This post may not be the most interesting for our followers and regular readers, but we felt that we should detail the route we followed on the Australian mainland.
It has been quite difficult to find reliable source of information on various forums and websites about the two stretches Melbourne->Sydney and Sydney->Brisbane, and because we feel that we ended up finding a pretty good route, we may as well share it and be useful to future cyclists.
There might be some better alternatives, definitely some different ways, but our main criteria for the choice of the route were (in order of importance):
1 – Avoid the highways! It is crazy, but a lot of 2×2 or 2×3 lanes highways are officially also cycling paths – it is basically a logo of a bike painted on the left of the shoulder. Highways are probably not the most dangerous roads (shoulders are really wide), but certainly not enjoyable…unless you love cycling on litter, glass, pieces of truck tires and enjoy the delicate smell of old rusty diesel engines! We had (really no other alternatives!) to take them for a total of 30km…
2- Avoid traffic! Highways are not enjoyable, but the traffic is often worse of national and medium size roads. Shoulders are smaller, and thus car drivers become nervous with overtaking.
3- Go through scenic areas. Because what’s the point otherwise?
4- Max 100km and/or 1200mD+ per day. Doing longer rides for a day is okay, but over several weeks it actually does not become very pleasant (at least we felt)
5- Preference for gravel roads, long distance cycling routes.
It took us 27 stages (and thus days) to cycle the total distance of 2000km (almost precisely!) with 19100m of elevation gain. Note that we mentioned the largest town in the area where we stayed, we sometimes slept over 10km away from the actual place – this may affect the daily distances (but not the overall!).
The first part is between Melbourne and Sydney – 14 days, 1050km and 12300mD+. We honestly feel like we’ve done a pretty good job at routing through scenic areas and nice towns, with very little traffic (and only 14km on the Hume highway). This however implies gravel or dirt roads.
- Day 1: Melbourne (Hampton) to Lilydale – 65km / 720mD+
- Day 2: Lilydale to Alexandra – 93km / 1153mD+
- Day 3: Alexandra to Mansfield – 72km / 747mD+
- Day 4: Mansfield to Moyhu – 81km / 848mD+
- Day 5: Moyhu to Yackandandah – 77km / 697mD+
- Day 6: Yackandandah to Granya – 76km / 687mD+
- Day 7: Granya to “Rippling Water Farm” – 76km / 892mD+
- Day 8: “Rippling Water Farm” to Batlow – 67km / 1134mD+
- Day 9: Batlow to Tumorrama – 70km / 1077mD+
- Day 10: Tumorrama to “Cavan Farm Station” – 68km / 1026mD+
- Day 11: “Cavan Farm Station” to Gunning – 70km / 905mD+
- Day 12: Gunning to Brayton – 86km / 1019mD+
- Day 13: Brayton to Hill Top – 76km / 877mD+
- Day 14: Hill Top to Sydney (Leppington commuter train station) – 71km / 522mD+ -> cycling into Sydney is a serious nightmare, taking a bike (ours is particularly large) in the train very easy (we even took the escalator down the Circular Quay with the tandem, no trailer)
Second part is between Sydney and Gold Coast (south of Brisbane). This area is definitely more populated and we had to deal with a lot more traffic. Again, gravel roads allow to cycle through some farming lands and national parks, but avoiding larger roads became more of a challenge every day. We took 5 ferries in total (some only a few minutes and free, others longer and with a fee). Ferries are a great way to stick to the coast and go to the end of peninsulas where traffic become naturally quieter. The distances are only cycling distances (not including the ferry), with a total of 950km and 6800mD+.
- Day 15: Sydney to North Curl Curl – 8km / 103mD+ (our relax day, with a bit of sightseeing around the Opera House!)
- Day 16: North Curl Curl to Terrigal – 61km / 797mD+
- Day 17: Terrigal to Hamilton South (Newcastle) – 84km / 546mD+
- Day 18: Hamilton South (Newcastle) to Hawks Nest – 65km / 160mD+
- Day 19: Hawks Nest to Tiona – 62km / 395mD+
- Day 20: Tiona to Taree – 54km / 323mD+
- Day 21: Taree to Port Macquerie – 96km / 568mD+
- Day 22: Port Macquerie to Clybucca – 97km / 267mD+
- Day 23: Clybucca to Coffs Harbour – 91km / 743mD+
- Day 24: Coffs Harbour to Grafton – 89km / 954mD+
- Day 25: Grafton to Casino – 108km / 711mD+
- Day 26: Casino to Mt Burrell – 72km / 774mD+
- Day 27: Mt Burrell to Gold Coast (Tweed Heads) – 62km / 496mD+
We’ll try to make some maps later to make the path more clear. Until then, you can refer to our data on Garmin Connect and Strava (through the menus of the website).