Apologies for the radio silence over the last few days but we’ve been spending some time in Sydney doing normal ie non-cycling stuff with some absolutely fabulous people who kindly offered to put us up (put up with us) as we passed through Sydney, despite never having met us before and us only knowing a family relation back in the UK. We’ve been fed, watered and well looked after and the weekend passed way too quickly. But more of that later…
Back to last Thursday (21st April) when we woke up by the beach in Coledale and packed up our stuff for another day on the road. We knew the last few days of cycling to Sydney were not that long (around 50km) so we could afford to take things easy a bit as we had plenty of time, we had WarmShowers hosts for Thursday night and then we had friends of friends in Sydney to stay with over the weekend. So we could sit back, relax and enjoy the cycling. And enjoy it we did.
As we left Coledale Adam showed me a sign he had previously not mentioned that referred to snakes in the campsite – eeep! I’m glad he kept that a secret! I don’t think I’ve mentioned it before but we did actually see a snake a few days ago. Thankfully it was dead and squished in the middle of the Princes Highway.
We cycled along the windy uppy downy road from Coledale and over the amazing Sea Cliff Bridge (we didn’t see any whales but the bridge itself is pretty spectacular) and then through Stanwell Park at which point the road went up. Very up. Actually, it wasn’t too bad – it wasn’t as steep as I feared it could be and the traffic was very patient and when you are near the top there is a view point to stop off at and catch your breath, which we did. We could see back down the coast and where we had come from which is always nice as you get a real sense of achievement when you can see how far you’ve come.
After the view point the road got considerable quieter as we turned into the national park and most of the traffic carried on towards the Prince Highway. The ride through the national park was absolutely fabulous. The roads were empty and tree lined, so we were in cooling shade for much of the day, and although there were some hills, the gradients were gentle and we were rewarded with wonderful downhills. Adam remarked that this was one of those time where he wished for a carbon road bike to really power around the roads; obviously others had similar thoughts as we saw quite a few roadies out for a spin, which was nice.
Our route took us all the way to Bundeena where we took the Cronulla Ferry across to Cronulla. Despite the ferry being very full, they fitted us in with our bikes no problem and we crossed the water admiring the posh houses and boats. I also noticed that all the designated swimming areas were surrounded by netting, which I assume was to keep sharks (!) out.
At Cronulla we stopped to sit in a park and have an ice cream. Our WarmShowers hosts were only about 15km away but we hadn’t plotted a decent route so tried to navigate on the fly, after being let down by Telstra Air (the free WiFi hotspots – they’re totally crap and work less than 50% of the time). This was a terrible idea as we kept ending up on 3 lane massive highways. Eventually we wiggled our way through to our hosts in Kirrawee, where we were very well looked after. We got them to check our route through Sydney for the next day to ensure we didn’t end up in a similar situation.
And so on Friday morning we set off for a day of suburban city riding. I wasn’t expecting much but we had a really great day, following quiet roads and cycle tracks for a lot of it. It is at times like this that we were really glad of having the one Garmin left as this is where they really are helpful. We cycled through the Olympic Park where we had a spider companion as a dining partner at lunch and then carried on towards The Hills area where we would be staying. This area is called The Hills for a reason and the last few kms involved relentless ups and downs until after what seemed like an age we found our destination and met our hosts for the first time.
We had a great long weekend in Sydney staying until after Anzac Day. We did some sightseeing in the city, we did some baking, some cooking, some DIY, we went to an Anzac Day dawn service which was followed by breakfast accompanied by beer and rum, and then gate crashed our hosts’ BBQ in the afternoon. It was great to have some time off the bike and spend it with brilliant people who welcomed us into their home, doing non-cycling things and completely forgetting that we are on a 9-month bike tour. I think we both needed it! Adam of course did the local ParkRun and despite getting his best time this year, he only came 9th.
Today, Tuesday 26th we left Sydney, sad to be leaving some new friends behind, but also looking forward to the next leg of our journey up to Brisbane. We decided to head inland a bit to Wisemans Ferry following the Old Northern Road. We climbed sharply up through suburbia (seriously – I had to get out of the saddle in my lowest gear – that says how steep it was) and then onto the main road which was pretty quiet most of the way. The kms dropped away. As we’ve now moved the Garmin to Adam’s bike so he can do the navigating I initially felt a bit naked without out, but at least now I’m not so focused on counting the kms down, concentrating instead on just the simplicity of turning those pedals. We swooped down into Wisemans Ferry and took a ferry across the Hawkesbury River to Webbs Creek where we are camping for the night. Tomorrow we will need to take two ferries to get out of here when we will head back towards to coast again.