MY GOLD COAST CYCLE TRIP
After nearly 2 weeks hanging out at Byron Bay and spending much time with Denis, my then-German-boyfriend, I finally set out to cycle again. I actually hadn’t done any cycle-touring since the previous April in southern Thailand, where I’d been cycling down the west coast until I was picked up as crew on ‘Survivor’ TV show. That meant a whole year without cycling. (Well, of course I’d done lots of local biking, exercising, and exploring various areas, but no long-distance touring). So I was rather skeptical about my current fitness level and of pedaling on highways with my heavy load again.
Despite my skepticism, on Tues. March 25th I set out from Byron Bay, waving good-bye to Denis. My initial route was up the coastline for about 110 km (70miles) to another famous Australian beach area, The Gold Coast. The Gold Coast is most famous for it’s skyline of tall skyscrapers stretching along the beach- the Miami or Hawaii of Australia. It’s also a famous surfing area and, thus, a big party town. That definitely was not my usual type of place to visit. In fact, I had origionally planned to skip the area, until I heard they had great dance clubs and nightlife. OK! I had to check that out.
I had no intentions of cycling the entire 110 km in one day. In fact, it ended up taking me three days. From a travel-cyclists’ perspective that’s pretty pathetic, considering most long distance cyclists could easily complete 100 km in one day. But, hey, I wasn’t trying to break any records. I took my time and enjoyed Australia’s amazing coastal beach scenery.
Starting out, the first few kms were quite tiring, and I briefly wondered if I was up for it. But I pedalled on. Surprisingly, it got much easier. After one hour’s ride, I stopped at a lovely little coastal town with a river, an old wooden bridge, plus a beach and the ocean. After exploring the town I pedaled on, however from there I had to use the main freeway (?!@!) which ran inland. Quite unexpectedly, that proved to be fantastic. The road surface was beautifully smooth and the shoulder was extremely wide. Unfortunately, I did run into a glitch. (not to be confused with a ditch)
I had planned to take the next local road back over to the coast. However, when I reached the road I discovered that it passed over the freeway with no exit in sight. I pedaled on, hoping for an exit, but there was none. So I crossed over the dividing strip in the middle of the freeway(!) and pedaled back to the road, looking vainly for some way to get off and onto the local road. But everywhere there were just fields, fences, and countryside. No exits. No dirt lanes.
Standing beside the freeway, underneath my desired local road, I finally realized I could climb up the cement incline. It was utterly ridiculous: I had to untie my backpack from my bike, put it on my back, march it up the steep embankment, return for my bike and push that up the incline, then reload everything! I was angrily cussing and swearing through the entire ordeal. But I did get on the local road, where a 20-minute cycle past cow fields took me to the coast and my first campground.
That region was totally quiet, remote and empty. It was very relaxing after my stressful ride. I relaxed on the beach the rest of the day and spent the night at a cheap room at the campground. Next morning I pedaled on. To my surprise, I had no sore muscles. Nor was I fatigued whatsoever. Apparently I was still fit!
That day the little-used coastal road hugged beaches, passed through a few towns, and meandered past several surfing spots. I enjoyed amazing views from various headlands: white sand beaches stretching to the horizon, turquoise waters, big waves with surfer’s testing their skills. It was a leisurely cycling day with several stops along the way. In mid-afternoon I reached my destination, another small coastal weekend tourist town with a nice beach and several cool cafes. By then I was pretty tired. I relaxed by tanning on the beach followed by a leisurely evening at the cafes.
The third day I awoke feeling somewhat physically exhausted but pressed on to the Gold Coast anyhow. It was only 10 km north to the first small city of skyscrapers, which sported a beautiful beach and amazing views up along the coast to the very tall skyscrapers of The Gold Coast off in the distance, another 20 km away. From where I stood, the distant skyscrapers appeared to be floating on the ocean! I took an exciting walk around the headland, enjoying the changing views, and then eagerly pedaled north towards the towers on the sea.
From that point, I could cycle along the beach most of the way, using bike/walking trails. I only had to return to the highway a couple times- to pedal around a headland or to cross a river. However, I was really getting fatigued. By the time I reached the campground, just north of all the skyscrapers, I was beat. It was midday with a nice hot sun, perfect for tanning on the beach. The rest of the day I did nothing but tan, nap, sit and read. I was so tired that I only managed to make one short trip to the grocery store, and that only barely. I was like a zombie at the store. Three days of cycling and 110+ km had finally caught up with me.
Needless to say, I slept exceptionally well that night. My campground (actually caravan park) was beside the beach but also in an urban area. I was completely surrounded by skyscrapers. At night there I was, camping under towers of illumination! It was quite bizarre. And surprisingly quiet, too. It was the first and only time in my life that I’ve camped below skyscrapers.
At that campground I also set up my new tent for the first time. ( I’d just acquired it during my recent Tent Escapade in Byron Bay) It proved to be a great tent. Two doors, front and back, and 2 big side windows, providing great ventilation for hot weather. Although, the rain fly covered all of that, so no ventilation if I required privacy or when it rained. I was wonderful sleeping in a tent with no leaks and no stinky mildew. My nice clean new roomy dry tent. My new home.
I camped there six nights and spent my days exploring the area by bike, suntanning on the nearby beach, and visiting the many shopping areas. The Gold Coasat boasts a continuous 20 km (12 miles) strip of white sand beach, an inland waterway full of boats (sailboats, speedboats, and others) marinas and, as mentioned, lots of skyscrapers, which are mostly vacation apartments and hotels. The central shopping/toursist area was pretty disgusting, but the other areas were quite beautiful. The beaches were surprisingly quiet, clean and peaceful.
As for the club scene, which was the main reason I visited the Gold Coast: Not!
To my surprise, most of the bars/clubs were full of young, too-drunk, mainstream Ausies and tourists. Absolutely Not my scene! But, amidst all the mess, there were a few cool clubs playing hard-house and trance music. yeah! So I did have a good time dancing despite the overwhelmingly mainstream scene.
Gold Coast Highlights:
* Visiting the small art museum.
* Cycling along the inland waterway past boats, marinas and amazing homes.
* Co-incidentally joining the opening party of a new hair salon (I just happened to walk by, asked what was up, and got invited in. I met several interesting people, including an American woman living there.)
I did have one horrid experience there: Denis came to visit. It was a huge disaster that ending in our absolute final break-up. A sudden, shocking, and unexpected happening. Ah well, at least we didn’t have to go on struggling and hoping anymore. I did feel broken-hearted, of course, but also enjoyed the feeling of freedom and closure.
A couple days after ‘the disaster’ I packed up and headed on to the next phase of my journeys: Brisbane as a single woman… coming up next.
Have you visited Australia’s Gold Coast or coast between there and Byron Bay? If so, what’s your favorite place?
Have you ever cycled in Australia? If so, where and how was it?
Did you know I wrote a guidebook to touring Bali by bicycle?
If this sounds like fun to you, check out my guidebook:
Cycling Bali: Guidebook to Circumnavigating Bali by Bicycle by Lash/ LashWorldTour
The Cycling Bali guidebook explains everything you need to travel around Bali by bicycle.
It starts with a thorough introduction to Bali island, arrivals, and all the basics for travelers to ‘Island of Gods’.
The guide then focuses on cycling, detailing Bali’s road, weather, topography and cycling conditions plus a detailed explanation of preparing to cycle-travel, including training, what to take cycling, tool kits and parts, bike maintenance, and even how to take your bike on an airplane. READ MORE