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.
Continue reading “Ballarat – A Tale of Two Towns” →
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.
Continue reading “Lava Trees” →
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.
Continue reading “Australia’s Great Ocean Road” →
After finishing my cycle tour of Tasmania, this wonderful island had one more fun experience in store for me – the Spirit of Tasmania. You can fly to Melbourne from Tassie fairly easily but the more adventurous option is to take the ferry.
Continue reading “The Spirit of Tasmania” →
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.
Continue reading “Tasmania 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.
Continue reading “A big bang to finish a big cycle tour” →
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!
Continue reading “Obscure history in Tasmania’s remote northeast” →
Cycling Tasmania – Day 30
Low Head to Bridport
79km, 820m elevation
Only three days left in my Tasmania cycle tour! A complete loop around the island I won’t quite finish, though. I decided to spend more time exploring the remote West Coast and northwest, knowing that I’d come up short on time to make it all the way back to St Helens where I started. That’s ok. I really enjoyed the remoteness and beauty of the west.
Continue reading “Back to the East Coast of Tasmania” →
Cycling Tasmania – Day 28
Marrawah to Stanley (via Forest)
80km, 640m elevation
Tasmania is known for exceptionally strong winds. I’ve been very lucky on my cycling trip so far, having gotten only one day of really strong winds and much of that was either at my side or my back. Well, today my luck changed. I battled through a headwind for most of the day, still enjoying myself but working a lot harder than usual.
Continue reading “Headwind to Stanley” →
We stayed with Simon & Stuart last night and got along so well that they asked us to come back for another night to look after their pets while they’re away. I’d planned on continuing my cycle tour but these opportunities don’t come up everyday. I’m a huge animal lover. That’s one of the wonderful things about spontaneous travel – unique experiences that just seem to pop up.
Continue reading “Pet Sitting in Paradise” →