A blog about cycling...especially the long distance stuff

Thursday, 18 May 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Trip Summary

This page is here to share my trip data from the Perth to Adelaide tour, and may be useful for others planning a similar trip.

             Blog link / Distance / Elevation Gain / Route link

Day 1:   Perth to Mandurah / 110km / +? -? / No route link, sorry
Day 2:   Mandurah to Bunbury /  103km / +226m / Route
Day 3:   Bunbury to Margaret River / 142km / +609m / Route
Day 5:   Margaret River to Alexander Bridge / 85km / +607m / Route
Day 6:   Alexander Bridge to Northcliffe / 123km / +1154m / Route
Day 7:   Northcliffe to Bow Bridge / 128km / +1297m / Route
Day 8:   Bow Bridge to Albany / 96km / +593m / Route
Day 10: Albany to Jerramungup / 173km / +1117m / Route
Day 11: Jerramungup to Jerdacuttup / 173km / +1154m / Route
Day 12: Jerdacuttup to Esperance /  131km / +573m / Route
Day 14: Esperance to Salmon Gums / 109km / +431m / Route
Day 15: Salmon Gums to Norseman / 97km / +324m / Route
Day 16: East of Norseman / 161km / +687m / Route
Day 17: 90 Mile Straight / 161km / +190m / Route
Day 18: Cocklebiddy / 161km / +197m / Route 
Day 19: Mundrabilla / 163km / +117m / Route
Day 20: Nullarbor Plain / 133km / +228m / Route
Day 21: Nullarbor Roadhouse / 131km / +147m / Route
Day 22: Nundroo /  142km / +602m / Route
Day 23: Ceduna / 153km / +542m / Route
Day 25: Ceduna to Streaky Bay / 111km / +443m / Route
Day 26: Streaky Bay to Wudinna / 137km / +490m / Route
Day 27: Wudinna to Kimba / 102km / +604m / Route
Day 28: Kimba to Port Augusta / 158km / +520m / Route
Day 30: Port Augusta to Gladstone / 122km / +768m / Route
Day 31: Gladstone to Riverton / 102km / +760m / Route
Day 32: Riverton to Tanunda  / 57km / +439m / Route 
Day 33: Tanunda to Adelaide / 82km / +396m / Route

Total Distance: 3,562km
Total Elevation: 12,371m
Rest Days: Margaret River, Albany, Esperance, Ceduna, Port Augusta
Daily ride Average: 127km per day
Nullarbor Average: 151km per day

2017 Information on Roadhouses between Norseman & Ceduna

As a cyclist you will depend on these, as I saw nowhere else to get water on my trip that you could count on. Just looking at a roadhouse seems to empty your wallet! So be prepared for that. For example, a 1.5 litre bottle of water costed about $6 when I went through. The better roadhouses were Eucla, Balladonia, Border Village and Nullarbor. The worst: Mundrabilla, Nundroo with the rest somewhere in between. Some other resources online talk about a roadhouse at Yalata, but this is now permanently closed.

These are the distances between roadhouses, riding West to East From Norseman towards Ceduna:

Balladonia:        190km
Caiguna:            181km
Cocklebiddy:     66km
Madura:             91km
Mundrabilla:     116km
Eucla:                64km
Border Village: 13km
Nullarbor          186km
Nundroo           142km
Ceduna:            152km

I will add some more information about weather and gear sometime soon.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 33 - Final Day

I had luxury of a very late start today in order to time my arrival in Adelaide with a pretty awesome treat...my wife meeting me at the finish line! Whilst it is not very far to cycle today, entering an unfamiliar city by bicycle is always challenging so I was allowing plenty of time for navigating busy streets. The first task was to get out of Tanunda and ride to Gawler. The 2 towns are (almost) connected by a sealed bike path called the Jack Bobridge Track. Tanunda also has a cycling hub facility which I had a quick peek at on my way out. It has a secure lock up facility, electronic bike bump...and coolest of all, a vending machine for inner tubes which I certainly haven't seen before until now!

Jack Bobridge Bicyle Path. The Grapes - St Hallets
The bike path was a bit random. It takes a very circuitous route, sometimes its just the footpath, sometimes it would veer weirdly through some hotel car park and be pretty hard to follow, and other times it would route around the back of huge vineyards with some steep sections. This is the cellar door for the behemoth Jacobs Creek which it skirts,for example.

Jacobs Creek
But it was still good to stay out of traffic as the road looked both narrow and busy. Once at Gawler I pulled over at a coffee shop to try and figure out the best way to enter the city. If I stuck to A roads it would be less than 50km from here, or there were a few B road options quite a bit longer. In the end I tried an A road for about 15km before finding it way to hairy for my liking so I got off it and just used the route finder on my GPS to get through the remaining distance to the city centre,

During all that there wasn't much time for reflection as I was too busy concentrating on navigation and traffic. So quite suddenly I found myself pulling in to Adelaide Parklands railway station...the finish line after riding thousands of kilometres for over a month, and my wonderful wife who had flown here to enjoy this moment with me. All I could manage was a loud burst of laughter as I pulled to a stop...I was done?!

A railway station may seem like an uninspiring  place to choose to finish, but it has personal significance to me in that 4 years ago I got the train from Melbourne to here and cycled over 1000km home along the coast. A year or so after that I then cycled from Melbourne up to Sydney. Both trips were challenging and exciting, but much easier than the crossing from Perth which at the time I hadn't seriously considered undertaking as it just seemed impossibly far and remote.
A series of events would transpire to change that fear into action. The first, was when my father was dieing in a hospital bed in France. I was flying over there to say goodbye to him. I can't recall if it was the flight there or back, as I was in a bit of a mess as you'd expect. But on the in flight entertainment there was a documentary about cycling available called 'Inspired To Ride'. Its about an amateur cycling race across the USA. No prize money, no trophy, and the riders have to be completely self supported. The only reward at the end coming from their own battles with pain and extreme perseverance. The rider that won was a British bloke called Mike Hall and I was just gobsmacked by his insane levels of endurance, way beyond that of even pro Tour de France riders.

Mike Hall - photo credit: Road.cc
For example, he would cycle through the night for days on end, without any sleep at all. Watching all of these riders, but particularly Mike and also Juliana Buhring both helped picked me up at the time, and got me thinking about maybe pushing myself a bit further...maybe I could have a go at Perth and see what happens? Completing a whole crossing of Australia would be cool!

In the documentary, at one point Mike is asked what is adventure? He said: "...it is different for everybody...but its more about: does it [what you are doing] intimidate you, does it worry you that you are taking on something a bit bigger than you thought it was going to be?"

Mike Hall was killed by a motorist in March when competing in a similar race across Australia. My own ride was a thousand times easier than his, but I nevertheless felt like I was riding behind him at times, and when struggling would remind myself: "What would Mike do"? And he sure as hell would not give up. Ride on bro...

In researching the best conditions to attempt a crossing from Perth I had settled on April/May as the best time to go in order to avoid insanely hot outback weather, and have the best chance of light winds. Late last year I looked at how much leave from work I had, and made the decision: I could train over summer and have a crack next April.

At this point a colleague at work was in a heck of a fight with cancer, and her plight was devastating. In addition to her another close colleague had recently lost her Dad to Cancer and her mum was in a fight to survive. Maybe my bike ride could do something positive for others as well? I looked into Cancer charities and Cure Cancer Australia stood out as being a very cool idea, to target innovation in research and for all kinds of cancer. So the plan was hatched!

Needless to say, I had plenty of doubts about whether I'd actually make it or not!! Especially once underway. On the first few days of the trip the bike felt so heavy and slow, I was tired at the end of relatively short days, and still had such a long way to go! But without those doubts it would not have been such an adventure. It was only after my 3 day ride from Albany to Esperance covering 480km that I started to build some confidence and had got used riding with a heavy load. After that, chance encounters with strangers, all so incredibly generous and caring, and all the support from friends, family and colleagues kept me going! Thank you all so much, especially my wife for enduring my selfish undertaking....

So far we have raised over $5300! The donate page is here if this has sparked your interest.

...So, if an average middle aged bloke with a desk job can cycle across a continent and raise a bit of money for a good cause, what can you do?

Total distance today: 82km
Total trip distance: 3562km

Tuesday, 16 May 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 32 - Tanunda

I had a day to fill today so had the pleasure of a detour to the Barossa Valley before I ride into Adelaide tomorrow to end the trip. It was a nice easy ride today, only 56km, and has the added benefit of making tomorrow a pretty straight forward route into the centre of the city off the worst of the main roads, hopefully.

I was fascinated riding down Seppeltsfield Rd which is bristling with big name Shiraz vineyards. Vines seemed to line every inch of available space, and most looked extremely healthy unlike the Clare valley for some reason. Or, maybe it was just a bit more opulent?

I did not call in at any, but enjoyed getting some context on the place for some excellent wines. Tanunda is a super cool town as well, bursting with interesting cellar doors, shops and even gardens. But I could not quite make up my mind on what to do and felt like I should still be cycling or something.

So, tomorrow will be the last day I get up out of bed and ride to a new place. But it is not quite yet time to reflect on the last month of living a pretty simple nomadic life, even though tomorrow is just a short days ride to the end, it would be a bad time to lose focus.

In mountaineering, climbers talk about 'GetHomeItis'. This is the 'disease' that gets you killed on the way down. You die because you think you are done just because you got to the summit, but most cimbers die coming down. For me, my summit was Ceduna after crossing the Nullarbor and I have been descending ever since. There were plenty of traps for the unwary so staying focused was a pretty good idea!

I also have work to do in order to hit my fundraising target for Cure Cancer Australia...so not done yet!

Total distance today: 56km

Monday, 15 May 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 31 - Riverton

In Gladstone last night it was fine dining night...for the mozzies. They ate very well on yours truley despite repellent! It was also genuinely cold overnight, about 6 degrees, but I was quite snug in the tent anyway...maybe the itching kept me warm?

Once underway it was another brilliant, cool, clear autumn morning, and I set about the 75km lunch target of the infamous (in wine circles) town of Clare.

It was a nice ride on a B road without any hassles, the hills a mix of shades of browns and reds from recently ploughed earth. I was keen to push on to Clare to get a better breakfast than my leftover fruit which was all I had left in Gladstone..oh except for muesli bars as always!

After a few hill climbs and some decent descents with it, on I rolled into Clare to hit up a bakery I'd read about. Conveniently the bakery was right next to an entry point for The Reisling Trail...a very nice and very well maintained bike path that connects a lot of the local vineyards and other points of interest.

What an amazing ride this was! Hard packed dirt zipping through glorious vineyards and farmlands.  Had I not had further to ride, I would have stopped to try some wine, but I was actually pretty content just enjoying the cycling. Also I was pretty filthy looking after a month of cycling and may not have been a very pretty sight for tourist's trying to enjoy a wine tasting.

But this was cycling heaven...

Just the kind of cycling to enjoy after dodging road trains on highways in blustery winds. I was grinning from ear to ear.

The Reisling Trail (which is also part of the much bigger Mawson Trail) connects up with the Rattler trail at the town of Auburn, and this takes you to the next settlement of Riverton without having to ride on a road.

I will post a better map once home, as well as a gpx file.

Riverton was my target for the day. I'm now really close to Adelaide and could easily finish tomorrow, but will hold another day for a special treat on my final day!

It looks like my run of clear skies will come to an end sometime tomorrow, with some rain forecast. The Barossa valley is a mere 60km from here so I will ride a half day over there and look round if I can vaguelly smarten up enough to not get kicked out.

Distance today: 120km

Sunday, 14 May 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 30 - Gladstone

Ahh a day off yesterday. Its a funny feeling to not ride...almost guilt? But nice at the same time. I visited the Waldata Outback centre which was very interesting, great to learn a bit more about the Flinders Ranges I'd be riding in for the last part of the trip. The Aboriginal section was also really good and there were a few snippets about bushcraft and outback survival that I got quite engrossed in. In the section on the first Victorian explorers, their first journeys into the outback were epic, and in some cases, insane. Charles Sturt gets special mention for his insistance at the time that there is an inland sea in the centre of Australia...so on his expedition some poor sap (s) were dragging a boat. It did not go well. He did discover the vast Great Sandy Desert however!

Anyway, I was well rested this morning and keen to keep moving. Any more rest time and I'd go stale...momentum is important.
First, I had to leave town, and the good news there was that as it is early Sunday morning, the traffic was very light so it did not feel as scary as the approach into Port Augusta. Once clear of town, getting over these hills into the next valley was the next step:

But, at that very spot I took the photo from a damn strong headwind cropped up, not at all forecast and I think it was a local effect grom the Flinders Ranges. It took a long time to crawl the few kilometers to the start of the hill climb, which was then nice and still.

Once out of the wind I loved this climb! It was very steep and a the road followed a narrow little gorge. There was the odd car and truck but for the most part, it was just Beatrice and I vs the hill. I got into a nice rhythm, really focused on turning those pedals and got it done quickly.

The road then drops to the little town of Wilmington in the valley on the other side. I grabbed a coffee at a very cute cafe that had delicious cooking smells wafting from inside and watched an amusing drama unfold as a cocky grey nomad was joking and teasing the staff who were running round trying to prepare for a mothers day event the cafe was later hosting. The same caravaners were also surprised to see me there, they'd passed me coming up the hill.

After the town there were some dirt road options so I took those for a while just for a change. They were probably a bit too bumpy for a loaded bike, but Beatrice seemed to handle it fine.

But it was great being off the highway almost all day today. In fact, I should be able to get all the way into Adelaide without highways now, thanks to this diversion. And a beautiful diversion it is!

I started getting hungry again at the usual time, and was in a little town called Wirrabara. It all looked closed up for Sunday which was a bit of a problem as I was totally out of water as well. But on the edge of town I struck gold with this place:

Who had (more) coffee and a fantastic selection of home baked goods. I can vouch for the beetroot chocolate cake in particular...look away now if on a diet...

And they kindly let me fill my water bottles up as well. The area I'm entering for the next few days is known for it's gastronomic delights and so this felt like a good start!

After that little kick of energy, the last few km's for the day were easy. I rolled into Gladstone and got a fantastic warm welcome at the Caravan Park. I'll do a couple more nights in the tent, if the weather holds at least! Some rain to end the trip looks likely.

Distance today: 126km

Friday, 12 May 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 28 - Port Augusta

Last night I just couldn't quite sleep soundly, I could not shut the brain off from thinking about the day ahead! But after eating as many pieces of toast as I physically could for breakfast, it was finally time for action.

Kimba is most famous for its giant Galah statue  (sticking with the Aussie back country rule: if your town is a little bit short on the attractions front: build a big concrete sculpture of a Roo/whale/vegetable/bird etc).

But somehow in my haste to get moving this morning, my exit rote bypassed the town's famous Giant Galah! How I achieved this remains a mystery as there were not exactly a lot of streets in Kimba. The photo above is from wiki commons...

It was very cold this morning as the sun was etching it's way over the horizon, so I was grateful for a few hill climbs out of town to get warmed up quickly, and there were yet more endless roads disappearing off into the distance as far as you could see.

Beatrice was running silky smooth yet again, and urging an effort. When riding for a target of 160ish I break it down into 4x40km blocks and think only of the next block, which makes a bigger target a bit more palatable. I got through the first block nice and quickly and was feeling very  strong so the day was set up perfectly in great riding conditions.

So after a pit stop for a muesli bar and an apple, the lunch target was the proudly named town of Iron Knob. No, its not a pardody of a Marvel comic...its a massive mine that has eaten a hillside for the last 100 odd years.

Behind this monster was perhaps the most depressing 'town' I have ever scene. It sounds harsh but the place was strangely fascinating...every house seem to have some sort of rusted derelict metal out the front, a car, some girders...anything. It felt very post-apocalyptic and would make an excellent set location.

At the far end of town there was a tiny post office with a tiny fridge and a tiny selection of cold drinks available...how the place remains afloat is another mystery as everything else in town resembling a shop was long since boarded up. Surely I was the only customer all day? The girl serving was surprised to see me anyway.

I ate lunch outside the abandoned roadhouse, fully expecting something dead to come shuffling out from the undergrowth at any moment.

After Iron Knob the land opened up into more vast open space and I had 68km left to ride in order to hit Port Augusta. The wind picked up a little but thankfully never got serious, but what did become an issue was a very dangerous final stretch of 26km into town, after the road from Port Lincoln merged with the Erye Highway.

This was the scariest piece of road on the trip to date. No shoulder again, but the main problem was very aggressive driving. I was watching my mirror as best as possible and just pushing as hard as I could to minimise the amount of minutes exposed to such madness. Rounding a big sweeping descending corner finally revealed Port Ugusta off in the distance and it was a great relief to get to town.

I only have about 350km to go and my flight back booked 5 days away so will take another rest day tomorrow and look around town. Also there are some good options for safer roads into Adelaide if willing to ride further that I'd like to pin down a bit more.

Total today: 157km

Thursday, 11 May 2017

Perth to Adelaide - Day 27 - Kimba

Last night in the field behind my tent there seemed to be some kind of 24 hour ploughing operation going on which made sleeping a bit challenging...though given the epic sleeps on previous nights I was not exactly  short, compared to a week at work anyway!

I ate a very healthy, but probably not calorific enough breakfast and was on the move again nice and early. Only 11km from the caravan park I was staying at was the small settlement of Kyancutta, and it had a tiny little cafe with real coffee which was a welcome, if a little early distraction in the days riding. Sitting in the sunshine by their front window with a hot drink made it very difficult to get moving!

The target for today was another wheatbelt town, Kimba. The area is extremely arid getting a mere 300mm of rain a year and this must make farming very challenging...it felt greener in the outback from what I saw.

It was nice enough riding but a combination of the traffic increasing and not much, if any, shoulder, made it important to stay sharp. Also I was a bit flat today, maybe from not eating enough or a bit of general cycling fatigue. A bit more hill work here too, though nothing too big.

I rolled into Kimba quite early and fancied a night inside, the hotel here a step up from roadhouses but costing about the same. Currently I am eating everything in sight in preparation for one last big day tomorrow. This consists of 155km to Port Augusta. There are no supplies available all day by the look of it, so I am stocked up with a packed lunch and lots of water. Get this done, and I can really take my time on the last leg into Adelaide!

Distance today: 101km
Total trip distance to date: 2910km