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Stage 1: The Tough Beginning


Rain, unanticipated hills, and breakdowns, but much fun as well



The Tour Reports section of the site now contains the posts that I sent to the Phred Touring List (now on Google Groups) during the Tour.  Those from the early days of the Tour were rather thin, while later on, for some of the more unique countries, they contain much more thorough accounts of the ride, and an occasional amusing anecdote.  Towards the end of the Tour, however, I frequently couldn't keep up with the chore of sending posts on time, so the last several were written after the Tour was complete.  Look for links to the posts at the end of the short descriptions beginning below.


My Farewell Post, sent before the Tour, is: ~HERE~



Stage 1 Actual Route

Stage 1 Route Map


On this, and all future route maps, the blue lines represent travel by ship, red by airplane (Booo!), and green by bicycle. The actual route for Stage 1 was almost exactly the same as what I had originally planned prior to the tour, with the notable exception that I had to skip the last few days and end the Stage at Shark Bay instead of Perth in order to catch my next ship to Stage 2.

Melbourne: The Start of the Whole Affair

I had a choice of ports in which to start Stage 1. Most of the ships that make the North America to Australia circuit stop at both Melbourne and Sydney, though some call Sydney first and others Melbourne. If I had so desired, I could have stayed on board the Direct Kestrel for a few more days and disembarked at Sydney. I chose to start in Melbourne, however, for a few reasons. To me it seemed like it would be an easier city to exit, being a little smaller than Sydney. Also, it would give me a chance to explore the southeastern coast and, especially, Tasmania. I believe I made a good choice there. Melbourne seemed to me to be a fine town, with a nice city center that was easily walkable and lively. It was nice to relax on dry land there for a couple of days, and take care of a few final details before the ride started. Everything got off to a nice start as I left the port for the hotel I had chosen in the city center. I picked the place that was closest to the container terminal so I could have a relatively easy walk with the bike, and the very large box of "boat supplies" that I would be sending home shortly thereafter. It is not possible to walk around inside the container terminal, and most have a shuttle that takes crews, port staff, and the occasional globe-circling bike tourist from the ships to the main gate. In my case the friendly driver insisted on taking me right to the door of my hotel, which I definitely appreciated.

For the next couple of days, I spent most of my free time sampling the local cuisine, which is prepared with a bit more variety than the fare on board ship, and doing only a few touristy things. The Royal Botanical Gardens was a nice place for a walk, and the Queen Victoria Market provided a chance to experience a big crowd which seemed novel after the nearly deserted Direct Kestrel. Additionally, I went to see the Royal Exhibition Building and Carlton Gardens, and was pleasantly surprised to learn that they had been added to the UNESCO World Heritage list in 02004, a fact that had somehow escaped my notice. That brought the number of such sites on the Stage 1 route to 12, and enhanced my goal of seeing as many as possible. Though I was now firmly on the soil of Gondwana, I still did not feel like the tour had actually started, however.

Royal Exhibition Building

The Royal Exhibition Building


A Melbourne Tram

A famous Melbourne tram


Gondwana Clothing

Well-named clothing, Queen Victoria Market


Tasmania: Island of Rainbows

It was a short 5 km ride from the Melbourne city center to the ferry terminal of the Spirit of Tasmania, and that made it very easy to catch yet another boat for the overnight crossing of the Bass Straight to Devonport, Tasmania where the whole tour would officially start. The ferry was quite nice, not particularly full, and the business-class seat that I sprung for allowed me to get a little sleep along the way. Arriving at about 7:00 A.M., I was able to start off right away for a full day of riding after a quick change of clothes. It turned out that I needed every minute of that day, and more, as things were not very easy at the start.

As I feared, several weeks with minimal riding while I packed up my home and crossed the Pacific, significantly degraded my fitness, and I noticed that after only a few hours of riding. It was also cold, for most of the time I spent on the island, and as is often the case there during that time of years, it rained quite a bit. The biggest drawback, however, was the short length of daylight there during June. Nine and a half hours of useable sunlight made for a big challenge for me. The first few days were quite a struggle for those reasons, but I knew that on a long tour none of that lasts forever, so I was not worried too much.

In spite of all of that Tasmania was very nice. I looped around, heading to the west side first and visited the Gordon-Franklin Rivers area, another WHS, before crossing back to the east coast just north of Hobart, the capital, heading up the east coast, eventually through Launceston, before arriving back at Devonport for the ferry back to the mainland.

One of the interesting characteristics of ancient Gondwanaland that can still be seen today was its distinctive forests filled with species such as myrtle, beech, and tree ferns. Western Tasmania is one of the best places on Earth to see remnants of the ancient forest, and these species were all easily seen, as was the Huon pine, an endemic species that was once prized as a ship-building timber. Tasmania was one of the last places that I added to the whole tour route, and I'm glad that I did, as I enjoyed my visit there quite a bit.


My brief post about Tasmania is: ~HERE~



Spirit of Tasmania

The Spirit of Tasmania ferry


Mt. Roland

Mount Roland


Lake Burbury

A shower approaches Lake Burbury


Waterfalls and Ferns

Waterfalls and ferns, Western Tasmanian rainforest


Bicheno Tidepool

An anemone in a Bicheno tidepool


Morning in Bicheno

Morning at Bicheno


Victoria: A Small, but Pretty State

My route through Victoria was not especially long, and so I was only there for a few days, but the weather improved a little, and there was a bit of flat terrain along the coast, so I felt a little better. While there, I continued to notice what I first saw on Tasmania, namely that Australia is completely filled with beautiful birds. For many years I had always dreamt of seeing parrots in the wild, and though I caught a few brief glimpses of some during my tours in '02 and '03, I was completely taken aback by the frequency that they appeared in Australia. In one particular case, on a gray morning, in an area of rolling farmland in eastern Victoria, I happened across a flock of Black Cockatoos that must have numbered 150 individuals. They would normally be too shy for me to get very close to them, but with so many around, I was able to walk through the trees they occupied, and they could not fly away fast enough to escape my observations. They are quite large birds and their call sounds like someone opening a very squeaky door. Eventually, they all took off, squeaking away into the gray sky and I felt like I was standing in a real-life version of the "Flying Monkey" scene from The Wizard of Oz (the fictional Oz, that is).


Another brief post, about Victoria, is: ~HERE~



Port Albert Marina

Port Albert marina


A Koala

At the Phillip Island Koala Sanctuary


Galahs on Wires

Galahs on wires


A Victoria Sunset

A Victoria Sunset


New South Wales, the Heart of Australia

My ride through New South Wales, Australia's most populated state, was, perhaps not as enjoyable as it could have been. There was some surprisingly rolling terrain along the southern coast, more wet, cold weather (I rode through a snowstorm on one occasion, a touring first for me), and a series of unexpected mechanical problems. All of these combined to increase the business-like nature of that section. My route ran along the south coast for a while, then turned inland to avoid the congestion of Sydney, and finally hit the coast again at the northeastern corner of the state. By the time I caught up from the weather delays, fixed everything that broke, and climbed up and down the Great Dividing Range a few times, I had little time to spend sightseeing or relaxing at the state's attractions. I did manage to make a quick half-day visit to the Blue Mountains, which were quite pretty, and towards the end of the section, when the weather began to improve, to Gibraltar Range and Washpol National Parks, all of which were very interesting from a botanical perspective. When I finally reached the north coast, at the margins of the tropics I was finally able to take a break that was actually relaxing at Iluka Beach.

One pleasant aspect of this part of Australia was that there are still many small to mid-sized towns that have retained a traditional city center, complete with shops along an easily-walkable main street. It was nice to see that again, though I unfortunately did not have enough time to lounge around one or two of them as I had hoped. It was certainly nice to finally reach the southern edge of the tropics, as I was definitely ready for some warmer weather to return. The Tour of Gondwana, is supposed to be a largely tropical tour, after all.


Two posts about New South Wales are: ~HERE~



The Blue Mountains

The Blue Mountains


Black Swans

Black swans on a pond


Prince of Wales Hotel

Prince of Wales Hotel, Gulgong


A Hopping Kangaroo

A 'Roo hops across my path






 

 

Stage 1 Log


For a description of terms and symbols look: ~HERE~

May 22, 02005


Melbourne
Accommodation:
Comment: Arrived in Melbourne!!

May 23


Melbourne
Accommodation:
Comment: Sightseeing in Melbourne

May 24


Melbourne to Devonport
Accommodation:
Comment: Overnight ferry to Tasmania

May 25


Devonport to Daisy Dell
Distance: 75 km
Terrain: Hilly, 440-m climb
Max. Elevation: 767 m
Roads: B14, C136, C132
Max. Temp: 10 C
Weather: Mostly sunny, with two light showers; some moderate headwinds
Accommodation:

Comment: A tiring first day

May 26


Daisy Dell to 28 km N of Strahan
Distance: 122 km
Terrain: Hilly/heavy rolling, 450-m climb
Max. Elevation: 930 m
Roads: C132, A10, B27
Max. Temp: 9 C
Weather: Fog/drizzle/light rain
Accommodation:

Comment: Better legs, more wet

May 27


28 km N of Strahan to Strahan
Distance: 29 km
Terrain: Light rolling
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: B27
Max. Temp: 11 C
Weather: Light showers/sun
Accommodation:

Comment: Rest/sightseeing day in Strahan; Gordon River cruise

May 28


Strahan to 20 km W. of Derwent Bridge
Distance: 108 km
Terrain: Hilly, rolling, 2 small climbs
Max. Elevation: 530 m
Roads: B24, A10
Max. Temp: 8 C
Weather: Mixed sun/light showers, a little sleet
Accommodation:

Comment: Cold, but enjoyable ride through Franklin/Gordon Wild Rivers National Park

May 29


20 km W. of Derwent Bridge to 18 km W. of Ouse
Distance: 112 km
Terrain: Hilly, rolling, 450-m climb
Max. Elevation: 815 m
Roads: A10
Max. Temp: 9 C
Weather: Cloudy and cold, but no rain
Accommodation:

Comment: Snow on ground at Lake St. Clair NP, no services east of Derwent Br.

May 30


18 km W. of Ouse to Orielton
Distance: 139 km
Terrain: Light to moderate rolling, 2 small climbs
Max. Elevation: 367 m
Roads: A10, B10, B32, C324, B31, C350
Max. Temp: 13 C
Weather: Mostly cloudy, but no rain; occasional tailwinds
Accommodation:

Comment: An easier day

May 31


Orielton to Bicheno
Distance: 151 km
Terrain: Light to moderate rolling, a few small climbs
Max. Elevation: 330 m
Roads: A3
Max. Temp: 15 C
Weather: Clearing; sunny by afternoon; frequent tailwinds
Accommodation:

Comment: A generally good day. A lot of traffic, inc. many log trucks in A.M. Better N of Triabunna

June 1


Bicheno to Diana's Basin
Distance: 71 km
Terrain: Flat to light rolling
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: A3
Max. Temp: 17 C
Weather: Sunny
Accommodation:

Comment: Half day for rest/sights in Bicheno, then a beautiful ride along the coast

June 2


Diana's Basin to Nabowla
Distance: 130 km
Terrain: Hilly, 500-m climb
Max. Elevation: 605 m
Roads: A3, B81
Max. Temp: 18 C
Weather: Morning frost; sunny; no significant wind
Accommodation:

Comment: Some very beautiful cycling

June 3


Nabowla to Devonport
Distance: 152 km
Terrain: Hilly, a few small climbs
Max. Elevation: 400 m
Roads: B81, A7, B71
Max. Temp: 18 C
Weather: Morning clouds, then sunny; minimal wind
Accommodation:

Comment: A rather long day to catch the ferry

June 4


Frankston, Victoria to Kilcunda
Distance: 78 km
Terrain: Flat to light rolling
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: C777, C787, B420, B460
Max. Temp: 20 C
Weather: Partly cloudy
Accommodation:

Comment: Overnight ferry from Tas., Commuter train to Frankston, Half day of easy riding. Visited Koala sanctuary

June 5


Kilcunda to Port Albert
Distance: 140 km
Terrain: Flat to light rolling w/ a few sections of small hills
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: B460, C442, C443, C445, A440, C452
Max. Temp: 14 C
Weather: Cloudy w/ just a few raindrops; clearing by evening; slight afternoon headwinds
Accommodation:

Comment: A fairly nice day; saw a lot of birds

June 6


Port Albert
Max. Temp: 14 C
Weather: Partly cloudy
Accommodation:

Comment: Rest Day in Port Albert

June 7


Port Albert to 15 km W. of Bairnsdale
Distance: 138 km
Terrain: Flat to light rolling
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: Old Sale Rd, A440, A1
Max. Temp: 18 C
Weather: Sunny
Accommodation:

Comment: An easier day

June 8


15 km W. of Bairnsdale to 12 km E. of Orbost
Distance: 129 km
Terrain: Flat, then heavy/moderate rolling
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: A1
Max. Temp: 22 C
Weather: Sunny
Accommodation:

Comment: Fairly easy day, but feel tired

June 9


12 km E. of Orbost to Narrabarba, New South Wales
Distance: 146 km
Terrain: Hilly w/ 3 small climbs
Max. Elevation: 422 m
Roads: A1
Max. Temp: 18 C
Weather: Partly cloudy
Accommodation:

Comment: A fairly tough day

June 10


Narrabarba to Murrah Lake
Distance: 123 km
Terrain: Moderate rolling w/ several steep hills
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: A1, Tourist Rd. 11, Tourist Rd. 9
Max. Temp: 22 C
Weather: Sunny, occasional headwinds
Accommodation:

Comment: Another slow day

June 11


Murrah Lake to Batemans Bay
Distance: 121 km
Terrain: Moderate/heavy rolling
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: Tourist Dr. 9, A1
Max. Temp: 14 C
Weather: Cloudy, headwinds, afternoon rain
Accommodation:

Comment: Decided to stay the night in Batemans Bay due to rain

June 12


Batemans Bay to Tirrannaville
Distance: 136 km
Terrain: Hilly, 700-m climb, then moderate rolling
Max. Elevation: 785 m
Roads: Hwy 52, Tourist Dr. 8
Max. Temp: 18 C
Weather: Sunny, occasional headwinds
Accommodation:

Comment: A better day

June 13


Tirrannaville to Abercrombie River
Distance: 102 km
Terrain: Moderate rolling/hilly, w/ 1 steep descent/climb
Max. Elevation: 1030 m
Roads: Tourist Dr. 8, Taralga Rd.
Max. Temp: 14 C
Weather: Morning sun but cold, afternoon rain
Accommodation:

Comment: A very hard day

June 14


Abercrombie River to Lithgow
Distance: 124 km
Terrain: Hilly
Max. Elevation: 1272 m
Roads: Taralga Rd., Abercrombie Rd, Tourist Dr. 1, Hwy 32
Max. Temp: 14 C
Weather: Morning rain, headwinds, evening clearing
Accommodation:

Comment: A very bleak morning

June 15


Lithgow
Accommodation:
Comment: Rest day in Lithgow

June 16


Lithgow
Distance: 61 km
Terrain: Hilly
Max. Elevation: 1080 m
Roads: Hwy 32
Max. Temp: 10 C
Weather: Partly sunny
Accommodation:

Comment: Half day to visit Blue Mountains N.P.

June 17


Lithgow to Illford
Distance: 79 km
Terrain: Moderate rolling with 1 small climb/descent
Max. Elevation: 1100 m
Roads: Hwy 86
Max. Temp: 8 C
Weather: Partly cloudy; strong winds from various directions
Accommodation:

Comment: Half day after errands in Lithgow

June 18


Illford to 20 km S.E. of Coolah
Distance: 163 km
Terrain: Light rolling with several small hills
Max. Elevation: 825 m
Roads: Hwy 86, Cope Rd., Ulan Rd., Vinagaroy Rd.
Max. Temp: 14 C
Weather: Sunny
Accommodation:

Comment: A long, but relatively easy day

June 19


20 km S.E. of Coolah to Coonabarabran
Distance: 110 km
Terrain: Hilly; moderate to light rolling
Max. Elevation: 760 m
Roads: Binnaway Rd.
Max. Temp: 10 C
Weather: Rain; headwinds
Accommodation:

Comment: Another bleak day

June 20


Coonabarabran to Narrabri
Distance: 135 km
Terrain: Moderate to light rolling, then flat
Max. Elevation: 605 m
Roads: Hwy 39
Max. Temp: 18 C
Weather: Mostly sunny
Accommodation:

Comment: A late start for repairs in Coona, but an easy day

June 21


Narrabri to Moree
Distance: 101 km
Terrain: Flat
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: Hyw 39
Max. Temp: 17 C
Weather: Cloudy, clearing by evening
Accommodation:

Comment: Half day for rest and repairs in Moree

June 22


Moree to Inverell
Distance: 153 km
Terrain: Flat, then gradual incline
Max. Elevation: 765 m
Roads: Hwy 38
Max. Temp: 15 C
Weather: Mostly sunny, but scattered afternoon showers, inc. one short hailstorm; beautiful tailwinds
Accommodation:

Comment: A fairly easy day

June 23


Inverell to Glen Innes
Distance: 67 km
Terrain: Moderate rolling, then gradual climb
Max. Elevation: 1125 m
Roads: Hwy 38
Max. Temp: 4 C
Weather: Rain, changing to snow
Accommodation:

Comment: Stopped early due to snow and for repairs

June 24


Glen Innes to Jackadagery
Distance: 134 km
Terrain: Moderate to light rolling, 900-m descent
Max. Elevation: 1110 m
Roads: Hwy 38
Max. Temp: 19 C
Weather: Mostly sunny, minimal wind
Accommodation:

Comment: Finally, a really nice day; some short walks at Gibraltar Range and Washpool N.Ps.

June 25


Jackadagery to Iluka
Distance: 124 km
Terrain: Moderate to heavy rolling, then flat
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: Hyw 38, Tourist Dr. 22, Bull Point Ferry, Yamba Rd., Clarence River Ferry
Max. Temp: 22 C
Weather: Sunny; occasional tailwinds
Accommodation:

Comment: Another nice day

June 26


Iluka
Distance: 19 km
Max. Temp: 19 C
Weather: Mostly sunny
Accommodation:

Comment: Rest day in Iluka; sightseeing in Iluka Nature Reserve and Bundjalung N.P.

June 27


Iluka to Lismore
Distance: 88 km
Terrain: Light to moderate rolling
Max. Elevation: <300 m
Roads: Hwy 1, Tourist Dr. 26
Max. Temp: 15 C
Weather: Rain
Accommodation:

Comment: Stopped early due to weather and to repair tent


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