Yamba to Byron Bay – 3 Days – (180 km)

The wold famous Yamba prawns made for a delicious picnic lunch.
The wold famous Yamba prawns made for a delicious picnic lunch.

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.

This ferry from Yamba to Iluka was filled with mini pirates.
This ferry from Yamba to Iluka was filled with mini pirates.

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.

This church is now a cafe, a nice diversion from the bad roads.
This church is now a cafe, a nice diversion from the bad roads.

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 were happy to see this cycle path just west of town.
We were happy to see this cycle path just west of town.

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.

Did we mention how much glass is on the road? I think throwing bottles is an Australian sport like rugby and cricket.
Did we mention how much glass is on the road? I think throwing bottles is an Australian sport like rugby and cricket Luckily, the flat occurred near a farmers lane so we could pull off the bad road..

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.

Bull frogs croaking and birds singing along the Clarence River.
Bull frogs croaking and birds singing along 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.

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Ferry to Ballina.

I will always remember Ballina as the place I saw my first whale (or at least it’s spout.)

This cycle path is along a breakwater out to a whale watching point.
Lots of benches alongcycle path is along a breakwater out to a whale watching point.

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.

Skennars Head looking south to Ballina.
Skennars Head looking south to Ballina.

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.

Cycling on the sand from Lennox Head to Broken Head.
Cycling on the sand from Lennox Head to Broken Head.

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.

We had a picnic at the rocky out-droppings before heading inland to the fire road.
We had a picnic at the rocky out-droppings before heading inland to the fire road.
We also hit a big milestone this week.
We also hit a big milestone today….
The fire road to Broken Head Nature Reserve.
The fire road to Broken Head Nature Reserve.

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.

The cycle path from Suffolk to Byron Bay goes through (and over) some wetlands.
The cycle path from Suffolk Park to Byron Bay goes through (and over) some wetlands. follow the path the rest of the way to Byron Bay.

Follow the cycle path the rest of the way to Byron Bay.

Byron Bay Lighthouse - great whale watching place and near the eastern most place in Australia.
Byron Bay Lighthouse – great whale watching and near the eastern most place in Australia.
Here's a picture of my first wallaby. I'm not sure how they are different from kangaroos except for their colorings.
I saw my first wallaby eating near the lighthouse. I’m not sure how a wallaby is different from a kangaroo except for their colorings.

The sunset was a beautiful way to end the past three days.

Byron Bay as seen from the lighthouse.
Byron Bay as seen from the lighthouse.

 

 

 

 

 

4 thoughts on “Yamba to Byron Bay – 3 Days – (180 km)

  1. I’m glade you enjoyed Ballina, my hometown, and Suffolk Park was named after my family. I agree some of the roads are really bad for cycling. From Byron Bay to Tweed heads there is a cycle way map but street signage is a challenge!! Try and choose a route as close to the ocean as possible, its just beautiful. Hope you continue to enjoy the ride.
    Cheers, Gary

  2. I am pretty amazed at how you guys navigate your way in places you have never been. It’s important to notice for the rest of us just how much local information can help get you from Point A to Point B. It’s just not always there on the map, but asking can lead to some wonderful discoveries. Well done, both of you! And congrats on reaching that incredible milestone.

    We may have all had to ride on a bad stretch of highway before. It’s not pleasant, but if you are touring there may be no way around it. What I find most unpleasant are those incidents that are totally avoidable but happen nonetheless. There can be no other vehicles on the road but one vehicle coming towards you and one from behind and both reach you at the same time…with little to no shoulder. Why one of them does not slow down and allow for a small space where they can move around the cyclists on the road is baffling to me. And yet, I think you have to conclude that they have simply never been that cyclist and have little regard for “sharing the road”. Actually, in most instances like this most of the time someone does the right thing and allows the cyclist their space. Thank goodness!

    1. Thank you very much for your comment about navigating. It’s almost uncanny how the loaded bicycles draw attraction and helpful hints (generally).

      Your description about the “totally avoidable” incidents is spot on. I can’t tell you how many times I wondered how we could see no cars for hours and then two passing at the exact moment they pass us….

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