My last day of part 1 of RAAUST, I left the restaurant (closed Tuesday), gaming, bar and accommodations place called Beaches in Thirroul 20km north of Wollongong before 6:30A. It was the most beautiful morning of the trip to date. No layers of clothes, just 70’s and sunshine.
The two-story part on the right has one ensuite apartment and a few other rooms with shared bathrooms. No big deal. I headed north along the cliff-lined coast
About 15km into the day, north of Stanwell Park, the road switched-back and began a climb. By 7:30A I was drenched with sweat, averaging only 15kph. It wasn’t till I got to the top and saw the sign saying Bald Mountain that I realized that this was the great climb that you have to take no matter which route you enter Sydney from the south. 60km outside of town, I was mostly done with it. The view from the top.
Here I had a choice, 66km through the Royal National Forest, or 55km on Tourist Route 10. For various reasons, I chose the shorter route. It continued to climb to the top of the range a little farther inland. There were great vistas of uninterrupted forest, seemingly all burned up – more burnt up stuff than you can imagine.
What’s with this? It seems like every forest I’ve been in for the past 3 or 4 days has burned up in the relatively near past. (More info follows) In any case, tourist route 10 joined my old friend the Princes Highway, which then joined the big freeway, and I saw a welcome sign.
Unfortunately the mileage sign that comes right after this says 32km to the airport, and 42 to Sydney. The 6 lane highway became a 6 line city road with stoplights and tons of traffic as I approached town. I knew that if I stayed on the Princes Highway (Route 1) it would take me into downtown Sydney just 3 blocks from the destination bike shop.
Pedaling on I came to Botany Bay, just south of the airport. (I had assumed it was much farther from Sydney, thanks Tom.) This is where Captain James Cook first documented Australia for England, and if it was good enough for him it was good enough for me. I soaked my foot in the Pacific here, without removing my shoe.
Onward, coming up on the airport there were about 5 signs advising bikes to exit to the left. Unafraid of traffic until I came to the dark, no shoulder, airport tunnel, I pressed on and then had to turn back a bit. There was a convoluted bike route that zig-zagged along a waterway, a golf course, through some residential areas, a railyard and finally abruptly ended on the north side of the airport. I got back on a road that dumped me back on a freeway, only 10km from the city.
All morning I had seen road bikers. Two large groups and maybe 5 pairs or triplets. I talked with some of them. As I got off the highway a few kilometers up, two guys came along and offered to escort me to Clarence Street Cycles. Here’s Craig and Peter in front of the bike shop at 11:43A, after the last 85k of the first part of the trip.
Clarence Street Cycles bills itself as the ultimate bike shop. 3 floors of sales and service. Quite impressive. They (especially Israel) took care of me with hyper-efficiency, packing and shipping my bike and gear to Perth for only $A75. Wonderful people again. They referred me to the Grace Hotel, less than a block away. I checked in, showered and headed out for my ‘Round Sydney in 5 hours or so” tour. Got a beef sandwich and ate it on the lawn in Hyde Park while I considered the activities. The Sydney Tower and SkyTour would be very worthwhile to anyone visiting here
My pictures from up there were smudged, but here’s one of the entry to the harbor anyway. This is more than just a viewing platform. I took a guided tour from the top looking all around Sydney and asked the knowledgable tour guide about the fires. She said the place burned like crazy in 1994 and they thought it would take 100 years to regenerate. Then it burned again like crazy this year (Christmas 2001) and now some species may be gone forever. We have big fires in the states, but I don’t think any of them would be as big as all of what I rode through.
The SkyTour part of it was a delightful four part multi-media show and ride on Australia’s history and sights. They do some great animation here. The Sydney bridge climb takes 3 hours, so I settled for a mandatory harbor cruise. Here are 3 shots (the Opera Hall, the Bridge and a very small slice of this very big, complicated city).
They are very proud of their bridge and opera center here.
Done for now. It’s 2,028km, 1,267mi from Adelaide to Sydney via the Great Ocean Road across Phillips Port through the Mornington Penninsula, then along the Wilderness, Sapphire, Shoalhaven eastern coastal regions, through Wollongong and along the northern distribution into Sydney. It took 12.5 days of riding spread over 15 days on the ground, and I averaged 162km or 101mi. Looking back on it, it seems a lot easer than it felt at certain points. Back in 10 days to complete the rest. Thanks for traveling along with me and all your support and helpful comments.
25Sept02, 7:17P Sydney
– They don’t call bikes bikes or bicycles here, they call them “push bikes”. I didn’t ask anyone knowledgable, but the average person has no idea why they are called that, they just use the term.