The Spoked Traveller | ...connecting cyclists to local trails, food and adventures.
Trails and advice cycling around the world as solo female cyclist and adventurer
mountain bike, adventure travel, cycling travel, bike tours, outdoor, solo travel, female mountain biking, badass female cycling, female travellers, women travel, adventurous
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The Spoked Traveller

…connecting cyclists to local trails,

food and adventures.

It never occurred to me to leave my bike at home on my first overseas trip. Twenty years later, nothing has changed. Whether at home, or in a foreign country, riding makes me feel closer to people and places.

I created this site as a hub for all things cycling; it’s a celebration of bike culture. Where to travel next, how to travel, where to get advice, see some cool practical bike fashion, what to eat. I’ll share what I know; and I invite you to do the same.

Over the next few months keep checking in as I’ll be adding some new menu items.

See you on the trails. Melanie

Tasmania is slow, and bucolic. It says 277 kms to Hobart (main city) from Devonport (where the ferry The Spirit of Tasmania lands), but it takes days to reach with all the cool distractions along the way. Roads curve and turn like mad; solitary beaches, craft breweries, wineries, and sunsets. Here are a few major stops en route to Hobart taking the east coast route. The dew was lifting off the grass as I saw this guy. It's almost winter here so the mornings are quite chilly-- frost on the ground. IMG_2116           IMG_2131          

Plan of attack driving a 4.6 meter long camper van into downtown Melbourne: park in the burbs then bus it into the city. Makes sense, right? But, do I know where I am going? No idea. When I’m somewhat central, I pull into a large parking lot (Melbourne Convention and Exhibition Centre). Coming around the front of a hotel, the valet comes out and I ask about parking. “Well, it’s normally $40 a day, but I can give you a voucher and you can park for $20.” Pays to be a female sometimes. I know this. IMG_2046 IMG_9466IMG_2037 The lot is located on the edge of the city in an area called South Wharf and is a five minute walk to the centre of the city. Say what? Horseshoe up my butt sometimes. I know this. The city is divided by the Yarra River and the walk along the river into downtown is littered with gorgeous chef-named restaurants such as Rockpool, Aussie chef Neil Perry’s baby, and beautiful big and bold public art.

Camper van life is simple (campah van in Aussie). It's what they call motorhomes. But, navigating the camper van campsites in Australia is a bit complicated, at first. I arrived half an hour late to my reserved site in Port MacQuarie. Lights off; no one home. Parking in a random lot made me feel a bit uneasy so I drove across the street and asked a motel owner if I could stay. Not only did they let me stay, free, they let me use their WIFI and washrooms. vam Warning: don't even THINK of speeding in Australia. Undercover cops and unmarked cars are everywhere! They even have random alcohol and roadside drug tests (not that I was going to pull a Rob Ford or anything). So much for laid back, eh?

MEL: "What is a traditional Aussie meal?" PETER: "A meat pie and a six pack." Sigh. Peter is a relative of a friend and I am starting to believe him. Asking Aussies about traditional meals is much like asking Canadians the same question. Maybe because we're both relatively new countries? But, south of Brisbane, west of Byron Bay, the touristy hippie beach, is an area called the Northern Rivers where tiny roads weave precariously through the eucalyptus trees; so much rainfall means flooding is common, and the red soil produces some yummy things. IMG_1573 Row upon row of macadamia nut trees, lemon myrtle bushes (used for soaps and food flavourings) and coffee beans! Yes, Aussie coffee.     IMG_1630IMG_1645

Off the coast of Brisbane, there are three sand dune islands. It's crazy to think that without the tree roots to hold it together, then the entire island would be swept into the ocean... IMG_1503 The less touristy version, Moreton Island, is the third largest and more hippie like-- sign me up. Without paved roads the only way to get around is a 4WD. You can either hire one or go on a tour with a group. IMG_1214And because the barge going over to the island (an hour and half) is down to one boat versus two, the cost is crazy steep: $300 for two days, transport included, and camping (with really stinky sleeping bags, I might add, and hamburgers for supper!)

More hiking outside Brisbane, because really, there isn't too much to do in Brisbane other than shop for bad clothes! Yikes, did I say that? I'm not too keen on their style. But hey, who am I to talk? My reasoning is that Aussie's must wear uniforms to school-- and that means they cannot wear a scarf, or piece of jewellery. Heck, they get expelled if they dye their hair. So much for self-expression. But I digress. We drove north of the city to The Glass Mountains. It was the series of 16 volcanic crags that I saw from the plane--the ones that rise dramatically from a completely flat surface and shoot back down. IMG_9112         Tres cool rock climbing opportunities and caves.

  kangerooI'm exhausted from almost 20 hours in transit from Toronto to Los Angeles to Brisbane, Australia, but I want to share my first day. It's 4:30 am back home, but I have just enough energy to tell you a few things. Arriving over Brisbane, the mountains looked like piles of sugar on a flat surface. Little strange peaks. In Brisbane, the roads don't make sense. Turns out convicts built part of the city back in 1900's, when the British thought Aussie would be a great place for their overflow of prisoners. Eucalyptus trees at Coot-tha Park. IMG_8994