Cycle Touring Route Sydney to Brisbane

Cycle Touring Route Sydney to Brisbane

This a brief description of the route we have taken from Sydney to Brisbane.  To be honest we are starting in Manly and redirecting just after surfers but it is as near as dam it.  We have managed to get hold of an old Lonely Planet showing the route as it is not in the current book.  We are as usual only using this as a rough guide as it is quite out of date now.

Day 1 Manly – The Entrance 68km

From Manly we took Pittwater Road which is busy but has a bus lane or cycle path most of the way.  We headed to Palm Beach and took the ferry to Ettalong.  From Ettalong to Terrigal and on to The Entrance.  The road is busy almost all of the way but nothing too scary.  The road undulates and has a few steep but very short climbs.  Don’t expect great views except on the ferry crossing, at Terrigal and The Entrance is nice.  There are 3 or 4 campsites in the area and plenty of shops, bars and restaurants to refuel.

Day 2 The Entrance - Newcastle 78km

An easy day direction wise but again not very fun or scenic.  Carry on through The Entrance and over the bridge, follow this road until it hits highway 111.  Turn right here and follow the signs to Newcastle.  This section looks worse than it is as you have a wide shoulder to ride on.  At Swansea follow the 111 signs and now you lose the shoulder.  This parts is no fun at all until you turn off after a further 21km on to the scenic road Patrick Street which turns into Darby Street.  Don’t get excited it is scenic for about 300m, once in the city center look out for Hunter Street which is a left turn where you will pick up signs for the tourist info and the ferry to Stockton.  The ferry is just a couple of minutes and is very cheap $2.30 with a bike, loading and unloading is also a breeze with wide ramps.  We arrived on a Friday and a lot of the hostels were full and the campsite at Stockton had no cabins available but had tent sites.

The ride today has been the least enjoyable of my cycle touring experience.  Nothing terrible but riding on busy roads which I would avoid if I were riding at home and nothing nice to look at with the exception The Entrance as you leave and a 20 second view of the beach a few minutes from Newcastle.  Hopefully the road gets better tomorrow, if it does I would advise ditching the last 2 days and starting from Newcastle.

Day 3 Stockton – Nelson Bay 50km

Yep this is a better ride even though you follow a major road most of the way.  After you cycle the short distance through Stockton you join Nelson Bay Road, follow this all the way but you can take the road to Fullerton Cove and later Marsh Road to get off the major road for a while.  We did the first but somehow managed to miss the second so keep your eye peeled.  It is an easy day and we opted to stay in Nelson Bay but be warned the early ferry doesn’t always run and even if it does you won’t start riding from Tea Gardens till 9.30am on quite a long day.

Day 4 Tea Gardens – Pacific Palms 92km

The ride from Tea Gardens to Mango Bush is super quiet and 6km afterwards you reach the short ferry at Bombah Point which runs every 30 minutes.  If you have a mountain bike or something which can handle dirt roads there is an option here of taking the forestry road toward Seal Rocks, now we didn’t as we were unsure of nit’s condition but after talking to a local at the other end who rides it all the time we wish we had.  It would cut something like 30km off the trip and no doubt be more scenic.

If like us you take the ferry you are still faced with about 9km on a dirt road to Bulahdelah where you join the highway.  Here there is an array of shops to buy food to refuel, you’ll need it.  Next only about 4km on the highway then turn onto the Lakes road which starts to climb straight away.  2 good climbs followed by several shorter ones will give you a workout.  We stopped Pacific Palms Oasis Village at 90km.  There is a small grocery store there which opens 6.30 to 6.30.  There are a few possible stops along this road or you can carry on the 22km to Forster.

Day 5 Pacific Palms – Harrington 90km

Again this is a different route than the guide book suggests, mainly as it would be 105km to Laurieton with 21km of that on dirt roads.  We opted for 90km to Harrington with no dirt roads.  Basically keep on going along the lake road through Forster which is a large town with super markets etc. so a good place to stock up.  The road is busy but it looks like it has recently been widened and now has a good shoulder for most of the way, although the shoulder does disappear now and again.  At the end of this road you hit the highway with a good stop just before you join at Rainbow Flats; it’s just a gas station but has cold drinks and ice creams.

The highway is not as bad as I would of thought with a huge shoulder, it is exposed though and we had a northerly blowing so progress was slow.  At Coopernook you take the turn to Harrington, Coopernook is not a good place to stop for food though as it is a bit of a ghost town since the highway bypassed it.  It is only 11km or so to Harrington from here and a change of direction may save you from the wind, you will pass a supermarket on the way into town so buy your food before you get to the campsite or you will have to come back 2.5km.  There are 2 campsites the first is the cheapest, we paid $25.

Day 6 Harrington – Port Macquarie 80km

Carry on towards Crowdy Head, the road is quiet and after about 8km you will see a dirt road on your left.  We rode onto Crowdy Head for a look it is only about 1km.  The dirt road is rough in places but we made it ok with road tyres and a trailer.  It joins Diamond Head Road after a few km; you turn right onto this and keep going all the way to Laurieton.  About 1km from the town the road turns back to tarmac, you continue over a bridge and into a busy little town with shops and cafes.  There is also a bike shop if you are in need.

From here carry on down the main street and take the right turn onto Ocean Drive,  you follow the Ocean Drive all the way to Port Macquarie passing through several small towns on the way.  When you hit the town it is a little confusing which way to take as the town centre signs give you the option of via beaches or industrial area.  We went the beach route which wasn't really via the beaches and was really hilly so make your own choice as both roads get you there.  This is a big town with everything you would expect including a bike shop.

Day 7 Port Macquarie - Crescent Head 42km

Head to the car ferry which is about 5km from the town centre and is free to bikes.  Once across you bare left and then turn right, you can’t go wrong as straight on is a dead end.  After a few hundred metres you reach Maria River Road on the left which is dirt but in good condition.  It is about 30km of dirt before you are back on the tarmac at the T junction turn right and cruise into Crescent Head and the campsite which is on the beach!  This is an easy day even with the dirt, mountain bikes would be quicker but we were still there for lunch.

Day 8 Crescent Head - South West Rocks 57km

Another nice day on quiet roads.  The guide book says go to Macksville which would be no problem but it would be a shame not to visit South West Rocks.  The route takes you through farmland and is mostly very flat.

Day 9 South West Rocks – Macksville 67km

South West Rocks to Macksville Starts out retracing 11km of yesterdays ride and then 4km more till you hit the highway.  Turn Right onto the highway until you see the turning to Grassy Head.  Now the road starts to undulate with some steep pitches.  You need to turn left at Stuarts Point towards Grassy Head and to visit Grassy Head take a 1km side trip but it is worth it.  After Grassy Head the road has the steepest pitch but it is only short.  Follow the road till you hit a T junction, turn left and follow till you hit the highway again.  Here turn left and it is a short ride to Macksville.

Most of the roads today are quiet and enjoyable, the highway sections are not too bad.

Day 10 Macksville - Coffs Harbour 67km

Head out on the highway, the shoulder is poor to start with then gets better.  Take the right to Hungry Head for a 6km detour on quiet roads to Urunga.  Back on the highway follow the signs to Repton then stay on tourist road which is the old highway 1.  Follow this till Lyons road and then turn left onto Toormina Road and follow it all the way to Coffs Harbor.  Not a bad ride today considering the time spent on the highway. 

We took a slight detour where you head into Repton, bare left onto Bailey Street then left again on Repton Road.  Go over the cross roads onto the Old Coast Road over the bridge and onto the dirt road.  The dirt road is 2km and brings you back out on the  tourist road 18, the old highway.  One other ting to look out for is the cycle path on the right of the rod coming from Toormina, it takes you all the way to Coffs Harbour.

Day 11 Coffs Harbour - Grafton 87km

You would have to try really hard to get lost today!  Find West High Street and follow it out of town until it comes to a T junction 75km later, turn right and keep going till you hit Grafton.  The road is quiet but has little or no shoulder.  There is a reasonable climb out of Coffs but after that it just undulates in various degrees all the way to Grafton.  There is a food stop at bout 15km and again at 38km but with the exception of a gas station at 64km there is not much till Grafton after the second stop.  This has been one of the better days rides, not really scenic but quiet.

Day 12 Grafton - Iluka 67km

Really flat ride today on mostly quiet rural roads.  Take Queens Street out of town which turns into Lawrence Road.  Keep an eye out for Great Marlow Road on the right after 5 or 6km.  This is a single track road in good condition which cuts the corner of Lawrence road.  You turn right at the T junction at the end back onto Lawrence Road. After about 10km take River Bank Road on the right and follow this all the way to the bridge which leads you into Lawrence.

There is a nice picnic area here next to the river, toilets and a general store.  Turn right following the signs to the ferry and after the ferry crossing turn left to Maclean.  At the T junction turn right and then it is a straight run all the way to Yamba.  Maaclean is a largeish town with stores and cafes but so is Yamba.  The ferry takes you to Iluka, costs $6.60 and takes about 30 minutes.

Day 13 Iluka - Evans Head 67km

Follow the signs for the highway and after 17km your turn right onto highway 1.  Continue to Woodburn about 39km, the shoulder is mostly good with a couple of rest areas along the way.  Woodburn has shops, cafes and a picnic spot next to the information centre.  Turn right to Evans Head (Woodburn Street) 11km later you reach the town.  There are shops and a supermarket, cafes, restaurants and takeaways.

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