January 22, 2007
How about Sydney to Gosford? It’s about 100km, depending on where you start!
It used to be that what is now called Sydney (NSW, Australia) and the Central Coast of NSW were primarily disconnected by what we now call the Hawkesbury River. The local Aboriginal people used canoes, but the colonising English preferred larger boats. As time went by some roads were hacked through the bush, but it remained a difficult land journey until recent times. A vehicle punt or 2 made the crossing easier, followed by a succession of bridges built from about the mid-1800s. One bridge carried the railway, which largely eroded the previously sea-borne passenger and freight trade. Local ports carried fewer and fewer passengers and less cargo. When the roads improved from 2 lanes to 4 or more the end was nigh. It’s now easy – if slightly time consuming (a mere 30 minute trip from the northern edge of Sydney to the Gosford end – perhaps too easy, to get from Sydney to the Central Coast.
Having not made the journey by bike (push bike, I mean) for over 10 years, I decided to ride from Brookvale to Gosford one Saturday last year. I keep promising that I’ll do it again, but haven’t. An alternative is just to get to Brooklyn and return, and I’ve done that a few times from both Sydney and Gosford (about 40km each way). Half the trip from Sydney is just awful – cars, trucks, more cars – and the rest is tree-lined, majestic, beautiful and annoyingly frequented by death-wish motorcyclists scrambling ’round corners. I really mean death-wish. The scenic, if twisty road is lined by white crosses. Each representing a fallen rider who met their match on this road. Still, each to their own – we all take our risks in different ways. Just don’t take me with you!
What fascinated me last time around was the change in the road. When the old road was bypassed by the freeway the traffic declined and local trade slumbered. Now the surviving cafes are booming, with trade literally zooming past their doors every weekend. I imagine it dies down during the week, but what a change over the last 20 years or so. Almost makes me want to open a roadside cafe… but not like the “ghost cafe”, real 50′s roadside diner built for passing trade on the old road at Brooklyn – but long since bypassed.
Try the main shops at Brooklyn for food, there’s plenty to choose from, or closer to Mooney there’s a small petrol station and cafe with a pleasant, if small park attached.