Touring Australia & NZ

Discussion in 'Australia and New Zealand' started by ItsikH, Jul 16, 2009.

  1. ItsikH

    ItsikH New Member

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    Hi everyone,
    I hope opening a new thread is OK. Me and a friend are planning on cycling in Australia & New Zealand in September. I have seen some former threads and already ordered the Lonely Planet. Our plan is to cycle in the south east - between Melbourne and Brisbane - and then continue in NZ.
    Here are some bothering questions:

    1. How is the weather in September?
    2. How is public transportation for bicycles (if we need it)?
    3. How safe are the roads? Places to be avoided?
    Are there any specifically recommended roads and places?

    (All questions - both Australia and NZ)

    Thanks,
    Itsik (and Moran)
     
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  2. scuppy

    scuppy New Member

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    September is a bit of a gamble for Aus. Warming up but not too hot yet. It is the time of year to get storms and if you head inland can get the 'September Gales' as some have called it, which is strong west to east winds. You can still get snow storms in the mountains up until November, but it's not common. Nights in the mountains can drop to -4C or so not including freak storms. If you avoid the 'alpine' areas it shouldn't get under -2C. If you follow the coast it shouldn't drop below 0C. Temperature shouldn't exceed 30C until you hit Queensland. It could be quite a bit cooler (15C - 20C would be a typical September clear day in SE NSW area away from the coast).

    Public transport is bad for bikes. NSW rail only allow one bike box per person and they rely on buses for the vast majority of links. I have had to resort to using a courier in NSW because I had more stuff than the train would accept (a trailer and lots of baggage). If you are hotel hopping, you may have a much better experience than me.

    Coastal highways are dangerous in sections and fantastic in others, so a bit of research would be advisable. Stay away from Sydney in particular (I'm not saying don't visit, but I wouldn't advise riding around). To avoid it you have to go out west through Mudgee way, which I recommend you visit. If you hug the western blue mountains you will be rewarded with some of the best parks around. I don't know about Melbourne. Brisbane is okay but you aren't allowed on the freeway, which isn't a big deal.

    Dirt tracks and walking trails are often out of bounds. A bike is considered a motor vehicle in terms of access. Horses have more access rights than mountain bikes on many tracks. I've even seen a park that allows motor bikes but not bicycles, still can't work that one out, something to do with water catchment

    I could name 100 parks worth visiting, but here's a few of the best I've done:
    Warrumbungles (vista)
    Washpool Nat Park and neighbouring parks (rainforest experience)
    Kanangra Walls (vista)
    Mungo Nat Park (arid experience)
    Morton Park and up through Kangaroo valley (climbing experience and vista)
    Camp along the darling or murray rivers somewhere amongst old river red gums (dont camp directly under river red gum branches!).
    Snowy Mountains somewhere (assume it will snow but it probably wont)
    Contact Department of Lands about sections of Hume and Hovell track that can be ridden.

    Further south there are great places like lakes district or bright area but I haven't actually ridden them. Also, never ridden in NZ, but a thumbs up for Wellington!
     
  3. ItsikH

    ItsikH New Member

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    Thanks so much!
    What is the average temp expected at SE OZ? Percentage of rainy days?
    Do you mean that bicycle can only be carried on board trains in a box? What about buses? We do intend to sleep in hotels or similar accommodations, not carrying any sleeping gear, just very minimal equipment.
    Off road cycling is not an option, we are going to ride road bikes fitted for touring - are these parks accessible by road?

    Thanks again for your kind help!
     
  4. scuppy

    scuppy New Member

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    Yes the bike has to go in the bike box. It's just a box that has a certain size, which you can look up on the railway internet site. This includes buses, they don't guarantee the box will fit, but you can book ahead to make sure. If you are not carrying camping gear, it should be ok. Annoyingly you have to supply the box, so if you're in a small town, will need to get normal cardboard boxes and make your own box unless you get lucky at the station.

    Revised for sealed only riding:

    Warrumbungles
    For the blue mountains, rather than Kanangra, you may want to go Lithgow - Katoomba, but I can't say how safe that road is.
    Kangaroo Valley and Nowra area
    Snowy Mountains will be awkward, there's sealed roads there, but there will still be skier traffic early September, so not sure if it would be safe.

    Infact for town hopping on sealed only, following the coast would be a good option. You wont get as wide a range of terrain but you are guaranteed sealed roads, places to stay and there are lots of attractive parks along the coast.As for getting through Sydney safely, hopefully a Sydney local will chime in with an opinion. Maybe a train from Sydney to Katoomba would be a good way to go.

    If you just follow inland roads, you will still have a great ride, but many of the parks will be dirt road only. Smaller rural towns may not be your cup of tea, in which case such a ride could get boring. There are major tourist runs though, like the Rutherglen wineries if thats what you're looking for. If you want Australiana, places that have a lot of historical attractions like Bendigo are dotted all over the place. Maybe Vic and NSW tourism would have info for that type of thing.
     
  5. ItsikH

    ItsikH New Member

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    Thanks, sounds quite disturbing - I haven't seen anything like this since northern Spain on 2004, and even there today they don't require a box anymore. In a small town - how can you get a bicycle box? It means that public transportation is not to be relayed upon. OK.

    Of the 3 options marked on the map (Melbourne-Sidney) - along the coast, through Canberra or further north - which is improbable and dangerous? We cycle by road and limited in water, therefore we would need water every 3-4 hours on the average, about 50-60 miles.
     
  6. LordLeighGungie

    LordLeighGungie New Member

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    I don't really like any of your three routes.
    Starting at the top -
    The first one is showing you going up the Newell Hwy - Long detour for a start. Long distance between towns.
    Its a major truck route to Queensland - I wouldn't ride it. Semi trailers and B double trucks doing 110kph (min) on a single lane road - Your call but not recommended.

    The middle route - straight up the Hume Highway. Shortest route
    This is the major truck route between Melbourne and Sydney. It is dual carriageway for a good part. You can ride on the shoulder, but its going to be as boring as batsh1t.

    The southern most route - longer than the middle one. Again a major hwy - so traffic issues but not as bad as the other two.
    This is the best of a bad lot.
    I'd encourage you to do a bit more research to find alternate roads.
    Have a look at Audax Australia for their Sydney-Mebourne route.
     
  7. ItsikH

    ItsikH New Member

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    I was against the coastal option, it was my friend's suggestion:( - I prefer to go inland because of the coastal humidity. I was for the Canberra route - my thought was not to go directly on the highway most of the time but rather deviate into smaller roads along it. Anyway this means the northern option is off.
     
  8. classic1

    classic1 Well-Known Member

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    Pretty much good advice, but note you can ride on quiet B and C routes between Bairnsdale and Melbourne easily. This is about 320km by the most direct route (highway 1). Would be little more than 350km on reasonably direct but quiet backroads. IIRC there is a rail trail east of Bairnsdale as well.
     
  9. LordLeighGungie

    LordLeighGungie New Member

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    In September coastal humidity won't be a problem - Its coming into spring and the weather is perfect for cycling - Gets more humid as you go further north but I don't think its a concern - Someone from Qld might be able to comment further.

    There's plenty of great riding through Gippsland - like Classic said, pick some of the minor roads to see some terrific countryside. You could even go further South to take in Wilsons prom by using the South Gippsland Hwy instead of the Princes Hwy to travel East (bit of a longer route).

    If you want to go up the middle route and don't mind hills, there's excellent cycling once you get off the Hwy. Alpine areas around Bright are favourite cycling destinations and cater for cyclists.

    Depends on your goal - to travel there as quickly as possible via the shortest route or to take the time to explore?

    Either route using smaller roads will be a great trip.
    If you pick out a route, post your choices and we'll try to comment on the roads/towns. Some places on a map may have nothing to offer you while others that look small, are quite busy. Roads can vary in quality too. A map might show a road going between places but it might be unsealed.
    I can't comment on NSW much, but I've done a fair bit of Victoria.
     
  10. ItsikH

    ItsikH New Member

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    I was thinking of the Sidney-Melbourne 1200 as an initial plan - even though it is far more difficult and longer than the straight forward route through Canberra - perhaps some hybrid of the two. Here are the links to the route from the Audax Australia site:
    Bicycle Path - Audax SM 1200 Euroa Melb at Bikely.com
    Bicycle Path - Audax SM1200 Corryong Euroa at Bikely.com
    Google Maps
    Bicycle Path - Audax SM1200 Syd-ACT at Bikely.com
    The 3rd part is missing from the Audax site, it is described (traversed of course) Corryong - Cabramurra - Kiandra - Cooma - Canberra. It sounds a little bit ambitious but on the other side - very rewarding, provided that water and hotels are availble. Otherwise, we might consider an alternative shorted route but still bypassing the highway and going through the scenery roads as much as possible.
     
  11. scuppy

    scuppy New Member

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    That's a nice route but I would want to hear from someone that has ridden Corryong to Canberra in September. There will still be some snow and traffic from people visiting the ski fields. Even though Australia probably has the smallest mountains and least snow for all continents, if a snow storm comes through when you happen to be doing the climb it could be a major epic. Using the hume highway to bypass the mountains is a good choice (eg: Corryong -> Tumbarrumba -> Batlow -> Tumut -> Gundagai -> Jugiong -> Yass).

    Not to be too negative though: I will be going Yass -> Wee Jasper (gravel road) -> Tumut -> Batlow -> Tumbarrumba and on to the Grampians in September, if you see a guy with a trike and trailer it's probably me.
     
  12. LordLeighGungie

    LordLeighGungie New Member

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    I agree - I don't even see the point of going to Corryong - its not getting you where you want to go. The above suggestion is better.
    The road between Wodonga and Corryong has some spectacular scenery as you ride alongside lake Hume but offers very little in the way of support - Most names on the map are simply place names and have nothing else to offer.

    I'd recommend detouring down the Ovens valley from Wangaratta towards Bright. There's a sealed off road rail trail that runs between the two places and also goes to Beechworth - Very pleasant riding through there. Friends of mine have just come back from a winery tour of that area done by bike. (see here)

    As for getting to Canberra - I'd think approaching from the North will serve you better.
     
  13. ItsikH

    ItsikH New Member

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    Recall that we are on road bikes - gravel is acceptable but only for a limited distance. Are rail trails ridable for road bikes?
     
  14. ItsikH

    ItsikH New Member

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    The first option sounds good enough - mostly off the highway yet not too risky (am I correct?). I really love the second one which you are taking but gravel is a bit of a problem if it is for a long distance (we use road bikes), and also we are not carrying camping gear - sounds a bit too risky.
     
  15. LordLeighGungie

    LordLeighGungie New Member

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    That one from Wangaratta to Bright is a sealed surface - No problems.
    Others are compacted gravel and are OK for a road bike - wider tyres would be nice.
    Other less developed trails can be a bit rougher. That website will tell you the condition them.

    This guy did a similar trip - have a read of his thread for his thoughts and route. He took the coastal option.
     
  16. ItsikH

    ItsikH New Member

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    Another question - do you know any bike stores in Melbourne? Not the fancy kind, we simply need some professional support before starting off.
     
  17. LordLeighGungie

    LordLeighGungie New Member

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    Yes there's plenty of good ones around.
    What area of Melbourne are you starting from / staying in?
    Someone will probably be able to post a nearby shop that has a decent mechanic.
    I can think of several on the Eastern side of town which will be useless if you're staying in the West.
     
  18. ItsikH

    ItsikH New Member

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    I can now report our final route, actually we did both ways: from Melbourne to Sidney we followed some of the Audax route, then a little on M31 to Albury, then went east to Tumba Rumba but the forecast made us turn back to M31 through Batlow and then to Sydney with a detour through Canberra. Actually this is more or less the original route described above. Then we headed back to Melbourne through the other alternative - the coast, some on A1 but some on smaller back roads on the coast. At Sale we boarded a train to avoid the final busier parts. Later we cycled Great Ocean Road to Warnabool. My friend went on to Tasmania to get some hail and blizzards, I flew back to Sydney and had a few more days near Sydney, one in Blue Mountains.
    Pics on my blog, still unfinished and in Hebrew (sorry)
    Down Under, øëéáä áàåñèøìéä 2009 - äáìåâ ùì ItsikH - úôåæ áìåâéí
    just click on the camera icon of each day.
    Also, at the bottom of each day there is a link מפת היום to Google map of that day.
     
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