All bad days eventually end and fortunately the day of meh ended with us camped somewhere decent. We stayed at the Milton Valley holiday park, which was great because it had a massive kitchen that provided everything we needed to cook dinner, plus tables, sofas & even a TV. This meant we had somewhere comfortable indoors where we could sit once it was dark at 5.45pm. From Milton we had another 35km along the Princes Highway, but riding this section over two days felt easier because it would be a new day.
In the morning we packed up a soaking wet tent from all the dew, but we wouldn’t need the tent that evening because we had a Warm Showers host in Nowra, 80km away as we planned to dodged the highway as much as possible. The first 35km were along the Princes Highway. It was OK. There were a couple of sections in Bewong that were very narrow, but the traffic was fine. The worst thing about the highway was the constant noise from all the vehicles. We then cut off the highway and rode to Huskisson along shared paths. The cycle paths were great, but as the roads weren’t busy it seems a bit of a waste of money, whereas a shared path along the Princes Highway would have been amazing.
Huskisson was a lovely seaside town, but the only way to cross the Currambene Creek is back on the Princes Highway, unless it’s a school holiday or a weekend and then it’s possible to take the Husky Ferry to Myola. We were lucky enough that it’s currently holidays in NSW. Whoop. We boarded the ferry (Philippa was expecting something like a CalMac boat, but it’s only big enough for a dozen people or so) and Captain Dave took us across to Myola, although Philippa ended up piloting the boat! Taking ferries with the bikes always feels like an adventure. From Myola we had more quiet roads all the way to Nowra. As we didn’t ride the highway into Nowra we don’t know what it would have been like, but we cannot imagine how it could have been better than our route. The Husky Ferry trip definitely gets our recommendation as a way to avoid some of the highway.
In Nowra we went out for pizza with our host and two of her friends, which we both really enjoyed, but especially Philippa because she’s been missing human company over the past few days. This has come about because the campsites have been fairly quiet (we’re often the only tent as everyone else are in caravans or campervans) and we’ve only seen one other cycle tourist. We know there are some French Canadians also heading towards Sydney, but they’re about four days behind. It’s very different to South Island, NZ, where there were loads of touring cyclists.
Our plan from Nowra was to get to Sydney over three days, but we didn’t know where we’d be staying and more importantly we didn’t know how we’d get between Gerringong and Kiama. This is only a 5km section, but there are only two choices, firstly an uncyclable coastal walkway over beaches and up cliffs or the motorway like Princes Highway that climbs over the headland. The first section didn’t sound fun, the second option sounded deadly and looked deadly on Google streeview. There was a third choice, which was the train, but when we checked the timetables we discovered it was a rail replacement bus. Panic ensued. We decided the best bet was catch the rail replacement bus in Nowra as that was the start of the line and it might be easier to get on the bus there than Gerringong. If that failed we could ride the 30km to Gerringong and try again with the buses, although from some online research the ride to Gerringong also sounded pretty sketchy. When we got to Nowra station the guys dealing with the replacement buses couldn’t have been more helpful and the bikes presented no issues whatsoever. Win! Forty minutes later we got to see the Gerringong to Kiama section of highway we’d refused to cycle. It started out like a British motorway (three lanes, with a big shoulder), then when it started climbing it changed to two lanes, the shoulder vanished and there were blind bends. Yeah, we were happy we didn’t end up riding that section.
Once in Kiama we went to see the blowhole that Philippa’s dad recommended from when he lived in Sydney over 40 years ago and then set off up the coast. We followed cycle routes through posh housing estates, past stereotypical Australian beaches, saw lots of people in the sea and then came to Port Kembla, which is a massive polluted industrial area. After Wollongong things improved and we had more seaside views. We hardly had to interact with cars the entire day. We’re now in Coledale and are camped right beside a golden beach. It’s hard to believe this is only 50km from the southern edge of Sydney. We’ve not had a rest day since leaving Marlo, but tomorrow we’ll be in the southern suburbs of Sydney and ready for a rest over the ANZAC weekend.