This segment of our ride up the east coast of Australia was a combination of some of the most scenic and enjoyable parts of our trip in Australia interspersed with some of the worst roads we’ve had in Australia. Luckily, the bad stretches of road are tiny in comparison to the amazing scenery and off-road options.
Yamba to Evans Head – 76 km – Yamba is a lovely fishing town located where the Clarence River meets the Coral Sea. It’s know for its delicious prawns so we bought a kilo and carried them on ice and wrapped in paper for our picnic.
We then rode the 9:30 am ferry along with about 60 first graders dressed in pirate costumes who were on a field trip to “Pirate Park” in Iluka. One-eyed pirates with aluminum foil hook arms, foam swords, pirate hats, and a few ballet slippers and tutus made the ferry ride a joyous, happy, loud event.
The road through Bundjalung National Park through the bush was shady and quiet until it intersects with the Pacific Coast Highway.
The next 20 kilometers on the highway to Woodburn were noisy but had a fairly good shoulder. Turning east at Woodburn, the road is very narrow with no shoulder and heavy truck traffic. The cycle path about 2 km west of town was a welcome improvement.
We found a cabin at the caravan park on the river and enjoyed a walk along the sandy beach watching pelicans and the sunset.
Evans Head to Ballina – (56 km) Evans head is a very small, sleepy beach town with lots of fishing and surfing and peace and quiet.
The ride from Evans Head to Broadwater through Broadwater National Park runs through more Australian bush.
The 7 km from Broadwater to Wardell on the Pacific Coast Highway was the scariest highway we’ve ridden in Australia.
It we had it to do this ride again, I might choose a long detour…
…but then we would miss one of the most beautiful parts of the ride, the road from Wardell to Ballina that follows on the south banks of the Clarence River.
Another ferry ride across the river, (did I mention I love ferries?) and cycle paths all around Ballina made it one of our favorite seaside towns in this part of Australia.
I will always remember Ballina as the place I saw my first whale (or at least it’s spout.)
It’s also the place where we received some great Aussie hospitality from strangers-who-became-friends, Gary and Leann.
Ballina to Byrons Bay – 50 km
We had been dreading this segment of the trip because of the busy, narrow roads. We’d even considered taking an inland route and avoiding Byron Bay altogether. Luckily a chance encounter with a cyclist let to “insider information” which meant we completely avoided the highway today AND had one of the most beautiful days of this trip.
Here’s how to do it..
First, ride the cycle path to Skennars Head. Stay on the path as it leaves the coast and heads inland following the old road to Lennox Head. At Lennox Head, if the tide is out, push your bike down to the beach until you find the hard-packed sand near the surf and cycle north for about 7 km.
At the rocky outcroppings, look to the shore and take the one-land, dirt fire road up the hills and through Broken Head National Park.
At the end of the road, turn west until the road intersects with the highway. Head north on the Pacific Coast Highway (about 1 km) and turn east to Suffolk Park. Follow the beach road north until it ends.
Follow the cycle path the rest of the way to Byron Bay.
The sunset was a beautiful way to end the past three days.