Day 8 – Macksville to Coffs Harbour

Yesterday, I was discussing the route with the motel owner and he told me that there was a bike path from Macksville to Nambucca that started from the north side of the bridge. Since I assume that, as a local, he must have some local knowledge, I rode along the river foreshore after crossing the bridge (which has to be done on the pedestrian walkway since the road is so narrow).

It turns out that the owner was full of shit or didn’t understand what halfway meant. After a hundred meters or so, the path joins a suburban road which then joins the highway a kilometer or so further on and there’s still over 10km to Nambucca after that. Luckily I was still able to get onto the Old Coast Road which was slightly more direct, if dirt and over the range instead of looping along the river. It also is used to access the local rubbish tip, and there are warning signs about contamination and against dumping rubbish in the state forest, as well as at least what looked like a concrete plug over some spill site. I was just starting to build up speed on a downhill section so didn’t stop to confirm, however.

There was also a lot of construction work that I think had to be related to freeway building. After I turned right ( gingerly across several lanes of traffic) onto the highway, I encountered around 15km of roadworks on the left. This was split into sections, each of which announced a separate UHF frequency, and I assume that the forest work was to set up towers to service these radio channels.

I’m very glad I hadn’t decided to ride more directly north from Macksville and loop around via forestry roads as the roadworks had closed most access westward from the highway on the south side of Urunga. Instead I plowed on up the highway itself, which was quite busy by this stage, until I reached the Hungry Head turnoff, which I took to get to Urunga. It was a nice respite from the traffic, despite the clouds of midges I had to ride though alongside the inlet.

I stopped at a very busy cafe and had a muffin and a juice and they let me use the staff toilets, which was nice. Urunga has a nice vibe. For those who know Brunswick Heads, I’d say it’s similar; there’s a very busy highway which is all that most people would see of the town and a quiet town center a few blocks away on the riverfront.

It was a few minutes ride through suburbia to loop under the highway in order to rejoin it and then ride the bridge over the Kalang River which would be scary at other times of the day etc. There’s not any shoulder and vehicle slipstreams could easily do damage and I’m glad I managed to cross without having to deal with a car (or truck!).

I turned off the highway at the Raleigh exit, didn’t go west to Dorrigo and Armidale 🙂 , and rode along the old highway up to Bonville. The dangerous (for cars and trucks) L-shaped crossing of the Bellinger River is still etched in my mind from driving up and down the coast years ago, and I was glad to be cycling across it this time.

After stopping at the Bonville service station to refuel, I continued through the outskirts of Boambee where the GPS directed me off the main road and and though a housing subdivision. When I was looking at the map in Sydney, the route had seemed reasonable – quieter residential roads and a shorter path – but I ended up going up a really steep hill. Given that the temperature was starting to rise during the late morning as well, I wasn’t impressed  with the routing algorithm I was being subjected to.

Eventually I found myself back on the main road and pushed along Hogbin Drive through a headwind into the center of Coffs. There was a really nice little channel of water running alongside the road and I was fantasizing about just throwing myself headfirst into it. However, there was only a few minutes to go before I got to the motel. After I checked in I took a long lukewarm shower and relaxed for a while – riding along the highway today must have taken more out of me then I’d thought. At least tomorrow was a rest day.

Eventually I went up the road and got a beer and a meal at the Coffs Hotel on the corner. I then wandered up and down the main street to reacquaint myself with the town and came back to the motel room to catch up on twitter and email. I had fish and chips for dinner and went to bed after Media Watch finished.

Total distance: 61.2km
Total time: 4:01:37
Avg speed: 15.20 km/h

My ride data is here


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