Few things offer the freedom of travel by bicycle. It strips away barriers that are erected in everyday life. Barriers between you and nature, you and the other humans, you and a sense of unencumbered liberty.

We acknowledge the Traditional Custodians of the Countries on which these adventures take place who have occupied and cared for these lands and waters for thousands of years. We pay our respects to them and recognise that sovereignty was never ceded.


The Simple Life of The Bike

2020 saw drastic changes for everyone, however for myself, the majority of the year was spent on a bike, dodging lockdowns and border closures, pedalling through Southern Africa and then from the Gold Coast to Cape York. 

2021 saw my return to university, and I desperately missed the simple life offered by my panniers. I spent days in the hospital dreaming about pedalling through the countryside, and all the connections that travel by bike attracts. 

As final exams approached I received a message on Instagram from a guy I followed but had never met, Josh Lynott. 

‘I’ve got a proposition for you… if you can get the time off. Want to bike pack from GC to Syd with me in December?’

I could barely contain my excitement at the idea. Borders were opening and I needed something stimulating to keep me going for a couple more weeks as I laboured through exam preparations. This was perfect. 



A trip like this is hard to plan too firmly. The route and distances covered each day are dependent on weather and your physical and mental state – the beautiful gravel mountain pass you thought would be a good option suddenly sounds horrific when you wake up tender and desperate for a recovery day. But we had time constraints, giving us only nine days for the ride. We needed to average between 110-130km a day depending on the route we ended up taking. 

A friend linked me up with Black Sheep who were happy to generously support the ride with gear from their ADV line. As a student, my trips have always been on a low budget and I’ve traditionally ridden in an old bib and a long sleeve button up from the op shop to keep the sun off. Receiving a package from The Woolshed with plush chamois and soft, breathable merino was a real treat.

Another friend of Josh’s, Jye Dean, jumped on board and the three of us set our departure from the border in Coolangatta for Wednesday 8th December.

The Starting Line

Rolling from home down to Cooly I wasn’t even sure what the route was or where we were aiming for that first day. Once we assembled at the border, bikes fully loaded, we cruised off down the coast. 

We decided to aim for plenty of gravel and beach riding where possible, avoiding the highway except where other options were unfeasible. We quickly found our way onto some sandy single track between Wooyung and Ocean Shores, and after a brief downpour in Mullumbimby, we continued through the verdant hills of the Byron Hinterland. 

As we crested a climb, drenched in sweat because of the humidity and the effort required to pedal the rigs uphill (each probably weighed about 40kg including camping gear), we were called off the road by a group of men chatting outside their home. They’d just returned from fishing and wanted us to take some from the esky. Unfortunately fish doesn’t travel well in hot pannier bags, but we appreciated the gesture.

Read more: 9 Days Bikepacking the 620km Oodnadatta Track

It’s Not Hard to Find a Helping Hand

A recurring theme that arises during these bike tours is that the perceived vulnerability of living off the bike brings out the best in people. Strangers are constantly curious about the trip and want to help in their own way. 

Read more: Building Strong Communities Starts with Saying Hi to your Neighbours

Whether it’s fruit and water from the car window, a piece of grass to camp on, dinner, cold beers, a hot shower or a warm bed. Even a fish that threatens the sanitary status of your bags. People want to contribute. People either see you as being in a tenuous position, or are stoked on the adventurous spirit of the bike trip and want to help you through it. 

This generosity continued as we meandered our way down the coast. Long days in the saddle were made sweeter by arriving to the warm embrace of the friends and strangers who reached out to give us a place to stay. 

Finding Beauty From The Hinterland to The Coast

We traversed some magnificent country. Grins were inevitable as we cruised the coastal highway provided by the sand at low tide between Evans Head and Iluka. Wading through tea tree creeks as they rushed into the ocean corroded componentry whilst restoring morale. 

The rolling gravel hills through to The Promised Lands and Bellingen were better than any rollercoaster you could imagine, with a dip in the cool shade of the Never Never capping off the day. 



Muddy farm roads through the Macleay River delta provided breakdowns and belly laughs as we mooed at the bemused cattle. Days that felt like weeks would drift off into memories as we watched the sunset, dissolving the accumulated mixture of dirt, sunscreen, and fatigue into the beautiful Pacific.

Taking The Bad With The Good

We documented the journey and shared it on Instagram. Many people reached out offering words of encouragement or saying how inspired they were by the trip. We were having a ball, but it wasn’t all smooth sailing – there were so many really, really hard times that weren’t captured.

When we were too broken to bother with any footage. When we were battling to make progress against the raging southerly that threatened to blow us off the minuscule shoulder into the path of the cars hurtling by at 100km. When a beautiful coastal track turned to deep sand and we had to haul our heavy bikes through it, cooking in the hot sun for what felt like forever. When the only thing going through my head was the squeaking chain that wouldn’t shut up no matter how much I lubed it. When I was wobbling along the gravel road, up and down unrelenting hills after ten hours in the heat and all I could envision was spending the whole night vomiting from heat exhaustion.

There were too many ‘Why the hell am I doing this?’ moments to count. But they were far outnumbered by moments of elation and a sense of freedom that’s difficult to find anywhere but the open road.

Read more: Can You Ever Really Fail an Adventure?

Crossing The Finish Line

We rapidly closed in on Circular Quay and with each day it became easier to rise with the sun and return to the saddle. Each day we covered new territory and passed through stunning beach towns and forests. We came to revere the ferries that whisked us across bodies of water – bays and rivers that would otherwise require extensive detours to cross. A splash at Ettalong Wharf before loading onto the Palm Beach ferry heralded our imminent arrival to Greater Sydney. 

We boarded the Manly Ferry and a sense of accomplishment and nostalgia swept in. Crossing the harbour the melodies of Australian Crawl came to mind and I couldn’t help but feel overwhelmed by gratitude for the country we were so fortunate to have ridden. 

An extended group hug with the boys on the steps of the Opera House signified the end of a beautiful adventure and was a celebration of the friendship we’d forged over the course of the nine days riding down the coast.


Forging Fast Friendships

To share such intense experiences expedites stages of relationship development that normally occur over a protracted period. We set off on the trip relative strangers and finished it feeling like brothers. And what an iconic place to end the journey!

Ride, eat, sleep, repeat. By stripping away so much else, space is created for important aspects of life suppressed by a busy schedule and the comfortable ruts of repetition that can develop at home. 

Time for introspection. Time to process emotions. Time to be in touch with your body. And to share the experience with others who quickly become close confidants – through shared exertion, shared laughter, shared fears, and dreams – adds a whole new level of beauty to the journey. 

So go on! Grab some friends and get riding!

Special thanks to Black Sheep for providing beautiful kit from their ADV line. The gear was extremely comfortable and took everything we threw at it. 

Thank you to Josh for being the type of person who invites a stranger on a big trip like this. And to Jye for diving in head-first and being a constant source of stoke and positivity throughout the trip. Unbridled optimism and smiling through adversity can move mountains. 


This story first appeared on Black Sheep Cycling

Photos thanks to @joshlynott