Time to go Cycle Touring in Australia?
We have a hitlist of places that we feel we should have been to but haven’t; in Europe there’s Vienna (it means nothing to me), Prague and Copenhagen; there’s anything North of Napa on the US West Coast that we’ve seen and the there’s loads in Asia including all of Cambodia, Vietnam and Myanmar. But then there’s a whole continent on the other side of the world that we’ve never been to. Despite the fact that my sister has lived in Sydney since 2005! It’s probably time to go cycle touring in Australia.
As we’ve moved into a semi-retirement phase of our life we’re planning 4 months each year (Nov – Feb) in South East Asia, or thereabouts and Australia is thereabouts from the perspective of North Oxfordshire on a cold February evening.
So, let’s review the checklist:
- Desire ✅
- Time ✅
- Budget ✅
We sketched out the broad idea this afternoon and here’s what we’ve put together and our rationale.
But we still don’t know where to go when we get there. Thoughts?
We’ve been very privileged and had both a professional and personal life that has included a good percentage of Business Class flights, but one of the key criteria for an early semi-retirement is a sharp eye on the value for money and we’re really struggling to justify anything other than Economy to Sydney.
But it’s a 24 hour trip and being holed up in cattle class for that length of time is really not appealing. We love Thailand, I mean we really love Thailand, and breaking the journey both ways via Bangkok has a huge appeal. Firstly for 2 weeks on the way out then for a week on the way back.
Using Skyscanner, indicative costings for budgetary purposes suggest £966 each with some random dates roughly in the right time period – we’ve had to use January because some airlines will only give pricings for +11 months.
£2000 is a good budget for both of us and although Thai gives a generous 30kg each, I think we’re going to need 50kg each to include the bikes and that needs to be factored in.
Although part of the appeal of the trip is the camping facilities in Australia, we’re not naive enough to think that we’re going to want to spend every night in the tent and that this will be free. In working up the budget, for the touring part, we have costed in a free campsite every third night, a paid one at AUS$25 and a motel at AUS$100. With a little contingency, that gives a blended rate of AUS$50 for the budget. We have budgeted about the same for food.
I won’t go into all the details here, but if we include the costs for Thailand and for a week in Sydney then we’re looking at something close to £ 9000. Yes it can be done a lot cheaper but, for us, that’s not bad for 4 months – we’ve called it £10k. About the equivalent of living a similar time period in Europe.
So, Sydney is a non-negotiable destination but then everything else is up for grabs.
Starting with the distance that we want to cycle, it’s about 3-4000km.
The rationale is a classic, back of a fag-packet calculation that says that we will be on the bikes for a period of about 8-12 weeks (56-84 days) and that our average distance for the days in the saddle, based on our recent Thailand experience, will be circa 75km. Taking rest days into account, then that daily average becomes about 50km, and that is the basis of our calcs.
The initial temptation was to just ride North to Cairns, by the time we’ve meandered a bit, that’s about 3000km and then we’d take a train back; again, just like we did in Thailand from Surat Thani to Bangkok. But some readings suggest that it can get very busy on that route in what is the Australian high summer season.
So we started to look South towards Melbourne and maybe on to Hobart. Tasmania has an appeal, but we’re not sure if it’s worth the extra effort and cost of the ferry when Siubhan isn’t a but fan of boats, especially those crossings that are 10+ hours long and have a health warning for rough waters. There’s a large part of us saying that we should keep Tasmania for another trip and focus on the mainland for this first antipodean venture.
In the last 20 years we’ve binged in Bordeaux, broken bread in Burgundy, leisured in the Loire and we’re like locals in the Languedoc. Supped in Stellenbosch and Somerset West, necked the Noir in Napa, roamed Rioja and the Tuscans have taken their toll. That was a little bit of fun alliteration but it would be remiss of us to omit the Aussies, so the wine regions should feature heavily in our ride.
We’re still no further forward with our thinking – maybe a figure of 8 starting from Sydney?
Recommendations and advice very gratefully received.