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Sydney saddles up for two-wheeled extravaganza

From heart-stopping races to pedal yoga classes, guided bike tours and an illuminated night-time ride of spectacular City landmarks, this year’s Sydney Rides Festival promises to be bigger and better than ever.

Now in its fifth year, the three-week festival will run from 10-31 October and include more than 20 events right across Sydney.

Lord Mayor Clover Moore said the Sydney Rides Festival was becoming one of Sydney’s most-loved, with activities for young and old enthusiastic bike riders and the broader community.

“Sydney Rides Festival is a great opportunity to explore our city by bike,” said the Lord Mayor.

“It’s a great chance for people to see for themselves the infrastructure that’s supporting more people to ride and get fit, while reducing congestion.

“We’ve broadened the Festival to include new events for children and pedestrians, along with workshops, film nights and group rides to help people explore our stunning city on two-wheels.

“I’m sure the hundreds of families who attended last year’s twilight ride around Mrs Macquarie’s Chair will be happy to hear Light the City will again bring the festival to a spectacular close.”

Sydney Rides Festival highlights include:

Sydney Rides the Park (10 October)

This family-focused launch event takes place in one of Sydney’s most beautiful open spaces, Sydney Park. It kicks off at 7:30am with morning bike-yoga sessions, a bike-powered juice lounge, the Taronga zoo-mobile, plus a BMX arena and super-cross track with breath-taking displays. Try your hand at mountain boarding or rock climbing and enjoy gourmet food. Bring the kids to try out the City’s new state-of-the-art Children’s bike track.

Sydney Rides Challenge (10-31 October)

An online competition allowing riders to clock their trips and kilometres to compete for great prizes.

Sydney Rides to Eat (10-31 October)

Visit supporting local cafes and restaurants for rider freebies and discounts during the Sydney Rides Festival.

Light the City Discovery Rides (13, 15, 20, 22, 27, 29 October)

Sign up for a stunning evening Discovery Ride showcasing the joy and exhilaration of riding at night.

Suit Ride (Ride2Work Day 14 October)
Don your business best and join city workers on a Midday Sydney Suit Ride and lunch to celebrate National Ride2Work Day.

Sydney Rides Film Night (15 October)

A selection of bicycle inspired films from around the globe at Pier 2/3, Walsh Bay

How to Cycle with Style for Women and Men (16 October)

Vélo-à-Porter’s Sarah Imm is passionate about combining riding and fashion. In this workshop at the Museum of Applied Arts and Sciences, Sarah will show cycling fashionistas how to cycle with style.

Dirt Film Night (16 October)

Held in an old warehouse on the harbour, Pier 2/3, Dirt will be an eventful night of off-road films, bike games and a pop-up bar.

Explore Your Wild Ride:Night Ride Workshop (17 October)

Presented by Sutherland Shire Cycling Club, beginner and intermediate mountain bike riders are invited to attend this free workshop for practical tips on riding at night. It includes a guided night ride in the Royal National Park.

Saturday Slowies (17, 24 and 31 October)

Grab your bike and join a relaxed weekend ride through Newtown and Redfern to Centennial Park. Cruise the flats or take to the hills for a more strenuous ride before returning to Marrickville for bunch at the Marrick Café.

Spring Cycle (18 October)

Join Sydney’s most iconic bike ride and choose either 12, 50 or 105 kilometres for a picturesque ride through the City. The family City Ride rides finishes in festival style at Pirrama Park, Pyrmont or make the extra journey to the final finish line at Sydney Olympic Park.

Copenhagenize Sydney (20 October)
In partnership with the Danish Consulate, this event brings together world cycling experts from Denmark.

Roller Racing (24 October)

An event at The Standard in Taylor Square featuring bands, DJs, pinball machines, 10-pin bowling and roller racing on stationary bikes.

Tour De Hunters Hill (25 October)

Enjoy a guided ride around stately Hunters Hill as the jacarandas are blooming.

Light the City (31 October)

A night-time ride like no other, experience light installations and special effects on a 2.5-kilometre loop around Sydney’s stunning harbour at twilight. The closing event of the Sydney Rides Festival will kick off with a special Family Hour from 6pm-7pm. Relax at the outdoor lounge at Mrs Macquaries Point and enjoy roller racing, silent disco and gourmet food trucks.

The full Sydney Rides Festival program will be released on August 20. Visit sydneyridesfestival.net  for program details and booking information.

For more information, contact City of Sydney Manager of Community Engagement, Leanne Bridges, phone 02 9265 9617, mobile 0402 208 986 or email lbridges@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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What a well-deserved win!

Fiona Campbell of the City of Sydney Council (AKA The Bike Saint from MASSBUG) was awarded Professional of the Year at the 2015 Eco-Counter International Awards.

Eco-Counter promote active transport through the  development of automated pedestrian and cyclist counting systems.

“By specializing exclusively in bike and pedestrian applications, our team has developed the most innovative, quality systems available on the market. Eco-Counter produces a broad range of systems, each designed for different counting needs. Our products have been deployed all over the world: from remote hiking trails to the bike lanes of New York City.” said a spokesperson for Eco-Counter.

“Our solutions allow for accurate counting of pedestrians and cyclists in both urban and natural areas.”

The international jury chose Fiona for their award in recognition of her strong commitment to bicycle counting, as well as being a person who values the data and uses it to argue for better cycling infrastructure for Sydney. As a Manager of the Cycling Strategy for the City of Sydney Council, she also practices what she preaches and is an avid cyclist and cycle commuter.

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The perfect time to plan your cycling in Indonesia

Indonesia is hardly known as a cycle destination.  This is surprising because, particularly on the island of Sulawesi, that spidery shaped island north of Bali and formerly known as the Celebes, there is some really good cycling to be had.

What makes it doubly attractive is the absence of western style mass tourist development. There are many different cultures on Sulawesi and most have been hardly touched by the commercial development that has impacted upon much of the rest of Indonesia and other countries in South East Asia.  As well the people of Sulawesi are incredibly friendly and foreign cyclists are always made most welcome by the locals.

The geography of Sulawesi is wonderfully varied and unpredictable.  One moment you’re pedalling through coastal coconut groves, the next you’reoverlooking intricate rice terraces on steep sided mountains, then teak forests, chocolate tree gardens. Clove, cinnamon, nutmeg and pepper trees, stuff of the 15th century Spice Trade, abound. One moment you’re among the traditional boat shaped houses of the Toraja people, then the stilt houses of the Bugis seafarers, then you’re among Balinese temples. As there is a variety of cultures so there is a variety of religions. Many of the peoples on Sulawesi are Muslim, then there are large Christian minorities and the Balinese people are Hindu. There is a very high degree of religioustolerance. Fanatic Islam is a non-issue on Sulawesi. Inter-marriage between people with different religions and different ethnic backgrounds is common.

Food in Sulawesi is traditional; spiced grilled fish, rice, fresh vegetables. In a population of 20 million there’s no more than a handful of American fast food outlets. Exotic fruits such as durian (the spiky fruit), rambutan (the hairy fruit), salak (the snake skin fruit) amd mangosteen are there in season. Traditional cakes made from sticky rice, coconut, bananaand palm sugar abound at morning markets and roadside stalls. Modern hotels, such as Novatel, are in the big cities while simpler, traditional family run guest houses provide accommodation outside the cities.

There is a variety of cycle routes on Sulawesi including those to Toraja Land with its exotic funerary customs, pristine Lake Poso and idyllic Togian islands in Central Sulawesi, volcanoes and lakes in North Sulawesi, and the beaches and boat building of Bira and Bulukumba in the far south.

Sulawesi lies on the equator so temperatures are hardly polar but given that much of the riding is in the mountains heat is usually not an issue.

In the ‘good old days’ before global warming it was possible to rely upon historic climate patterns but  in these days weather forecasts are notably unreliable, but in any case rain storms never last for very long, a few hours at most and they do serve to cool you down and wash your bike.

Some good cycling can be had on Bali too.  But it is different to Sulawesi.

Much of it, particularly in the south of the island, is tourized whereas little of Sulawesi is. The roads in Bali are far busier than in Sulawesi and the drivers are a little less considerate of cyclists. Both islands are mountainous
but the ascents in Bali are steeper than those in Sulawesi. On both islands it is possible to experience traditional culture but it is far easier to access in Sulawesi than in Bali. In Bali there is a ‘tourist layer’ that does not exist in Sulawesi and it does take some time to penetrate.

If you’re thinking of cycling Indonesia …..go for it.   But make sure that you prepare yourself physically, particularly if you’ve coming out of an Australian winter.

For more information contact: www.cycleindonesia.com.au

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Great East Rail Trail Ride

The trail crosses the wide Nicholson River on the original rail bridge.

The Great East Rail Trail Ride is a fully supported three day cycle event along the 100 km East Gippsland Rail Trail. It ran for the first time in 2014.

This is a little Great Ride, with numbers limited to 120, to ensure a splendid time is had by all.

With a daily riding distance between 30 and 40 km (with Extra Sweat options provided for those who’d like to ride further), this Great Ride is fabulous for families, new cyclists, old cyclists and those for whom cycling simply fills the intervals between eating and drinking.

Bookings close Friday September 25th. Dont miss out – book now!

Q: Are kids in trailers, ‘tagalongs’ and child seats able to participate in the event?

Absolutely. The distances covered each day are quite low making it very managable for smaller children – and the adults towing or carrying them. Our sag wagon will have a trailer with plenty of capacity to take trailers etc. As the route is nearly all unsealed however, we do recommend you test your ‘rig’ – riders and machines alike – to make sure everyone and thing is happy with the bumpier ride.

Q: How do I know if there are still places available on the event?

We will flag on the home page of the website when spaces are becoming limited. There is currently plenty of places available.

Q: How do I know if the various alternative accommodation options are still available?

As accommodation options are booked out we will make this clear on the ‘Ride Options / Accommodation’ page. Booked out options will no longer be able to be selected on the booking form.
There is unlimited availability of campsite accommodation.

Q: We ride eBikes. Are they allowed on the event?

As long as what you are riding is legally considered a bicycle, it is allowed on both the rail trail and the event. There are of course some extraordinary machines that are (apparently) legally regarded as ‘bicycles’ (see pic, right). Some could have difficulty negotiating gates on the trail.

Q: I have non cycling family and friends who would like to accompany me in their car. Can they book a place on the event?

As places on the event are limited, at this stage only cycling participants are able to book places. Non cycling friends or family could accompany you on the event, however we are not able to provide them with any meals or other event inclusions.

Should family or friends in a vehicle accompany you on the event we would caution against them meeting you at intersections of roads and the rail trail, as a parked vehicle at the intersection might dangerously block sight lines of both drivers and cyclists.

Q: When do I have to book by?

Bookings must close on Friday September 25th, so that we have time to finalise all logistics.

Q: When do I pay?

Payment needs to be made when you submit your booking form for your place to be confirmed.
Details about how to pay are on the form.
Families can pay 50% at the time of booking, with the balance paid by July 31 for the Early Bird rate, or September 25th for the standard rate.

Q: What if it rains?

We do expect you to ride, even if it rains, so it’s important that you and your bike come ready for some damp weather just in case. Hot showers will await you at the other end! If weather conditions of any type make the route unsafe we will advise you of an alternative route or provide transport to the next campsite.

For more information http://www.greateastrailtrailride.com.au/

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It’s that time of year again… Time to renew!

We want to thank our loyal members for being an essential part of the community that is creating a better environment for cycling. It’s been a big year at Bicycle NSW with record membership growth, significant advances in advocacy issues and some important wins for bicycle riders.

All the positive activity reflects the ongoing growth in recreational and commuter cycling as more and more Australians rediscover the joy of riding their bicycle.

Let’s build on the great momentum together, we certainly cannot do it without your support.

All members either have been contacted already via email or will receive a letter in the coming weeks reminding them that the 2015/16 membership year commences July 1. We invite you to renew your membership before June 30 to save 10% and continue to ride with confidence in your comprehensive rider insurance including $20 million WORLDWIDE liability and personal accident insurance*.

New members receive from the time they sign up until 30 June 2015 free (the new membership year for everyone commences on 1 July 2015). So invite your riding buddies to join us and they’ll get a month or two free!

As well as insurance, membership also provides valuable benefits including specialist legal advice, event and retail discounts, courses and much, much more. Your membership helps fund our crucial advocacy role as we work across NSW with state and local government, a range of stakeholders and the media to increase infrastructure and improve behaviours.

Bicycle NSW is the state’s largest and most experienced bicycle advocacy organisation, representing bicycle riders since 1976. It is a critical time for NSW’s bicycling future, with significant opportunities for infrastructure creation to enhance the popularity and growth in recreational and commuter bicycle riding. Read about the many achievements in the 2014/15 Our Year in Review (overleaf), and be assured that your membership is helping to create a better environment for cycling as it directly funds our advocacy for you and all riders.

Renew before July 1, save 10% and WIN. We’re giving away a $250 Ground Effect voucher every week plus the chance to take home our grand fondo of prizes – a trio of bikes plus heaps of other goodies.
RENEW FOR 2015-16 NOW

Login at bicyclensw.org.au and follow the instructions to renew your membership and save another $10.

Or, complete the renewal form you’ll be sent and return it to us. But remember – it’s quicker and cheaper to renew online!

We’ve had a great year providing insurance, resources and advice to a record number of members, and the 2015/16 membership year promises to be even better. Renew today, invite your riding friends to join the community and let’s continue creating a better environment for cycling together – we can’t do it without you!

2014-15, Our Year in Review

During 2014-15 the team at Bicycle NSW have worked hard to represent you and our riding community on many critical issues that will create a better environment for cycling, and support the growth of bicycling for transport, health, recreation and of course – fun!

Significant advocacy milestones:

  • Championing the complete delivery of the Sydney City Centre Access Strategy including the Castlereagh Street Cycleway and protecting the popular College Street Cycleway
  • Preserving Pyrmont Bridge access for cyclists and pedestrians
  • Supporting our state network of Bicycle User Groups (we couldn’t do it without their local knowledge and energy)
  • Representing NSW at Velo-city – regarded as the world reference in terms of urban cycling policies
  • Representing NSW at the Australian Bicycle Summit, with state organisations and industry leaders collaborating to positively influence Federal political decision makers and policy
  • Supporting the NSW Rail Trails campaign
  • Supporting our state network of Bicycle User Groups on leadership strategies such as the Newcastle CycleSafe Network Campaign
  • Representing bicycle riders on the Cycling Safety Implementation Working Group and Ministerial Road Safety Advisory Council, plus numerous other committees, councils and forums
  • Contributing to the important Safe Cycling Study by the University of NSW
  • Launching the “It’s a Two Way Street” campaign with the Amy Gillett Foundation and Transport for NSW\
  • Advocating for the 1 metre minimum passing distance including the launch of our “I GIVE A METRE” sticker
  • Collaborating with the Centre for Sustainable Leadership to present the inaugural Mayors and MPs Ride
  • Contributing to the Active Travel Charter for Children, launched at the global Walk21 Conference
  • Educating 12,300 school aged children on bike safety through the Bicycle NSW Helmet Artwork Competition

Some of our other achievements we are proud of, and are a credit to your ongoing involvement:

  • We’re increasing our rider insurance program for 2015-16 to give our members even better protection
  • We’ve cultivated relationships to shift commentary around bike riding and seen a significant increase in positive and constructive media stories
  • Gear Up Girl riders increased 40% – we are proud to partner with the Heart Foundation, encouraging more women to get active and on their bikes
  • Spring Cycle riders increased 14% and continues to be the iconic Sydney cycling event, the only event to ride the Sydney Harbour Bridge
  • Hundreds of graduates from our Ride Leader Courses, Gear Up Girl Workshops and Bicycle Maintenance Workshops – developing skills, confidence and ride leaders in the community
  • Hundreds of Discovery Ride Participants – a new initiative collaborating with Councils and Bicycle User Groups to showcase local bicycle routes creating confidence, a sense of community and increasing riding regularity

For more information on any of these advocacy initiatives and achievements please contact us at Bicycle NSW.
Your membership and continued support means Bicycle NSW can build on our history of creating a better environment for cycling, for everyone, now and in the future.

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Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge 2015

Bicycle NSW is proud to partner with the Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge to promote cycling in one of NSW’s most picturesque cycling environments. Come and join the C4 rides and experience cycling through forests and farmlands and along creeks and oceans.

The annual early-August Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge is gearing up to be another great event, with organisers aiming to break the 1,000 entry barrier in 2015.

Commencing in 2010 by the Coffs City Rotary Club, the event has increased in numbers from just over 200 to almost 900 in the space of just 5 years.

“Building our participation numbers is our main focus for 2015” said Ride Director Phil Price. “We are including additional rides this year, including a new 40km route for recreational cyclists, along with a category for disabled riders. The inclusion of a Schools Challenge will also add interest and variety to the Challenge rides.”

The 2015 rides will commence on Saturday 1st August with the very successful 13km Hill Climb from Coramba Village, about 12 km west of Coffs Harbour. The ride is an individual time trial, with the finish line approximately 600 metres above sea level. The inaugural Hill Climb last year attracted over 70 riders who relished the climb through the rainforest, and organisers would not be surprised to see 100 riders take the hill climb challenge in 2015.

On Sunday 2nd August there will be a range of rides to suit all cyclists, from experienced to beginner, abled and disabled. The 100km, 60km and 40km rides will follow the same route through picturesque forest, rolling farmlands and along oyster-farming creeks, while the 10km ride for families and disabled cyclists will follow a safe cycle path for most of the ride.

Phil Price continued “We are aiming to expand our program this year to include more recreational riders. We feel the C4 Hill Climb, the 100 and 60km routes cater perfectly for competitive riders, and hope that the introduction of the 40km ride in 2015 will increase the numbers of recreational riders. We have incorporated a “Women’s Only” start in the 40km ride and anticipate this will attract those women who are cycling in small groups or who are not confident to enter a ride without support. And we see the introduction of the “Schools Challenge” as a way of promoting safe cycling and physical fitness to school students in the region.”

“We are particularly delighted to invite cyclists with a disability into the 2015 ride. There are a number of disabled riders in our area currently using hand cycles, and with their support and encouragement, we will be incorporating a disability category in the 10km ride.”

Entries for the 2015 event open on 1st March with ‘early bird’ prices until 1st July. Riders from outside the area will be very interested to know that the Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge weekend forms part of the week-long “Festival of Cycling”. The Festival has the support of a range of cycling organisations within the Coffs Coast who will welcome visitors to join their regular activities. The Coffs Harbour BUG and Dorrigo/Urunga/Bellingen BUG have schedules rides on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday and cater for a range of ages and abilities. Both groups are most excited at the opportunity to showcase our wonderful cycling environment to riders from far afield.

For more information about the Coffs Coast Cycle Challenge, please go to: http://www.coffscoastcyclechallenge.com or Contact Event Manager, Judy Smith email: manager@coffscoastcyclechallenge.com

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Meet Our Lisa… From 0 to 40kms in under a month!

Early in February, the team at Bicycle NSW and some of our loyal volunteer route marshals did a trial of the Heart Foundation GEAR UP GIRL Ride. For some of us (like triathlete Jane) it was a doddle; for others it was a challenge; for Lisa it was a personal milestone. Read her beautiful and uplifting story here, but we warn you, it made us a little teary!

Lisa Nicholls, Bicycle NSW Administration Manager

“How good do I feel! After bringing up three toddlers and currently raising three tweens, bike riding went a bit on the wayside. I joined Bicycle NSW in October 2014 and seeing those 9,000+ riders enjoy the Spring Cycle, reminded me it was time to get back to what I loved doing, riding my bike! On Tuesday after training for just a few weeks, I completed the GEAR UP GIRL 40km Classic Ride. I loved the route because it was nice and easy, pretty flat and the scenery was just gorgeous. The company was pretty great too! I was so proud of my achievement which in the end didn’t prove that hard to do.

“But my greatest moment came when I got home that evening. A bottle of wine and a bunch of flowers from my husband and six year old daughter. My 10 year old daughter came and lay down on my bed with me wanting to know all about my ride. My teenage son of whom I can never pry off the computer actually stopped his game with his friends to see how I went.

“How cool is it that my children are actually interested and even proud of what I had achieved! Not only am I getting back to what I enjoy doing and getting fitter, I now have a sense of pride in myself, I have done something for me and my family are proud of me for it!”

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State Government’s celebrated transport strategy at risk

The State Government is set to demolish $4.9m worth of successful transport infrastructure, and the people of Sydney are questioning how does this jeopardise the ultimate delivery of the integrated transport solution that was promised.

Hundreds of concerned people gathered in Hyde Park on Sunday 8 February to show their concern and defend the popular and effective College Street cycleway which is destined for removal.

Rob Berry, a concerned resident, single-handedly instigated the rally, and in less than a week engaged hundreds of concerned business owners, residents and CBD workers to demonstrate their concerns.

“The College Street Cycleway is one of the most utilised sections of separated cycleway in Sydney and its popularity continues to grow. It is supporting the 132% growth in commuting cycling. Separated cycleways have halved the reported rate of injuries on such sections of road, and in the case of College Street this has been achieved without negative impact on the traffic flow.

“Despite the State Government’s data recognising these positive outcomes, they intend removing this piece of infrastructure with little to no transparency or consultation,” says Rob Berry, community rally coordinator.

The State Government promised to deliver an alternative full time cycleway along Castlereagh Street. However in November 2014 it was announced, without consultation, that the Castlereagh Street cycleway would be seriously compromised with part time loading zones closing the route.

Bicycle NSW is calling on the State Government to commit to completing the cycleway network through the city centre by building Castlereagh, Park and Liverpool Street Cycleways and retaining the popular College Street Cycleway until a safe, alternative, full time route is in place and there is proof of any potential benefits from removing $4.9m of existing infrastructure.

Despite months of communications including meeting with the Minister for Roads and Freight Duncan Gay and Minister for Transport Gladys Berejiklian, both Ministers’ are unable to explain the justification for these loading zones and what alternative solutions were considered.

Minister Gay had said in December, “Until we get a solution we won’t move on College Street”, however it has now been confirmed that the College Street cycleway will be removed before the completion of the Castlereagh Street cycleway and prior to a transparent trial of the part time loading zones.

Sophie Bartho, Bicycle NSW Communications Director said: “These are cycleways for people, to create mobility for a productive and economically strong global city for the future. We fully supported and celebrated the Ministers’ Sydney City Centre Access Strategy however with serious compromises to the plan so early in its delivery, we question the Governments commitment to delivering their original Strategy.”

Professor Chris Rissel from the University of Sydney, co-author of the national report ‘Getting Australia Moving – barriers, facilitators and interventions to get more Australians physically active through cycling’ is critical of this move and its inability to adequately cater for commuter cycling.

“It is essential that the Ministers deliver the Sydney City Centre Access Strategy. This strategy recognises the need for and importance of an integrated transport solution, including active transport such as cycling.

“To remove existing cycling infrastructure without alternatives, and then change the plan and impose potentially unsafe loading zones on the cycleway which effectively close the cycleway to the equally important ‘outside peak time traffic’, does not serve the mobility needs of the people who use and love Sydney, nor the health priorities of the employers across Sydney,” said Professor Chris Rissel.

Find our more about Bicycle NSW’s campaign for Sydney Cycleways at http://bicyclensw.org.au/advocacy/campaigns/campaign-sydney-cycleways/
Write to the Premier and Ministers, and your local Members highlighting the benefits and demand answers to your questions.
Request a meeting so you can be confident they are genuinely engaged, understand the opportunities and risks, and are committed to serving the community.

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Colleen and Rolf’s epic trip on the Mundabiddi Trail

“Munda Biddi” means path through the forest in the language of the Noongar nation. It’s a 1,000km mostly off bitumen route that cuts across the south west corner of Western Australia. When Colleen and Rolf Muller found out that the trail was completed over its entire length, planning was started and tickets were booked.  Here is their story:

We decided to ride in the Albany to Mundaring direction in April. The primary reason is the weather being more comfortable starting in the cooler south. There is still plenty of daylight. Rain increases as you get into winter. But one disadvantage is that on average, the sun is in your face most of the trip.

The second reason was ease of transport. The fares that Flight Centre arranged for us with Virgin Australia meant we could get ourselves and bikes from Sydney to Albany in one easy day and at the other enjoy a week sightseeing in Perth.

We decided to allow just over a month to do the whole trip, providing opportunities to do some side trips or spend a little longer in places we liked. Food and accommodation worked out at ~$76 per person per day. We made use of the camping shelters out of town and used the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation’s web page for cycle friendly businesses for accommodation in the towns. All met or exceeded expectations.

Faster riders can save a lot of money by stocking up with food in towns and then making more use of the shelters. Those who decide to ride it hard and fast can expect to have more mechanical issues as the trail is tough on bikes and riders. Take a spare derailleur hanger.

The trail has a wide variety of conditions, but the one thing cyclists from the east coast should know about is that there is a choice – pea gravel or sand. After a few days it took to master, we then encountered another form of road garnish – gum nuts the size of golf balls. Autumn is the time of year for hazard reduction burns. One day the smoke came uncomfortably close, so it pays to check during preparation time and just before going into the area. We also encountered a few diversions due to logging activities. Over 1,000km it’s practically impossible for conditions to remain unchanged.

Highlights of the trip in route order were:

Torbay Rail trail. Albany to Denmark.

Albany to Denmark 75km. The longest and easiest leg of the trail. Most of it is crushed gravel off road track along the coast. Magnificent fluoro orange Swamp Bottle Brush and Kangaroo Paw line the route.

Jinung Beigabup campsite has a palatial camping shelter. The newer shelters are toward the Albany end. All the shelters were clean and tidy with composting toilets. Despite warnings, tanks were nearly full and water good to drink, though we did take the precaution of treating it.

Tree Top Walk Recreation Site a few kms before Walpole. We took in the view from the tops of the giant Tingle trees.

The route to Krowkralup Beela campsite climbs up through fragrant Karri and Casuarina Plantations. We did a 22km side trip to Mt Frankland and were rewarded with spectacular panoramic views.

Yirra Karta campsite was party central that we shared with a number of different groups. Among them were 4 solar engineers from UNSW who were in the final days of a 12 day trip. They looked knackered.

Northcliffe had the aptly named Hollowbutt café.

One of the larger fallen trees we encountered on the trail. This one just before Pemberton.

We spent an extra day at Pemberton and took the opportunity to climb the enormous Gloucester tree. The pubs at this end of the trail have nice food.

We met a honeymoon couple with trailer in tow at Manjimup. They were doing the trail end to end. If they were still talking to each other by Albany, the marriage should last a long time.

One of the many sculptures we saw along the way.

Donnelly Mill is no longer working and has been turned into a holiday village.  We got to the general store in a nick of time for a restorative cappuccino and chocolate brownie. Lots of tame kangaroos and emus.

We spent an extra day at Nannup that rightly promotes itself as a garden town. This stop marks the half way point. A lovely spot to rest for a day!

The ride to Jarrahwood marked an abrupt change from the tall Karri to the drier Jarrah forests. Most of it was along a fast rail trail that would be great for a beginner’s day trip.

Nglang Boodja campsite was nestled in a beautiful secluded gully.

Collie is a coal mining centre with a rich cycling history – the miners used to race bikes for sport. There is a cycling museum that was regrettably closed due to lack of volunteers. We did make the acquaintance of “Sprocket” the manager of Crank’n Cycles bike shop. His staff were very friendly and helpful. We enjoyed a Coal Mining tour at the local museum.

“Sprocket”

Dwellingup rest day saw us take the tourist train through the bush and soak up some history.

Fun on the single track near Dwellingup.

Dandalup campsite gave us the first indication that we were getting close to the end of our trip. The shelter had a nice view of the coast and we could see the lights below night glow of Perth.

We arrived at Jarradale on Anzac Day. We were able to find accommodation at the Environmental Centre, a house that had been converted to nurses’ quarters.

The ride to Wungong campsite was along old logging tramways that were converted to rail trails.

The ride to Carinyah campsite showed definite signs of impinging “civilisation” with more frequent piles of illegally dumped rubbish. The trail was getting more rutted and the pea gravel deeper. Found a log book entry from some old bush walking club friends Katy and Scottie who were there last September. They estimated the duration of their trip “for as long as it takes”.

I’m glad we did the trail from south to north as the hut logs at this end recounted many stories about the “hell of the north” and ill prepared tourers pulling out.

Penultimate day on the trail. Rain from the previous night made the pea gravel and sand a little firmer. There was one spot where I did have to walk about 200m. I made a slight detour to the Perth Observatory and had a look at their visitor centre and chat with their staff. Lots of big ups and downs finishing at the Mundaring Weir hotel for lunch and a room for the night.

Last day was a 7km ride into Mundaring. Although the trail officially ends at Mundaring, the icing on the cake is the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail which takes you off the escarpment and into the outer suburbs of Perth. Perth has a good network of cycle ways that will take you right into the heart of town.

Swan Tunnel. Low stress route back to Perth.

I must say that a month of riding through the bush is one of the best ways of spending a holiday. Though there is very little old growth forest along the route, the re-growth, plantations and reserves are well worth visiting. It was great watching coastal heath give way to the giant Tingle and Karri forests and finally the drier Jarrah forests north of Nannup. Although out of season the wild flowers still beat anything we’ve seen on the east coast. Fauna was everywhere, bird life especially. We even spotted a couple of shy tiger snakes slipping off into the grass.
We felt accepted and welcome everywhere we went, both on the road and in the towns. We encountered many types of riders from the gung-ho who were doing the whole trip in 12 days,  honeymooners and some large family groups doing their first overnight trip.

Bearing in mind that our intention was always to do an unsupported trip for the whole length of the trail, here are some things we did to make the trip a success:

  • Preparation.
  • Allow plenty of time.
  • Experience. For anyone who has not done an extended MTB tour I strongly recommend they do a trip over 3-4 days before committing to the Munda Biddi. Else there are companies that run fully supported trips.
  • Be flexible and prepare to compromise.
  • Equipment. MTBs with wide, knobby tyres are definitely the easiest ride for the Munda Biddi. Our hybrids were marginal. The bikes must be in top notch condition.
  • Go light, leave the formal wear at home. We averaged about 15kg payload each. We were able to enjoy hot food every day, never felt cold at night (we had 4 season sleeping bags, lots of layers & beanies – it was chilly in the shelters when the sun went down). The tent never did leave its bag, but it is nice to know we could have camped anywhere if we wanted to.
  • Read the log books in the huts – lots of valuable information.

Munda Biddi Trail foundation’s web page http://www.mundabiddi.org.au/ The staff are very knowledgeable and helpful and should be you first port of call. They also recommend their Facebook page.

Colleen and Rolf have been cycle touring on and off for over twenty years, covering places such as Europe, Canada, NZ and Australia. The full account of their trip can be found under: https://mundabiddi.wordpress.com/

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Otford Tunnel Rail Trail opportunity

[We apologise that this story was originaly reproduced without proper acknowledgement of the author, Jamie Honan. Our careless plagiarism was in the interests of furthering the Rail Trails concept and no offense was intended. Ed.]

Original story by Jamie Honan

Photos and story courtesy of Rail Trails for NSW website,
http://www.railtrailsnsw.com.au/

An 1880s lack of foresight in the building of the rail line between Sydney and the Illawarra, could become a boon for cyclists.

“It was not a mistake made in building the line at a grade of one in forty… this was following the standards of the day having regard to the financial and engineering resources of the colony,” says Terry Boardman, from the NSW Railway History Society.

“As Illawarra industries multiplied and passenger numbers increased trains became heavier and the steeply graded track began to cause problems.

“When winds blew from the south and trains were ascending towards Otford the locomotive smoke tended to follow the train into, and through, the tunnel.”

The steam trains would stall, passengers and crew would choke, be overcome with fumes, and suffer burns in the tunnel.

A ventilation shaft was built in 1891, but the problems persisted. Eventually the line between Waterfall and Stanwell Park was replaced along a different route.

The remnants of the line are still present with the longest and most significant section being the 1550 metre Otford to Stanwell Park tunnel.

Fast forward to today.

The magnificent Sea Cliff Bridge, between Coalcliff and Clifton, forms the focal point of the Grand Pacific Drive.

Wollongong Council has plans to link a bike path from Stanwell Park to the extensive bike track already running from Thirroul down to Lake Illawarra. The Stoney Creek Bridge section already complete.

With the support of Rail Trails for NSW, a forward thinking group of Illawarra residents are asking for the Otford Tunnel to be opened for walkers and cyclists. The Tunnel is a significant Illawarra attraction, an historically significant landmark, that fits easily into Wollongong’s tourist and healthy lifestyle plans.

One benefit of the tunnel for cyclists would be the provision of a zero traffic route from Otford to Stanwell Park. At the moment, there is a short, narrow climb from the Otford Pie shop, then an easy descent to Bald Hill where the hang gliders launch, then a very narrow, steep descent down to Stanwell Park.

The existing northern route up the Stanwell Park hill can be daunting even for experienced cyclists. Coal trucks are an ever present threat.

Because existing roads have been built on the old railway route, access from the Standwell Park side should not be a problem. However, the northern end lies on privately leased property and is currently not accessible to the public.

A number of tourism opportunities already exist in the Otford area.

The Apple Pie Shop, only open weekends and public holidays, has provided sustenance for many cyclists after the long climb up from the Royal National Park.

Or perhaps you enjoyed a “Robber’s Dog”, a hot dog with a number of embellishments. The Hot Dog trailer at Bald Hill was run for many years by Rex ‘Buckets’ Jackson, the infamous Minister for Corrective Services who was himself sent to prison for organising the early release of prisoners to meet his gambling debts.  Jackson is still well regarded in the area, Helensburgh has a Rex Jackson park.

The original hot dog trailer is undergoing repairs.

Otford Cottage Bed & Breakfast is situated in the lush green valley of Otford. The houses are Heritage listed, brick semi-detached cottages built in the 1890s for the engineers and surveyors building the new south coast railway line. They have beautiful, original hardwood timber floors and 3 metre high timber ceilings along with fire places in the main rooms.

At the Apple Shack at Glenbernie Orchard you can taste the famous ‘Howler’ Cider, or even pick your own apples and nectarines.

For more information about the disused railway tunnels and other attractions in the Otford, Helensburgh, Stanwell Park area, visit:

http://sydneyforeveryone.com.au/city/helensburgh/lost-railways/waterfall-to-otford-railway-tunnels/
http://www.environment.nsw.gov.au/heritageapp/ViewHeritageItemDetails.aspx?ID=4801152

For more Rail Trail information visit http://www.railtrailsnsw.com.au

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