We borrowed our hosts bikes and planned our route around Iron Cove. We’re currently staying in Annandale – just off Rozelle Bay – so Iron Cove is only a short ride away. We googled the path and took a screenshot of the map whilst we still had wifi, that was the extent of our preparations. We let Kelli, our host, know we were on our way out and she kindly wrote down some directions of how to get to the bay.
We set off in a direction that we thought was correct, having never been anywhere in this neighbourhood before. Turns out the directions we had written down took us the opposite way round that we had initially googled so we were already extremely confused but went with it. We found the water, so we knew we were on the right track. A beautiful bay, lots of boats and a cute little pelican swimming along.
We kept the water on our right and followed the bay around. We passed 3 groups of school children on their way to the rowing club for their PE lesson. It was 31 degrees out so we needed to stop regularly, topping up water and sunscreen levels and to take photos of the scenery.
We consulted our map screenshots and headed for the Shopping outlet that we could see was across the Iron Cove bridge that we had originally planned to cross had we cycled the opposite way around the bay. We headed about 150m in the wrong direction up hill to allow us to safely cross the busy road. We accidentally spent 3 hours in the mall so it was now 5pm and we were cycling home. A quick check on a map in a bus stop and we saw that we were very close to East Balmain, and that area of Sydney juts out and is surrounded by water. ‘Easy’ we thought, if we keep the water on our left and follow it round until we reach the light rail stop that is close to where we are staying, then we’ll make it back no problem.
We pedalled and pedalled, and saw no water. Just our luck that there was a gated community at the beginning of the coastline. The only signal that we were getting any where near the water was that the houses were increasing in size, and therefore value. Houses on a harbour have to be worth a lot!? We made it, we weren’t sure where we made it to but we saw the water, turned the corner and magically appeared the Sydney Harbour Bridge. We’d reached it from an angle that we hadn’t seen yet. We left the bikes at the top of the hill, there was nearly nobody around so we clambered down the rocks towards the water. There was no beach, just the edge. A few fisherman looked at us a little strange which made us think that this area wasn’t somewhere that tourists go very often. Almost like we’d ruined their serene scene. We had arrived just in time to see one fisherman get himself quite a large catch, he was ecstatic, and we were for him.
We consulted the map that we found posted near the top of the hill and tried to memorise the street names of the new upcoming roads that would hopefully lead us back to the water. We were currently in an area, that we now know is called Yurulbin Park, but was not easily accessible due to it being so remote. There was no through way along the water, for anyone cars/bikes/pedestrians, without heading back inland. Entirely ignoring all street names that we’d read and failed to memorise we cut through another park, one that was not bike friendly as we had to carry the bikes down 2 sets of steps to get to – Adam’s idea. We learnt why it wasn’t bike friendly when we met the steep hill at the other side. We took a left on a whim in the hope that the water would still be close by. It was, but we had to follow the road around.
Up hills, down hills, up more hills than down, you can imagine the sweat in the late afternoon sun. Because we were heading nearer to the city, towards the house, we were now in the midst of rush hour traffic. Luckily they drive on the same side here so the highway code is familiar somewhat, but still the speed bumps would throw us around a little – potholes are universal it seems. I was now leading as Adam’s bike left nothing to be desired. Each hill that we went up his chain shuddered down the gears with a loud clunking sound, accompanied by the skewiff steering alignment things didn’t bode well. You could sense the combined tension of being lost, being sweaty, it being rush hour and the lack of optimum equipment. We finally get some downhill speed when suddenly I hear ‘Steph, Steph!’ I try to turn around, but I hit a speed bump so it wobbles me, I brake (my brakes made that high pitched, screeching sound that lets you know they need some WD40) I finally come to a halt as I see Adam flying down the hill shouting ‘Where’s my seat!!?’. How he did it I don’t know, but his bike lost it’s saddle. I stayed with the bikes whilst he ran back up the road in search of his seat. It was like a moment from Carry on Camping. I envy anyone that saw it all unfold. I can only imagine Adam’s face at the exact moment he tried to sit down, and instead poleaxed himself…. much like Jackie Chan in Project A: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xcztgMsbHjI
We tried reattaching the seat, pushing it on every which way, but 2 cycles forward and it would fly off again. Instead, he had to stay standing for the remainder of the entire journey – and we didn’t yet know how far we had left to go.
We found another little park, that seemed to jut out like the last, so again we left the bikes and headed towards the edge to see what we could see. We’d made it half away around from where we were previously, if you look in the centre of the photo you can see where we were at Yurulbin Park across the water.
We found an old oil refinery that had been hollowed out and was now used by locals to walk their dogs, Ballast Point Park. From the edge here you could see the skyline of the city much better. We were concerned at how close we now were, considering we were staying further out of the centre. We still had a few miles to do!
Giving up entirely on staying close to the water, we cycled on for another hour or so, never seeming to find somewhere that looked familiar. We rode down many hills, only to realise once we turned a corner we had to pedal back up the equivalent height! My quads were less than impressed, Adam’s less so without the option to take a seat and rest a little through fear of creating a new orifice. We needed to stop for directions a couple of times as the first person we asked didn’t seem to be entirely sure. Eventually, we saw the light at the end of the tunnel when we recognised the Bottle-o on a street corner when we thought we were lost at the beginning of the day. Unable to resist temptation we popped in a bought some cold beers as a reward for finding our way.
Please see map below of unorthodox, somewhat long winded 20km bike journey:
The next day we went to Taronga Zoo, a short 12 minute ferry journey across the bay takes you straight to the zoo’s doorstep from Circular quay. Even this part of the day is a good photo opportunity.
We arrived at the zoo and quickly realised that most of the animals that were in the cages also feature somewhere in Australia, in the wild. Slightly disconcerting that the zoo which houses bizarre and sometimes dangerous animals, run free in this country – they were kind enough to show which states that you would find each animal, the ones to potentially avoid!
From Tasmanian Devils & a Lizard that lunched with us, to some very well endowed Kangaroos lazing in the sun. The zoo overlooked the harbour so it was beautiful to see the skyline change throughout the day.
After all of the animals and their dangers that we read about throughout the day, Adam’s most fearsome moment was when we got back to the house and found a little spider sitting high on the ceiling. Stating that he wouldn’t rest until it was gone he set about his pursuit. Here’s an action shot: