Australia, on the land of kangaroos: Aussie, Aussie, Aussie, Oi, Oi, Oi!
We would like to tell you a bit about how was our experience of cycling in Australia and help you with some tricks and hacks from the land of kangaroos and koalas.
We took a flight from Wellington, New Zealand capitals, to Brisbane, Australia. We arrived at the end of the holiday season, so we chose to
not cycle at that moment, as the roads are usually very busy and full of cars. At this meantime, we did a housesitting, which was to look after a house and a dog. We use a website, called Trusted House Sitters (https://www.trustedhousesitters.com), you have to sing up and you have to pay an annual fee, but in our case, this is the best option, as they advertise house all over the world. We did the housesitting for two weeks, and after that, we started cycling through Australia.
We cycle along the coast during the Australian summer, the geographical position of Queensland is the same as the Northeast of Brazil, passing through the Tropic of Capricorn, therefore hot and very humid days. For that reason, the weather was our biggest challenge, the way to travel change, we woke up before sunrise, to cycle during the coolest part of the day and we stopped around ten thirty in the morning.
During the summer it is possible to happen cyclones, especially in the North and Northeast, which was our route, we heard a lot about the cyclones, the people we met, always warned us about possible events. Luckily, nothing happened during our journey in Australia, but it is worth to remember that in case of cyclones, it is important that you are in a safe place, in a house or in a hostel.
Another important thing during the Australian summer are the jellyfish/stingers, which are very common in the Australian mainland, between October and May, there is a large amount on the beaches, as they go to the coast to look for food. The jellyfish is common in more than 66% of the Australian coast, which causes the local authorities to prohibit the bathing on the sea. Many people are unaware of the danger of contact with the jellyfish and imagine that the problem is only caused by burns, but it is not that simple. The jellyfish is a species that can be dangerous, because it has tendrils that can inject poison and if the contact is close to the heart, it can generate a shock and the heart could stops. In the regions where there is a big amount of jellyfish/stingers, there is a separate area, suitable for bathing, where there is a net, a protection and you will not have contact with the jellyfish/stingers.
Another nice tip is this free app, called BOM, to check the weather, and the information is reliable. (http://www.bom.gov.au/app/)
The drinking water is always very important when you are cycling, and in Queensland, it was quite easy to find places where we could fill up our water bottles, and drinking the water straight from the tap is safe, when the water is not suitable for consumption, there is usually a sign. Looking for the central parks is a way to find drinking water.
In Australia we create the habit, of buying electrolytes, it was easy to find, and we bought it at the supermarket, at the medicine session, for a cheap price, and it was a nice way to replace the minerals.
In Australia, we cycle on the alternative roads for a while, which was not very easy, since in Australia there are not many options for alternative roads. The main road there is the M1(Bruce Highway), which is from of New South Wales to Queensland states, this is a very busy road, and at the beginning of the trip it would be very difficult to pedal through, it was possible to avoid the main road until the town of Agnes Water. In Agnes Water, we chose to take a bus to the town of Mackay, as between those cities, there is a very remote area.
The buses is one of the options that you have, if you wish to go a bit forward on your trip in Australia, but there is also an option to catch a train, but due to the limitations they have in relation to the bicycles, we chose to catch the bus, as it was convenient to have the bikes with us. Felippe disassemble the bicycles, separating the frame from the wheels, so it was possible to pack them in the form of a normal bag (we used the bubble wrap for protection), and we did not have to pay for extra luggage’s, since each of us had two luggage’s included on the ticket. A very important tip is to not mention about the bicycles, because some companies charge a big value to put the bicycles on the bus, so the best option is to disassemble it and leave it as compact as possible, and you will not have any kind of problem. The company we used was Greyhound Australia (https://www.greyhound.com.au), we will leave at the end of this post the link to the other buses companies that operate in Australia.
From the city of Mackay, there is no option of alternatives roads and we had to face the M1 (Bruce Highway), but it was much better than what we were expecting, and we cycled through until to our final destination, the city of Cairns.
We did not have problems with Australian drivers, as we had in New Zealand, and we believe that it was due to the shoulders, that helped us quite a lot, as you can keep a distance from the cars. It was possible to find shoulders, on both roads. Summer is not a busy season for tourists in Queensland, because it’s too hot, so the roads were not full of cars and caravans, which made our journey quieter.
Australia and New Zealand are very similar in some ways, especially when it comes from food and supermarket. Supermarkets are very similar in relation to prices and some brands are the same. Doing shopping in Australia was not a big adventure, we were at home, always looking for the local brands or even for the brands of each supermarket, which makes everything much cheapest.
We had the habit of doing our shopping at Woolworths because it was the same supermarket we did our shopping at NZ, just the name that was different, but the supermarket and the prices were the same. There is also Aldi which is popular and cheaper (At Aldi supermarket, it was hard to buy food per unit, it was, in fact, the cheapest one, but in our case, it was not suitable to buy food in large quantity), the other option is Coles the prices were pretty much the same as Woolworths, these are the three biggest supermarkets. There is in the smaller cities the IGA, a chain that is smaller and with higher prices.
A good tip: Enjoy, as much as you can the variety of tropical fruits, watermelons, pineapples, mangoes, and melons, these are some of the affordable fruits that fit the budget of the cyclist. Another tip is the barbecues, they are everywhere, you will be able to find the Australian style barbecues, around the parks, you could do from fried egg to grilled vegetables for your lunch or dinner.
If we had to describe what it was our journey in Australia, I would say it was the exchange and the experience we had with the local people. We have met many people, and this enriched our journey in such a great way. And the main reason it was because of the people we met through the Warmshowers community, meet the local people, the culture and sharing the experiences, is what makes the trip even more special. The Warmshowers community, it was what we used of most during our journey in Australia.
Unfortunately at this time, we did not any type of wild camping, first because of the fine of 500 (AUD dollars), in case you are camping in some forbidden place, and also because the rivers, the waters were not clean, and you are camping, you need at least a clean water. On the other hand, it was possible to find good places to camp, some places where it was free and the others where it was in a good price. To find those camps spots that were suitable for camping, we use a mobile app, called CamperMate, it is free and works offline.
It was super easy to use the internet in Australia, you could find free Wi-Fi at the big fast food chains and it is very common also to find in the center of the big cities. The telephone companies, offers good prepaid plans, they are Telstra, Vodafone and Optus. Our choice was Vodafone, we paid $20 (AUD dollars) for two chips, but only one had the internet plan, which was 12GB for a month, the second recharge was a bit more expensive, for $ 40(AUD dollars), with also 12GB.
Useful telephones numbers
– 000 or “Triple Zero” is the code used to call the police, ambulance and fire department.
– +64 is the International Code of Australia
– 1800 and 1300, the 1800 works free for the user and 1300 have a fee. The good news is that many mobile companies offer plans with unlimited calls to the 1300 numbers.
Greyhound Austrália – https://www.greyhound.com.au
Adventure Tours Austrália – https://www.adventuretours.com.au
Autopia Tours – http://autopiatours.com.au
Groove Grape Tours – https://www.groovygrape.com.au
OZ Experience – https://www.ozexperience.com
Wildlife Tours – http://wildlifetours.com.au