Adelaide to Darwin

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Adelaide to Darwin

Postby mudeye » Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:28 pm

Hi there,

This may sound crazy but I'm looking into doing a ride from Adelaide to Darwin on a single speed bike. I was wondering if anyone has done this ride on either a ss or geared bike and what I can expect as far as distance covered per day, terrain or any experiences really. I won't be in any rush and really want to travel as light as possible.


Cheers

mudeye
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by BNA » Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:59 pm

BNA
 

Postby il padrone » Wed Oct 08, 2008 8:59 pm

This single-speeder did the ride a while ago - Jerome Murif

The Highway, or "the track" as it is known, was named after John McDouall Stuart, an indomitable explorer who led three expeditions northward from Adelaide, being turned back twice by lack of water and hostile Aborigines in 1860 and 1861, but finally reaching the north coast of Australia near Darwin in July 1862, and returning after many privations to Adelaide in December 1862.

The highway was for many years little more than a dirt or sand track and was only sealed and upgraded in 1987 as a Commonwealth Government project. There is an exhibition in an underground hotel in Coober Pedy, should you reach that far, on the history of the road.

Jerome Murif was the first cyclist to ride from Adelaide to Darwin, in 1897, long before any roads were built. He followed the railway at first to its then head near Oodnadatta, then rough tracks along the Overland Telegraph line, which led on northward to Alice Springs and Darwin. He relied on isolated cattle stations for food and sometimes went thirsty for days through the dry centre. He described his epic journey in a book, "From Ocean to Ocean", a copy of which I found in the Northern Territory Library in Darwin. A ground sheet, some basic clothes and equipment, a little food and a pistol were all he carried - the epitome of the light-weight tourer. This ride, by me and Trevor Briggs, was in honour of his achievement a century ago.

Conditions are much better today for cyclists, with a mainly flat sealed road, and roadhouses spaced about 100 to 150 km apart providing food and accommodation (except for one 250 km section in South Australia). There are water tanks along some of the longer stretches between road houses. Even so, it is a great journey in the footsteps of Stuart and Murif.


Here's a guy selling a newspaper page about Jerome. And a copy of his book is up for auction here :o
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Postby il padrone » Sat Oct 11, 2008 9:44 pm

Quite a lot of information on touring in the outback can be found at Bicycle Fish
Riding bikes in traffic - what seems dangerous is usually safe; what seems safe is often more dangerous.
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Postby mudeye » Sun Oct 12, 2008 5:25 pm

Cheers Pete,

I had seen the first link before and although dated still is a pretty easy account to take in and breaks the trip up well. The second link you have posted also looks great.

m
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Postby Wollemi » Mon Oct 13, 2008 12:38 pm

I have no experience with SS, but I think the only crazy part of your proposal is to cycle alongside a railway. Which is nowadays, Adelaide to Darwin. Yes - I know that is extended places that you cannot see the rail line from the Sturt Highway, yet when I cycled Dubbo to Longreach, the more interesting vistas were generally those legs without any elevated embankment alongside. There is a certain pleasantry to reminiscing about Bourke to Cunnamulla than any other leg due to the absence of that cultural feature,
the railway.
Even if that rail line is abandoned and allows you to break the journey up by photo opportunites at long-forgotten rail stations, to have a vision blocked for many tens of kilometres when pedalling is frustrating.

If you must persist with your desire, consider timing your ride with the annual show-days. Alice Springs - Tennant Creek - Katherine - Darwin were all held at one week intervals in September, IIRC.
Live every day as though it is your last - one day you will be right...
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