Day One: Sydney to Port Stephens
Today was the big day we’d been thinking about for weeks. Leading up to today, we’d bought new tires for the bikes, crossed off all our Sydney Bucket List items and said our goodbyes to the amazing coworkers and backpacker friends we’d made over the past six months in Sydney. Despite having gone out late with our friends in the park the night before, we stuck to schedule and woke up early. I was tasked with shipping a box of extra clothes and items back home to the US while Byron mopped and vacuumed the apartment for our inspection. The rain started to pour, making me nervous for the upcoming ride. Tasks completed, we swapped and Byron dropped off the giant bag of clothes we were donating and I scrubbed down every surface. After our hard work, the landlord came, did a once over, and gave us our deposit back. He didn’t even open a single drawer or cabinet.
Next was the task of getting our backpacks strapped to the motorcycles in the safest way possible. Byron was starting off on Berry, our blue Kawasaki ER6N and I was on Kiwi, our green Kawasaki ER6F. After trying a few arrangements that completely failed, I settled with an up and down position with both backpacks stacked upright and bungeed around the luggage rack. I tried to cover everything with plastic bags and towels to keep out the persistent rain.
Gear on, momentous photos taken, bags strapped—we were ready to go and I couldn’t stall any longer in the hopes the rain would stop. We pulled out from the walkway and into Bayswater Road, off to William St and through the tunnel that whisks you away from the city and under the Harbour to North Sydney. I’d be lying if I said my eyes weren’t watery thinking about leaving one of my favorite cities and the people I’d met. But the other part of me was excited to be back on the road adventuring.
We ended up on the M1 highway and with 110km speeds and aggressive wind, we said screw this let’s take the Pacific Highway, which ended up being a beautiful winding road that took us on sweeping loops up into the hills with views of the water below. I was slow on the curves since it’d been over a year since my days driving in the twisties of San Francisco, but soon I got in the groove. Over bridges and mountains, all through the hammering rain, we made it to the seaside town of Terrigal for warm Thai noodles and a chance to stretch our aching hands and backs and necks. It was going to take some time getting used the cramped position.
Back on the road again, we powered through slowly, wiping the rain from our helmet visors every few minutes and sitting as close to the warmth of the engine as possible. Past Newcastle in the final hours, I tried to stay focused, but couldn’t help but fantasize of the piping hot coffee, steamy shower, and dry clothes I hoped were in my future. Finally, at 5pm we pulled into Port Stephens and our hostel, the Samurai Backpackers YHA and got into some dry clothes and tucked the bikes away.
The hostel was set back in the jungle, with little cabin dorm rooms, winding paths skirted by ferns and trees and an outdoor kitchen with a fireplace, a resident owl, and a family of possums (Aussie possums are actually adorable compared to the rat-like American ones so we didn’t mind their company).
After a run to Woolies, we had pasta cooking, coffee brewing and our friend Caitlyn with us as she was also road tripping up the coast. We stayed up chatting and having a few drinks next to the fire before calling it a night. I fell asleep to the peaceful sounds of the jungle—warm and satisfied.
For the sake of making this blog useful for future road trippers, I’ll include a rundown of the costs of the day to give you a feel for how you might want to plan your own Australian adventure.
April 17, 2018
Road Trip Daily Costs (per person)
Accommodation: Samurai Backpackers, $23
Daily Distance Covered: 229km