Australia Prt 21: The data, the good, the not so good, the tips

2019 was a good year with a total of 323 days of traveling during which I visited two countries. 288 days in Australia, my only ‘new’ country this year. The other 35 days were spend in Thailand.

Some date about the Australia trip:

* Total kilometers cycled in Australia: 12.441 km
* Total kilometers all trips combined : 116.190 km

* Kilometers cycled per state (chronologically):

– Tasmania : 1.811 km in 47 days
– Victoria : 512 km in 13 days
– New South Wales : 712 km in 10 days
– South Australia : 2.274 km in 44 days
– Northern Territory : 2.291 km in 46 days
– Western Australia : 4.841 km in 128 days

* Average kilometer per cycling day: 55,30 km

* Total meters climbed: 85.917 meter

* Shortest cycling day: 5,52 km (Gog Range – Tasmania)
* Longest cycling day : 123,11 km (towards Tjukayirla RH on the Great Central                     Road, WA)

* Highest speed : 69,75 km (on Cradle Mountain Development Road, Tasmania)
* Highest point : 959 m (on Cradle Mountain Development Road, Tasmania)

* Longest day in the saddle: 7 hrs 48 minutes (for 71,77 km near Warakurna, WA)
* Total time in the saddle: 931 hours
* Average time in the saddle on cycling days: 4 hrs 12 minutes

* I slept 229 nights outside:

– Wild camping : 220 nights (76,6%)
– Campgrounds : 9 nights (3,1 %)

* I slept 58 nights inside:

– Hosted by people : 40 nights (14,0 %)
– In trail huts : 9 nights (3,1%)
– In hotels : 7 nights (2,5 %)
– On a boat : 2 nights (0,7 %)

* Flat tyres: 16 (after I changed to real fat and heavy Chinese tubes, it became much better).

* Number of pictures taken: 8.898

* And the info everybody seems to want:
Average cost/day: 31,88 aud (= 19,80 euro, = 21,50 usd)

This includes only my daily cost during the trip for food (probably 80% of the cost), entrance fees, camp grounds and other small purchases like sun cream, tubes, etc…).
This does NOT include any bicycle or camping gear, nor flight tickets to and from Australia or the transfer to and from Tasmania with the m/s Spirit of Tasmania.

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Trip highlights:

– Cradle Mountain National Park (Tasmania)
– Bruny Island, Maria Island, Freycinet National Park (Tasmania)
– Cycling the dirt roads along the Murray River (Vic & NSW)
– The Mawson Trail (South Australia)
– The Flinders Ranges
– The scenery along the Oodnadatta Track (South Australia)
– The Sandover Hwy + the small back tracks towards Plenty Hwy (NT)
– Harts Range & MacDonnell Ranges (NT)
– The endles dirt, corrugations and scenery along the Great Central road (NT & WA)
– Cape Le Grand National Park (WA)
– The area around Hopetoun (WA)
– Stirling Range (WA)
– The Munda Biddi Trail (loved the forests) (WA)
– The friendliness and openness of a lot of the people I met
– The often awesome wild camping spots
– Vast open spaces

What I didn’t like so much:

– The behaviour of the majority of car drivers
– The flies.
– Uluru National Park
– Too much traffic on the Oodnadatta Track (due to water in Lake Eyre)

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Tips & advice for other cyclists:
It’s Australia. What makes it special and unique in my opinion is its deserts, its empty, remote areas. Go there and explore it on the dirt roads. With a bit of common sense, you should make it. Yes, you have to look a bit after yourself, carry water and food (sometimes lots), but if disaster strikes, you are not on your own.
When I was doing my research for this trip, people said they wouldn’t even go on the Stuart hwy without a satellite tracker like Spot or Garmin InReach.
That’s ridiculous.
Unless you decide to wander off the track in a random direction, you will have somebody passing you every day. The longest I was on the Great Central Road or Oodnadatta Track without seeing a car was probably 3 or 4 hours. Only a few times I saw nobody the whole day on smaller tracks. So up to you whether you want it. I had an InReach, but in hindsight, I don’t think you really need it. People have been doing this stuff since ages, long before mobile phones and satellite trackers were around.

The Stuart Highway between Darwin and Adelaide seems to be popular with a lot of cyclists. Although I rode only a small part of it south and north of Alice Springs, I think this road is totally unsuitable for bicycle touring due to the amount of traffic, no shoulder and the attitude of the drivers. Same goes for the Lasseter Highway going to Uluru.
It’s a nightmare. Avoid it.

If I would cycle the GCR again, I would ride north of Alice via the Tanami Road, then the Kintore Road, than take the Sandy Blight Junction Road to connect to the GCR. Or, if you want to go via the MacDonnell Ranges, take the Namatjira Drive out of Alice Springs, then connect via Haast Bluff towards Kintore Road, then further as above.
I assume you’ll find provisions in Mount Liebig and in Kintore.
If you do, let me know how it was !

I rode with 26 x 2.0” tyres. Unless you choose to stay on the asphalt (which would be a shame), I think 2.0” tyre width is the minimum you need. Something in 2.25” – 2.5” range would be optimal.
There are lots and lots of corrugations. Invest in a quality bike with the very best wheels you can find, quality racks and quality bags.
And keep it simple. Your Gates belt, your fancy disc or Magura brakes or electronic shifting are recipes for headaches, possibly for disaster.
I went without suspension. Front suspension might be a good idea, but only when it is a very good fork.

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A decent double wall tent and a sleeping bag with at least a comfort range of -3 °C should be sufficient for this trip, unless you go to Tasmania outside summer season.

A big thank you to Hans & Claudia, Sophie, Paul, Ian & Keryn, Fred & Wendy, Beth & Denis, Nico & Mykal, Stan & Briony, Dylan, Libby, Eddy & Shirley, Susie, Diana & Rod, Febe, Geoffry, Will & Jenny, Craigh and David & Marianne. All of them accommodated or helped accommodating me and were without exception interesting and very pleasant contacts and a welcome change from the long, long road.
Stay in touch please !

Below, the map from my route on Tasmania and mainland Australia.
All routes can be downloaded from Wikiloc.