A blog about cycling...especially the long distance stuff

Sunday, 13 April 2014

Melbourne to Sydney - Tour Summary

A trip summary with information here helpful to anyone else planning something similar...

Basic Plan

Cycle from Melbourne to Sydney via the southern coastal route through Gippsland then up the NSW coast, avoiding the Princess Highway where possible. Most of my route is on road, though about 150 km all up on dirt roads (Rail Trails in particular, which are great for riding).

Route Summary & Stats

Journal Link / Distance* / Elevation Gain (Map links are hosted on http://www.ridewithgps.com)

Day 1: Frankston to Kilcunda / Route Map / Distance - 93 km / + 393m
Day 2: Kilcunda to Yarram / Route Map / Distance - 129 km / + 721m
Day 3: Yarram to Lake Wellington / Route Map / Distance - 147 km / + 553m
Day 4: Lake Wellington to Orbost / Route Map / Distance - 141 km / +944m
Day 5: Orbost to Cann River / Route Map / Distance - 75 km / + 1144m
Day 6: Cann River to Eden / Route Map / Distance - 111 km / + 1452m
Day 7: Rest Day
Day 8: Eden to Bermegui / Route Map / Distance - 100 km / +1600m
Day 9: Bermegui to Surf Beach / Route Map / Distance - 120 km / + 1406m
Day 10: Surf Beach to Ulladulla / Route Map / Distance - 81 km / + 975m
Day 11: Ulladulla to Shoalhaven / Route Map / Distance - 102 km / +864m
Day 12: Shoalhaven to Wollongong / Route Map / Distance - 78 km / + 657m
Day 13: Wollongong to Sydney / Route Map  / Distance - 78 km / + 1080m

* I am noting actual distance ridden each day. The map links are sometime a bit less, where I didn't track side trips.

Total Distance: 1,255 km - Averaging 104 km a day and 1 rest day.
Total Elevation Gain: 10,289m - South-east Australia is not flat...
Nights Camping: 9
Nights Indoors: 4

Flying Domestic With a Bicycle in Australia

I flew back to Melbourne with the bike. Carriage rules and weight restrictions depend on the the airline, this information is for Qantas Domestic and is correct at least at the time of writing!

To fly with your bike:

  • Book your flight, and figure our how much your luggage will weigh, including the bike. A ticket currently allows 30 kg max with your main bag, so I purchased an additional allowance of 1 more bag, so my total was 60 kg. Book the additional luggage allowance. This cost roughly 70$ extra.
  • On Qantas, the bike must be in a box, which you buy from the sales counter when you check in ($22 extra)
  • I used a bike bag (below) to get my bike to the airport. I then just loaded the whole bag into the box, for a bit more protection. The box on its own has no padding. I also bought my own tape to the airport.
  • You are allowed to pack accessories in the bike box, provided they meet all other luggage rules!
  • You must deflate the tyres, remove the pedals, and turn the handlebars sideways before boxing it.
  • The bike then gets loaded into oversize items, which is also where you collect it from when you land. This all went smoothly for me, though not all the staff were all that familiar with their own rules..to be expected I suppose, given its probably not all that common as a request. 
  • I used 1 large bag for all my other kit...panniers and all.



  1. Greetings Bagelonabike! Congratulations on what looks like an incredible ride!

    I am also planning a self-contained, solo bicycle trip in Australia (for three weeks in July of this year) and just read your blog post with great interest. I have done multi-week trips in Europe, the US, and Canada and am stoked to do the same in Australia.

    I fly in & out of Sydney, but am not locked-in to starting my ride from there and in fact, will not do a loop ride, meaning I will take a train back to Sydney regardless of the route I take. In addition to the route you took, I’m considering two others and would love to hear your input – i.e. would you, hands-down, suggest what you did or consider another option, per what I’ve listed below:

    #1 VIC/SA Coast:
    Geelong to Millicent (Shorter to Portland or longer to Tailem Bend). Advantages: Consistently rated as a top 10 cycling tour on the planet: Great Ocean Road, moderate route, very scenic. Disadvantages: Requires long train ride (or one way car rental) to get to & from Sydney, reducing cycling days.

    #2A East Coast NSW: Newcastle to Coffs Harbour (Longer: start in Gosford and end in Beenleigh). Advantages: Easy to get to start from Sydney, route is along scenic beaches & National Parks, close to Sydney-Brisbane rail line most of the journey, and good variety of accommodations (pubs, B&Bs, caravan campsites, etc.). Disadvantages: High traffic, some of route along the Pacific Highway.

    #2B: East Coast NSW Option 2: https://goo.gl/maps/1rARY
    (Forester NSW to Mundoolun QLD) Some of same coastline as above, but more remote and inland (less traffic) closer to Brisbane.

    As reference, I tend to do 40-80 miles per day, depending on conditions and terrain. I don't mind hills, but tend to avoid fast/high traffic roads with no shoulders (i.e. I don't mind "cheating" to do shorter, spectacular rides vs. long, slogs on busy roads). I plan on staying in hostels, pubs, etc., but like you, will also be carrying camping gear.

    My main priorities: Meet cool people, see cool things, take time to get to know the local culture & character of the place, and do it safely.

    Thanks for any input you can provide! Cheers.


  2. P.S. What was the brand of that bike bag...I might have to get one like that!

  3. I've got to say: Wow, what an endurance!
    Thank you for sharing the route and your experiences. I used the gps tracks to plan my own route from Melbourne to Sydney. And even though I had a fair amount of training (half a year cycling in southeast Asia directly before Australia), I wouldn't have been able to do this in just 12 cycling days.
    I divided the route into 15 sections (with plenty of rest days), and it could easily have been 20 sections, because I raced the last 600km from Mallacoota to Sydney. To any foreign cycle traveler with less time restrictions, traveling in this part of Australia for the first time (and with legs not made of steel), I highly recommend to go more slowly and take time to explore. The quieter roads that you can take (especially in Victoria) are also much less busy.
    I documented my experiences here: http://www.gpsies.com/mapFolder.do?id=34250 - Click on the links to see descriptions, download the track data, etc.

    Cheers and thanks again for sharing! -Martin

    PS. You've got some dead, missing or wrong links to the track downloads here in the overview and on the separate diary pages.

  4. I've been away from the blog for a while so really slow on the reply I'm afraid. hygmonster I hope your trip went well? The bag was from an NZ company called http://www.groundeffect.co.nz/

  5. Madden well done on your trip! You are quite right in your advice, I tend to be short on time with my trips and am forced to go fairly quickly. I'd rather do that than not go at all...but it does make for hard work and that's kinda fun as well. Anyway, I'd better go update this blog now...good luck for your next adventure...must be something good after Asia & Aus!!