease the grip on my handlebars and enjoy the remainder of the ride.

Should we start the km countdown to Brisbane? :)

Should we start the km countdown to Brisbane? :)

At the top of today's climb

At the top of today’s climb

Manning River - which is a bit unique in that it has two entrances to the ocean. One near the town Old Bar and another near the town Harrington

Manning River – which is a bit unique in that it has two entrances to the ocean. One near the town Old Bar and another near the town Harrington

Part of the 'three brothers' mountains. These are the middle brother and south brother

Part of the ‘three brothers’ mountains. These are the middle brother and south brother

My b&b destination just off the highway

My b&b destination just off the highway

 

And a Dash pic courtesy of her sitters – it looks like she has a new guardian! :)

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Into the Brush

Day 58: Jun. 15 – Tea Gardens to Forster

Daily Distance = 86.14km, Trip Total = 1,598.46km, Today’s Climb = 362m

So today was the ride that I was a bit nervous about and had been asking all the cyclists about along my way.  I would be going through an offroad track for about 20km along a dirt/gravel road through Myall Lakes National Park.  The national park website has a reference saying that flooding can occur in the park and some online reviews that I read indicated that this would not be a good route to take after a heavy rain.  It has been raining quite a bit lately.  However all the cyclists I’ve met and spoken to have assured me that the trail would be passable, that it is a pleasant ride and far, far better than the alternative (which adds a lot of km’s to an already high km day and is very hilly).

So into the brush I would go!

Heading into Myall Lakes National Park

Heading into Myall Lakes National Park

 

It was about a 30km ride on a very quiet sealed road to get to the offroad track.  Sometimes covered in trees, sometimes going through brush and for one stretch riding alongside some sand dunes.

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Sand dunes to the right

Sand dunes in the distance

White Tree Bay

White Tree Bay

 

I must also give credit to the couple that I had chatted with several days ago for telling me that the turnoff to the offroad track was at a campground.  Had I not been told this, I would have never known that this was my turn:

Turn off for the Old Gibber Road - offroad track through Myall Lakes National Park

Turn off for the Old Gibber Trail – offroad track through Myall Lakes National Park

Hmmmm - maybe I needed to be more concerned about the aerial spraying than potential flooding?

Hmmmm – maybe I needed to be more concerned about the aerial spraying than potential flooding?

I could just squeeze my bike through these posts, which proved as a good stand for my bike while I had a bite to eat :)

I could just squeeze my bike through these posts, which proved as a good stand for my bike while I had a bite to eat :)

The start of the offroad track

The start of the offroad track

 

I have to say, I absolutely loved today’s ride and this track was a highlight.  I went through a few puddles and the last 10km’s had a bit more drag because the ground was still pretty saturated from all the recent rain, but otherwise it was a fun ride.  Although I am happy it wasn’t raining today….it would probably be a pretty slow ride in spots with touring gear if it was actively raining.

Old Gibber Road

Old Gibber Road

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The first 10km had several exposed areas (which probably helped with drying out the road)

The first 10km had several exposed areas (which probably helped with drying out the road)

Around the 10km mark the Old Gibber Road meets the Mining Road

Around the 10km mark the Old Gibber Trail meets the Mining Road

The Mining Road was a bit more tree covered

The Mining Road was a bit more tree covered and I found the road to be more saturated from recent rain

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I made it through to the other side!

I made it through to the other side!

 

The rest of the ride was on a relatively quiet paved road aptly named ‘The Lakes Way’.  As the name indicates, there was usually a lake within site.  Although sometimes it was blocked by trees.

A rest spot along The Lakes Way

View along The Lakes Way

 

Arriving in Forster, I got cleaned up and headed for a walk along the beach and jetty and watched the sunset over the river.

View of Forster from the jetty

View of Forster from the jetty

Kayaker out for a sunset paddle

Kayaker out for a sunset paddle

Jetty between Forster and Tuncurry

Jetty between Forster and Tuncurry

Actually got a picture of a pelican in flight

Pelican in flight

Sunsetting over Coolongolook River in Forster

Night setting in over Coolongolook River in Forster

Race to the Ferry

Day 57: Jun. 14 – Newcastle to Tea Gardens

Daily Distance = 50.27km, Trip Total = 1,512.32km, Today’s Climb = 93m

After a quick chat with a fellow guest where I was told about the time 10yrs ago when an ocean liner got beached in Newcastle, I made my way to the ferry over to Stockton.  On the ferry I met a fellow local cyclist who told me he has seen a couple tourers come through the area lately.

I had about 50km’s to cover to Nelson Bay where I would catch my next ferry which would take me to my destination for the night.  In my travels and discussions with people I had been adequately forewarned that this ferry often times doesn’t run, just ‘cuz.  According to their website at this time of year they have 4 ferry crossings: 8:30am, 11am, noon, 3:30pm.  Missing this ferry would mean that I would have to wait until the next day or backtrack and detour about 100km (this would result in an appropriate amount of cursing).  I had a theory that as long as I reached the ferry by the noon crossing I should be ok.  Out of 4 crossings in a day they wouldn’t cancel the last two, right?

Fortunately I had pretty flat terrain and, perhaps a blessing in disguise, it was also overcast with on and off rain all day.  So this gave me incentive to stay on the bike and cover the distance as quickly as possible.

A rainbow over Stockton

A rainbow over Stockton

Typical view on today's ride

The scenery along a country road on the way to the ferry

I have the urge to say 'never fast enough' every time I see one of these signs on a bike!

I have the urge to say ‘never fast enough’ every time I see one of these signs on a bike!

 

I made good time and rolled into Nelson’s Bay around 10:30am, I stopped at the tourist info to inquire about the ferry.  To which the lady responded ‘you want to cross today?  Let me see if they’re running….’.  My heart almost dropped.  After a couple of beats she assured me that yes, indeed, they were going to go ahead with the 11am crossing.  The noon and 3:30pm crossing were cancelled today.

This is where I took a quick rest in Nelson's Bay and breathed a sigh of relief to know that I am indeed catching today's ferry!

This is where I took a quick rest in Nelson’s Bay and breathed a sigh of relief to know that I am indeed catching today’s ferry

 

In order to board the ferry I had to take all of my panniers off my bike.  The panniers were loaded inside the ferry and my bike was stored on a bike rack on the roof of the ferry (I had been forewarned about this by other cyclists in my travels leading up to today and they all assured me that their bikes safely made the crossing).  Even still, the entire ferry ride I was partially expecting to hear a splash and see my bike sinking in the water.  Fortunately that didn’t happen!

My bike would have the best view in the house on this ferry ride

My bike would have the best view in the house on the roof of this ferry

View from the ferry

View from the ferry

The ferry crossing took about an hour and dropped me off in Tea Gardens almost directly in front of my accommodations.  I had a quick chat with the captain where he also told me that they’ve had several tourer cyclists through over the last few days and he assured me that the route I’m going is fairly common.

I got settled in, cleaned up and headed out for a walk to the grocery store which was a few km’s away.

The river that Tea Gardens is built along

The river that Tea Gardens is built along

Tea Gardens

Tea Gardens

Sand Dunes

Day 55 and 56: Jun. 12 and Jun. 13 – Catherine Hill Bay to Newcastle

Daily Distance = 38.10km, Trip Total = 1,462.05km, Today’s Climb = 257m

Although I didn’t have much ground to cover today, I decided I would get an early start and take the time to stop at anything of interest en route.  The temperatures are warm enough during the day now that I can stop for as long as I want without freezing!

A couple of pelicans spotted along the way

A couple of pelicans spotted along the way – I don’t think I realized how big they get!

One of the Pelican actually flew directly over my head, but I was having an apple at the time and couldn't get to my phone quick enough to get a picture of it

One of the pelicans actually flew directly over me, but I was having an apple at the time and couldn’t get to my phone quick enough to get a picture of it

 

Just under half of my ride today was on the Fernleigh Track.  A converted rail trail that runs from Belmont to Adamstown.  The couple that I had met yesterday told me where to keep my eyes open to pick up this trail. :)

Fernleigh track

Fernleigh track

Another portion of Fernleigh track

Another portion of Fernleigh track

This tunnel was pretty cool to bike through

This tunnel was pretty cool to bike through

 

Just as I was heading into this tunnel, a lady caught up with me on her bike and we cycled along for a couple km’s chatting about some of our travels.  After a couple of km’s she pulled ahead to catch up with her group again.  About a km later her and her group were pulled off to the side of the track and they clapped and cheered as I rode by – too funny!

I arrived in Newcastle around noon.  Where I headed down to the wharf, picked up some lunch and found a seat in the park to eat, relax, read and enjoy the sunny weather.  The wharf was a pretty bustling spot, I suspect due to the long weekend and what was probably the sunniest/nicest day of the long weekend.

A couple hours later I headed to my hotel which says it is ‘a keyless property’.  They emailed a code to the front door and another code to my room which would be active for the time that I was staying in lieu of having a staffed reception desk or management.  The ‘reception desk’ was a screen telling you how to use your codes.  It worked ok for me, but I did bump into a few people while staying that seemed quite confused about the process.  I helped walk them through it, but they definitely would have preferred talking to a person who worked there.

After getting cleaned up, I headed back outside to check out some of the sites.

An ocean liner coming into port

An ocean liner coming into port

Along the Newcastle wharf

Along the Newcastle wharf

Newcastle has a lot of water access

Newcastle has a lot of water access

Newcastle beach

Newcastle beach

Another natural pool, this one even has lanes for laps

Another natural pool, this one even has lanes for laps

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Setting sun as an ocean liner is guided out to sea

Setting sun as an ocean liner is guided out to sea

 

The next day I headed over to Anna Bay where I did some sand boarding down the dunes.  The view of the dunes was impressive – they are the biggest in the Southern Hemisphere.  The sand boarding felt a bit lonely tho.  Other than the driver who drove me out to the dunes (and stayed in the vehicle the whole time I was boarding), I was out there all by myself!  It was still worth checking out, but definitely not an all day activity.

Sand dunes at Anna Bay

Sand dunes at Anna Bay

You can get a camel ride on the dunes

You can get a camel ride on the dunes

Sand dunes as far as the eye can see

Sand dunes almost as far as the eye can see

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The hill I sand boarded down. I was going to ask the driver to take a picture of me actually boarding down the hill, but he didn't seem to want to interact....! lol!

The hill I sand boarded down, several times. I was going to ask the driver to take a picture of me actually boarding down the hill, but he didn’t seem to want to interact….! Oh well!

Picking Brains

Day 54: Jun. 11 – Terrigal to Catherine Hill Bay

Daily Distance = 58.41km, Trip Total = 1,423.95km, Today’s Climb = 421m

From Terrigal I headed north to The Entrance, where for the remainder of the day I was going to have the ocean to my right and lakes to my left.  First Tuggerah Lake, then Budgewoi Lake followed by Lake Munmorah and lastly Lake Macquarie, which I’m told is the largest lake in Australia (I didn’t fact check this).  Given the amount of water surrounding me, most of my views today consisted of trees!

Signs of the recent rain

Signs of the recent rain

A trail heading to The Entrance

A trail heading to The Entrance

Common scenery today

Common scenery today

Hard to believe there are large bodies of water on both sides of me....

Hard to believe there are large bodies of water on both sides of me….

 

North of Lake Munmorah a van pulled over on the side of the road ahead of me and out popped two people.  They are fellow tour cyclists who live in the area and wanted to make sure I had a place to stay tonight – so kind!  We chatted for a little where I learned that they cycled up the coast to Cairns about 1.5yrs ago.  Which definitely piqued my interest.  [In just over a month they are also setting off for a 9mth tour of Europe and England!]  So I decided to re-route out to their place and see if I could pick their brains about what lay ahead for me (they offered to give me a lift, but I had a relatively light day today and they were only off route about 6km one way so I opted to bike it).  They quickly made up a sandwich for me and we chatted for a couple hours.  Definitely the highlight of my day!  They also vouched that the off road trail portion that lay ahead shouldn’t be a concern with flooding (I had to ask – it’s definitely what is on my mind these days!).  I learned a great deal of info about things to expect coming up and areas to avoid or skip over, etc – thank you so much for all the great info!  :).  Sidenote: it’s dawning on me I should take pictures when I meet people of interest along the way…..I get so involved in the conversation I completely forget to capture the moment….

Around 2:30 I was back on the road to head to my destination for the night (I was offered a lift which I seriously considered, but it was a pretty quick and easy ride so I’m happy I biked it).

Back on the main road after the mid-day intermission I quickly saw two other tour cyclists coming from the other direction

Back on the main road after the mid-day intermission I quickly saw two other tour cyclists coming from the other direction

View of Lake Macquarie

View of Lake Macquarie

And a glimpse of the ocean in the distance to the right

And a glimpse of the ocean in the distance to the right

The start of a new community development in Catherine Hill Bay

The start of a new community development to the right in Catherine Hill Bay

 

This was my ‘oddest’ Airbnb experience so far.  He was nice enough and harmless, but was pretty chatty about topics I didn’t have a lot to contribute to or just didn’t want to get into (ie. conspiracy theories, politics and a few random inappropriate comments).  As I was leaving the next morning he also told me how he got bitten by a venomous spider while sleeping (he thinks it was a white-tailed spider – they are venomous, but not lethal to humans).  And because of this experience, he now makes sure that he “airs out” the sheets between guests.  It wasn’t really a story I wanted to hear.  Or I would have preferred to hear it before I stayed there!  It was all a bit odd to say the least.

 

Overall my Airbnb experiences have been good so far.  I’m going to hope this one was an anomaly!

On the Bike Again

Day 53: Jun. 10 – Manly Beach to Terrigal

Daily Distance = 59.53km, Trip Total = 1,365.54km, Today’s Climb = 539m

I was on the road at 8am this morning and made a pretty determined ride (aka no pictures) for the first 30km to catch a 10:30am ferry in Palm Beach.  Today’s ride was actually hillier than I expected it to be.  No long climbs, but constantly making steep climbs up and down.  And on the downhills I took the cautious approach of riding the brakes because of changing traffic lights, roundabouts and dodging debris on the bike lane.  From Manly Beach to Palm Beach you pass through one town after another.  The towns are so developed and blend together I actually couldn’t really tell when I was leaving one and entering another.  Traffic was also busy, but the road had a good shoulder and there were lots of other cyclists out on their road bikes (it’s a long weekend in New South Wales Australia!).

I made it to the ferry shortly after 10am, where a gentleman looked at me in shock and stated ‘I saw you AGES ago’.  Apparently he’d passed me closer to Manly Beach and didn’t expect to see me again! lol!

Palm Beach Wharf

Palm Beach Wharf

My bike on the wharf, waiting or the ferry

My bike on the wharf, waiting or the ferry

Looking out from Palm Beach

Looking out from Palm Beach

 

I had a chat with one of the employees on the ferry who also does some tour cycling.  I asked him about one of the off road trail options that I have coming up ahead of me, which my online research indicates can be ‘prone to flooding after heavy rain’.  There has been A LOT of rain lately.  But he assures me the trail will be passable.  He also mentioned that two tour cyclists were on the ferry a couple days ago, it is their first tour and they were heading to Brisbane.  I always like to hear about other tourers, especially if they’re going the same general route and time as me. :)

I got off the ferry at a town called Ettalong where I knew I would have to cross a bridge on Maitland Bay Dr.  Google maps was directing me West for a bit, then North for a bit, then East onto Maitland Bay Dr.  I thought I would out-smart google maps and just head straight North to Maitland Bay Dr.  And when I got there, here’s what I found:

That road above me is Maitland Bridge Dr.....should've followed google....

That road above me is Maitland Bay Dr…..should’ve followed google maps….

 

So I stood on the side of the road for a bit while I looked at how I needed to re-route.  Just as I thought I had it figured out and I was setting out again a vehicle pulled up to me.  The driver is a cyclist and he gave me directions on how I could get on the bridge without backtracking.  A couple quick right hand turns later and following a path beside a ‘blue-ish’ house (per the directions provided), I was successfully on the bridge! Yay!

The rest of the ride to Terrigal continued with the constant hills, but the towns were a bit further apart with some greenery between them.

Between Ettalong and Terrigal

Between Ettalong and Terrigal

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In Terrigal there are multiple paths for cyclists!

In Terrigal there are multiple paths for cyclists!

 

I got to my Airbnb accommodations and had a quick chat with my hosts, who were super friendly and fellow adventurers.  They have two young kids, but pre-kids they actually lived and toured around on a boat for a while!  It sounds like they are planning their next adventure, it just takes a bit more time and effort with kids (I can imagine!).

After I got cleaned up I headed across the street and walked the short distance along the coast to the downtown area (the ocean is quite literally at my doorstep tonight).  I picked up some quick groceries for tomorrow’s ride and then spent an hour or so before sunset reading at the beach.  Weather wise, it’s now comfortable for cycling (mid to high teens), but not quite warm enough to entice me into the water yet.  Regardless, sitting by the ocean and reading while listening to the sound of the waves at the end of a day?  Not a bad life…..

View across the street from my accommodations

View across the street from the Airbnb

Town of Terrigal

Town of Terrigal

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Reading by the beach :)

Reading by the beach :)