A note to our readers: This post is part of a series about our two-week stopover in Australia during the year of amazing days. While these posts will cover our wonderful time for the sake of the travel chronicles, fans of our cycling adventure will be disappointed to learn that we didn’t reassemble our touring bikes for this leg of the trip (Australia’s summer is just too hot, and this country is seriously big!). We’ll be jumping back on our steel horses when we land in Europe after a trip around the U.K., so stay tuned!
After an incredible three months of touring and drifting across the windy lands of New Zealand, we were seriously excited to embark upon a country that seemed doomed to remain forever on our bucket list. Australia is home to so many things that I love: friends from travels, bizarre marsupials, warm ocean waters and hilariously bold and kind folk. Since I started travelling for the first time back in 2005, Australia always felt like the white whale of destinations for me. It’s far from Canada, expensive to travel to and seemingly impossible to traverse due to its size and concentration of the world’s deadliest fauna. During my undergrad at the University of Guelph, I had entertained the idea of attending a teacher’s college down here to see the place, but it never came together. But I finally managed to land here, and with Bronwyn at my side.
Our flight landed in Sydney and we set about getting into our hotel right away. We had lined up a camper van rental for this leg of our trip to avoid the expense of hotels and avoid the searing heat of cycling along the east coast. We had anticipated that we were going to be seeing about 3,500 km in our two weeks down under, so the cycles would need to stay locked up and disassembled. An air conditioned van was the only way to do it. Sadly, the camping in Australia was going to be a bit more challenging than the camper van life we had in New Zealand with our modded Toyota Hiace from Traveller’s Autobarn. Our new landship was a converted soccer mom minivan that barely fit our stuff. We would learn quickly that we’d have to shift everything we were carrying around as part of our nighttime ritual, which included removing the bikes from their boxes and having everything loosely packed around panniers on the shifted seats.
We spent the first day walking around Sydney and seeing a few sights. There was lots to see, but we knew that our time in the city would have to be brief if we wanted to make the most of our two weeks. We walked around the Sydney Harbour area and looked at culling our sightseeing list to the essentials.
After ensuring that Bronwyn’s childhood dream of seeing the Sydney Opera House was realized, we decided to head west on our way to see my old friend and former roommate Steve and his family. We camped out one night near Lane Cove River (a tributary that feeds into the great Parramatta River); we had to freedom camp next to the Macquarrie Park Cemetery because the nearby tourist park was full. Waking up soaked in sweat and dehydrated, we made our way to Featherdale Wildlife Park to see as much of Australia’s native fauna as we could in one place, just to get it out of our system.
Steve and Jac live in Blacktown with their two wonderful kids, Gwen and Zeffy. Steve and I were briefly roommates in Guelph back in 2003 after Jacob moved back to Toronto, but I hadn’t seen him since he opted to head to Australia for work shortly after that time. I was thrilled to finally meet his family after all of this time. We all grow up, I guess.
We left happily full of homemade pizza and promised not to wait 13 years before visiting again. Hopefully we can host them wherever we end up after this long trip!
Next: Bronwyn and I head up to the Blue Mountains to see the great Three Sisters and hit the road northward in our camper van.
Middle school teacher on hiatus/budding permaculturalist currently cycling the world. Sometimes he acts in plays and film. Mostly he travels and blogs about it. Christian is one of the founders of onlyamazingdays.com