Sydney to Genoa covers the New South Wales section of our ride from Sydney to Melbourne. Finding our way out of Sydney proved much easier than expected and we managed a lot of the journey on cycle tracks. Once passed the airport we reached the coast at New Brighton and then rode from there to Bundeena, our first camp, was delightful.
Our ride descriptions give an account of the ride that we completed. As part of the description we also provide links to Wikiloc or Google maps and elevation profiles based on mapping data available through the internet. The ride profiles are smoothed to give what in our opinion is a more beneficial view of the profile. We use paper maps, GPS and on line data to plan and conduct our rides. We are happy for you to use our descriptions, but be aware that we do not guarantee the accuracy of the information provided as situations surrounding any ride change over time.
Sydney to Genoa - Sydney to Bundeena Ride Profile
It was Sunday morning so the roads were quiet for our first day of our ride to Melbourne. There was a signposted bike route all the way from Randwick to Botany Bay on quiet back roads and cycle tracks. It took us right past the airport so would be useful for anyone wanting to ride their bike for the airport into Sydney CBD. It was a warm day so everyone was out enjoying the Sunday with family and friends.
The towns we passed through reminded us of other places on our journey; Brighton, Monterey, Sandringham. The cafés at Brighton were busy with people out for Sunday brunch. As there were no tables left we shared one with a lovely elderly Egyptian couple who had lived in Australia for 47 years. Afterwards we spent some time at the memorial to the first group of boats to arrive here from Britain, carrying convicts. There were the records of all the people on the boats. We checked the names and there were no Coulsons or Skeavingtons.
The cycle path ended at Cronulla. From there a small passenger ferry goes across Port Hacking to Bundeena. The fare was quite expensive as we were charged a child fare for each bike, but it saved a 70km approx trip round by road.
The Bonnie Vale camp site at Bundeena was idyllic on the edge of a sheltered sandy inlet. It was hot and still so we went for a lie in the water (it was too shallow to swim). Our load of washing would not dry in the still, humid air so it got left out. The sun set with a magnificent fiery red, reflected in the flat water.
Sydney to Genoa - Bundeena to Windinga Ride Profile
In the morning it was still drizzling. Our Sydney to Genoa ride took us through Royal National Park, the second oldest national park in the World. There was a slow climb up to the top of the land mass which forms the headland, through low trees and shrubs. The road kill here included a 5 foot long black snake with a red belly. As the road descended the other side of the hills the vegetation changed to lush rainforest with tall gum trees and tree ferns interspersed with palms.
At Gairie we got our first views of the coast at the top of the high cliffs. There were a lot of para gliders riding the updraughts at the top of the cliffs. The Sydney to Genoa road then plunged down to ocean level and onto the famous 'Sea Cliff Bridge' which runs along the base of the cliffs.
The metal railings along the sides of this long bridge structure hold hundreds of metal padlocks, all engraved with messages of love or loss.
The Sydney to Genoa road continued along the coast, dipping and climbing between the bays. At Thiroull we easily found the cycle route which took us through to the large industrial city of Wollongong. There was supposed to be a tourist information office here but it had closed down. We couldn't find an internet café and both the hostels were fully booked. After buying food we set off again in the approaching dusk to cycle a further 10km to the next camp site The roads were very busy but for most of the way there was a shared pedestrian/cycle path. It was a relief to reach the camp site and have a meal.
Sydney to Genoa - Windinga to Nowra Ride Profile
It rained again overnight but had stopped by the morning. Today our Sydney to Genoa route was on the Princes Highway which has a cycle path . The road rolled over a lot of low hills. Kiama was a charming little town with old wooden buildings and plenty of tourists where we stopped for coffee.
At Gerringong we took the coast road to Shoalhaven Heads by the side of Seven Mile Beach and then along the river valley to Nowra. There were several small wineries and a lot of cattle pastures. The flies here were demons, fast and persistent, chasing us along the road.
We camped at a site about 2km out of town which had a large population of parrots that made the most incredible noise. There were sulphur crested cockateils, rosellas and ghalas.
Syndey to Genoa - Nowra to Green Patch Ride Profile
Today we took a short side trip off our main Sydney to Genoa route to the Booderee National Park, on the shores of Jervis Bay. Sean had recommended we stay at the Green Patch camp site. As there were no supermarkets on the way we stopped in Nowra to stock up for our two days there. A lady came up to chat and told us about the earthquake in Christchurch which upset us. We rode down the road to Macdonalds and watched the news footage of the devastation while e-mailing our friends to make sure they were OK. Our Warmshowers host from Wellington, Laura, had flown to Christchurch as her brother-in-law was missing in the cathedral, (we later discovered that he was killed). It was shocking to see the road that we had ridden down into Lyttleton just 10 days before now covered in huge boulders from the cliffs above. Both of us had tears in our eyes and lumps in our throats as we thought of the beautiful city that had been destroyed and the deaths of so many people.
It was past midday before we set off again, the weather was sunny and warm and it was an easy flat ride down to the National Park. The camp site at Greenpatch is next to a beach of the whitest sand we have ever seen. It has such a high silica content that as you walk, it squeaks and feels like warm snow.
For the first time in Australia we saw wallabies and kookaburras.
That evening we cooked on the barbecue while the local birds waited in the trees overhead for their opportunity to steal the food.
One kookaburra had a good try with a home made burger but as it was still raw it fell apart before he could lift it.
The next day we just lay on the beach, swam and totally relaxed.
Syndey to Genoa - Greenpatch to Ulladulla Ride Profile
The first 15km was retracing our route back to Valencia. On the cycle path we met a large group of primary school children on their bikes, cycling to Valencia. They appeared to have only one adult with them. He must be a very brave man! We were soon back on the Sydney to Genoa, Princes Highway which had a cycle lane for most of today.
At lunchtime we stopped outside a service station which had a picnic table and were quite happy with our home made cheese sandwiches until a couple came out of the café with the most delicious smelling bacon and egg rolls.
Ulladulla was a large town and port where we found the first operating Tourist Information and picked up some info on camping further south. We had a steep climb up to the camp site and after checking in we were approached by an elderly gentleman. He told us he had passed us on the road to Ulladulla and come back to find us to give us something. It was a map of Australia, super-imposed on a map of Europe, showing just how immense this continent is.
Sydney to Genoa - Ulladulla to Pretty Beach Ride Profile
Having been unable to get internet access again last night we decided to go to MacDonalds before we left. Knowing it was on the outskirts of town we set off up the very steep hill and at the top realised we had come the wrong way. After a speedy descent and climb up the equally steep one at the other side, we needed the large coffee while we surfed.
We were heading for Pretty Beach, 9 kilometres off the highway where we had been assured we would see wild kangaroos. The first 20km was along the main road where a group of motorcyclists passed us at high speed, having a race with a couple of cars, scary.
The short distance meant we arrived at the camp site by 2pm. It was a warm sunny day and the beach lived up to its title with pale golden sand, dunes and high cliffs topped with forest. Being Saturday there were a lot of surfers riding the huge rollers and families enjoying the sand. We went for a dip but the large waves meant we couldn't swim.
In the evening the kangaroos arrived in large numbers grazing on the grass around the camp site, no need for lawn mowers here and we realised that we definitely were in Australia. As we ate our meal in the darkness, sitting on a fallen tree, a possum came up looking for scraps, totally unafraid. Later we went over to the toilet. In the pitch darkness we didn't see the large group of kangaroos who suddenly bounded across in front of us which was quite frightening.
Sydney to Genoa - Pretty Beach to Rosedale Ride Profile
The road back to our Sydney to Genoa route was 8km of gravel. It climbed up through the gum forest and was cool, shady and enjoyable with no traffic, a few kangaroos and a fox. As it was Sunday the Sydney to Genoa highway was quiet but there was no shade and it got very hot.
At Bateman's Bay the road crosses the River Clyde on an impressive metal bridge with a lift up central section to allow large boats to pass. Here we turned off the highway onto a minor road which runs along the coast. It was only 16km to the camp site but the road was a real roller coaster, and we must have climbed at least 10 short steep hills, some of them first gear jobs.
After pitching the tent and doing the washing we went to the camp kitchen to cook tea. At this point it started to pour with rain and so Karen had to dash to get the clothes that she had just pegged out on the line, then back to the tent to zip up the door. Steve was on his way back from the office so we both got absolutely soaked.
Sydney to Genoe - Rosedale to Narooma Ride Profile
It rained all night so we had to pack a wet tent. Except for one small hill, the first 15km of today's ride was as flat as a pancake, a relief after yesterday. This brought us back onto the Sydney to Genoa route at Moruya. We stopped here to shop and found a café with a rare service in Australia, FREE internet (but just to read e-mail) so we had coffee and cake.
After that the Sydney to Genoa road undulated through lovely forest with lots of bell birds which have a call like those sonar bleeps in old films of submarines. Another heavy shower soaked us as we got to the 'historic' (ie before 1850) town of Bodalla. It did have two fine churches and a bakery selling good apple pies.
About 7km before Narooma there was a cycle route which followed the coast through Kilmeny and Kianga along the beach. Steve had a puncture, his first since Rotorua in NZ.
The camp site at Narooma was right on the side of the beautiful estuary. It was very popular and busy and therefore quite expensive. We pitched the wet tent and it dried quickly in the fresh wind. A storm was forecast overnight. Later we walked into town to a pub set on the hill above the harbour with 'million dollar views'. We had a lovely meal on the balcony enjoying the view. Afterwards we sat on the harbour watching a distant thunderstorm.
Sydney to Genoa - Naroom to Picnic Point Ride Profile
Note that the profile shown here actually stops before we left the main road due to the road to the beach being offroad.
The predicted storm didn't reach us but it was cloudy with a stiff head wind. As we ate our breakfast a few of the local rosella parrots joined us for a sip of honey, their favourite food.
Today the Sydney to Genoa route went through rolling hills again and there was only light traffic. It felt more remote with few towns or other development.
We turned off the Sydney to Genoa road for a short detour to the 'historic' town of Central Tilba, famous for its gold mining and cheese factory. There were a lot of preserved traditional wooden shops and houses along the old main street, now converted to tourist money traps.
From here we left the highway to follow the B65 along the coast towards Bermagui. There was a wonderful old and long wooden trestle bridge over the Wallaga Lake. At lunchtime, sitting above a small sandy bay we saw a shadow in the water and realised it was a large ray drifting in the shallows.
In Bermagui we shopped for fresh fish, silver dory, for tea then headed through the national park, hoping to see some koalas, but didn't. We passed some beautiful deserted beaches as we continued south. It was getting hilly again and the weather was deteriorating with increasing wind and thick cloud. Our plan was to camp at one of the National Park sites at Mimosa Rocks.
Cresting the top of yet another steep long climb we came to the turn off for the site. It was a 12km steep downhill on a gravel road which would have meant a steep difficult climb back up the following day. The vote was 2 to 0 to give it a miss.
Instead we dropped down an equally steep but tarmac road and headed down a flat gravel road along an estuary to another NP site called Picnic Point. There was no-one there but us and we pitched the tent behind a bush to get shelter from the strong winds. Despite the reassurance of the Tourist Information lady who said she had camped there, there was no water supply so Steve had to set off back up to the farm we had passed to get some rainwater. That night our sleep was again disturbed by a possum which repeatedly tried to get our food, tried to take the top of the oil bottle, pulled Steve's bike bottle off his bike and climbed onto the top of the tent three times.
Sydney to Genoa - Picnic Point to Merimbula Ride Profile
We got up early so were away by 9.30am. The wind had dropped completely and it was still and overcast. The route continued on the B56 along the coast and over Nelson Lagoon, where we stopped at the picnic spot to fill our water bottles. As in most of the roadside picnic areas in NSW, there were free barbecues and showers.
The next town was Tathra, with a café stop for coffee and cake. From there the road turned inland and up two long slow up-hills which nearly killed us. At the top of the second one we stopped for a late lunch before the fast descent into Merimbula.
There were three camp sites in town. The first wanted $44 per night, the second $35 and the third $25. The problem was that this cheapest one was at the top of a steep hill. When Steve moaned about having to ride up it the owner offered to reduce it to $20, deal! It made the hill a lot less steep.
Sydney to Genoa - Merimbula to Eden Ride Profile
Today the skies were blue and the sun was warm. Steve had been having a problem with the computer for some time but today it would not start up at all. He shook it, took out all the screws, removed the battery, put it back together again and pressed in an apparently strategic place. It worked but now the screen was cracked.
After the last few kilometres on the B56 it was back onto Princes Highway through Pambula and into the Ben Boyd National Park. We took a side trip to see 'The Pinnacles', 5km down a wash-boarded gravel road and then a 2km walk. They were a bit of a let down. Some white rocks at the bottom with red clay above, not even worth a photo. The path ran along the top of the cliffs with tantalisingly beautiful golden sandy beaches at their base, but it was impossible to get the bikes down there and too risky to leave them at the top.
Eden was a bigger place than we expected, an old whaling, fishing and timber processing town. We camped at the Eden Beach Tourist Park at the far end of the long sandy beach. As the wind was a cold southerly and the waves were huge we gave the swim a miss and just sat on the beach instead. That evening we treated ourselves to a lovely meal out at the Great Southern Hotel. The food was great, but trip advisor reviews are disappointing for the rooms there.
Sydney to Genoa - Eden to Genoa Ride Profile
The southerly wind was still blowing this morning meaning a cold head wind for the day's ride. We called in at Tourist Information to enquire about camping and services on the route south. Cycling out of Eden, for the first time in Australia, we met another couple of touring cyclists travelling north. They were Dutch, going from Adelaide to Darwin. We chatted to them for some time so didn't set off again until after 10.30am.
It was a steep climb out of Eden followed by a quick descent and another climb but then it was miles of rolling hills through gum forests which meant there were no views. There were rotting kangaroo, wallaby and wombat corpses at the road side that upset the eyes as well as the nose.
It was a surprise to come across a garage/café/general store at Kiah so we just had to go in for coffee and toasted sandwiches. The helpful owner tried to phone the motel at Genoa for us to find out if it was serving food that evening but there was no number listed. Instead we purchased two of her home-made frozen curries for our tea.
Later in the day there was another couple of long ascents up to about 400m. As it was Saturday the road was fairly quiet and we wound along the high narrow road through the tall forest, at last catching some glimpses of a view across to the distant hills but it was just more gum trees.
The camp site at Genoa was free and crowded with camper vans The motel was open and we enjoyed a cold glass of beer. We met another Dutch touring cyclist, also going north. Like buses, you don't see one for weeks then see three in one day.
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