Ballarat – A Tale of Two Towns

Ballarat – A Tale of Two Towns

Last December I visited Ballarat, the historic Australian gold boom town. Unlike many mining towns, the gold continued to flow for decades and the town grew large enough to survive even after gold production declined. Nearly 50 years after the discovery of gold in the hills not far from Melbourne, another rich gold find popped up, this time half way around the world. Taking its name from the now famous Australian city, Ballarat California was born in 1897. I’ve just had the opportunity to visit and the contrast between the two towns couldn’t be more striking.
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Lava Trees

Lava Trees

Australia’s rugged southern coastline and Idaho’s volcanic desert: you couldn’t find two more different places. Or could you?

When I visited Cape Bridgewater’s Petrified Forest along Australia’s Great Ocean Road last week, I couldn’t help but think back to Craters of the Moon in Idaho. Even though they’re thousands of miles apart, both share a strangely similar volcanic landscape. What’s most striking are the lava trees.
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Australia’s Great Ocean Road

Australia’s Great Ocean Road

The Great Ocean Road stretches for 250 km along Australia’s rugged southern coast. Built by soldiers returning from World War I and dedicated to their fallen comrades, it’s the world’s largest war memorial. It also has some of the best scenery in all of Australia. After having such a good time cycling in Tasmania, I was keen to tackle the tight turns and steep climbs of the Great Ocean Road but I hadn’t counted on the intense traffic (thousands of tourists came during Chinese New Year). After my first day, I decided to leave the bike behind and simply enjoy this stunning place as a road trip.
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Tasmania Cycle Tour

Tasmania Cycle Tour

I’ve just finished a month-long, 1,500-km cycle tour around Tasmania. This remote island is a pleasure to travel by bike with long winding roads that pass through incredible scenery with little traffic. Its diversity is striking. There are vast temperate rain forests, tropical white sandy beaches with turquoise water, rugged coastlines with towering sea cliffs, and peaceful sheep pastures and lavender farms. Tasmania’s history is equally rich. From its notorious convict beginnings to hardy miners who struggled to make a life in the remote corners of this island, there’s so much to learn. Whether you stay in campgrounds or treat yourself to character-rich B&Bs and historic hotels, you’re sure to discover some real gems along the way.
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A big bang to finish a big cycle tour

A big bang to finish a big cycle tour

Cycling Tasmania – Day 32
Gladstone toward St Helens

40km, 625m elevation

It’s my last day of cycling in Tasmania! What a great trip it’s been and a wonderful way to see such a unique place. I began a month ago in the town of St Helens and that’s where I planned to finish today. I left Gladstone with a plan to cycle the quiet gravel roads that meander through the forest all the way to St Helens. I got off to a good start and made surprisingly good time, even though unsealed roads are always slower. I should have known trouble was ahead when I came around a corner and saw this warning sign.
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Obscure history in Tasmania’s remote northeast

Obscure history in Tasmania’s remote northeast

Cycling Tasmania – Day 31
Bridport to Gladstone

60km, 360m elevation

It was hot today! I remember reading about how cold Tasmania can get before I set out on this cycling trip. One couple even said it snowed only a few weeks later in the year during their visit. I must have chosen the hottest summer of all as only a few days have been cold and some, like this one, have been scorchers!
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