Sydney to Coffs Harbour

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Photos below….but first some thoughts on travelling in Australia:

Australia is no doubt a great country and worthy of a visit. It is huge and I wouldn’t recommend trying to see it all in one trip. It also mainly attracts 2 types of tourist:

1. Backpackers – These are mainly europeans in the age range of 18-23 years. They typically stay in (backpacker) hostels and visit Australia to learn english, fill the cheap labour pool, drink beer and party.

2. Camper van / Car renters – These are couples / families or small groups of friends who rent a car or camper van and drive around part of Australia. They often stay on campsites or simply park their vehicle in a parking lot with a nice view and sleep there.

As a cyclist, I didn’t fall into any of these groups. Instead I rode roads which many of the camper van crew were on and I stayed in a few hostels where the backpackers were hanging out. In Europe hostels, have a wide demographic range and host everyone from pensioners doing long distance hikes, to young people on a city break. This is however not the case in Australia, particularly on the coast, where the hostels are full of under 23s drinking beer and travelling on the Greyhound bus or taking some of the overpriced ‘package’ tours sold by the hostel. In a couple of these I met 2 single travelers from Europe, both around 50 years old, and unfortunately both were having a fairly lousy time as they did not fit in to the standard hostel demographics and were more interested in exploring Australia rather than boozing and lying in bed for much of the day with hangovers. Both of these people had expected Australia to be similar to Europe where they enjoy comprehensive and regular public transport and hostels where they may enjoy the company of other similarly minded people.

Therefore if you want to visit Australia and you are over 25, think seriously about hiring a car or camper so you are independent and can get around without having to rely on the few trains and buses and can avoid staying in the hostels.

Here my other thoughts on Australia:

* Lots of overweight people – My imagine of Australia was that of a country full of sports people. The average Ozzy though is probably rather a beer drinking spectator than participant.
* Rules – There are rules and warnings everywhere – a sign of the litigation culture here which I find even more extensive than the USA or UK.
* Lots of animals – Loads of (for Europeans) unusual animals and birds.
* Open and friendly people – In my 6 weeks, almost everyone I met was friendly and helpful and i enjoyed a good bi of banter with many of them.
* Large USA style roads, housing estates and drive throughs
* Great national parks and campgrounds – I used Wikicamps to find some awesome camping spots.
* Lots of backpackers
* Poor public transport between the smaller towns – trains are limited and buses are often non existent – maybe just a daily school bus in term times.
* Yobs – Unfortunately there are many yobs – particularly on the coast – causing fights and smashing bottles. Some roads are littered with smashed beer bottles.
* Cycling on highways – Cycling seems allowed on even the biggest highways – quite different to in Europe.
* Tattoos – seems to be a big fashion.
* Dangerous roads – Judging by what I read, heard, the statistics and the number of flowers i passed on the roads, they seem to be quite dangerous places.
* Gluten free – seems to be a popular diet option offered in many restaurants and supermarkets.
* Windy – I had lots of wind – luckily as I was heading north it was mostly a tailwind.
* Flies – Inland where there is farming, the flies were rampant. Sometimes I let them simply massage my face as i was cycling rather than doing the constant hand wave (also known as the Ozzy salute). 
* Beards – I have never seen so many funky beards in one country!

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