Australia 2010





1.         Starting on 25/09/10 and finishing on 26/10/10, I completed a solo, unsupported bike ride across Australia.  My starting point was Perth, Western Australia and my finishing point was Surfers Paradise, Queensland.  I covered 2,960 miles in 32-days.


2.         I have cobbled together this short piece in the hope that it may be of use to anyone thinking of undertaking a similar bike ride across Australia.  Some of what follows might seem to be stating the obvious but, hopefully, there will be some snippets of information which can prove helpful.


3.         Bike.     I used a Mongoose Crossway 225 (hybrid) with 700 x 35C tyres.  The bike was nowhere near a full touring spec bike but it proved to be very reliable and excellent value for money, costing a little more than £300, including my racks, panniers and add-ons.


4.         Clothing & Equipment.     Knowing that I’d need to be carrying large amounts of water for most of the ride, I decided to limit my essential kit (e.g. tent, clothing, tools, etc.) to as little as possible (approximately 40 lbs).  To cope with the intense heat and sunlight, day-to-day riding kit was basically lightweight, airy, football shorts, t-shirt and trainers.  Of interest, I met quite a few Australian, distance cyclists along my route – they were all wearing padded cycling shorts and nearly all of them were complaining of very bad saddle sores (probably caused by the heat).


The Route


5.         I was on a very tight schedule to complete the ride and had to catch my flight from Brisbane to the UK on the appointed date.  I’d therefore given myself 35-days to complete the crossing.  My main concern when planning the crossing was major mechanical failure which would probably result in cancellation of the ride.  I knew that, after leaving Perth, there was only one bike shop before starting the Nullarbor Plain crossing.  This bike shop was located in the coastal town of Esperance, 500 miles to the South East of Perth.  For information, the next bike shop after Esperance is another 900 miles away in the small coastal town of Ceduna, South Australia.  With this in mind, I decided to take a longer route through the south western part of Western Australia, avoiding the shorter, Great Eastern Highway route to Norseman via Coolgardie, and headed for the coastal town of Esperance instead.  As things turned out, this was to prove the right decision for me (see Paragraph 7, DAY-6).  After leaving Esperance, I then headed north to Norseman before heading east across the Nullarbor Plain, out of Western Australia and then through South Australia, New South Wales and Queensland.


6.         For information, I have attached a detailed route and mileage chart for my journey from Perth to Surfers Paradise.  It should be noted that some of the place names shown on my route represent nothing more than a few rusty shacks or are just grain silos, railroad crossings or road markers with no facilities whatsoever.


The Ride


7.         To give potential riders a flavor of what to expect, a daily, warts and all, summary of the crossing follows:




I started from City Beach, Perth in hot, windy weather with the intention of reaching Brookton.  Road works, diversions and receipt of no less than 4-sets of wrong directions(!) meant that I ended up taking a circuitous route well to the south of Fremantle and then back up to Armadale and Kelmscott (an extra 41-miles) before finally getting onto the Brookton road (Route-40).  With darkness already falling, I climbed over the Darling Ranges with no problem and was making excellent progress along quiet, forested roads.  I can remember feeling tired all of a sudden and then, sometime later, woke up looking up at the stars, in the middle of the road, with the bike on top of me.  Delayed jet lag had kicked-in and I had somehow fallen asleep on my bike whilst cycling (I didn’t think it was possible, but it certainly is).  Luckily there was no traffic on Route-40 at all that night so I avoided getting run over.  I was also lucky in that the loaded, right-rear pannier and my own body had apparently saved the bike from major damage, apart from a smashed front headlight and misaligned handlebars.  Unfortunately, whilst avoiding head injury, my right-side ribs and hip took the brunt of the crash and I was to suffer for the rest of the ride and beyond.  In thick, freezing fog and temperatures down to -5C, I somehow managed to keep my eyes open for the final 25-miles into Brookton.




Left Brookton at 0630 heading east into a strong headwind.  (From Day-1 in Perth, this strong easterly headwind and frequent easterly gales were to last continuously for the first 22-days of my ride and were demoralising to say the least).  After about 60-miles in baking heat, I arrived at the small hamlet of Corrigin.  A nice little pub provided a welcome bite to eat and fresh water.  There is a large dog cemetery in Corrigin which appears to be something of a tourist attraction.  Finished the day at a small place called Kondinin.  A fairly flat ride through the wheat belt with a few rolling hills.




Left Kondinin at dawn in the hope of beating the wind but alas it was already blowing a gale.  With chin on handlebars, I had to abandon the ride at Hyden as I was virtually cycling just to stay still.  Wind died- down in the late afternoon so took the opportunity to visit nearby Wave Rock and Lake Magic.  A fairly flat ride through the wheat belt with a few rolling hills.




There is a lovely, little bakery in Hyden so I took the opportunity of getting some freshly baked bread and rolls before setting off on the long ride to Ravensthorpe.  Blisteringly hot day into another strong wind.  Gained some relief from the heat at a tiny place called Varley, where I managed to top up with water and some food at a little grocery shop run by a lovely Zimbabwean lady.  Carried on to Lake King which turned out to be just a dried-up salt pan with a pub.  Apparently, there is a shop somewhere in Lake King but I couldn’t find it!  Arrived Ravensthorpe just after sundown in plummeting temperatures.  A tough day with numerous long, rolling hills along the way.  Worryingly, I noticed that the bike’s pedal cranks were clicking with some movement during the day’s riding.




Started 0600 in freezing temperatures.  The first 25-miles out of Ravensthorpe were a continuous series of steep roller coasters and it was on these hills that I first encountered the dreaded road-trains, which I will talk about later on.  There was also a huge amount of heavy, mining traffic along this stretch of road. The remaining road to Esperance was fairly flat with intermittent, low, rolling hills.  Rocketing temperatures made me feel sick so I took a long break at Munglinup Roadhouse to cool down.  Passed through dense clouds of black fly in a swampy area 10-15 miles west of Esperance.  Arrived in Esperance as the sun disappeared.  Noticed a lot of play with the right side pedal crank (the side that had taken the brunt of the crash on Day-1) and was very worried that the bottom bracket had somehow been affected by the crash.




Decided to take a day off from cycling and get the cranks and bottom bracket checked over.  Received excellent service at a bike shop called Dempster Sporting, located at 65, Dempster Street, Esperance.  After getting the bike checked over, I purchased a much needed set of thermals because of the plummeting night time temperatures from a shop called Camping World & Workwear, located at 88, Dempster Street, Esperance.  I also made use of a small camera shop to get my batteries re-charged (I had forgotten to pack my own battery adaptor) and a coin-operated laundry for kit and clothing.  For information, Esperance is a picturesque, little coastal town surrounded by what are widely regarded as Australia’s best beaches.  A relatively short trip to the beautiful Cape Le Grand National Park east of Esperance is well worth the time and effort.




Made an 0515 start heading north on the long trek to Norseman.  Persistent, heavy rain until midday and a strong north easterly wind made for miserable riding conditions.  Passed through tiny farming communities at Grass Patch and Salmon Gums and had a welcome bite to eat at Kumarl Roadhouse.  Arrived in the small, gold mining town of Norseman just after dark following a long, hard day on the bike.  Norseman is at the western end of the Eyre Highway and is basically the starting point for west to east crossings of the Nullarbor Plain.




Overslept after the previous day’s long ride and didn’t set off until 1030 in rocketing temperatures.  I had intended to make camp at a place called Fraser Range that evening but, feeling pretty good, I bypassed this little oasis, and carried on into the late afternoon and night, arriving at Balladonia Roadhouse at about 2200.  The last 40-miles of this day were made really difficult when I pulled a muscle in my leg which, when combined with my rib injury from DAY-1 made progress very difficult.  However, the spectacular views of the Milky Way, frequent meteor showers and distant thunder storms more than made up for my troubles.  Stayed in a backpacker hut which provided a little bit of comfort and protection from the freezing desert temperatures outside.



Awoke in agony with very sore ribs and leg not much better.  Decided to take the day off and rest-up in the hope that things would improve during the day.




Decided to chance my leg and set off early in freezing temperatures.  After about 20 miles, I arrived at the start of the infamous 91-Mile Straight Road.  A very difficult ride into a strong headwind and scorching temperatures finally ended at Caiguna Roadhouse.  This stretch of road is mind numbing at best but in the wind and heat it is absolute misery.




Left Caiguna at 0600 into an easterly gale and after about 20 miles, passed 2-other cross country cyclists who were on the verge of giving up because of the weather conditions and a leg injury (I later learned that they did have to abandon their ride across the Nullarbor).  Managed to get to Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, where a nice cup of tea worked wonders!  Despite the intense heat, the ride east from Cocklebiddy felt a lot better as the gale force wind subsided into just a strong, gusty breeze.  Sods law, my rear tyre punctured just as I finished my day at Madura Roadhouse.  The puncture wasn’t caused by a sharp object on the road but turned out to have been caused by a broken spoke pushing up into the tube through the wheel rim.  Unfortunately, I couldn’t find my spare spokes so had to complete some running repairs on the wheel in the hope that it would hold out until I could reach the next bike shop in Ceduna, still another 438 miles away to the east.




With a slightly elliptical rear wheel I descended down the Madura Pass (just a small hill really) onto the Roe Plain (a truly miserable place bordered for its entire length by an escarpment and known locally as “The Basin”).  At this stage, I was very worried that the wheel would just give out because of the distance I still had to cover.  Worse still, long stretches of the road appeared to have just been relaid with something like tiny cobble-stones (probably something to do with the fact that the Royal Flying Doctor Service regularly use this road for take-offs and landings).  With the bike literally shaking to pieces and a cold headwind making progress even more difficult, I decided to camp for the night at Mundrabilla Roadhouse.


An early start into a lighter headwind meant I made good progress across the remainder of “The Basin” and climbed up the escarpment at Eucla Pass (another small hill) to the picturesque oasis of Eucla Roadhouse, which overlooks the southern ocean.  A short walk out to the local weather station was well worth the effort as it allowed me to get an idea of future weather systems for the remainder of the Nullarbor Plain crossing.  Even though temperatures were baking hot at the time, the short visit did reassure me that I’d made the right decision to do a Spring crossing because the historical temperature records I saw for the Summer months were just far too dangerous (50+ Centigrade) to do anything other than stay in the shade.  I then made the short ride to Border Village, passing through the fruit Quarantine Zone, and finally leaving Western Australia and passing into South Australia.




Starting at 0500, this was to prove one of the toughest days of the whole crossing.  The road to Nullarbor Village runs right alongside the Bunda Cliffs and is completely exposed, with the result that an already strong easterly headwind was made doubly worse by gales coming straight in off the ocean.  The cliffs run continuously for about 130 miles from Eucla to Head of the Bight and whilst the views from the top of the sheer, 300’ cliffs are spectacular, they are also very scary (watch for crumbling cliff face).  After 14-hours in dreadful wind and heat, I arrived at Nullarbor Village, totally exhausted.


DAY-15 & DAY-16


Got woken up in the early morning by an aeroplane taking off from a dirt runway a few yards from my tent!  Because of the already oppressive heat, I decided to take some time out to visit a place called Head of the Bight, about 17-miles south east of Nullarbor Roadhouse.  This is where as many as 170-Southern Right Whales congregate each year between May and October.  There’s a little boardwalk to viewing platforms which give spectacular views of the whales swimming in the turquoise ocean as well as stunning views of the Bunda Cliffs and distant, white sand dunes.  Don’t stray from the boardwalk as there are dangerous coastal Brown Snakes everywhere (one slithered past the Visitor Centre entrance just as I arrived).  Having spent far too much time whale watching, I decided to attempt an overnight ride to my next stop to make up for lost time.  I therefore set off at 2130 into a manageable headwind with lovely, warm temperatures hoping to arrive at Nundroo by morning.  Unfortunately, true to form, temperatures plummeted to below freezing shortly after leaving so it was on with the thermals again.  This proved to be a very hilly section of road although, thankfully, it did even out a bit the nearer I got to Nundroo.  On the way, I raced past a place called Yalata which, in the dark, looked suspiciously like the place in the Wolf Creek horror film!  A little further on from Yalata is a cattle (dingo) grid which marks the start of the longest dog fence in the world.  Just after sunrise, I arrived at Nundroo Roadhouse (which is run by a lovely girl from Edinburgh), had a huge breakfast, before carrying on to the tiny farming community of Penong.  The expected easy(ish) ride from Nundroo to Penong turned out to be incredibly difficult as a strong easterly gale quickly blew up amidst scorching temperatures.




Another early start and another weather nightmare.  An even stronger easterly gale in scorching temperatures meant extremely slow progress on the road to Ceduna.  Just before reaching Ceduna a gusting, dust/sand storm blew up so, shortly after passing through another fruit Quarantine Zone, I had to call it a day at Ceduna itself because of the deteriorating conditions.  However, the early finish gave me the opportunity to get my back wheel properly fixed and made “true” at a sports shop called Sports Power, located at 16C, McKenzie Street, Ceduna.  Once again, the shop staff proved to be ever so helpful with the owner going out of his way to get my wheel fixed as soon as possible.




After a good night’s rest, I set off at 0430 in another attempt to beat the wind.  However, another persistent, strong headwind made progress really difficult.  My legs virtually gave up on reaching Poochera but, thankfully, a bite to eat and short rest seemed to work wonders and I got a bit of a second wind.  The wind itself did die down in the late afternoon but this only heralded a downpour for the rest of the day.  A very long and tiring day ended in the early evening when I finally arrived at the small farming community of Wuddina.





A relatively late 0900 start into a lighter headwind and cooler temperatures saw me pass through a tiny place called Kyancutta before starting a very hilly section which ended at the small farming community of Kimba.  Still feeling the after-effects of yesterday’s ride, I decided to get some more rest in readiness for the following day.




In another attempt to beat the winds, I made an early 0410 start in freezing conditions.  Fortunately, there was only a light headwind all the way to the old mining outpost of Iron Knob, although the road itself was quite hilly.  I stopped for a rest and a nice mug of tea at the mining museum in Iron Knob a place which, like many others I encountered across the country, had obviously seen better days.  For information, I was told that the huge iron ore mine in Iron Knob would be re-opening sometime in 2012 so at least there’s some hope of a recovery.  Just after leaving Iron Knob, true to form, yet another gale force easterly started up and with temperatures soaring in a totally barren landscape, the ride to Port Augusta was to prove really difficult.  However, my spirits were lifted when I finally got to the end of the Eyre Highway, having endured it for 1,070 miles since leaving Norseman.  I had finally crossed the Nullarbor Plain.  That said, the last 10-15 miles of riding into Port Augusta were very hazardous as all the heavy Port Lincoln traffic from the south of the Eyre Peninsula merges with the road into Port Augusta.



With the Nullarbor Plain now behind me, a day of high hopes was, however, to turn into one of near disaster.  The previous night, a winter storm, all the way from Antarctica, had blown up and had begun hitting the south and east of Australia.  I headed south on Route-1 into the strongest winds I’d yet encountered and was barely able to stay upright let alone make any significant progress.  After nearly 3-hours of struggle in really dangerous traffic, I finally got to turn left (east) off Route-1 (14-miles south of Port Augusta) and started to make the climb up the Horrocks Pass in the Flinders Range.  Horrocks Pass, although relatively short in length, is very steep with numerous switch backs.  Even in the best of conditions I think it would be difficult to climb with loaded panniers.  Unfortunately, I started the climb just as a torrential hail storm hit which, accompanied by the stormy winds, made the climb about as tough as it gets.  Cycling against literally a river of ice/hail flowing down the Pass, I somehow managed to reach the top and carried on to the tiny community of Wilmington.  Drenched and completely numb with cold, I abandoned my day’s riding after only 27 miles and took refuge in a campsite cabin to warm up.  I was later told that over 5” of hail/sleet/freezing-rain fell in just the first 3-hours of the downpour and this then carried on for the rest of the day and into the early hours of the following day.




An 0700 start into the remnants of the previous day’s storm meant painfully slow progress through Orroro and on to the small community of Peterborough.  Around mid-afternoon, a few miles outside Peterborough, I turned left (north east) onto the Barrier Highway (Route-32).  Immediately on joining this road, the strong winds finally began to work in my favour and, aided by a wonderful tailwind, I literally flew up the road to a tiny place called Yunta where I camped for the night.  Tailwind aside, I think this stretch of the Barrier Highway was actually the best road surface for cycling I experienced during the whole ride; very smooth and slick.  Even the countryside suddenly appeared quite picturesque for a change!




An early start into a light headwind and soaring temperatures saw me passing through the tiny outposts of Manna Hill, Olary and Cockburn before leaving South Australia and entering New South Wales.  Not long after, I arrived at the town of Broken Hill, where I spent the night.  This had been a long and tough day along a fairly hilly section of the Barrier Highway with the only highlights being the site of a Bearded Dragon lizard and being accompanied by 2-emus running right alongside my bike for 400 yards!



An early 0530 start into yet more wind meant slow progress until about 1000 when the temperature suddenly rocketed and the wind died down.  The 50-mile ride to Little Topar Roadhouse was very hard going and was made even worse when, just short of the Roadhouse itself, I had to ride through a huge swarm of locusts.  Luckily, I already had face netting on to keep the flies away, but my arms and legs didn’t half sting as the locusts continually hit bare skin.  It’s quite a sight seeing the road surface and air above it literally “moving” with millions of insects as you cycle along.  After a short break at Little Topar, I made my way into oven-like temperatures on the road to Wilcannia.  The ride to Wilcannia was a pretty awful experience, not least because of the heat and yet another afternoon wind which suddenly blew up from nowhere.  I had previously been warned by a number of Australians I had met all along my route that I should be very wary about staying in or around Wilcannia as it was deemed to be something like the “wild west” with its drug and alcohol problems.  With this in mind, I decided not to camp out but stayed in a nice little motel run by a wonderful lady who, seeing the exhausted state I was in after my day’s riding, decided to cook me steak and vegetables with chocolate pudding for afters – wonderful!  For what it’s worth, Wilcannia itself seemed to be just a quiet, little town on the Darling River and I experienced no problems whatsoever.


DAY-25 & DAY-26


I decided to do the long haul to Cobar as a day/night ride as I didn’t fancy spending another full day in the baking hot sun.  After a good night’s sleep and huge breakfast, I set off at 1000 into the customary  headwind and rode over the Maculloch Ranges before completing the day-leg at Emmdale Roadhouse, where I sheltered out of the blazing sun.  Just before sunset, I started the long night-leg in lovely, warm conditions with just a gentle breeze.  Although this section appeared fairly hilly (it’s difficult to judge just how hilly it really was in the dark), the night leg went well despite the mercury plummeting around midnight.  Unfortunately, after what had seemed to be a really good ride, the last 20-miles into Cobar proved incredibly difficult as the efforts of the previous couple of days finally caught up with me.  Shattered, I arrived at Cobar just before sunrise and immediately caught up with some much needed sleep.  Cobar itself was a nice little mining town with plenty of facilities including a library with internet.  Thankfully, it also had an electronics shop which had a universal camera-battery charger (the first such shop on my route since Esperance).




After a good days’ rest at Cobar, I set off at 0530 with the aim of finally getting off the Barrier Highway.  The first 30-miles east out of Cobar were something of a culture shock as the seemingly never-ending desert brush suddenly gave way to a very hilly, winding, thickly forested road.  This section proved a real struggle and was made worse by an awful road surface.  The forested section then gave way to grassy plain which almost immediately heralded the advent of very humid conditions.  Having been in “dry heat” ever since leaving Perth, the sudden humidity came as something of a surprise (the humidity was to last for the remainder of the crossing).  In soaring temperatures, I picked up some water in a tiny place called Hermidale before getting some supplies in the small town of Nyngan.  There then followed an arrow-straight ride of 39-miles along a perfectly flat road from Nyngan to Nevertire, after which I finally turned left (north) off the Barrier Highway and rode the short distance to the town of Warren, where I camped for the night.  The afternoon heralded the arrival of thunderstorms which would become quite a common feature for the next few days.




After an 0630 start in overcast, humid conditions, the ride to Gilgandra was made worse by another strong headwind and a terrible road surface.  After stopping for refreshments at Gilgandra, I made the turn north and joined the Newell Highway (Route-39).  The searing heat and energy-sapping humidity of the afternoon became too much so I decided to stop at a picturesque little place called Tooraweenah for the night.  Luckily, I had decided to treat myself and sleep in a campsite cabin, as opposed to my tent, because shortly after sunset, a monumental thunderstorm hit which swamped the whole site.  If I had been in my tent, I would have floated away!




The 36-mile ride from Tooraweenah to the small town of Coonabarabran was very hard work.  Riding through the Warrumbungle Range with its never-ending hills and poor road surface was bad enough, but to make matters worse, there was suddenly a huge increase in the number of road trains and other trucks to contend with.  For information, the Warrumbungle Range is home to Australia’s astronomy community and you can get a clear view of the Siding Spring Observatory on the road to Coonabarabran (you can also visit it if you take an alternative route out of Tooraweenah).  After a dangerous morning’s ride, I stopped at the pretty, little town of Coonabarabran for a bite to eat.  Even here, the road trains and trucks were clogging the streets and this was to be pretty much the norm for the remainder of the crossing.  Leaving Coonabarabran in sweltering, afternoon heat, the road north remained very hilly for about another 25-miles but gradually evened out after that.  However, the road surface remained pretty awful for the entire stretch to Narabri, where I spent the night.  This had been another very tough day.




Woke up feeling terrible and I really wasn’t looking forward to getting back on the bike.  However, after a couple of miles in the saddle, I was suddenly making excellent progress, helped in no small part by much cooler and less humid conditions.  I had flown through the tiny farming outposts of Edgeroi, Bellata and Gury and was even aiming to get as far as the Queensland border town of Goondiwindi that evening because of the more favourable conditions.  However, I should have known not to underestimate the Australian weather as, just before reaching the town of Moree, the heavens opened and the roads quickly flooded with 3-4 inches of muddy water making it impossible to see the actual road surface.  Fearing that I might ride into one of the many potholes and wreck my bike, and with the countless road trains and trucks driving dangerously close to me through the floods, I decided to play safe and sought shelter at Moree shortly after midday.  The downpour continued throughout the afternoon and this day was to be one of my real low points of the whole crossing.




Desperate to make up for lost time and with the roads now more or less clear of floodwater, I decided to set off again at the unholy hour of 0130.  A miserable ride through a blanket of impenetrable fog became a little easier when the fog finally burnt away about an hour after sunrise.  Not long after that I crossed the border into Queensland, finally leaving the Newell Highway and entering the town of Goondiwindi.  Another huge breakfast, followed by a short rest gave me a second wind and with the clocks receding 1-hour on entering Queensland, I decided to press on and make the most of the conditions.  Turning east on Route-42, there was an almost immediate deterioration in the road surface which made for uncomfortable progress.  The heat, humidity and constant misery of flies helped make things even more uncomfortable.  An exhausting ride through the small communities of Yelerbon and Inglewood finally came to an end at a tiny place called Karara, where I stayed the night.  Ever since leaving Moree, the terrain had been pretty flat but about 20-miles west of Karara, the road suddenly became an almost continuous roller coaster.  Unfortunately the last 20-mile stretch coincided with darkness falling and an even worse road surface, with potholes now replaced by craters.  As if that wasn’t enough, the dangerous road trains and trucks suddenly started clogging up the road again.  After a number of frighteningly close-calls, the lights of Karara were a really welcome sight.  An 18-hour day covering 174-miles had thankfully ended (longest day in the saddle and longest daily distance).




Despite what promised to be a long, tough ride still ahead of me, I decided to throw caution to the wind and see if I could make it to Surfers Paradise in one day.  After an 0400 start, I completed the hilly, 32-mile stretch to Warwick, where I had the luxury of a full English breakfast.  In cloudy and sticky conditions, I left Warwick heading north east on the Cunningham Highway (Route-15) and started a long, uphill climb which finally ended at a place called Cunningham Gap, at the top of the Main Range National Park mountains.  There are wonderful views over the surrounding countryside here.  After a short rest and a quick snack, I started a fantastic, free-wheeling descent down the eastern side of the mountains.  Because of the length and severity of the downhill slope (probably about 14% in places), there are strict speed limits imposed on road trains and trucks so it gave me great pleasure speeding past them all for a change.  This descent seemed to go on forever and whilst the really steep sections are over after a few miles, I could swear the overall descent lasted for close on 15-miles.  Not long afterwards, I made a right turn (south-east) on the road to Boonah and this heralded an immediate break from the relentless road trains and trucks on their way up to Brisbane.  Very tired, but with spirits lifted, I struggled to complete the tough, hilly sections to Boonah and Beaudesert before reaching Nerang and enjoying a leisurely, flat final few miles into Surfers Paradise.  Arriving in darkness, I had finally crossed Australia.



8.         Here are a few snippets of information which may also prove useful to anyone considering riding across Australia:


a.         Bike Wheels & Tyres


The road surfaces get extremely hot so check spokes and pressures regularly.  Carry spare dust caps and presta/schraeder adaptors for tyre valves.  I managed to get across the country with the same set of tyres (Schwalbe Marathon) and they were of such good quality that I didn’t have to rotate them once. Always dismount when negotiating cattle/dingo-grids and rail crossings.  Off the sealed road, beware saltbush thorns (sometimes called “3-Cornered Jacks”), and broken glass which is, quite literally, everywhere.


b.         Road Signs


Small, green, triangular-shaped signs indicate the next location and distance still to travel in Km.  For instance, a green sign on Route-40 in Western Australia showing “RA” above the number “40” (white lettering on green background) means that the town of Ravensthorpe is 40 Km away.  Another useful sign will be located with 5 Km to go to the town.  This is a fairly large, blue sign with white lettering indicating what facilities you can find in the town.  Nearly all road signs have been used for target practice!


c.         Wildlife – Birds


On a lighter note, it seems that Australian birds can’t sing but are happy to simply screech and make one hell of a racket – they are incredibly beautiful though.  One thing I certainly didn’t vouch for were the continuous, daily attacks by magpies.  One moment I’d be cycling along minding my own business and the next they’d be swooping down from hundreds of yards away, clawing and pecking at my crash helmet.  I was informed by a number of Australians that, during nesting season, this is a common occurrence right across the country – and a good reason to keep my helmet on at all times.

d.         Wildlife – General


During my ride I saw all manner of wildlife including many kangaroos, camels, a wombat, a dingo, numerous emus (especially in New South Wales), and hundreds of different lizards.  The mid-morning rides through Western Australia, especially, were quite an eye opener as the tarmac at the edge of the roads is frequently occupied by hundreds of lizards and, more worryingly, the occasional snake, all of which were warming up in the morning sun.  Unfortunately, many of these reptiles do tend to get run over by traffic.  I had very close calls (a couple of feet) with a Tiger snake near Varley and a Dugite near Esperance, both of which were in the middle of the road.  The sight of one of these deadly snakes really does concentrate your mind on the road ahead!

e.         Wildlife – Spiders


If I sat down anywhere for a rest (day or night) – I always checked for spiders and/or their webs.  I lost count of the number of spiders and/or webs I saw underneath the benches and tables at rest stops which are dotted along many roads.  Just west of Caiguna, I did manage to walk into a huge web at head height which was hidden by the low sunlight – I just managed to get out of it as a spider the size of my hand appeared!

f.          Wildlife – Road-kill


From Day-1 of the ride, the sight and awful smell of obliterated kangaroos and emus strewn across the road was a constant feature.  On some stretches of road there was absolute carnage (I vividly remember on the Nullarbor Plain between Madura and Mundrabilla as being particularly bad).  However, I was told that the Spring road-kill I experienced was nothing compared    to the Summer months when thousands of kangaroos, grazing right up at the roadsides in search of the remaining green shrubs, stray into the road and are killed.  I even spoke to one trucker at Cocklebiddy Roadhouse who had just witnessed a road train ploughing into a herd of wild camels crossing the road west of Balladonia Roadhouse.  Whatever the road-kill, always be very            wary of the many sharp bone shards capable of puncturing any tyres.

g.         Hay-fever


I had actually planned to take hay-fever tablets with me from the UK – but forgot to pack them!  As a result of my oversight, riding through Western Australia in Spring was a miserable experience.  Spring is the wildflower-pollen season.  Even worse is the pollen from the vast fields of a crop called Canola (I think      this crop is similar to rape seed in the UK).  Basically, I’ve never suffered hay-fever as bad as I did in Western Australia.


h.         Useful Items


Some items which all proved really useful:


4 x bungy straps

Elasticated washing line and pegs

Mosquito netting (for tent and to cover head)

Black bin bags (which I used to line my panniers)

Small alarm clock

LED headlamp; spare batteries

Factor 35

Tin opener

Watertight A4 and A5 plastic pouches (to protect essential

paperwork; passport; etc.)


i.          Australian Time Zones


These were hard to keep up with but clocks advanced 45-minutes just east of Caiguna Roadhouse in Western Australia and advanced another 45-minutes when I left Western Australia and entered South Australia.  They advanced another 1-hour when I crossed from South Australia into New South Wales (although the town of Broken Hill in New South Wales was still on South Australia time).  The clocks went back 1-hour when I left New South Wales and entered Queensland.  Apparently, “Daylight Savings” is not adopted by all Australian States and leads to widespread confusion (there are also two completely baffling 45-minute time changes in the middle of the Nullarbor Plain!).


j.          The Weather


It didn’t take me long to realise just how harsh and unforgiving the Australian weather could be.  That said, nothing was as bad as the constant, demoralising headwinds and gales.  An unseasonal series of High Pressure weather systems off the southern coast of Australia resulted in an easterly airstream across the land (if I had been cycling east to west I’d have been laughing).  Apparently, the freakish Spring weather across Australia (which I can vouch for) and the awful weather and floods since has all been caused by a phenomenon called “El Nina”.  That said, when it comes to predicting the ideal time of year to cross, or whether to select a west/east or east/west route – it’s just a game of chance and all choices will have pros and cons.


k.         Food


Cycling across Australia gives you an enormous appetite.  I ate so much food during the ride but still always felt hungry.  One item of food I really could have done with throughout the ride was bananas but I didn’t actually see an edible banana until I’d reached Ceduna in South Australia.  Wherever I was, I always carried enough food to see me through to at least the next outpost.  On the Nullarbor Plain, I found that buying frozen loaves of bread at the Roadhouses was a good way of keeping up energy levels – they defrost in no time and at A$4-5 were something of a bargain compared to other food prices.  If you like sweets and chocolate, all Australian shops sell UK favourites like Dairy Milk, Mars, Bounty, Sherbert Fountains and, best of all, Everton Mints.


l.          Water


I drank water almost continuously to stave off dehydration.  Everyone will have different    needs and this will quickly become evident out on the road.  The fear of picking up a bug through contaminated water meant that I stuck to bottled water for more or less the whole crossing.  Some places had de-salination plants (e.g. Caiguna Roadhouse) and this water was perfectly OK to drink. I never had to drink bore water although I did carry Chlorine tablets in case of an emergency.  I immediately got into a routine of drinking a Litre of water before sleep and a Litre of water before setting off in the morning.  I usually carried at least 6-8 Litres on each leg of my journey (equivalent to an extra 13 to 18 lbs weight).

m.        Cost of Living


I was amazed at just how expensive everything was in Australia.  Food and water is not cheap, so beware.  Many of the Roadhouses have a monopoly on business for hundreds of miles around – they know it and charge accordingly (e.g. a small Mars bar for A$4 – equivalent UK price £2.70!).  It was mentioned to me that you can get your own back on the Roadhouses by not saying anything and pretending to be a trucker – that way you’d be entitled to free tea and coffee (not that I would do such a thing).

n.         Money Supply


I carried my UK Debit & Credit Cards to fund essential expenditure.  Cash was readily available right across the country including at all of the Nullarbor Plain Roadhouses.  There were no ATM Fees in Australia.


o.         Australians & Australia


Always friendly, personable and generous, they were a great bunch.  I lost count of the number of times people in caravans and RVs offered me tea and biscuits at stops in the middle of nowhere.  As for the Country – well, away from the glittering coastal cities, don’t expect too much – the interior is about as harsh a place as you can imagine.  You’ve really got to take your hat off to people that live in the interior.


p.         Road Trains


From Perth to Surfers Paradise, virtually every road I cycled on was deemed to be a “Highway” of some sort, e.g. the main trans-continental route across the Nullarbor Plain is the Eyre Highway.  These “Highways” are all single lane in each direction and are roughly equivalent in width to UK “B” roads, i.e. fairly narrow.  There is usually a white-line at the left side of each lane and then maybe 2-feet of further tarmac verge before hitting dirt.  All this would be OK if it wasn’t for the fact that virtually all of these roads are used by a never-ending stream of road trains, trucks and other wide-load vehicles.  Whilst nearly all motorists I saw were respectful of other motorists (more often than not giving a friendly wave as they passed each other), the same can’t always be said of the truckers who were amongst the most inconsiderate and dangerous motorists that I have ever seen.  Virtually all the truckers are on tight, cross-country schedules and simply don’t understand the concept of braking and slowing down; they think nothing of intimidating other motorists and road users; they habitually tailgate; they continually flout speed limits and disregard road signs, and they are generally held in contempt by your average Australian motorist because they seem to think they are above the Law.  I narrowly escaped being wiped out on a number of occasions so if I can give a tip on how to survive them it would be to:


Stop and get completely off the tarmac and well onto the dirt if you think road trains or trucks going in opposite directions are going to cross near you;


If you see a wide/oversize load coming up behind you, stop and get completely off the tarmac;


If you happen to be riding at night and you hear an engine or see lights, stop and get completely off the tarmac (if I saw any vehicle lights approaching in either direction at night, I always stopped and got right off the tarmac as nearly all vehicles tended to ride the centre-line in darkness).  Night time on the Nullarbor Plain, you’ll get plenty of warning as you can see vehicle lights from about 20 miles away!


If you are unfortunate enough to be riding into a headwind and a truck approaches you in the opposite lane, brace yourself and hold on tight or there’s a good chance of crashing.


q.         In Hindsight


The route I chose was generally OK but in hindsight I would have done it this way if I’d known about some of the really dangerous stretches of road I encountered:


At Cobar, NSW – head north to Bourke then east to Walgett and north east to Moree.


At Warwick, QLD – head south east to Killarney then north east to Beaudesert.



9.         Despite many low points, riding across Australia was quite an experience.  There are some amazing places to see along the way but the sight of the Pacific Ocean at Surfers Paradise beat them all!  If you can put up with the barren landscapes, heat, wind, storms, flies, poisonous spiders and snakes, you’ll love it.



10.       My detailed route and mileage chart is shown below:


AUSTRALIA BIKE ROUTE   (My end of day mileages are shown in BOLD)                       








City Beach, PERTH Brookton




(WA)   X Darling Range(*Diverted via Fremantle)
Brookton Corrigin




Corrigin Kondinin




Kondinin Karlgarin




Karlgarin Hyden




Wave Rock / Lake Magic
Hyden Varley




Varley Lake King




Lake King Ravensthorpe




Ravensthorpe Munglinup



1 (South Coast Hwy)

Munglinup Dalyup



1 (South Coast Hwy)




1 (South Coast Hwy)

Bike Shop



1 (Esperance Hwy)

Gibson Scaddan



1 (Esperance Hwy)

Scaddan Grass Patch



1 (Esperance Hwy)

Grass Patch Salmon Gums



1 (Esperance Hwy)

Salmon Gums Kumarl



1 (Esperance Hwy)




1 (Esperance Hwy)

NORSEMAN Fraser Range



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Fraser Range Balladonia



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Balladonia Caiguna



1 (Eyre Hwy)

91-Mile Straight Road
Caiguna Cocklebiddy



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Cocklebiddy Madura



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Madura Mundrabilla



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Mundrabilla Eucla



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Eucla Border Village



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Border Village Nullarbor



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Head of Bight (Whales) / Bunda Cliffs
Nullarbor Yalata



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Yalata Colona



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Colona Nundroo



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Nundroo Bookabie



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Bookabie Penong



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Penong Ceduna



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Bike Shop
Ceduna Wirrulla



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Wirrulla Poochera



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Poochera Wuddina



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Wuddina Kyancutta



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Kyancutta Kimba



1 (Eyre Hwy)

Kimba Iron Knob



1 (Eyre Hwy)




1 (Eyre Hwy)

Bike Shop











A1 & B82

X Horrocks Pass & Flinders Range
Wilmington Orroroo




Orroroo Peterborough




Peterborough Nackara



B56 & 32 (Barrier)

Nackara Paratoo



32 (Barrier Hwy)

Paratoo Yunta



32 (Barrier Hwy)

Yunta Manna Hill



32 (Barrier Hwy)

Manna Hill Olary



32 (Barrier Hwy)

Olary Mingary



32 (Barrier Hwy)




32 (Barrier Hwy)

BROKEN HILL Little Topar



32 (Barrier Hwy)

Little Topar Wilcannia



32 (Barrier Hwy)

Wilcannia Emmdale



32 (Barrier Hwy)

X Maculloch Range
Emmdale Cobar



32 (Barrier Hwy)

Cobar Hermidale



32 (Barrier Hwy)

Hermidale Nyngan



32 (Barrier Hwy)

Nyngan Nevertire



32 (Barrier Hwy)

Nevertire Warren




Warren Coollie




Coollie Gilgandra




Gilgandra Tooraweenah



39 (Newell Hwy)

Tooraweenah Coonabarabran



39 (Newell Hwy)

X Warrumbungle NP
Coonabarabran Narrabri



39 (Newell Hwy)

Narrabri Edgeroi



39 (Newell Hwy)

Edgeroi Bellata



39 (Newell Hwy)

Bellata Gury



39 (Newell Hwy)

Gury Moree



39 (Newell Hwy)

Moree Boggabilla



39 (Newell Hwy)

Boggabilla Goondiwindi



39 (Newell Hwy)

Goondiwindi Yelerbon




Yelerbon Inglewood




Inglewood Karara




Karara Warwick




Warwick Boonah



15 & 90

X Cunningham Gap & Main Range NP
Boonah Beaudesert




Beaudesert Nerang









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