Cycling with family

Last year they visited us in Nepal, this year they fly a bit further and they are not alone. We meet Maaike and Eric in Brisbane and together we look into the two big boxes they brought with them.

On two brand new bikes Maaike and Eric will accompany us to Sydney during their summer holidays. The real summer feelings aren’t their yet. During the day the weather is fine, during the nights it is freezing and the only warmth is found in our sleeping bags. It’s great to talk Dutch and it feels like old times immediately.

After a couple of days in Brisbane we are all looking forward to the cycling and we take a look at the map. The first day of cycling we hear noises around the tent of our neighbors at 6.30 am. Maaike and Eric are already packing their stuff and we leave the campsite early. We just left Brisbane when Eric encounters the fact that cyclists aren’t very popular in Australia. A woman in a jeep goes crazy, because Eric is…… cycling. We just continue doing that and we enjoy the beautiful nature around us. The green scenery is going up and down and we have to climb a nice part until we reach the campsite.

We climb trough a piece of tropical rain forest and we are rewarded with a beautiful descent. I break my personal record by cycling 66 km/h! We can see the Cold Coast, which looks great with the blue coast line and the huge flats rising right up from the beach. We put up our tent between the enormous buildings and we make a nice walk on the well known beach of Surfers Paradise.

We leave Queensland behind us and we arrive in New South Wales. We meet a group of 6 cyclists on their way from Rockhampton to Canberra. During their travels they ask for attention on the dangers of uranium. It’s a special group together. While they keep on cycling on the highway, we choose for an alternative route which brings us on a hill from where we can see the lighthouse of Byron Bay. It lays beautiful on a cliff. In Byron Bay we give our legs some rest. We walk to the lighthouse and from here we can see the turtles swimming in the sea. We follow the whales that come up with their backs quiet often. They don’t jump meters high in the sky, but it’s very impressive. Maaike and Eric go snorkeling while we stay at the campsite and we are live on the Dutch radio in the breakfast show of the VARA.

We cycle further down the coast and we arrive in the boring village of Evans Head. The campsite is bigger than the village itself and there is nothing to do. The smell on the campsite is very bad and at the end of the afternoon we find out why it stinks. Thousands of flying foxes fly from the trees land inwards. With an amazing noise above our heads we have to watch out we are not hit by something unwanted. From our caring neighbors on the campsite we get some fresh fish. We spend our evening like real Aussies around the BBQ to prepare our fish.

Cycling with four people is a bit different than we are used to. Steven and I are a good team after two years of cycling. We like to cycle next to each other so we can chat on our way. We like to move on, but if we see something interesting we stop. While Maaike cycles at her own pace, Eric cycles often at a high speed to his goal. Despite these differences its fun to cycle together and we always have our breaks with the four of us. We eat a lot of bread at a day and the peanut butter keeps our paddles moving.

We all agree that most of the villages and towns in Australia are not very exciting. There is not a real centre like the villages in Europe, which gives a lack of ambiance. On one hand the people in Australia are very open, hospitable and always in for a chat. On the other hand the tolerance towards each other and also to us is sometimes far away. On this part the nature is overwhelming beautiful and it changes almost every day. The coast is great and we see dolphins jumping around regularly. The roads we cycle roll along the hills which are most of the times green. Sometimes the fresh green changes into dry brown and then we know we entered an area with water restrictions. We regularly cross a river by a ferry and those times we feel like cycling in the Netherlands.

After all the signs of ‘Watch out for koalas’ you should expect to see one sometime. But that seems to be very difficult. A woman gives us some advice for our search to these Australian animals, but we don’t have any success. We find the solution in Port Macquarie where we visit the hospital for koalas. Here the koalas are taken care of when they are found wounded. The main cause of the wounds is the traffic. The koala’s are sitting comfortable and are eating fresh eucaliptus leafs.

In Diamond Head we arrive on a beautiful nature campsite. We stay at a nice lawn in a nature reserve for a night, where we are not alone. Big, small, young and old; there are kangaroos everywhere jumping around. They don’t mind some human beings visiting them and they don’t go away. It’s fantastic to watch the small baby kangaroos so close to their mothers. At the end of the afternoon all the kangaroos pay us a visit and invite themselves for a dinner. They walk into our tents and they are very curious and stubborn.

We are getting closer to Sydney where Steven and I are planning to stay for a while. We buy a newspaper and when we are looking at the advertisements a couple comes up to us. They have heard that there should be some “world cyclists” on the campsite, and they have come to hear some stories. We are a bit confused, but a nice conversation follows. When they hear that we are looking for a place to stay in Sydney they tell us about their son who lives in Sydney. After a while son Rob comes by and he invites us at his appartment while he himself is away. What a hospitality!

We keep on following the coastline for the last kilometers towards Sydney. We take the ferry from Tea Garden to Port Stevens and we are just on our way when the boat turns around. We look at each other but no one understands this movement. “Dolphins!!” shouts the captain. Not far from the boat a group of dolphins swims around. They make a nice show in front of us which is great to watch. After a while the captain thinks we have seen enough and he leads the boat to the other site.

A big shower starts the moment we arrive at our last campsite in The Entrance. We take a wet tent with us for the last kilometers towards Sydney. We are happy the rain is gone and we cycle a very nice part on a couple of cliffs next to the blue sea. We enter Manly, a suburb of Sydney where we find a nice hostel. Here we will stay before we can move to Robs place. The next day we go by boat to the city centre. Soon we see the impressing skyline of the city and the Sydney Harbor Bridge and the Opera House pop up as well. It’s a special moment as soon as we are standing in front of this Australian landmark. We are in Sydney!

* Brisbane – Mount Timborine: 70 km
* Mount Timborine – Surfers Paradise: 48 km
* Surfers Paradise – Kingscliff: 44 km
* Kingscliff – Byron Bay: 77 km
* Byron Bay – Evans Head: 81 km
* Evans Head – Iluka: 70 km
* Iluka – Grafton: 75 km
* Grafton – Coffs Harbour: 91 km
* Coffs Harbour – Nambucca Heads: 62 km
* Nambucca Heads – South West Rocks: 78 km
* South West Rocks – Crescent Heads: 49 km
* Crescent Heads – Port Macquarie: 38 km
* Port Macquairie – Diamond Head: 46 km
* Diamond Head – Forster: 78 km
* Forster – Mungo Brush: 87 km
* Mungo Brush – Hawks Nest: 24 km
* Hawks Nest – Newcastle: 54 km
* Newcastle – The Entrance: 78 km
* The Entrance – Sydney: 65 km



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