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The top five off-road cycling trails in Australia

Alia Parker's picture
Cycling the Munda Biddi Trail in WA. Source: Munda Biddi Trail Foundation. Cycle Traveller

Australia is home to some rather special off-road cycling adventures, with landscapes and scenery found nowhere else in the world. From the world's longest mountain bike trail, to a two-day Red Centre ride, here are five of the best the country has to offer:

1. Munda Biddi

The Munda Biddi trail is set to become the world's longest off-road and purpose built mountain bike trail when it officially opens in February 2013. Stretching 1,000km from Mundaring north of Perth in Western Australia down to Albany on the south coast of Australia, the trail winds through a vast natural corridor of ancient eucalypt forest, river valleys and bushland. The trail is already open to cyclist for the most part, however the southern section of the trail between Manjimup and Denmark is still under construction, but set for completion in February. The trail passes through either a small town or purpose built campsite every 30-45km, allowing riders to tailor the trip to their liking. More information is available at on the Munda Biddi website.

Cycling the Mawson Trail, South Australia. Source: SATC Copyright, Cycle Traveller

2. Mawson Trail

The scenery along the 900km Mawson Trail in South Australia is magic. Climbing through the rocky outcrops of the northern Flinders Ranges between Adelaide and the outback town of Blinman, the trail runs along a combination of quiet dirt country roads, State Forest and National Park fire trails, farm access roads and unused road reserves, none of which are paved. The Mawson Trail is suitable for mountain bikes or sturdy touring bikes and the road can be rough in parts. The trail is open all year although take the weather into consideration because the Flinders Ranges can be uncomfortably hot between January and March. Find out more about the Mawson Trail here.

3. Tasmanian Trail

Tasmania is already a favourite among cyclist because of its beauty and quiet roads, but the Tasmanian Trail provides cyclists with another option for exploring the island – an off-road trail that intersects the island north to south, stretching 480km from Davenport to Dover. The Tasmanian Trail is the only long distance multi-use trail on the island and is used by mountain bikers, horse riders and hikers. The trail's website describes it as suitable for "those who enjoy soft adventure rather than hardened wilderness seekers," but don't take that to mean the ride will be a walk in the park. There are plenty of ups and downs and 'pushing' moments. However, the trail does stick close to small towns, meaning riders can still access creature comforts. More details are available on the Tasmanian Trail website.

4) Mereenie Loop

The 154km Mereenie Loop is more of an outback dirt road rather than a designated cycling trail, but having said that, it is perfect for cycle tourist seeking both an amazing ride with some amazing desert scenery. The Mereenie Loop starts at Kataputa Pass and ends at Watarrka National Park, passing through some iconic Northern Territory landscapes, including the West MacDonnell Ranges and the breathtaking Kings Canyon. The Loop road takes you through the Ltalaltuma Aboriginal Lands and travellers to this region should obtain a special permit for cyclist and respect local sacred sites. Camping is generally not allowed, although cyclist can camp at Ginty's Lookout with permission. The road can be very sandy in parts, so make sure you have suitable bicycle tires and, if necessary, some patience. More information.

5) Goldfields Track

The Goldfields Track is a 210km off-road trail that runs between the historic gold towns of Bendigo and Ballarat in Victoria. Dating back to the 1850s, the track, as the name suggests, was formed by gold diggers moving between the fields. These days, the Goldfields Track is an off-road mountain biking and hiking trail that is both scenic and challenging. The trail runs down part of the Great Dividing Mountain Range and takes you through natural bushland, state forest, pastoral countryside as well as small towns, which make convenient places to stay the night. The track is broken into three sections: Wallaby Track (90km), Dry Diggings Track (61km), and Leanganook Track (58km). You can find details about the ride on the Goldfields Track website.

Images: 1. Riding the Munda Biddi Trail. Source: Munda Biddi Trail Foundation. 2. Climbing the Flinders Ranges between Wilmington to Melrose on the Mawson Trail, South Australia. Source: SATC Copyright.

Do you have a list of your own? Tell us about it below.

Comments

Intrepid Cyclist's picture

Hi, a friend and I rode the first section of the Tassie Trail late last year. We can vouch for it being a tremendous ride, one that is well worth doing. More information and footage of the ride (and others) can be seen on our blog here: http://www.intrepid-cyclist.com/?cat=16

Stay safe out there!

Alia Parker's picture

Thanks for the video links Intrepid Cyclist. Great footage! Looks like you had fun out there.

Jim Fischer's picture

The great news is WA's Munda Biddi Trail is now officially open end to end and ready to ride: http://cycletraveller.com.au/australia/news/wa-munda-biddi-trail-officially-opens-with-epic-1000

Let us know what you think if you ride it!

My vote goes to the Mawson Trail for the top spot. Absolutely stunning route through the Flinders Ranges. Bit bumpy in parts but not too bad.

bikemonkey's picture

Wow, after reading the Gibb River Road route in the north of WA, I think that ones rates a mention too. It looks bloody amazing!!! I've moved that to the top of my bucket list. No. 6:
http://cycletraveller.com.au/australia/bike-routes/cycling-the-kimberley-on-the-gibb-river-road

Great list, but personally I think you can't go past the very well laid Murray to Mountains Rail Trail in north east Victoria. Over 100kms of sealed cycle path, littered with wineries, food stops, and alpine towns on the way, as well as the historic town of Beechworth, all set to the backdrop of the stunning Victorian Alps. Whether a day tour or a multi day itinerary, uphill or downhill, wineries or camping, the Murray to Mountains has options for everyone, and it's only 3 hours drive from Melbourne. www.tourdevines.com.au offers plenty of organised tours on the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail if interested (gratuitous plug!!)

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