Friday, December 28, 2007

Sydney to Seal Rocks (or bike + one train and three ferries)

Every year I go camping with friends for the Christmas to New Years period. This year was no different, but this time I didn't have a car and so my challenge was to get to our campsite at Seal Rocks by whatever means possible. To get there, I used the Cycling Australia book put out by Lonely Planet. Its a great read for the cycle touring novice and it has excellent advice in choosing the safest and most scenic routes. For my mini tour of the east coast, I covered a distance of 180km that is usually done over three days but it was nice just to get a taste for touring.I started the morning at 6:30am and rode straight to Berowa train station. I would have caught the train from Straithfield, however there was trackwork on the Newcastle line and a bike unfriendly bus service running between Straithfield and Berowa.

I arrived at Newcastle at around 11:30am and in no time I was on the ferry to Stockton. It only cost $1 to catch the ferry...
... and they great bike racks. From Stockton, I rode 50km along Nelson Bay Road to Nelson Bay. I was a bit anxious as to what the road would be like but it had an excellent shoulder. There was a lot of holiday traffic but no dramas.
I arrived at Nelson Bay at around 1:30pm. I had an hour break with enough time to grab some fish and chips before catching the 2:30pm ferry to Tea Gardens. On the ferry, my bike was just tied onto the roof of the old boat. It was a bit more expensive costing $15, but was much more scenic. It took just on an hour to get across Post Stephens. There area is renown for Dolphin watching but I was unlucky to see any on the day.

From Tea Gardens its a short ride to Myall Lakes National Park. On the map, there was a more direct walking track heading straight along the coast to Seal Rocks, but as I was on my road bike I took the more scenic route around the lakes.
Another 30km along, I arrived at Bombah Point where I had to catch my third ferry of the day.
From there, it was another 15km along a dirt road to the small highway town of Bulahdelah.
At Bulahdelah, I was back on the Pacific Highway for a couple of kilometers then I took the Lakes Way Rd turn off to Seal Rocks. I misjudged how long this part of the ride would take me. It was another 40km to Seal Rocks with a few steep hills to keep me awake.
I eventually got to Seal Rocks at 7pm. The town is amazingly quiet with only one cafe and a post office . I found the campsite around 7:30pm and was pleased to arrive as dinner was being made.
I think I've got the touring bug.

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