The first time Richard Tallents made his way through Eden it was 1958 and he was pedalling on a one-speed push bike.
These days cyclists are a common fixture on the Princes Highway, but when Richard made the trip he and his riding buddy were a rare sight making their way along the dirt roads of the far south coast.
Recently Richard had the opportunity to return to Eden after all those years – a trip that brought back many fond memories of a “sleepy coastal village”.
“The original trip started after I had an accident and spent a fair bit of time in hospital,” Mr Tallents said.
“Alec had the bright idea to ride from Sydney to Melbourne so we just started training together every Sunday.”
The pair would pedal around the greater Sydney region reaching Windsor and then trailing back around to Parramatta and making their way back to the city.
The amateur cyclists trained for four weeks then packed their tiny backpacks and set off on their trip to Melbourne.
“Looking back it was hard work. We had bikes that had 21mm tyres and no gears,” he said.
“On the handle bars we had two water bottles strapped to the front.
“It took us four days to make it to Melbourne, we would get up very early in the morning and travel 150 kilometres a day.”
When the duo arrived in Melbourne they pedalled to Frankston where Richard’s grandmother lived.
On his arrival she couldn’t believe that her grandson had made the trip on a bicycle.
“We arrived at my grandmother’s house in Frankston unannounced and when we got there she was so shocked,” he said
“She spent some time giving me the third degree because she couldn’t believe that I would ride a bike from Sydney to Melbourne.”
While the two cyclists were in Melbourne they took part in a series of bike races being held at the velodrome but walked away empty handed.
The riders were not discouraged from the sport they loved and decided to make their way home on the scenic route adding a few hundred or so kilometres to the journey.
The scenic route took Richard and Alec on their first visit to the coastal port of Eden and the roads were far from the bitumen paths they are today.
“The Princes Highway was a lot tougher in those days than it is now,” Richard said.
“When I recently drove along the same road I passed a few people on bicycles and it really made me think about how tough we did it,” Richard said.
“When we came through we were riding against 120 kilometres per hour head wind with no gears to make it through.
“When we reached the Cann River, there was no bitumen like there is today.
“If the roads weren’t dirt they were soft sand so often it became like riding on the beach.
The two young men had planned to ride until 5.30 pm each day and stop for the evening, but with the soft sand and dirt roads they struggled to make their 150 kilometre a day goal and would often be still riding at 9.30pm.
“The dirt roads were rocky and it made the walls inside of the tyres blister,” Mr Tallents said.
“We would stop, have something to eat, wash our clothes and then spend the night repairing the punctures in our tyres.”
On his recent trip to Eden Mr Tallents returned to comfort and style with his partner in a 4WD motorhome.
He now lives on the Sunshine Coast and was surprised by the changes that have happened to the little southern coastal township.
“It was very interesting to revisit communities like Eden and see the urban sprawl that has happened,” he said.
“Compared to how it was back then it was an amazing change.
“We had a wonderful time in the district enjoying the Killer Whale Museum and the beautiful scenery.”