Australian Desert by bike

Information about cycling Australia

Distances in Australia are very large. Especially the (more interesting) Outback is very remote. You can buy the necessary supplies in every village, and even Outback hotels usually run a small grocery store. However, using a bike trailer, you can tremendously extend your action radius even into really remote areas. The trailer is especially useful to store water, which is essential for riding through desert regions. We both used the BOB-Yak trailer.
Traffic: beware of Road Trains. These long big trucks drive very fast and will suck you in if you are too close. On gravel roads they will turn up small stones, which can hit you hard. Apart from that, in the Outback regions you may meet as little as one car per day or even less...
Heat: If you are traveling in summer time, it can be very hot (over 50°C) in central Australia. You will need a lot of water to drink and to cool yourself. We usually started cycling shortly before sunrise and had a 3 to 4 hour break during noon time, to rest in the shade of a tree, or what ever was available (if there was anything available...).
Water: water is very important. Especially when riding in the hot summer, the loss of mineral salts due to sweating is substantial. Therefore we used Ultra Buffer and Ultra Refresher to resupply the body with important minerals/amino acids/sugars during riding (Ultra Buffer) and to allow optimal regeneration (Ultra Refresher). Water is available at every farm (stations), gas station, or in every village. Also you can find water in cattle feed tanks. At least along the Birdsville Track, water is bore water and a tiny bit salty - if you have access to rain water, it is the better choice. In the wet season you can find water (too much water) in dams and channels next to the road.
Roads can be very rough. When it is sandy, or if there is a lot of loose gravel on the track, cycling is hard work. It is not worthwhile to only ride on paved roads. Most of the interesting places of the country are accessible only by gravel road. During the wet season, however, traveling on gravel roads can be hardly impossible due to flooding and softening of the surface. In that case, waiting is the only thing to do. After a thunderstorm, the track is dry again within about 4 hours (unless there is more rain within that time...). With the Rohloff Speedhub 500/14 immediate gear shifting was still possibleven even when the bike was covered in mud. Also no maintenance is necessary - a great advantage under the conditions we met during the monsoon rains.

Information about temperatures, annual precipitation, wind speed, etc. can be obtained from the Bureau of Meteorology, Australia. Click on the graph to see a larger version in a new window.

monthly temperatures in Birdsville

monthly rainfall in Birdsville

mean maximum Temperature in Australia (January)

mean rainfall in Australia (January)