Riding south and the coast.

Arrived back in Sydney last night, the ride was not good. It started out OK riding down the highway south of Sydney, but was not feeling ‘into it’. The highlight of that first week was washing away days of sweat by jumping into a river and in that beautiful place, lying in the shade of a gum tree gazing at the sky. From Goulburn, I took a back road to Bungendore which is just south of Lake George and then south again until, and fortunately having already set up camp, a thunderstorm broke out, and checking the weather bureau website, I found storms were predicted for the following few days. Next morning I headed back north to Bungendore where rather than shoot straight up north to Sydney, I took the Kings Highway east across the Great Dividing Range to Batemans Bay on the New South Wales south coast.

Dawn landscape with fields of long yellow grass, morning mist, and sun just breaking over distant hills. Photograph Paul Nyssen.
Up at about 5.30 AM, I was able to catch this beautiful sunrise just north of the township of Tarago. What makes the bikepacking worth the effort.

Just short of Batemans Bay the bike’s back tyre sprung a leak, and of course, it started raining. Hours later I finally made it to the sea, and lost my way in one of those new MacMansions-by-the-sea suburbs, the rain intensified, I took refuge under a bus stop expecting to spend the night.

Dawn on a wet and cloudy morning looking out over the bay towards the ocean. Batemans Bay New South Wales Australia. Photograph Paul Nyssen
Misty and wet dawn Batemans Bay.

Next morning the rain stopped and after a pit stop in town for coffee and bacon and egg roll, I started the ride north along the Princess Highway to Ulladulla, a nice little town and fishing port. I carried on to Nowra, and had enough of hills, bad road surface and in places, the absence of a shoulder to ride on. Meaning you have to compete for road space with trucks and retirees in four wheel drives pulling caravans. From the experience of thousands of kilometres of bikepacking over the past few years, I find truck drivers best understand cycling along some of our beautiful highways is a dangerous pastime, and do all they can to give you room to fall over without getting run over. They also know their rigs compress the air in front of them, pushing you sideways, and immediately followed by a vacuum into which you get sucked.

Photograph of the bad condition of the road shoulder on Kings and other highways forcing cyclists onto the road itself. Photograph Paul Nyssen
No other traffic in this picture of the Kings Highway shoulder but as the main route between Canberra and the coast, it can get very busy and dangerous for cyclists. Other older highways in New South Wales are no better and often worse. The drop where the shoulder has crumbled away as I’ve seen in places, can be thirty to forty centimetres.
Kings Highway looking west with wide open spaces, distant hills and near cloudless blue sky. Photograph Paul Nyssen.
Again the Kings Highway and looking west. Here there is actually an intact shoulder but as nothing is perfect, the surface of the shoulder is like gargantuan sandpaper which when you hit it, can cause you to downshift a gear or two, and even mean peddling in a mid-range gear to keep the bike and trailer moving on slight downhills.
Bike and trailer on Kings Highway and picture looking west to distant hills and gathering thunderstorm. Photograph Paul Nyssen.
One in a series of scattered thunderstorms in south east New South Wales that caused me to head for the coast.

In Nowra, or more exactly the small locality of Bomaderry on the north side of Nowra where the station is located, checking the train times I found that because of track work the train would not go further than Dapto which is on the south side of Wollongong.

Bike and trailer in the fishing port of Ulladulla, New South Wales, Australia, with fishing vessels in the background and blue sky with storm clouds gathering. Photograph Paul Nyssen.
Always liked Ulladulla, and maybe because it still has a working harbour, and not just a marina full of plastic yachts.

Getting out of the Dapto / Wollongong area is a problem for the heavily-loaded cyclist and checking possible routes on Google maps, I found there was no escaping long steep hills, but the train-replacement bus driver was a decent human being and where many others had refused saying the bike and trailer needed to be ‘boxed’, he let me stuff everything into the coach’s cargo space. Then, and after a few hours of traffic jams and been entertained by the conversation between two lesbians sitting behind me, conversation which included the singing of nursery rhymes including classics such as, “All the babies on the bus…”, I finally unloaded bike and trailer at Sydney Central, and lit a cigarette.

Back in Sydney I didn’t feel too inclined to do another trip, but that won’t last. Bike and trailer went well aside from the bike’s rear derailleur needing some adjustment, and as for the new Burley two wheel trailer, I think the next one will be a single wheel again. The two wheeled does disproportionately increase drag as soon as it starts going uphill compared to a single wheeled. It’s a great but way overpriced trailer for doing the shopping, but not great for bikepacking, and especially when riding narrow tracks in the woods looking for a place to camp. I also managed to flip it on its side twice…

Burley Nomad trailer outside Leppington station at the beginning of the ride. Great but expensive trailer for doing the shopping, but not so great for bikepacking.