Sydney to Tasmania

Pics in Google Albums Our facebook

On the Why How and Downloads You can download the parts of the route we cycled. It needs to be unzipped and saved to a directory of your choice. You can then load it into the appropriate applications and GPS.

The Blog

We had to fly, the management is unbearable on cruise ships and vice versa. But we were looking forward to going to Australia and seeing Stuart, Sahar and Oliver which made it worth while. Flying Cathay Pacific to Fremantle via Hong Kong, flat bed in business class, kept the stoker's important legs safe and is a very pleasant way to make this long journey.

We didn't take our own bikes. Lugging bike boxes through airports is a pain and anyway airlines don't carry e bike batteries. A xenophobic taxi driver took us at midnight from Perth airport to our apartment in Fremantle. We really didn't need him after a 30 hour plus journey and will stick to Uber in future.

Breaking our journey to Sydney in Fremantle was a good idea and once over the bad introduction by the taxi driver we had a lovely time. And not only that but it reduced the jet lag to eight rather than 11 hours.

Fremantle is a nice flat laid back hippy kind of place with beaches and boat trips. Walking down town we stopped off at a bike shop to see about hiring. We liked the shop, it reminded us of ones in the UK before they became modern. The guy still knew about bikes and how to fix them.

“No mate I don't hire bikes but I could lend you a couple.” He dug out a robust roadster for the stoker and a very odd streamlined aluminium road bike for the management. These suited us fine and the bikes were better than many we have paid good money to hire.

So we had nice cycling in the sun. We did the local convict prison and went to Rottnest Island with its quokkas, cat sized friendly marsupials. The management even nearly ran over a very poisonous snake, the kind that if you get bitten in the outback you just enjoy your last meal.

Feeling human after a week in Fremantle we said our farewells to our friendly landlady. We took our bikes back to the shop with a present to the owner of some very nice cake. Then we got a nice cheap Uber cab back to Perth Airport.

Stuart, the stoker's son, met us at Sydney airport after a four hour flight. Distances here are mind blowing. We spent a very happy three weeks over Christmas and New Year with Sahar and Stuart and there was much admiring of and bonding with our new grandson Oliver.

Stu, Sahar and Oli live on the edge of the Royal National Park on the outskirts of Sydney and we were keen to explore on our bikes as we had last time we were here three years ago.

Before we could start we had to sort out our bikes, both to ride in the park and for our tour of Tasmania. The stoker had a robust bike saved from our last visit and the management had ordered an electric bike kit for it. He was soon busy in the garage fitting it. His bike, a fine Specialized tourer sourced by his nephew Gavin, needed a carrier and bottle cages and both bikes were soon ready for testing.

We had some very nice rides but were hampered a little by the extreme heat of the Australian summer. It was over 40 degrees on some rides. On the good side it acclimatised us for cycling in Tasmania which should be a little cooler but it was hard to get used to.

Early January and we were saying our temporary farewells to the family who had given us a lovely stay, and were off from Heathcote to Sydney on the suburban train.

Most Aussies would fly to Tasmania but we are going by sleeper train and ship. We would like to see some of the country, we can't take the stoker's bike battery by plane, and the stoker still has an aversion to flying.

Sadly the Australian sleeper train to Melbourne only takes boxed bikes. Being a bit backward the Australian sleeper lot have failed to realise that it is easier to wheel bikes to the baggage car. The management was not happy. Why, both here and in the UK, can't rail managers comprehend or get their heads around bike carriage?

Dissembling touring bikes to get them into a standard bike box is a pain but the management had carefully prepared for it. Our bikes have mudguards and pannier carriers, much of which had to come off. The wheels had to come out, handlebars turned and the saddles removed.

The man in the luggage office was very helpful, finding us two bike boxes and helping with ensuring that the packed boxes complied with the silly rules. Each package had to weigh under 20kg and the boxes had to remain box shaped.

At the first pack we had one box weighing 23kg and the other 18kg. We “had” to get them both weighing the maximum of 20kg. We put the stoker's rear wheel into the management's box which was a very tight fit and her saddle into a pannier. This satisfied the mighty Aussie bureaucracy.

Having checked in the bikes and panniers, we went for a Spanish meal in town with just our overnight stuff and the stoker's all important battery. We then strolled along to the front of the train to take up residence in our sleeper compartment.

Most of the train is for seated passengers so we were the highest class. Dinner is available from the buffet car and the attendant brought us breakfast.

On the whole the experience was better than on most British and European sleepers. But, there is always a but. The rolling stock is old and the air conditioner could only be freezing cold or over hot. So we shivered all night even though it was at least 20 degrees outside.

As for bike carriage the European system where we are allowed to take them into the sleeper compartment is much easier. It would have been an interesting test of Aussie Rail jobsworths if we had tried it here but the risk of being refused travel was too great.

We arrived in Melbourne at about 8am and retrieved the panniers and bike boxes from the luggage van. Soon most of the other passengers had left the platform and we took over a couple of steel seats, one for storage and the other as a workshop stand.

It took an hour or so before we were wheeling the bikes onto Melbourne station concourse with panniers attached ready for touring. After a much needed coffee at Starbucks we found our way to Travelodge in the nearby high rise business district in the old Docklands area.

Travelodge gave us a room very early. It was on the eighth floor but it was no problem using the lift and keeping the bikes in the room. This Aussie Travelodge is much superior to British Travelodges. As well as the usual kettle our room had a microwave, cutlery and crockery. The hotel had a proper lobby with a lounge, room service and even a pay per view DIY laundry.

We had a couple of days to explore the delights of Melbourne before getting the ferry to Tasmania and we made the most of them. We took the free tram, which circles the centre and downtown and went up the Sky Tower to get the highest view of the whole area, sea to outback. We relaxed in the sunshine as much as one can do in a downtown bustling with workers and tourists.

In contrast we took the bikes down to the seashore and cycled for lots of km along the cycle routes which follow the bay shore. Eventually, almost out of town, we were able to relax without crowds on a seaside seat. The now fairly distant backdrop of high rise was actually rather impressive, that is of course unless you are one of the drones who has to “work” there.

In the evening we boarded the overnight ferry to Devonport on the north of heart shaped Tasmania. As has been the case with everyone in the service industry here the staff were delightful. We were shepherded carefully and considerately through the vehicles boarding to the place on the ship allocated for bicycles. We were the first on board and not poisoned by car fumes. In contrast Brittany Ferries in Europe have a lot to learn and a mountain to climb with their staff and management attitude towards us customers who are cyclists.

Having explored the ship and watched the bright lights of the Melbourne high rise disappear astern we took to our cabin, not waking until the announcement was made that we had arrived in Devenport in Tasmania.

The management was especially pleased because he had heard that this was an unpleasantly rough crossing. The stoker as usual just took it in her stride.