Out of the elevator! A guy from the company showed up and hit the magic buttons.

Trapped in an Elevator

Seriously, I'm trapped in an elevator right now. This is a total "life bucket list" item. Someone from the company is on the way and there's a girl named Taz (/Tas?) hanging out with me on the other side. Fun times!



Currently: eating a pepper steak pie on a ferry to MANLY BEACH. Unplanned, but fitting.

June 29: Back in Sydney

(At 12:30 pm) Despite sleeping and eating like a refugee last night, my day in Sydney so far has been one of my favorite days of the whole trip! A month ago, I bought and downloaded a cycling guide of New South Wales that included several routes, none of which were applicable to my journey. However, I remembered its "Sydney Circuit", a 40km loop around the city to some of its best spots. I had been expecting bad weather - just about everyone I'd talked to in Cairns warned me of a cold front and rain. Today has been absolutely beautiful! I've been winding my way up the coast past different beaches and lookouts and it's about 70 degrees and sunny. Honestly, it feels just like the Gold Coast! On top of it all, I don't have to worry much more about where I'm going next. I feel pretty relaxed knowing that I get to stay in one place for the next couple of days and make the most of it before heading home. I'm running out of space on my second memory card and this route is taking forever because I have to stop every 10 minutes to take pictures!

(later) Of course, the rest of the day unfolded in an interesting manner. I finished most of the circuit (more fantastic scenery) but had to break it up to find my cell phone carrier's store and potential hostels for the night. I was completely out of phone credit and neither of my credit cards would work with the recharging system. After finally locating a store that would sort it out near the city center, I sat on a park bench in Hyde Park, having a snack and reading through my guide book to figure out what I was going to do that evening. At 5:30, a cyclist approached my bench: "Are you here for critical mass?" My response was "Well, I didn't think I was, but is there one meeting here?" Critical mass is a type of cycling event where (ideally) a huge group of cyclists meet up to ride around the streets to remind drivers of their presence, raise awareness, etc. I stuck around, figuring it would be nice to meet a huge crowd local bike enthusiasts. Unfortunately, the "mass" was not so massive - only another 6 people showed up - but we rode around the city for about a half hour anyway. One guy was about 6'5", 250lbs, and had a personal vendetta against cab drivers, going out of his way to, well, get in their way. Eventually we found our way to a pub and had a few beers. The organizer of the event, Peter, offered me a mattress at his place just outside the city in Hornsby and I accepted. It's funny how the cycling world really seems to have its own community! Peter had a trip to the Blue Mountains lined up for the early morning, so I got up at 6 and we were back on the train by 7:30.

Peter and more Sydney cyclists

I'm in the city now at the Entertainment Quartet markets near Moore Park and the football arenas. More city exploring today and a mega-update on last week's trip to Cairns is on the way.



Katy Perry and a trail of drooling paparazzi just walked past where I'm sitting in the Sydney airport charging my phone! How funny would it be if my bike and I showed up in the back of some photos? Keep your eyes peeled, folks!


Local time: 10:55PM
Status: Deplaned, bike assembled, demotivated
Outside: Dark, threatening to be cold and/or wet
Needs: 5+ hours of sleep

  • Bed
  • $23
  • 12km away
  • No internet
  • Probably loud

  • $0
  • 0km away
  • Free internet
  • Benches, chairs, tile floors
  • Probably loud



Quick Cairns Update

Hi, Readers!

It's been difficult to get on the internet here and I've got less than $1 left on my phone plan (hmmm... I suppose I should recharge that...). Anyway, I've been in Cairns for almost a week and I've seen some unforgettable stuff. Highlights include snorkeling and hiking my way around Fitzroy Island, scuba diving on the Great Barrier Reef, and visiting the Cairns Tropical Zoo. I'm on limited free internet in a hostel right now but I'm checking out soon and heading back to Sydney this evening! I can't wait to get the rest of my photos up here for a more detailed update, though it may not be until I'm back home (July 2nd).



June 20-23

What a crazy last couple of days of travel it's been! On the 20th, it was time to leave the hostel I'd been at for three nights, bike functional or not. My destination had been the Gold Coast, rumored to contain some of the country's (and world's) best beaches. I figured I'd have some train time to make up for "lost time" (although definitely not time wasted). I decided to check flights just for fun and noticed there was one cheap flight running each afternoon from Newcastle, where I'd come from Sydney a few days earlier, to Gold Coast Airport in Coolangatta. Strangely, in Australia, pricing of flights tend to be on par with trains, despite taking something like 10 hours less (in this case). Acting on it quickly, I jumped a train back to the Newcastle airport, booked my flight, boxed my bike, and took off.

After some hostel research while on the plane, I decided the one with free airport pickup would be the night's winner. It was the old upstairs of a hotel and they were nice enough to give me my own 4-bed dorm room with enough space to put together my bike. Not the most interesting or exciting hostel, but at least I was ready to go the next morning (the 21st).

I walked up the coast about 3 miles, mostly on walking paths overlooking phenomenal white sand beaches, to the nearest bike shop and finally bought a new chain! Getting back in the saddle felt great as I aimed myself at Brisbane, about a day and a half's ride. All was beautiful and scenic on that end of the gold coast.

Reminders of home

Around 3 pm I conducted my accommodation search with very little promising results. I've learned from every major city I've biked through that the 50 miles leading into a city are generally nothing special. Upon remembering this principle, I hopped on a train into Brisbane so I'd have more time to explore the city. There wasn't much to see at night and my hostel was mostly quiet and unimpressive.
I gave myself the next day (22nd) to explore the city during daytime before my 9:30 pm flight. Brisbane had pretty neat botanic gardens, my first stop. I saw two big gardens with ponds and separate sections set up like different ecosystems. From there, I found my way to a couple different museums. One was tiny and its main exhibit was "the cabinet of curiosities," a compilation of totally random items from Australian history borrowed from other museums. Highlights included a wooden prosthetic leg, a stuffed pet dog, a bloodletting tool, a shock therapy tool, and a jar for leeches (wow, were they wrong about medical practice). Still a neat little museum. Then, with little time to spare, I found the city's actual museum and sprinted through displays of the country's wildlife, geology, and culture in about 45 minutes. From there, I biked back to the hostel to get the rest of my stuff from luggage storage, biked to the airport, did my usual show of bike disassembly and meticulous packing, and boarded my flight to CAIRNS, the last stop on my journey.

I'm writing this from Cairns now, where I've been staying for a few days. Trying to keep busy, I haven't had much time to write and the only place with free internet is McDonalds, of course. Also, my phone plan is almost out of credit! Needless to say, it's been hard to get online. A Cairns post will follow soon. I should be here until the 29th or 30th, provided that I can find enough to do without spending $200/day on dive boats.



June 16-19: Wheelin' and Dealin'

Sorry for the blog neglect! Not being on my bike every day has thrown me out of the rhythm, I guess.
The 16th was the kind of day that just made me want to come home. I had a lot of unexpected crap to deal with and it's so much harder to do so being on the move in a foreign country.

I woke up at 3am to share a cab to the airport with Will for our flights, his at 6 and mine 7:45. Ironically, the cab cost half of what my plane ticket did. I got there, dismantled and packed my bike into the provided bike box, which was probably too small for most bikes. After packing, sealing, weighing (over the limit), opening, repacking, and resealing my bike in its box, I was finally allowed on board.
The flight was hardly long enough for anyone to finish a newspaper. I slept though most of it, but saw a scenic Sydney from above while coming in. Not as adventurous, but it is funny to think that a 90 minute, $150 plane ride covered the entire distance into which I'd just put two weeks and endless effort. When I landed, I took 45 minutes making a scene and reassembling my bike outside the baggage claim area. I noticed that the wires had been ripped out of my bike computer's mount. Perhaps fixable, but not without a precise soldering job. I got everything put together and took one pedal outside... And my chain broke. I think one of the links had been crushed in transit.

Now it's raining, of course, and I'm walking my bike two miles to the nearest bike shop through the lovely airport neighborhood. They were 2/3 nice people and allowed me to use their stand while I made a temporary repair (removing the broken link and reconnecting the chain). Pretty fed up with Sydney at this point, I decided I'd take a train up to Newcastle. However, the trains from the airport were closed for no apparent reason, so I biked across town to Central Station and got the train at 4:45 (just missed 4:15), getting in to Newcastle around 6.

I found a hostel there and went out to dinner with three awesome guys from Melbourne, then just took it easy in the room and went to sleep early. Newcastle was very busy with young folks sweating and yelling their ways through different clubs, which I didn't feel much like dealing with.

I woke up and went to the beach to wander around for a few hours before heading off. I took a ferry across to a suburban town called Stockton and rode up into a peninsula known as the Salamander Bay / Stephens Point area. My usual afternoon campsite search wasn't as fruitful as usual - unpowered campsites were going for $30 in the area, near the top end of what I normally would pay for a hostel - so I looked for hostels instead. I found one in Anna Bay on the South end of the peninsula and discovered that they even had campsites for $20.

I arrived at 6 pm and was instantly impressed. The Melaleuca Hostel, as it was called, turned out to double as a wildlife sanctuary. The complex looks like a fort in a rainforest, with separate cabins, dorm room, common area, and facilities all interconnected with paths and wooden bridges. A kangaroo named Josephine lives on site, having been rescued as a baby, and is friendly. I was warned not to use flash photography if I encountered any koalas, opossums, owls, sugar gliders, or other nocturnal critters. I didn't see any but I was upgraded to a dorm bed so that I wouldn't have to set up my tent - a really kind gesture.

The next morning (the 18th) I woke up and realized just how awesome the place was, having arrived in the dark. After taking a walk and run on the peninsula's famous One Mile Beach, I decided I was finally (mentally and emotionally) overcoming my stressful day in Sydney and had no reason to hurry out if I was feeling really happy there. I also noticed a whole fleet of semi-neglected cruiser bikes under a tent and formed a crafty proposition. I offered the owners a few hours of my bike handiwork in exchange for another night's stay for free. They accepted immediately - the bikes had been on their to-do list for awhile but I'm sure it's a giant pain to get them all to a shop, in addition to costing more than it should. I fixed 10 bikes in about two hours, then spent the next three hanging out with the owners while they tossed me beers nearly faster than I could put them down. NEARLY. I rode my bike to another beach on the peninsula about 3 miles away to try to catch the sunset, at which point my chain broke again. Having already removed several links, it was time to give in and get a new one.

Hostel grounds

Hostel grounds

One Mile Beach

Bike Fleet - Fixed! The fruits of my labor.

The next day (19th) started off with a wild goose chase for a bike chain. One of the owners, Pete, was kind enough to drive me around in the hostel's giant van. We tried the island's only dedicated bike shop (closed for family reasons), a bike-surf-skate shop (only single speed chains), a K-mart that used to have chains (vastly reduced bike stock since then), and even a bike rental (closed mon-weds). I decided I was destined to stay at the melaleuca another day, so I laughed it all off and returned. I did learn one thing - the Aussies say "Murphy's law" for this kind of thing, e.g. everything bad that could happen will happen to you.

I made the most out of the rest of my day, taking a bus to the northeast corner and hiking a big hill for some of the most amazing views I've seen in the country. Two different bays, backed up against each other on opposing sides of a spit, were clearly visible with bright blue water and white sand beaches. Little islands dotted the water further out. Most definitely a day trip well worth it (and even worth the unsuccessful chain hunt). Night was good, too - I finished fixing up one more bike to secure another night's stay and then hung out with a travel group of some sort. There were around 15 of them from all over the world and most near my age. It was great to finally be "that guy who's been in the hostel for three days already" and I had fun scaring the newcomers with stories of huntsmen spiders and other nasties native to Australia.

I'll update you on a couple more days' worth of adventures as soon as I get a chance! If I find reliable internet, I'll try to add more photos for this one, too - there are lots.