2015 Xmas Tour Intro

Here we go again – 2015 NSW Xmas tour

 Written by Dave

We are still here living in Sydney, having not yet managed to break free from work and embark on another long distance tour.  That means we’ll use holiday time for a short getaway.  It should be noted that I (Dave) have managed to exit work, it is Nancy who is still holding out.  She’s inspired by Paris climate talks to continue her good work at Australia’s “Green Bank” (Clean Energy Finance Corp).  I, on the other hand, am inspired to lead random bike tours and be an awesome house husband (Editor’s note – hmm, it seems like there has been a bit of cricket-watching going on lately as well).  But enough of that, on to our 2015 Christmas trip.

We really like using the Sydney train network to get out of the city for a tour – it’s especially useful as we continue to live car-free.  This year we were looking at couple more options starting up in the Blue Mountains, one going southish and another going northish.  This would keep us away from the coast.  You may remember that last year we were worried about holiday crowds in the caravan parks.  This ended up being un-founded for the inland parks, which were virtually empty.

Well, after much staring at maps, we’ve picked a completely different route with some inland and some coastal.  The inland bit is up through the Hunter Valley via Singleton and Scone areas.  From there we head up into Barrington Tops.  In spite of the 4,000 foot climb into the Barrington Tops, I’m super excited to re-visit this mountain park.  The climate ranges from subtropical rainforests in the gullies to subalpine and alpine regions in the peaks.  We are aiming for one night at Devils Hole campground – billed as one of the “highest campgrounds in Austalia”.  Given that this probably only about 5,000 feet, it’s not that high globally, but really high for the lowish continent of Australia.

From Barrington Tops, we head down towards the coast via Gloucester.  We have a couple of options to get to the coast, so will see how we go and where we want to try our luck with the holiday crowds.  We will likely retrace (in reverse) some of the rout we took when we rode from Sydney to Darwin.  Caravan parks were crazy busy on the coastal parts.  But that was Easter, we’ll see how it plays out during the Christmas holiday season.  Having already won “the Wife Lottery”, with Nancy keen to use our new tent, today she said “no worries, if the parks are full, we’ll just try out some free bush camping”.  Wow, am I double lucky or what?

We have some new gear for this trip.  Namely, a Mountain Hardwear Trango 3 tent, Sea2summit sleeping pads and snazzy new high-visibility Ortlieb front and real panniers.  We had a new tent last year as well – but this one is 3 person and big trip ready – we aren’t really gear collectors (honest). As noted, I’m not working, so I’m in charge of getting everything organized (and cleaning up the mess when we return).  Mostly our planning is under control, though Nancy did find one more campground option today while scouring the net.  Naturally, this has led to a complete inspection of everything else I’ve worked out.  Good to have two sets of eyes looking at this but really, the point is all about getting out there – we don’t need to research it to death! (Editor’s note – scouring the net is a bit of an overstatement, and a bit of planning never hurts…Not to worry, the trip gear checklist has been updated and will be provided to the packer to ensure nothing is missed.)

For those in northern climes, temperatures should range from the low 70s to as high as 100.  We’ll need sun screen for sure.  It could rain as well, but that’s not all bad given the drought we are in.  We’ll hit some sealed roads, along with the odd unsealed surface.  Much of Barrington Tops is unsealed.  At some point I’m sure we’ll find ourselves on a stinking hot, nearly melted tarmac road, sweat flowing freely, cicadas so loud we can barely think, no mobile signal and we’ll be lost.  But that’s kind of the whole point of Australian summer bicycle trip anyway…

We are heading out again late on Xmas Eve.  We’ll take the loaded bikes by train to Newcastle.  We have a hotel there just because we get there late and in part because I couldn’t find any campgrounds.  We hope to be back in Newcastle 10ish days later to catch the train back to Sydney.  While we have a plan, nothing is fully locked in – daily updates with come, should manage reasonable internet connections.

Oh yeah, one more thing…  last month we did a test run weekend trip with some of our new kit.  Below are some photos showing off the new hi-vis bags.


Nancy with two pies - ok, one  belonged to Dave

Nancy with two pies – ok, one belonged to Dave

Dave on the train with his new hi-vis bags

Dave on the train with his new hi-vis bags

Nancy on the coast with her new bags

Nancy on the coast with her new bags

New bags - Distorted Image

New bags – Distorted Image

15 thoughts on “2015 Xmas Tour Intro

  1. Hey Dave, great to know Nancy and you going for your ride, I have fond memories of Blue Mountain such a long time ago. Have a great ride, Merry Christmas and Joyful New Year to the both of you.

    • Hi Michael – you win the prize for first comment – and for helping us know if the old subscription thing is working. Our mothers will be happy! All the best to you, Sue Lee and the boys (young men now I would guess!)

  2. Have a fantastic ride! I may be biased but you definitely won the wife lottery!!! Because of that the two of you should seriously consider a lovely Xmas eve in a hotel and maybe New Years Eve as well. Have a great time and be safe. Merry Christmas!

  3. Dave and Nancy, great to see you are on the road again. I enjoy following your bike travels and love the photos. My next tour after the holidays is a two week loop from Pensacola Florida to New Orleans and back with some of my Adventure Cycling east coast friends. We call it the Big Easy Tour. Hey, you caught my attention with the Mountain Hardware Trango 3 tent. That sucker is bombproof! You should be able to survive a very big storm. I use the somewhat wimpy-er MH Skyledge 2 and love it for one. Mountain Hardware makes good stuff. I once broke a tent pole and they replaced the whole set for free. Have a great ride! I know you will.

    • Bomb proof for sure. We loved our light weight Hilleberg but it was just a little to light for our last big adventure. Really starting to show signs of wear near the end. I feel like a need special training to set the Mountain Hardware tent up – it has so many guys and hooks – but that’s all part of its’ “weather any storm” design. It should get easier with experience.

  4. Hi, I love reading your postings about your bicycle trips. Keep them coming.Merry Christmas  and Happy New Year.  If  you photograph any interesting  sight   send them on as I am always looking for subjects to paint. Thanks.Aubie

  5. I am so happy to hear you will be out on the road again! Enjoy the new gear and the warm weather, We are expecting drought busting snow on Christmas Eve! Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

    • Sleeping rough for us is staying outside any formal campground, on the side of the road, hopefully out of site of cars. This is opposed to sleeping in a campground or caravan park. The rough part comes in because there are no facilities such as running/drinkable water, shower and a toilet. In both cases we are still in a tent, in the same sleeping bag and cooking on our stove. We don’t do this too often as it is often not legal and for the few dollars they cost (relatively) we like camp facilities. We know touring cyclist who refuse to pay for camping and stay “rough” 100% of the time. This too extreme for us (I know, bicycle riding holidays every year may be extreme to some folks :-). Naturally, we don’t see what we do as extreme!

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