With everything they owned strapped to their bicycles and no idea how they were going to get from Sydney to Melbourne, Ruby and Nick trusted their spirits and ended up on one hell of a ride. 

From visiting alpine huts to partying with locals in country pubs, this Aussie bike tour is sure to inspire you to not plan your next trip.

 

This article’s thanks to Wild Turkey and their delicious new range of Discovery Series premixes.

 

Which way’s Melbourne?

Wait, how did this happen?

When we first landed in Australia we were pale, out of shape, and out of our minds. We had ten days to get from Sydney to Melbourne for our Spirit of Tasmania booking and we were planning to bike there. 

We had no idea which routes to take, where we would stay, or if it was even possible, but the next morning we loaded up our bicycles and hit the road.

Burn Baby Burn

As we made our way through the city and into the suburbs we were frothing on all the new sights, sounds, and smells (I think that’s eucalyptus?). The freedom of the open road was intoxicating and by midday our heads were spinning. At first we thought it was because of the incredible scenery, but then we realised it was likely the heat. 

Around 7pm we finally called it a day. Our pasty Canadian complexions hadn’t seen the sun in months and we were both fried. Despite our burns, we were stoked. It may have taken us 12 long hours, but we’d made it from Redfern to Wollongong. We savoured this small victory as we shared drinks and stories with strangers around a hostel campfire.

What Doesn’t Kill You?

The next day it seemed like everything in Australia was out to get us. First, a murderous magpie smashed into my helmet, then a huge spider crawled out of the tap where I was filling my drink bottle, and as we attempted to make tea we were attacked by a swarm of bloodthirsty mozzies. 

To top it off, we got completely soaked in a torrential thunderstorm on our way to the Nowra Showgrounds.

It was now obvious that our ride to Melbourne wouldn’t be as easy as we’d originally thought, but as the saying goes, what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.

 

Tianjara Falls, ripper lunch spot

How’s the Serenity?

As we made our way west the next morning we saw dingos, kangaroos, and ate lunch at the stunning Tianjara Falls. It was a beautiful ride and even a flat tire couldn’t deflate our spirits. 

By the arvo we’d made it to the Nerriga Pub where one of the local’s was celebrating his 21st birthday. He invited us to join the party and we soon found ourselves sippin’ down schooners topped with green ginger wine. 

Once we were thoroughly hydrated, we went outside to set up our tent for the night. There’s nothing like camping out in a pub paddock to reassure you that you’re on the right track.

Bush Tucker

The next couple of days followed a similar pattern. Bike all day, head to the pub, sleep, repeat. We stopped at the Loaded Dog Hotel in Tarago and BentSpoke Brewery in Canberra before we set off to do some soul-searching in the bush.

A quiet country road led us to Orroral Campground in Namadgi National Park. While we cooked up pasta, a curious possum climbed over our bikes and kangaroos hopped between ancient gum trees.

Two young brothers were camping nearby and offered us some of their ‘roo’ burger. I was a bit hesitant after watching a family of them bounding around us earlier, but it seemed like an Aussie rite of passage, so I cast my doubts aside and took a bite.

 

Whatchya lookin’ at m8?

Road to Nowhere

Google Maps must’ve been broken. We’d been riding along an endless, undulating dirt road all day but our blue ‘location’ dot had hardly moved. Every kilometre lasted an eternity and it was starting to feel like we were never going to make it to Melbourne.

Just as I was about to give up all hope, we came across a couple parked outside of Brayshaws Hut who offered to give us a lift to Adaminaby. Their act of kindness was just the pick-me-up we needed.

 

Brayshaws Hut

After our saviours dropped us off we went looking for another beacon of hope: the pub. Local banter always provided us with some useful – if not entertaining – information, and the Snowbird Hotel/Motel did not disappoint.

Everyone we talked to gave us heaps of advice for our ride, while also informing us that we were crazy. We’d become used to this response by now and didn’t mind, the feelings were mutual!

 

Glorious gravel near Adaminaby

The High Life

I don’t know what was more of a shock, the fact that Australia had ‘Snowy Mountains’ or that we were biking through them. Back in Canada, I’d imagined us spending our days on the beach, not traversing alpine passes! But as we climbed up through the intermittent rain, I was blown away by the views.

Many hours later we saw a sign: ‘Cabramurra: Australia’s Highest Town’. There was no one in sight and with its perfectly manicured lawns and modern buildings, Cabramurra looked more like a scene out of a sci-fi movie than a town. Lucky for us there was a pub. 

 

Cabramurra – Australia’s highest town

 

It didn’t take long for us to start chatting with the only other guy in the bar (and possibly the whole town). He told us about an alpine hut we could camp beside for the night. However, since it was already 6pm, he doubted that we could make it there on our own. 

‘Tell ya what’ he said, ‘I’m in a good mood, buy me a six pack and I’ll take you.’ It was an offer we couldn’t refuse. I bought the beers and we packed ourselves and our bikes into his red ute.

All Downhill from Here

The impromptu alpine hut visit* was one of the highlights of our trip and the next morning we felt unstoppable. We were flying along and it wasn’t until descending into the valley that we realised how much sun we’d copped.

 

Bradleys and O’Briens Hut

Nick swapped his helmet for a hat so that he could cover his burnt face but unfortunately crimes like these don’t go unnoticed in Corryong.

As soon as we rolled into the old country town, we saw the flashing lights and realised they were for us. The coppers had seen that Nick wasn’t wearing a helmet and they weren’t impressed. Thankfully, we got off with only a warning.

We weren’t looking for any more trouble so we made our way to Neils Reserve along the Murray River. As we sat around the fire under a starry sky, I couldn’t help comparing us to a couple of cowboys in an old western movie; evading the law and camping out by the river… all that was missing was the bottle of bourbon.

Desert Daze

Country pubs always seemed to turn up when we needed them most, and this particular day was no exception. It was another scorcher and we were running out of food, water, and energy, when Hotel Granya appeared like a mirage. 

The two legends running the place didn’t mind letting us hang about and wait out the brutal temperatures. After a few hours we reluctantly left our desert oasis to finish the 112km ride to Albury.

 

Two of the best publicans you’ll meet

 

By the time we got into town we were crook. Dirty, sunburnt, and dehydrated, we found our way to a feed and had the most amazing burgers of our lives before jumping in the river. It had been one hell of a ride and as much as we didn’t want it to end, we were sure glad it was over. 

 

 

The Final Stretch

Even though we’d run out of time to make our Spirit of Tasmania booking by bike (we took a train the next morning), the ten day journey had been insane and we both knew we couldn’t have planned a better trip if we’d tried.

I’ll admit we had some hard times: the hills, the heat, the flat tires, the sunburns, the storms. But then I think about all the random towns we went to, the kind people we met, the remote roads, the wildlife encounters, the camp spots, and of course, the country pubs, and I realise that I wouldn’t change a thing.  

This trip wasn’t what either of us expected when we decided to bike from Sydney to Melbourne, but that’s what adventure is all about; letting go of your expectations, and trusting your spirit. 

 

This article’s thanks to Wild Turkey and their delicious new range of Discovery Series premixes.

 

*Alpine huts in NSW are for day use and emergencies. If you visit you can cook and hang out inside, but you should set up your tent and sleep outside. Huts are maintained by the legends at the Kosciuszko Huts Association.