Cycling Australia part 4: parrots, sting rays, kangaroos and a shark

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Cycling Middle Beach, New South Wales

Middle Beach Camping. Thanks Melinda for the picture!

Cycling Australia Part 4: parrots, sting rays, kangaroos and a shark

Country: Australia

From Genoa to Narooma

Lesson learned: Learned to appreciate headwind and drizzle

Laughed about: The 10000 rules of cricket

Most wonderful miracle: The sounds and smells of the forest

Food we ate: Tea and cookies, fruit, two liters of ice cream and stone oven pizza

Greatest challenge: The hill

Days on the bike: 6

Kilometers cycled: 238.66

Average Kilometers per day: 79.55

Total Kilometers cycled till Cann River: 16454.17

Total days travelled till Cann River: 878

 

We wake up to a drizzle and slight headwinds. But with the bush fires in our backs, we now appreciated them because they reduced our chances to be caught in the bushfires behind us. Most of the other cyclists and runners had already left when we were still having breakfast. Colin left just after breakfast. Only Jamie remained. He liked to take it slow.

You are now entering New South Wales

You are now entering New South Wales

The road was hilly as always and soon we crossed the „border“ from Victoria to the state of New South Wales. We stopped every 20 kilometers for a little break and at the second one we met Kay again.

Australian Parrots

Parrots

I cycled hard and harder and realized far too late that my rear tire was half flat and that it sat crooked in the frame, breaking all the time. In Eden we ran into Colin again, who had problems with his knees and decided to call it a day and spend the night in Eden.

Kay con su proyecto Peace Run

Kay con su proyecto Peace Run

It was a cold and grey day and we asked some locals for free places to pitch our tents. On the way to one of them we met Kay again, who was just booking a motel room. He deserved it well, as it had been 67 kilometers he had run today.

You are now entering New South Wales

Australia is an island – but there’s state borders!

Colin, Roberto and I pitched the tents in a little clearing near the beach. The spot was said to be popular with local kids on the weekends, but today we were the only ones here. Colin made some English tea and we shared our cookies.

Pedaleando con Colin

Pedaleando con Colin

The drizzle continued. Colin went for a morning swim in the sea nevertheless. The English are truly tough people. Half of Eden prepared us for the hill, the worst and steepest and hardest hill of all of them, that was just coming up leaving town. Even day later people would still ask “What, you came from Eden? So you climbed the hill? On pushbikes?!”

Roo with baby in the pouch

Roo with a baby in her pouch

We have been warned and prepared so thoroughly that the hill was much easier than expected. It was steep and I had to ride in the smallest gear, but just as any other hill, it had an end and eventually we reached it. And with air in the tires, everything is possible.

We kept up some good speed till Merimbula, where Colin left us, to continue his ride in the mountains. We spent a few hours finding a campground for our small budget. That meant we had to do a hilly 10 kilometer return, because all other campgrounds were equipped with pool, giant trampolines, sea view and plenty more things that we wouldn’t use but would have to pay.

Riesige Kängurus

I’d rather not provoke a fight with these biggies

With the tent pitched we walked around the ground and discovered a group of huge kangaroos in the fields near the lake. Some of the males interrupted their grass eating and stood up when we came closer. They were much taller than us and full of muscles and I am sure they could have won quite some Olympia contests. We decided to keep some respectful meters between us and them.

Annika and kangoroos

I’d rather not go to close

By the following day, the “Three M” came to visit us. That’s Margaret, her husband Michael and their son Matthew. They were friends with Fiona and Vanessa from Melbourne and came to Merimbula every year to spend their summer vacation.

The Three M

The three M and one R

They showed us most of the beaches and even the golf course, where there lived many more wild kangaroos. They were so used to people, that we could get real close to them. We also saw some parrots, which ate cookie crumbles from Matt’s and my hands.

Matt und Annika füttern die wilden Papageien

Happy parrots!

In the afternoon, when the clouds had disappeared, the lakes glittered in all shades of blue and green. The three M brought a kayak and I went for a short paddle in the middle of the lake. The lake was a popular fishing spot and I paddled through a group of sting rays. One of them swam under the kayak and it was so big that I could see his tail and head at the same time on the left and right side of the kayak. .

Kayaking in Merimbula lake

Kayaking through the lake

We spent another beautiful and relaxing morning with the Three M, before we continued our trip to the neighbor town Tura Beach. This was where Simone from Holland and her boyfriend Trevor spent their holidays in Trevor’s parents’ holiday home.

Pelicans in Merimbula

Pelicans hoping for a bit of fish

Mike, Maggie, Mathew y Annika

Mike, Maggie, Mathew y Annika

Vacation in Merimbula

A great vacation day

Merimbula Beaches

Great views from one of the beaches

Michael and Roberto

Michael and Roberto

They lived in the mountains of Queensland, but decided to change their address on the warmshowers website, so they could receive cyclists during their vacations as well.

Simone and Trevor

Simone and her partner Trevor

Simone pampered us with a superb dinner and breakfast and we could have gone on talking for hours. There were just so many experiences and ideas that we had in common, so many places we had all visited, but seen through different eyes.

Roberto and a Roo

Roberto bonding with a “Roo”

We hugged Simone and Trevor, met the Three M for one last coffee and continued our way North. It was nice and warm, but not too hot and the hills were manageable. We cycled through several National Parks and along rather calm streets and listened to the sound of the wind in the trees and the exotic birds.

Peaceful and beautiful forest paths in New South Wales

How could I care for potholes and bumps if the way was just so beautiful and peaceful?

It smelled like eucalyptus and leaves and we just enjoyed the ride. In Thara we stopped for lunch and bought 2 liters of ice cream (the freezer had a problem and the ice cream was sold ridiculously cheap so it wouldn’t spoil). With cold bellies we had a stroll along the beach and just enjoyed having enough time for anything we want to do or see.

Lunch Break at the beach

Lunchbreak at the beach

At the beach we met a man who walked up and down with his metal detector. He had found a few coins earlier on, but most of his findings were hair clips.

The wind grew stronger and stronger and we had to walk the bikes over the bridge, else we would have been blown right into the water.

Beautiful "Middle Beach" Camping in New South Wales

Many waves at the Middle Beach

Before sunset we took a right turn and followed a small unpaved road through the forest to the beach. There were several small, simple and cheap campgrounds in the National Parks between Thara and Bermagui and we ended up at the beautiful Middle Beach. It was a $10 fee per person, but there was a toilet and many nice new neighbors.

Mimosa Rocks Nationalpark

In the Mimosa Rocks Nationalpark

The view down to the beach was just stunning. We camped on a plateau and our views were long and clear until the sea spray hid the line where the sea met the sky. To our left, the waves crushed against the beautifully formed rocks (the Mimosa Rocks National Park’s trademark), at the right there were several kilometers of sandy beaches and wild waves for surfers. Behind me, two wallabies nibbled of the fruit rests that I left in the bushes. We spent the night with the nice new neighbors at the campfire

Wallaby

Happy wallaby

It was only 6.30 when we climbed out of the tent. After all those nights of camping we just adjusted our daily rhythm to the sun. A big goanna sneaked through the camp. Now we know why everybody else carried plastic boxes for their food. We chased him away before he could touch our food.

No beach without surfers. We are in Australia.

Not a single beach without somebody surfing the waves. This must be Australia

I had my breakfast and the viewpoint and observed all the active people in the waves. There were a few surfers with long and short boards and one on a paddle board. In between some swimming women and a middle-aged man who rode his kayak through the waves and currents like a rodeo rider on a bull.

I have never seen a country so filled with active people. No matter the time of the day and the place, there is always a runner, surfer, biker or swimmer somewhere nearby.

A Goanna at Middle Beach

Hungry Gouanna

We got inspired and had a little dip in the cold waves, even though it was quite grey and cool outside. But the rain only started when we had already been sitting back on our saddles for a few minutes.

There were quite some more hills to cross and people everywhere prepared us for them. They told us how steep, how long and how hard they would be and we always knew that the next hill wouldn’t be the last one. Back in Turkey I had gotten quite frustrated with people telling us, the way was going to be all “Düs” (flat), even though we could already see the first hill to climb. It was rather difficult to plan a day’s ride, but it was mentally quite motivating.

Cycling Middle Beach, New South Wales

Thanks for the picture Melinda!

We did not stop too much, because it was getting quite fresh in the pouring rain. Only in Bermagui we stopped at a fish and chips place, where James picked us up for the last 2 kilometers.

James from Bermagui

On James’ deck

James was 61 years old and had built his own house. We was a designer and artist and the outside as well as the inside of his house were just incredibly beautiful. There was art on the walls, colors everywhere, self-built furniture and plenty of details that made the place so cozy.

James lives in the most beautiful house in Bermagui

James’ beautiful house

The house was built on a rather steep hill and there were stairs inside and outside. The garden was big and tidy and one of James’ friends, who was a bird friend, had once counted all the species he had found during a year in James’ garden. It was whooping 127 kinds of birds!

James from Bermagui

James

James even installed solar panels for electricity and hot water, and a fireplace for less sunny days. We both felt cozy and happy and home from the very first moment on.

James

Comfy, happy and cozy.

We spent an entire week with James and his dog Jack. We cooked, had one “cuppa” (cup of tea) after the other, cooked again, changed tea for beers and watched a game of Cricket in TV nearly every single day. Cricket was James’ favorite sport and the rules are many and they are confusing as well.

In James' kitchen

Preparing a “Cuppa” for “Brekkie”

He took the big effort in explaining them to us, so he would raise us to be proper Australia fans with rule knowledge. Little did he know that we would soon spend more than a year time in New Zealand and that we might have a new favorite team for the Cricket World cup [edit: New Zealand lost against Australia in the world cup final 2015. We had called James just before the game. Now we want to say: We are sorry we changed sides!].

Homemade Guitarrs in Bermagui

Looks great and sounds great!

We spent the Australia Day on the deck with a friend and neighbor, who built his own guitars. The work was just beautiful and we both felt rather useless between these two skilled artists.

In the afternoon we cycled down to the sea for a little swim. The waves were just right, high enough to be entertaining, but not yet scary or even dangerous. A carpet of algae wobbled around near our swimming spot, but we just stayed in the sandy parts and enjoyed.

Hacking the shark into pieces

Poor little shark.

Only ten minutes later, on our way back, we saw a fisherman with his catch of the day. He had caught a big grey shark! Under the eyes of several curious locals and tourists he first cut the head off the body (to ensure that there’s no danger with the sharp teeth) and then started to cut the meat in pieces. I had always thought that sharks were only caught for their fin, but in Australia, they explained me, all parts of shark meat were eaten. In fact, the “flake” of the fish and chips, often is shark meat.

Shark Head in Australia

The proud fisherman told us how they also sold shark meat …

Fish and Chips with Shark Flakes

… in smaller portions

After a week of wonderful times, talks about his and our travels, dinners and plenty of laughter, it was hard to let go of James and his cozy house. In addition there was day four of a cricket game between England and Australia in TV.

James from Bermagui

Goodbye James!

It was afternoon when we finally left Bermagui. A grey but dry day. We took the direct route, because we had visited scenic Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba previously on a visit with the Three M.

Between the lakes on the way to Narooma

Cycling between two lakes

There were several long bridges to cross, blue lakes and bright green fields to admire and a few hills to climb. It was early evening when we reached Narooma, home of couchsurfers Col and Heather. Both were 63 years old and had just recently built a stone oven in their garden that we now used for delicious pizzas!

Heather and Colin from Narooma

Heather, Colin and Roberto during Pizza preparations.

The two were very well travelled and there was plenty to talk about. Heather was a great cook and she was inspired during her travels by many local dishes she had tried in France and Myanmar. Col was a passionate cyclist and knew every single bike path in the area.

Col and Heather who hosted us in their beautiful home in Narooma

Col and Heather who hosted us in their beautiful home in Narooma

It was him who took us out next day to show us the Narooma-Dalmeny bicycle path that was built by the locals themselves, because they had so badly wanted it.

Near Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba

The countryside around Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba – known for their cheese!

Cycling Tilba Tilba and Central Tilba

There’s a lot to see on the way to Narooma Narooma

 

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