The Student’s Desk

That we may know Christ

Gosford to Kangaroo Valley

This is a tour I did on my trike in September 2000 during the Sydney Olympic Games. The ride took me from Gosford to Kangaroo Valley on the South Coast of NSW and was quite an adventure.

With another term of study behind me, I reckoned I was about due for a bike ride.

I decided to head down to Kangaroo Valley. I didn’t choose Kangaroo Valley for any particular reason. I knew it was a lovely corner of the world and hadn’t been there for a few years. I also had made a contact through college who lives at Wollongong. He offered a pick-up should I have needed it. Also, Kangaroo Valley was somewhere the Olympics weren’t!!!

In recent months, I had been considering buying a touring bike fitted with an assistance engine to make the extra loads and large hills manageable. However, before I went spending money on such a bike, I wanted to try a few different things.

I approached this tour differently to Easter. Firstly I used different tyres that gave the bike more speed, but less grip. Secondly, I didn’t set myself a schedule – where I got that day was where I slept. Thirdly, I kept my pack as light as possible, yet didn’t meet with much success. When I had loaded everything onto the bike, I couldn’t lift the rear wheel of the ground. I dreaded a repeat of Easter when I didn’t meet all of my objectives due to excessive weight, and poor planning.

I left on Friday, 15th September at 9:00am. The first few kilometres were very promising with the 20kg touring pack not effecting my speed at all. Acceleration was slower, but once the bike started rolling it kept rolling, and was fairly easy to maintain a speed of 25-30km/h.

I was headed for Wisemans Ferry that night, and so peddled my way through Somersby and Mangrove Mountain. Upon reaching the top of Somersby, I found my times to be fairly close to when I was super fit (ie. before I owned a car). I got to Central Mangrove General Store at 12:30pm where I had lunch. I then rode on to Wiseman’s Ferry finding my daily comfort zone along the way – 5hrs or 50km of riding, which ever came first. So I struggled for another half-hour to get to the camp ground for that night. I arrived there at 4:50pm and had ridden 65km that day.

I was concerned for my endurance and recovery. I had arrived at Wiseman’s Ferry exhausted with aching legs. I wondered how I was going to manage the next day. This happened at the end of each day’s ridding. Amazingly, a hot shower and a good night’s rest was all it took to refresh me for the next day’s challenges, whatever they may have been!

I left the campground Saturday morning at 9:30am and rode into Wisemans Ferry township for an early lunch, to restock on food, and make contact back home. Instead of climbing the hill out of Wisemans Ferry, I rode down river 6km to Laughtondale where there is a single lane dirt road leading to the top of the ridge. It takes you through some lush green rainforest making the 50min climb allot less painful. It’s nowhere as steep as the main road, and only saw 4 other cars while I was on it.

I continued on to Cattai National Park where I stayed that night. I arrived at 3:50pm, and even though I had ridden 51km, I didn’t feel too tired at all. I was able to relax and enjoy the rest of the afternoon.

That night I got to enjoy something I hadn’t before. I’ve seen plenty of sunsets before, but I hadn’t hung around for another hour and watched the celestial main event – the stars coming out one by one until the night sky is full of stars. I began to understand the awe and wonder Isaiah had when he wrote:

Lift your eyes and look to the heavens:

Who created all these?

He who brings out the starry host one by one,

and calls them each by name.

Because of his great power and mighty strength,

not one of them is missing.”

– Isaiah 40:26

I suspect what Isaiah was reflecting on was far more spectacular then my view effected by modern day pollution.

On Sunday, I was expecting I would find myself worn out and boarding a train from Windsor to come back home. No such thing happened! I left Cattai at 9:30 and got back on the road still peddling as the same pace as on day one.

I rode through Penrith which was the worst part of the whole trip. The Northern Road is one of the most boring roads I’ve ridden on. The mercury got above 30degC. And after spending 2 days in the country found myself competing with city and Olympic traffic. Being loaded up with my camping gear, this was not easy! I didn’t count on the traffic being that bad that far west, but I survived. I decided next time I want to get to the other side of Sydney, I’ll catch a train!

I was planning to stay at Bents Basin before moving on to Camden to stay with relatives for a few nights. However, I managed to get to Bringelly by mid-afternoon and decided to ride the extra 30km to Camden. The final 2hrs were tough, but I got to my Aunt’s at 5:45pm and covered 82km for the day.

The next day, I was still peddling along to a bike shop for repairs and visiting my grandmother. Bits and pieces had been shaken off from the roughness of Wisemans Ferry Rd. and needed to be put back on. The following day I stay at my Aunt’s watching other people exhaust themselves on TV as they competed at the Olympics.

While I was at my Aunts I was trying to plan my next place of stay between Camden and Bundanoon, but nothing suitable was found. With the temperatures threatening to sore  again I decided to ride Cambeltown that Wednesday to catch a train to Moss Vale where I would ride on to Bundanoon. I arrived in Bundanoon around 4pm and continued on into the nearby Morton National Park to view a few lookouts. I then rode back into Bundanoon and camped at the youth hostel. I got to meet a few people and found out some information for the next two days. I was told Sydney folk often get the train to Moss Vale and ride through Kangaroo Valley on to Berry where they get the train back home. That sounded like a good plan to me (probably because from Camden on I didn’t have one!), and I was also told of a reasonably priced tourist park at Kangaroo Valley.

Thursday I left Bundanoon at 10am after it had stopped raining for long enough for my tent to dry. It was wonderful ridding through the high country in the cool air. I stopped at Fitzroy Falls for lunch and viewed the waterfall and lookout. Quite an amazing view seeing as far as Braidwood at the other end of Morton National Park. From here I continued on to Kangaroo Valley. I wasn’t quite prepared for the steepness of the descent. Even though the pack wasn’t too heavy, it still effected the handling to a degree, and needed to be careful going down.

I arrived at the tourist park at 3:30pm and the shop attendants rushed out to me to see if I wanted any water. I said, “Well, actually I’m after a campsite for the night”. I don’t think they were expecting that for a reply! So I camped at the tourist park, did a short ride around the township in the twilight, and made contact back home. I had done it. Mission accomplished! I had made it to Kangaroo Valley and in top condition as well!

I was contemplating what to do next. I had intended to spend 2 or 3 days exploring the valley. But with my wallet looking rather thin, I thought it best to come home and spend some money on personal transport-my Subaru wasn’t quite what it use to be. I was speaking to the tourist park operators about ridding to Berry. They advised me not to take the main road. It’s busy, steep, long and windy. Instead, take the road through Wattamolla and you’ll go around the base of the mountain, and is much flatter. Sounded like another good plan and so embraced it without question.

I left Kangaroo Valley at 10am bidding fair well to the tourist park owners. They were most friendly. I headed for Berry and took the Wattamolla Rd. 11km along the Wattamolla road, it wound straight up the mountain!! I was accustomed to short, steep hills along the valley floor and kept thinking the top would be around the next bend. 10 bends latter, I was still climbing, and could no longer see the valley floor. With the rate I was perspiring at, I looked as though I had just been in a wet t-shirt competition, and won! Finally at the top, I felt like a mountaineer. All I could see was mountain tops with the valley floors nowhere in sight. I don’t think it I climbed as high as the main road, but it was still a dizzy height. Then, with the ocean in sight, it was another precarious run down into Berry where I got the train home.

I arrived at Berry at 1:30pm, and covered 27km. I bought some much wanted lunch from a local green grocer and headed for the train station. It was only 20mins before the next train which was well timed. It was then a simple matter of enjoying a 4hr train trip back home.

I couldn’t be happier with the way this ride went. It was an absolute success. In 8 days, I had done 26hrs and 45mins of riding covering 332km averaging 12.8km/h. With the success of this ride, the idea of an assistant engine was very much scraped.

The following Friday the question of my personal transport was resolved with the signing up for a new car that would cost half as much to run. But that’s a whole other story! If I need an engine, a part driving and part ridding tour is a better option.

February 1, 2008 Posted by | Australia, Travel | , , , | Leave a comment