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Riding the coast: Wamberal to Newcastle

Perhaps this ex-hire tandem wasn’t such a great idea. On our last evening in Wamberal, Patrick’s seat post socket snapped. We were so relieved it happened here and not between Tallangatta and Tumbarumba or somewhere really remote, and we were additionally relieved because another sweet family that we’d met in a children’s playground invited us to stay for the night. 

Meet Andrew, Mandy, Krys and Marie. We swam in their pool, admired their chooks and hugelkultur, and were treated to dinner. The central coast certainly shared its love.

Also meet Kevin from Cougar Fabrications in Erina. Kevin and Phil fixed the tandem and had us back on the road in fifteen minutes (for a mere fifteen dollars!). These kind men really brought us much relief with grace and warmth and good cheer. 

And then, after an easy morning’s ride, we stopped in a park for some lunch near The Entrance and were graced by fellow bike tourer Tom.

We invited Tom to camp with us, but warned him we are slow travellers. He was in no rush himself and we set about looking for a camp spot together.

We swapped notes on touring and the art of free camping in an increasingly private world. We pedaled and sniffed and sighted a little laneway that led down to the water’s edge north of The Entrance.

It was a brief co-existence with Tom but he wasted no time immersing himself in family life. We hope to see him again at some point down the track. A truly beautiful dude.

We parted ways the next morning and continued our slow trawl up the coast to Budgewoi where we rode this old bridge onto a little island to camp for the night.

We are getting pretty used to camp life. Every tool and resource we carry must have at least two purposes, as Meg demonstrates here with some local olive oil, used for cooking and for cleaning skin in a post-bathroom reality.

People often ask about Zephyr’s schooling as we travel. Our simple reply is this is school on the road, for all of us. However, a minimum of half an hour of reading a day applies and Zeph has just finished writing an article for NSW youth magazine unleash, which explains our project from his (almost twelve year old) perspective.

On leaving our little Budgewoi island we shouldered the busy Old Pacific Highway and came across telling signs of the times,

signs we didn’t even have to hack or bust or edit. They seemed to already speak for themselves.

While the Abbott government is selling the country off to more global corporate power, gas frackers, big coal and every other colossal polluter he can rustle up from his big black book, we are biking the country, poaching free camping spots, and improving our fishing.

We exchanged fishing knowledges with fellow free campers, Gary, Rob and Maé in Swansea,

and learned from experienced fishing folk such as Abdul,

and these fellow non-Abbott voters.

We also practiced more Artist as Family trash retrieval while teaching our boys about the ecological problems of line fishing, not just large-scale indiscriminate commercial fishing.

For the first time on our trip we came across patches of autonomous Warrigal Greens (Tetragonia tetragonioides), also known as Indigenous, sea or New Zealand spinach.

And we were relieved to jump on another rail trail utopia, the Fernleigh Track, which enabled a cruisey and very social ride into Newcastle,

where we were spontaneously chaperoned by a fellow Fernleigh Track cyclist into the city

where we did a little shopping,

and restocked our local honey stores.

Within the first hour of our arrival in Newcastle we received two invitations to stay. The first from this awesome couple, Fiona and Phil, who we’ll stay with tonight.

The social warming dimension of this trip is truly astonishing. We look forward to a couple of weeks getting to know Newcastle again. Last time we were here, nearly five years ago, we worked on this project. Coming into Newcastle today reminded us of why we love this big town so much.


  1. Hey ho, if you're still in the 'Castle and headed north, you might be interested to read that a couple of weeks ago when I was visiting, the numerous bunya pines in Boomerang Park in Raymond Terrace were still dropping bunya nuts. They might have all been snaffled by the cockatoos by now (not to mention by my father-out-law, who scored about 20kg of them), but if you're in the hood anyway, and you have bunya cooking facilities, possibly worth looking into.

  2. Anonymous says:

    This entry reminded me of my trip with 2 friends where we cycled from London to Edinburgh in 1980 when I was 21. Looking for free campsites and the hospitality of complete strangers. I remember camping in churchyards in the cemeteries and in the backyards of country pubs just to name a few. Lots of people offered a campsite/bed/meal/shower and sometimes all 4 – lucky us. Anyway I am enjoying your travel tales – stay safe.

  3. hey, thanks alexis. great tip! and we enjoyed reading your post on bunyas on your blog. your father-out-law sounds like a ripper.

    as community gardeners we planted 2 bunya pines in one of our public parks in very cold and sometimes snowy daylesford (central vic). council asked us to remove one of them because of fear of being sued in about 70 years if a nut was to take someone out when it fell. funny, most governments only think in the short term.

  4. thank you anon, we too are amazed just how generous people are to cycle tourists. we have made some lovely connections and we look forward to being hosts when we return home. glad you are enjoying the posts.

  5. Ha! That's hilarious (and frustrating). There's a little side-street in Bright, Vic (similar climate to Daylesford) planted with towering bunyas, and the local council has gotten round its fears of litigation by putting up signs outlining the heaviness of the nuts and warning people that they park their cars and generally loiter along the street at their own risk.

  6. I love seeing your adventures, it shows what is possible with children and is very inspiring. I hope when I have a child I can take them on glorious adventures like you.

  7. Thanks so much for saying. It is indeed wonderful to travel with children, and in many ways easier than being at home.

    We loved looking through your blog.

  8. Nothing like good old fashioned common sense.

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