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Different shades of Sydney on a Bike Buffs day tour

Alia Parker's picture
Crossing the Harbour Bridge bike path on a Bike Buffs cycling tour. Cycle Traveller

Graeme Dodd is setting up our bikes outside the convict-built Garrison Church in an old part of Sydney known as The Rocks. We're about to spend the next few hours on a Bike Buffs tour of Sydney, taking in the harbour from more angles than you think possible. In the group are three Americans, a Canadian, a Brit, and me – a born and raised Sydneysider. I know this city well, having cycled all over it, but I'm interested in testing the tour to see if it's worth recommending to visitors.

Graeme is a friendly former antiques dealer with a text-book knowledge of Sydney history delivered with an Aussie larrikin sense of humour – a trait that's often missing from fast-pace city dwellers. He immediately puts everyone at ease and before we know it we're pedalling our way through Sydney, hopping from vantage point to vantage point. We ride at a relaxed pace, stopping frequently to hear a little history and take photos. Graeme takes plenty of photos of the group to send around to everyone at no extra charge, which is really handy for those who are often absent from their own travel photos.

From the view atop Observatory Hill, across the Harbour Bridge, around Luna Park to a dreamy “secret spot” for morning tea, back across to the Opera House, Mrs Macquarie's Chair and Walsh Bay for a delicious lunch, I won't give too much away about Graeme's route except to say he has done a great job of selecting some of Sydney's best spots and connecting them in the most safe and leisurely way possible.

Bike Buffs bicycle tour of Sydney with Harbour Bridge and Opera House in front of Luna Park. Cycle Traveller

There's something about exploring a city by bike that's unbeatable; the breeze in your face, blood surging through your veins, the sights, the sounds, and Sydney Harbour – what a combination. You really can't fight the happiness. Everyone in the group is laughing and having fun as they discover parts of Sydney most tourists would not see – especially in the space of a few hours. I'm having a great time too, which says a lot given I live here.

By afternoon, we're back outside the church from which we started and I am keen to see what others think of the tour.

"I thought it was a great way to cover a lot of the city," says Sara Weiss from North Carolina, who joined today's tour while her husband attended a conference. She says she had a good time and found Graeme to be enjoyably funny.

“We covered a tremendous amount of territory and got a good balance of history and insider info and what seems to be some of the best spots for the best views that aren't labelled on any maps, so it's not like I could find those on my own,” she says.

Sara's favourite part of the tour?

“I think the different bridge views, so basically seeing it from all the different angles,” she says of the iconic Harbour Bridge.

My personal favourite part of the tour was Graeme's “secret spot”, a little pocket of Sydney which, although I had heard of it and on occasion gone very nearby, had never actually ventured into. I'm not one to spill “secrets”, so you'll either have to decode this one for yourselves or take the tour to find out. A close second was our lunch stop at BarCycle on the water at Walsh Bay, particularly their ricotta cannoli. Yum.

So who is this tour suitable for?

Cycling through Darling Harbour, Sydney. Cycle TravellerPretty much everyone with a basic level of fitness – including kids. The tour pace is relaxed and leisurely with lots of stopping. Fit cyclists will feel like they haven't even been riding. Those from out of town have the most to gain from a Bike Buffs bike tour of Sydney, with the route designed to show of the best of the city. But, as I found, those who are already familiar with the city will also have a good time.

Bike Buffs tours run everyday except Christmas with the Big Day tour running from 10.30am to about 4pm, including breaks. The tour includes bikes, helmet, guide, snacks, water and digital photos. The price does not include the cost of lunch, with riders free to choose what they like.

Would I recommend this tour to visitors?

Absolutely.

Images from top: 1. Bike Buffs tour passes over the Harbour Bridge bike lane twice. 2. Riders on the Harbour. 3. Cycling through Darling Harbour, Sara pictured right.

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