Archive for the ‘Cycling’ Category


It was morning, the sun was shining, I had a big tailwind, it was flat, and for the first time cycling for a long time, I put on my Infected Mushroom music. The kilometres hurtled by. The energy music from my adventures in Borneo and Sulawesi was fitting for today. I felt the strength in my body, the blood pumping through my veins and I saw the road whiz past. I laughed with joy. I was on the way to Tin City!

Tin City, Stockton

Tin City, Stockton

Tin City is a collection of little tin shacks plopped in the middle of an endless beach with massive, rolling sand dunes. It feels like the end of the earth, with the wind howling, and the sand blasting against your skin. Popping out from Boyces Trail which led me through the scrub to the start of the mountains of sand, the strength and raw beauty of the nature was imposing before me.

Boyces Trail

Boyces Trail

The dunes start

The dunes start

Scurrying up these sand monsters and down the other side, I feel like in my own personal playground. I stand on the crest looking out over the expanse of sand, all to the backdrop of the howling wind.

The sand dunes

The sand dunes

I spoke to Al, often the only person here. Today he had a few guests. He looked rough like the wind and sand, and had an inner peace. He felt comfortable and at ease. I could tell that he belonged here.

Tin City, Stockton

Tin City, Stockton

Tin City, Stockton

Tin City, Stockton

After a fight into the same wind that had blown me here, I was in the train from Newcastle, and back in the hustle and bustle of Sydney. What a contrast!

Tin City, Stockton

Tin City, Stockton


They’re offering me a job! There I was with this amazing email, in Swansea, 30km from Newcastle. I had just returned to civilisation after a beautiful solitary jaunt along quiet roads through the national park. Beaches and scrub galore. And now, they’re offering me a job! My excess of free time is approaching an end.

Through the scrub

Through the scrub

The mission is to find a cycling and camping experience suitable for my new partner Aaron. I now have found a satisfactory route from the train to the beach. Not too hilly, and an acceptable amount of traffic. After Budgewoi, the nature starts – the Munmorah State Conservation Area. Scrubby, sometimes wooded, hills along the coast. Getting to the Freeman’s camping ground is not too hilly. After that, it is too hilly, but Frazer’s beach with a nice camping ground is beautiful.

Frazer Beach

Frazer Beach

I had a lovely chat while eating my lunch. The guy was interested in my bike trip, and I told him a few stories.

The road to Frazer Beach

The road to Frazer Beach

After the park, the Pacific Highway was as big and busy as always. There is a wide shoulder, but, it remains unpleasant. Goal for today was Newcastle, all ready for the Tin City on Stockton Beach tomorrow. It looks like a cool, spacey place. http://365project.org/onewing/365/2016-07-26


There are beaches out there. There is dense bush. There are cliff-faces. My job applications are sent, and the sun is shining (like it has been for weeks). Rather than waiting for the phone to ring at home, I dusted off the adventure bike for a trip up north.

Manly Beach

Manly Beach

My new partner Aaron is returning from China next week, and I want to show him part of the life on the road, disappearing into nature. I want to do it right – I want him to like it. For a first time cycling the mini-Himalayas are not on the menu. Neither are multi-lane highways. For a first time camping, some facilities are needed – this is not to be a toilet and shower-free stealth camping experience. I want to get there without a car. All these requirements make for a difficult proposition. This is not bike-friendly Europe.

Dee Why Beach

Dee Why Beach

The coastline around Sydney is hilly with alternating cliff-faces and beautiful beaches. The nicest coast roads are blocked by rivers or cliffs, pushing the cyclist to the (very) main roads slightly inland, that avoid the detailed twists and turns of the coastline. I followed these roads thinking this is too hilly and there’s too much traffic for a pleasant first bike experience.

Then I hit the end of the Palm Beach peninsula, caught the ferry, and left the feel of the endless Sydney beach suburb, and entered the bush.

Palm Beach Ferry

Palm Beach Ferry

On this dead-end bushland peninsula, in the Bouddi National Park, the traffic is gone and the bush is out. It was beautiful and peaceful, and also steep up and down. I couldn’t cycle with Aaron here yet. Maybe bushwalking? I stayed at a beautiful camp spot on the beach.

Sunrise at Little Beach

Sunrise at Little Beach

Continuing north, I joined the main road again and left nature. Roads, suburbs and big caravan parks followed the coast – until the next Conservation Park north of Budgewoi – Munmorah State Conservational Area. Another beautiful place to explore.

Birdie Beach

Birdie Beach

I need to find a good way to get there from the train line that runs 15km inland. The route I took to the train to return home, along the Pacific Highway, isn’t the answer. Maybe when I continue this trip next time, I will find a better solution.


Six months ago I stood on Brighton Jetty in Adelaide and burst out into tears. I had arrived. Two years of incredible adventure – but now it has ended. Many ask how it’s going. I haven’t written any blog posts. I’ve been quiet on Facebook. I felt I had nothing to say. I felt a bit empty. Now, this is the journey that everyone is interested in. What happens after the trip? I’ll take a deep breath, and try to tell you.

Strawberry pruning near Adelaide

Strawberry pruning near Adelaide

The trip – excitement on steroids
The two years before leaving the Netherlands, and the two years cycling have been dominated with that – the world cycling journey. It was all consuming, and it was bloody exciting. Before leaving, I was reading about these exotic places, and amazing stories of beautiful people and spectacular landscapes. Stories of trials and tribulations. Stories of adventure. I was going to be there soon – my heart skipped a beat.

The road to Murghab

The road to Murghab

Then cycling, reaching further and further from home, and passing though places that were folklore in the cycling community, I would laugh with joy. I am here now! The famous Akbar in Marand, Iran and Vero in Dushanbe, Tajikistan. Hubs for cycling tourists. The amazing, spectacular and incredible Pamir Plateau. The videos and blogs had whet my appetite, but it was even more beautiful than I had imagined.
China was intense. Intense in culture, scenery, weather and people. And I made it through cycling all the way. I felt so satisfied – I had achieved something. South-east Asia was beautiful, but it felt less foreign and less adventurous. It left me (and many other fellow cyclists) yearning for the adventure that had once been. Indonesia gave the adventure back – an intoxicating mix of amazing scenery and some of the most beautiful people on the planet, coupled with sleeping in villages every night. You don’t know where you’ll be or who you’ll be with, and every day was an unexpected surprise.
And then Australia. First the main road through the desert, and then the back roads – sandy and corrugated, through the endless expanses of beautiful nothingness. And then the rain. Mud. Struggle. Adventure. I loved it (most of the time). But it was also approaching home, and it was the end.

The first months – mental readjustment
So there I was. In Adelaide. Where I grew up. I was 45. Unemployed, and staying with my parents.

I wanted to give something back to the world. The world that had welcomed me with open arms for the duration of my whole trip. I wanted to do something to help the environment. Something to help some of the poorest people in the world – people that I had met and had welcomed me so warmly. I wanted to learn more about aboriginal people – some who live in the aftermath of a clash of cultures that has not ended well. But here I was. I had no concrete plan, and without a concrete plan all there is to do is sit and contemplate.

I was back in a land of consumerism and capitalism. A land like the Netherlands which had given me my savings. Here, like in the Netherlands, my savings are not infinite. Not living in a tent or in random schools in Southeast Asia costs money. That’s what our society is based on. I needed a job – for the money, but more importantly, to feel like I was contributing again. I wanted a job that would pay me working towards the goals I mentioned above.

I applied for a few jobs that were similar to what I had done before – corporate communication and healthcare. My heart wasn’t behind them, and anyway, I was over-qualified I was told. It was approaching Christmas time, and so I decided to cycle to Sydney.

The summit of Koscuiszko

The summit of Koscuiszko

The next four months – emotional roller coaster
I received a wonderful Christmas present from my father – a 2 week pitjantjatjara Aboriginal language course in Adelaide. After Christmas I returned to Adelaide and completed the course. The day I started, I applied for one solitary job that I thought was just for me – a communications job in Alice Springs with an aboriginal healthcare organisation.
The next stage of my post travel journey was waiting in hope. With all my eggs in one basket, I had nothing else to do. I finished the course. I did casual work for 2 weeks. I still hadn’t heard back. I really wanted this job – it was the job designed especially for me after all, so I packed my bags and went to Alice Springs. I invited myself to an impromptu interview, and it all went well. I returned to Adelaide, and continued to wait.

Alice Springs

Alice Springs

After a one week holiday with friends visiting from the Netherlands, I rang Alice Springs and found that the job had gone to an internal candidate.

It was time to recalibrate my expectations. I may be qualified for lots of jobs, want them, and think I should get them. There are also lots of other qualified people out there, and I felt a bit lost at the difficult end of this mid-life adventure I had set out on. I was 45, unemployed and my bike trip (a valid excuse of unemployment) had ended six months earlier. I found nothing that interested me in Adelaide, and I was a nomad between several family and friend’s places. I started applying to more jobs all across the country. When I found one that I really liked, I got excited and motivated. I fired off the application, and continued on to the next one. My mood flipped from being high, thinking about a job that I liked, and low, being impatient to start. My mood changed on a daily basis, and it wasn’t any fun.

The jobs I was applying for were all over the country, but mostly in Sydney. Short term casual jobs in Adelaide are hard to get if you think you are about to leave at any minute to live somewhere else, so I decided it was time to make the next move in this post-cycling journey. I bought a bus-ticket, and off I was again to Sydney.

Sydney
I arrived in Sydney on my 46th birthday. I had my trusty bike here and a few clothes. Walking down the streets in the centre of Sydney I occasionally got a pang of excitement. This is a city I love, and I was living here. It felt nearer to everything. Nearer to interesting jobs and lots of friends and family. The pang of excitement didn’t last long though. I had come here without a job, ready to pay for a place with my savings in the second most expensive city in the world. I kept on applying to jobs – there were lots that really interested me. And I found an apartment.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

I had the apartment sorted on the first day I arrived in Sydney. I will be living in Erskineville – near Newtown where one of my cousins lives – and near to the city centre. A cool part of the world to be. I will be staying with Mel – a woman I bonded with instantly when I met her. Working on social projects, I’m sure we will have a lot to say to each other in the coming months.

On Monday is my first job interview. If I don’t get that, then I will start looking for a bar job or something else to pay the rent. I need something to do – for the rent and for my sanity. I don’t envy, and understand more about the many people unemployed or under-employed. I have a good CV, and here I am. It has been a journey as epic as the bike trip. A journey that is not over yet.


From a breakfast on the balcony with a multiculti crew, to cycling on a dirt track in the dense bush, to admiring the Sydney Opera House and Harbour Bridge in the sun, to a record amount of bike-hate abuse hurled at me on the Pacific Highway. A day of differences.

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

The Sydney Harbour Bridge

It was peaceful and quiet in the Royal National Park. From a beautiful view on the cliff-faces above the coast, I plunged into the dense forest, leaving the main road for the little dirt track that followed a stream.

View from above

View from above

Royal National Park

Royal National Park

Dirt track

Dirt track

Road block

Road block

Then a long trip into the city, swapping between cycling on the main highway, to trying to navigate my way down small bike paths, when I could find them. The weather was beautiful for my arrival in Sydney.

Opera House

Opera House

Unfortunately the road-rage against cyclists continued. On the 20km stretch north from the city along the Pacific Highway, I had as much cyclist hate yelled at me (and tooted at me) than I have had on my whole 2-year trip from Europe (all of this hate has been in the last few months since I entered Australia).

Anyway, Sydney is a beautiful city, with lots of lovely family and friends living here. I’m looking forward to my time here to finish off an amazing 2016.


So there we sat – 3 Frenchmen, 2 Chinese women, 1 Chinese man, 1 Australian man, 1 Australian woman, and me. The Frenchies had cooked up a storm, and I had been enjoying myself all evening speaking French and Chinese. How different it is having lovely company, and a warm, dry place to stay. Thank you Kieran – my warm showers host!

The big group of dinner guests

The big group of dinner guests

Today technology was taken away from me. I cycled without a map – on just the day I needed to follow the intricate bike route that I had found on the internet. Avoiding the main roads is worthwhile, but also hard to do. My phone was unusable in the raini (I couldn’t unlock the screen), and so I had to go into dry places and dry the phone down with a tissue before I could proceed with looking at the maps.

The descent from the highlands was beautiful through dense forest, before cycling along beautiful beaches (unfortunately in the rain).

The forest

The forest

The beach

The beach

I am now one day from Sydney. My little cycle trip has almost come to an end.


Today it rained from when I woke up (and before) to when I finally stopped. I pulled the plug early – I was like a cold, drowned rat, and decided to bite the bullet and stay in a hotel.

Hotel in Robertson

Hotel in Robertson

This morning was a slow start as I moved my tent under a little roof to try to prevent it from getting wetter than it already was. I also wasn’t terribly fast in getting started, watching the rain get heavier and heavier. A woman from the village came and had a chat, which was a good reason not to move on.
Before long I found my way on the main road – the Hume Highway. I thought, well, as it is miserable and cold, I should at least get some kilometres done, so I stayed on the Hume for quite some time.
By the small town of Robertson, I decided to call it a day. It is no fun cycling in the cold rain.