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Trip Blog

Wed
22
Oct
Simon Parker's picture

BLOG: Outback Queensland shows us the love

The lookout at White Mountains, Queensland. Cycle Traveller

This latest leg of the GDR Route, which encompassed 1,160km over 16 days (12 of which were riding days) from Charters Towers to Injune, introduced us to the genuine friendliness of Outback Queensland. And this warmness comes at a time where the route traverses some of its most remote sections. It's an isolation that we find intoxicating, with the intense silence and stillness of some evenings lulling us into a restful sleep.

Tue
30
Sep
Simon Parker's picture

Cycling the GDR: Cairns to Charters Towers

The GDR route through Queensland. Cycle Traveller

Two quite divergent themes ran through the next leg of our trip, which had us covering 951km in 13 days from Cairns through to Charters Towers. The first is the staggering diversity in landscapes we passed through. From the sugar cane-laden flats of the coast, up through the rainforest clad mountains and into the dry interior of the Queensland Outback – this leg of The GDR is a smorgasbord of experiences.

 
Tue
16
Sep
Simon Parker's picture

Cycling the dusty red road of the Cape York Peninsula

Bicycle touring the dusty red road of Cape York, Queensland. Cycle Traveller

To say I was nervous before starting on our journey south from the Tip is a bit of an understatement. No matter how many people told us it was possible, it was still a nerve-wracking experience. My main concerns centred on the tyres we were forced to buy in Cairns, and the 1,000 or so kilometres of unsealed road we faced. Turns out none of Cairn's nine bike shops had tyres suitable for sandy off-road touring. We were at least happy to have had rear tyres that had excellent puncture protection and wall strength, despite being a little narrower than we would ideally have liked at only 700 x 35c. The front tyres were nice and wide at 700 x 42c with a good tread pattern for sandy soil, but a tad thin in the rubber for our liking as they were designed to be lightweight for cyclocross racing and not loaded touring. So to counter this we removed our front panniers to reduce pressure on the bead and added some Mr Tuffy tyre liners to prevent punctures.

Mon
25
Aug
Simon Parker's picture

The latest adventure starts in paradise

Cycling through the rainforest at Cape York on the GDR bicycle touring route. Cycle Traveller

It began with a simple conversation at a rest area just north of Elliot, in the Northern Territory. We were telling a Queensland couple about our plans to cycle and map the Great Dividing Range, starting in Cairns. "Were you considering doing Cape York as well," came the reply. "My son lives up there and he says they've only just been grading the main road as the wet season finished later than usual this year. So the road is probably pretty good at the moment."

Tue
19
Aug
Simon Parker's picture

In Darwin, the Red Centre Route ride is now complete!

Made it to Darwin. Red Centre bicycle touring route Australia. Cycle Traveller
Water – a precious commodity in Australia, the world's driest continent. Drinking enough of it became increasingly important as we cycled north to Darwin. Yet what was surprising to us at least was how often our route took us close to pristine water holes and streams, all swimmable, and all incredibly refreshing after a hard day in the saddle. Having soaked up Bitter Springs at Mataranka, our next stop north was Katherine. About 30km east of Katherine is what most people come here for, and that's Nitmiluk National Park, home of the stunning Katherine Gorge – a must see in my view. A series of 13 gorges, we spent the best part of a day hiking to and from a swimming spot in the first gorge, which we had to ourselves. 
Sat
02
Aug
Simon Parker's picture

Alice Springs to Mataranka: things are heating up

Bicycle touring Australia at Karlu Karlu, Devils Marbles. Cycle Traveller

We'd had a good break by the time we departed Alice Springs. After a lovely breakfast at a local cafe we took the Todd River path north via the Telegraph Station, before rejoining the Stuart Highway again. The road took us upwards to the highest point on the entire Stuart Highway, at 760 metres. We had more glimpses of the impressive MacDonnell Ranges as we rode north, and we also enjoyed a brief stop at the Tropic of Capricorn rest area, about 30km north of Alice Springs. While the tropics were now on our mind, eager as we were to move on from the cold weather we had experienced down south, it would be a few days yet before we noticed any change in temperature as we remained at a reasonable elevation during this period.

Thu
17
Jul
Simon Parker's picture

On the road from Coober Pedy to Alice Springs

Reaching the Northern Territory border with Darren. Cycle Traveller

After cycling more than 2,000km since leaving Adelaide, we have reached the desert outpost of Alice Springs in the Northern Territory – the perfect place to rest our legs for a few days. Since my last update, the Highway north from Coober Pedy took us through countless piles of multicoloured earth that mark individual opal mines. It's an extraordinary site, a vista that more or less followed us for around 25 kilometres. Yet as the mines dissipated we began to see more flora; the landscape becoming more diverse the further we cycled.

Tue
01
Jul
Simon Parker's picture

The mapping continues as we reach Coober Pedy

Cycling along the Stuart highway, South Australia on the Red Centre bicycle touring route. Cycle Traveller

The past few weeks have been an awakening of the senses. From the abrupt grandeur of the Flinders Ranges through to the sublime scenery of the Outback, it's been a grand tour despite being just weeks old.

Sat
14
Jun
Simon Parker's picture

The ride begins! How we're doing eight days in...

Cycling north of the Clare Valley, South Australia on The Red Centre Route. Cycle Traveller

Towns are plentiful on this first leg of the trip giving us the ability to pack light, carrying only what we need for a day at a time. It also leaves room for a bottle of wine or two from one the many wineries you'll pass, should you take up this route yourself. The locals are friendly and engaging; we've had numerous yarns with people of all walks of life, from a few blokes who grade (i.e. repair and maintain) some of the state's roads through to farmers who were only too happy to make sure we were OK, even offering us a spare house if we needed them. It's a generosity rarely seen in a city.

Tue
03
Jun
Alia Parker's picture

Custom built touring wheels for a cycling adventure

Rubena Flash Stop Thorn tyres. Cycle Traveller

And here we are, almost ready to set off on the Australian Bicycle Route Project. Our bikes are built and we're preparing to box them and fly to Adelaide to start a journey that has been a long time in the making. Finally, it's starting to sink in and in the rare moments when we're not running around like headless chickens ticking off lists – like now as I sit in my local cafe in Redfern people watching – I can feel the excitement building in my chest and rising in my throat. We're making this happen.

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