WEDNESDAY APR 8 / 2015 / by Andrew Talati

People are very generous cycling Gold Coast to SydneyFixing the back wheel before lunch

In Port Stephens on the New South Wales coast we caught up with Tom and Pete who were cycling from the Gold Coast to Sydney. They were travelling light, meeting new people and managing to stick to their budget, in part due to the generosity of strangers.

Lunch Break before continuing travelling from Gold Coast Sydney

After cycling 30-40kms the morning we met a spoke had gone so they were fuelling up on pasta, salad and mince pies while fixing the back wheel (broken spoke) over lunch.

The guys have found that cycling a country is a great way to experience it. The inspiration? After watching the Australian movie Tracks they were inspired to do a big trip in Australia. And while there’s definitely no camels involved they found some bikes and off they went.

Advice to stick to the coast was good – the scenery has been beautiful and there’s enough climbing to keep them content.

Pete takes travelling light to a whole new level – he has just one pair of cycling shorts, one pair of under shorts and one pair of swimming shorts – so if he’s not cycling he’s wearing his swimming shorts and when washing needs to be done he turns to Tom ‘Excuse me, can I just borrow something to wear for a couple of hours’.

They have some more clothes waiting in Sydney but will get back to the bare essentials for the next leg of the trip – cycling in New Zealand.

Starting off cycling from London to Paris led Tom to the appeal of touring in a self-sustaining way and on a budget. Couch surfing, Warm Showers ( ) and the generosity of the Australian people has meant it’s been so easy to manage on a budget. That and not going to bars every day – they are saving that for when they hit Sydney.

One day when they were out of water they just pulled up and asked a local if he knew of a local camp ground but he offered them the chance to camp in the field right next door. ‘Beautiful sunset, no mosquitoes, free of charge. Just needed to give a thank you – we invited him down for a wine but he ended up giving us more wine. We’re big fans of ‘wild camping’ now.’

‘We had one wine, built a fire, had another wine and some nuts. We played rock, paper, scissors to see who was going to wander down the 500 yards or so to ask the farmer if we could buy some wine from him. Pete lost so off he went. Next minute a van pulls up, Pete’s got a glass of wine and the farmer is getting us some more firewood – great night, so good’.

Toms Touring bikeToms Touring bike with panniersPetes Touring bikePetes Touring bike with panniers

So what do they carry to be self-sufficient?

  • Roll mat
  • Tent
  • Sleeping bag – although they often find Australia too warm to worry about using it
  • Full-sized pump
  • Hand pump
  • Camp Stove that Pete fashioned himself – best used for liquids*
  • Camping pots
  • Percolator for every day coffee – essential and necessary to start the day
  • Not much else – a few pairs of socks, shorts, one cycling jersey
  • Suncream – lots of it to cover 10 hours a day cycling

Tom’s gear weighs in at about 35kgs (40kgs with water) and while Pete hasn’t weighed his gear since setting out when he flew over he was just over 30kgs (so estimated 35kgs with water).

They carry coffee and oats, pick up milk at the end of each day for coffee, tea and breakfast. The boys buy lunch on the day which is another reason the coastal road is great – shops everywhere they go. According to Tom ‘we haven’t eaten too badly’ but Pete interjects with ‘we haven’t eaten too well either’. Their motto is ‘whatever fuels you’.

What’s after Sydney?

After spending some time in Sydney the boys will fly to Auckland, see the Hobbit movie and cycling around the North Island for about 2 weeks. Then leaving their bikes south of Wellington they will swap the bikes for a form of motorised transport and explore the South Island.

Having just graduated from university Tom, an Economics and Politics graduate will head back to the UK to move to London, take up a new job as a Management Consultant and start the next chapter. Pete, a graduate in French & Portuguese, isn’t  quite sure of his long term plans so he plans, in the shorter term, to stay in New Zealand and get a job – perhaps in a vineyard or bar. Best of luck to you both!

Camp Stove from aluminium can

*The camp stove is fashioned from a tin and can be made in a matter of minutes so they also make great little gifts to give along the way. Search YouTube for some easy to follow instructions.