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Cycling from Darwin to Adelaide

by Rob
(UK)

Look, I don't want you to think I am real crazy, but my boy and moi have in mind to cycle from Darwin to Adelaide.
I need to know all watering holes and safe resting areas, without crocs, snakes etc.
See you later, Rob

bicycles under a tree
Bicycles in the Australian Outback

Rita's Reply


Hi Rob,

Thank you for your very interesting question.

First of all, don't worry, I don't think you are crazy, not at all.

I met people who did this, cycling from Darwin to Adelaide, and other bicycle adventures in the Australian Outback. It is possible.

Having said this, I must also warn you. Cycling from Darwin to Adelaide is a huge task, and you need to be very well prepared.

We talk about more than 3000 km, right. And we talk about heat, strong winds, flies, and huge distances between the watering holes.

Have you been to Australia before? I reckon, you have both some physical strength and experience doing large bicycle tours?
What do you think how many km can you manage each day?
How much time do you have for the adventure?

Sorry, that I come with so many questions. However, if you want to do this huge trip from Darwin to Adelaide, and want to succeed, you have to answer yourself these questions.

Don't get me wrong, I really don't want to discourage you, but you have to realise that this is not an easy task.
Hey, I am getting already excited, and I am willing to give you as much advice as possible.

A few general tips:

* Start the tour in Darwin in winter time, July, or August at the latest. The days in the north will be cooler then, although the nights can be
rather cold in the inland.

* Crocs... use common sense and ask the locals where you can camp at night. They are only a hazard in the far north along rivers and billabongs in the tidal zone.

* Snakes... no need to worry about them too much. Aussies love to camp in the bush, and they survive. Only people who try to catch a snake, or doing other stupid things, get in trouble.

* The only thing really you need to worry about is how much water can you carry on your bikes. You'll need lots of water while cycling. You need a good water filtering system so you can use every puddle you'll find along the
way.

Let me know when you start, and don't hesitate to ask more questions.



Comments for Cycling from Darwin to Adelaide

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Jan 12, 2016
Enjoy your journey
by: Rita

Hi Chris,

I can't imagine in my wildest dreams to cycle such a huge distance. I admire everyone who does.

When you read through this long thread, you certainly find some tips by people who did that long trek. There is not much I could add.

Here you can find a description of the Stuart Highway

Good luck and safe cycling.
Rita

Jan 11, 2016
Port Augusta to Uluru
by: Chris O

Hi Rita,my daughter(16 years)and I(44 years) are riding fro Port Augusta to Uluru leaving March the 25th and leaving Uluru on the 10th of April.We have never been bike riders but are just about to commence an 8 week training program.I am not planning on a support car and plan to do around 100 ks a day,stopping in roadhouses and camping sites.Whats some advice that you may be able to pass on.

Dec 27, 2015
Darwin to Alice springs
by: Braam

I cycled from Darwin to Alice a few months ago in August
There are lots of watertanks along the highway and all tows are approximately 100 km apart. I camped at the roadhouses and only bushcamped 1 night . The longest distance between towns/ roadhouses is 130 km and thats the last roadhouse before Alice Springs
Im planning the next trip now I might fly to Alice from Darwin then cycle to Adelaide or vise versa

Dec 18, 2015
I would love to do this.
by: Ann Campbell

I love cycling and recently rode 1 month in Montenegro. Currently doing a locum on Darwin and I am already thinking of my next cycle holiday. I love Australia and searched cycling from Darwin to Perth...the remaining part of Australia I have yet to explore. I am interested to read of other people's experience and would love to share this experience with someone in 2016. I am a fit 52yr female and head strong when the going gets tough!

May 13, 2014
Cycling Darwin to Adelaide
by: George McIntosh

Hi Rob, myself and a pal did it the other way in 2012.
The road trains were not the problem at all. They were great. Coming up behind you, they would toot the horn if it was safe and they could just overtake. If they gave you a couple of real blasts, it was them asking you to get out of the way! as there would have been traffic coming the other way as well. Remember most of these guys talk to each other on CB's.
The real problem and they nearly killed us a couple of times, were the silver surfers. For 30 years they had been driving town cars in some city, now they were on the road with campervans with no idea how wide they were. Some of them were downright dangerous.
Enjoy your trip, carry a satphone and inform the two police areas you will be cycling through.
Best wishes...George

May 12, 2014
Darwin to Melbourne
by: David

Hi amazing stories here. I have ridden Perth to Sydney and can relate to much of these tales. Going Darwin to Melbourne either Aug Sept 2014 or Aug Sept 2015. I am looking for companions. I am male married aged 60. Plan to ride 130 ks daily Any age or gender companions welcome. This is a fully loaded tour.

David

Davey.dave@xtra.co.nz

Oct 01, 2012
Well done!
by: Rita

Hi George,

Thanks for your report. Well, this proves that (nearly) everything can be done!
And nobody will take your happy memories away :).

Cheers,
Rita

Sep 27, 2012
PA 2 D
by: George

Hi, just to let you know that a pal (from Australia) and myself (from the UK)did the ride from PA to Darwin. Starting 24 June 2012 and finishing on 21 July.
This was a ride for two charities and we were supported by a 4WD and caravan, therefore, water was not a problem, the caravan carried a lot.
We did no diversions along the route and the majority of our overnight stops were the roadside laybyes or on official camp sites (some of the laybye sites were revolting as remarked elsewhere, if the wind is blowing, wear a mask). We did have three nights in the bush due to the distance between some of the official sites.
We took three days of rest, Coober Pedy, Alice Springs and Katherine.
Cycles were mountain bikes but with slicker tyres. We had no punctures and no real problems although my bike did suffer from gear problems after 1200km. I should also say that both of us were 65 years of age, and I am an Insulin dependant diabetic. It worked well and I lost 9kg, it was there to lose.
This was a fantastic time for me, happy memories and great phtographs.
Go for it, If you don't you may well regret it in the years to come.
Best wishes...George

Jul 18, 2012
Cycling the Stuart
by: Rita

Hi Brendan,

I can't say how much water you'll need a day, because it depends on so many factors: temps, wind, your personal needs.

I think there are already many tips from people who made it on this thread. Additionally, you can check out these websites:

Cycle trails Australia

Happy planning,

Rita

Jul 04, 2012
coming trip
by: brendan w.

Hello, I intend to ride from Darwin to Adelaide this Sept-Oct on my own. would love some safety tips . I hope to leave Darwin around 11th Sept , planning a rest day every 5th day and 100 ks at least every day. How much water should I allow for each day? I hope to carry most supplies.

Apr 23, 2012
Cycling in the Summer
by: Nick B

I'm planning Darwin to Adelaide but does anyone know if it's possible in the summer season i.e. November to February as I'll be leaving UK in May with likely 9/12 ytimescale to get to Melbourne. Too hot? Too wet?
Thanks,
Nick B

Apr 02, 2012
Adelaide to Port Augusta
by: Rita

Hi Brian,

The Princes Hwy and the Main North Road out of Adelaide are both very busy, but there are a few minor roads between the two you could take.

When you get a map of the greater Adelaide area I am sure you will find some quiet roads to get out of the city.

The Clare Valley (along the Main North Road) is lovely.

You could also follow the Princes Hwy (or side roads) to Port Wakefield, and then take the route west of the main road to Port Broughton on the coast and up to Port Pirie.
From Port Pirie to Port Augusta the Princes Highway is okay, traffic-wise.

I like the scenery everywhere in South Australia's Mid-North.

Rita

Mar 19, 2012
Leaving Adelaide on bike
by: Brian

Can anyone sugges the most scenic and/or bicylce friendly route leaving Adelaide up to the Stuart Highway? It looks like I would have several options and I don't know much about any of them!

Thanks.
Brian

Sep 19, 2011
adalade-darwwin
by: dave-canada

Hey I'm very intrested in riding Adelade to darwin, i did peth to sydney last year and definatly want to go up the middle, maybe spring, if anybody wants to or has a group thinking about this i'ld like to hear from ya?
davidclarencejobst@gmail.com

Jul 27, 2011
Darwin to Adelaide by push bike
by: Frenchcyclist

I'm going to take the same ride from Darwin to the bottom. If there's anyone wants to do the same thing in the same time.. Let me know, it's still good to share the experience.
I will leave Darwin the 7th of July (but I'm flexible if you've got another departure).
My number : 04 02 63 23 44

Jul 13, 2011
bike mate
by: Anna

I wish i can join you, however am thinking of biking FROM Darwin TO Adelaide! haha
good luck and take care on the road!!

Jul 13, 2011
Adelaide to Darwin but noone to go with!
by: Anonymous

I'm a 20 year old engineering student and want to cycle from Adelaide to Darwin (or just the stuart highway) in October/November (school holidays) but don't have a group to go with, be good to get a group together!

May 01, 2011
Darwin to Adelaide or visa versa
by: Anonymous

I'm planning a ride from top to bottom (or bottom to top) mid July and August. Anyone know which way the prevailing winds blow that time of year?

Matthew

Please don't publish email addresses, you might end up with too much spam. You can subscribe to get a notification when someone adds a comment. Thanks, Rita

Apr 11, 2011
Congratulations Dion
by: Margie

Hi Els & Dion. Congratulations Dion on completing your epic bike ride! Hope to hear more about your adventures.
I hope you both get a chance to visit those lovely places in Cairns.
Take care,
Margie
Renal Ride Australia

Apr 07, 2011
Thanks for the update
by: Rita

Hi Els,

Good to hear your husband made it! Oh well, mozzies and other biting bugs can be a terror, even if one doesn't ride a bike. It's been very wet in Australia, that's what these creatures love.

Have a great time in Cairns, and a good flight home to the Netherlands.

If Dion wants to add more about his adventure here on the Outback Guide, he is welcome to start a new topic to share his stories and some photos.

Rita

Apr 05, 2011
Cycling the Stuart
by: els

hello Rita,

my husband made it savely to Darwin!
He told me it was hard work, but fantastic. Now he tries to sell his bike in Darwin and then he'll fly to Bali and after that to Cairns, where we'll meet him. He has about 100 mosquito bites (is that how you call them?) on his legs and the imprint of his saddle on his backside, but he's very satisfied. One day he cycled 242 km! He did it all in about 3,5 weeks.
Bye-bye for now!
Greetings from the Netherlands were spring has finally begun,
Els

Apr 05, 2011
inspiring!
by: Anna

wow, i read the story of Urs- simply amazing- its just like a regular ride for him! good luck on the next trip!!! truly inspiring!!

Apr 04, 2011
Great achievement
by: Rita

Thank you for telling your story, Urs.

I really admire everyone doing the long distance bike rides in Australia. It is a great achievement!

Thank you all for sharing your stories.

Rita

Apr 04, 2011
Thank you!
by: Urs

Hi All,
I love to read everything about cycling in Australia, especially the Outback. I cycled from Darwin to Adelaide in 2004. I left Darwin on April 25 (Anzac day), the beginning of the dry season, and I learned quickly that there was mostly South Esterly wind. It took me a few days to accept that I was having mostly headwind, especially when I met a group from Melbourne riding the other way. I had a few flats along the way, a cracked rim that made me to hitch a ride back to Alice (fortunately only from Stuarts Well) to get a new one. The owner and staff were very nice at the bike shop there! Despite of all that, it was wonderful, and not too much traffic like the others have said. I went back to Australia in November of 2006 to ride from Port Augusta across the Nullarbor via Kalgoorlie to Perth. Great ride too, but more trucks and no mechanical issues thanks to a better bike. Spectacular views along the great Australian Bight. I will probably go back again to ride from Darwin to Perth or something. I will be 60 this year, so as long as one is reasonably well prepared and carries enough water, age does not really matter.
Best wishes to all other riders,
Urs

Mar 24, 2011
Thanks Rita!
by: Anna

Thanks so much Rita, you have made a wonderful site and it is very informative and encouraging!

Mar 24, 2011
Cycling the Stuart , 2
by: Anonymous

Hi Rita,

forgot to tell you that I guess he's fine. Our last contact was a few days ago, he sounded happy and excited,

bye,
els

Mar 24, 2011
Cycling the Stuart
by: Anonymous

hi Rita,

he is still cycling the Stuart. We plan to meet him in Cairns at 25th of april.
I hope the weather will be nice then,

bye-bye from the Netherlands,
els
(owner of a Bed and Breakfast (www.benboss.nl) where we had several Australian guests last year)

Mar 24, 2011
Cycling the Stuart
by: Rita

Hi Els,

has your brave husband already arrived in Cairns, or is he still cycling on the Stuart Highway?

If you, or Dion, gets the chance, let us know how it is going?

Hi Anna,

keep that dream, I wish for you it will come true some day.

Rita

Mar 24, 2011
Attractions in Cairns
by: Anonymous

Hello Dion,

This message is for my brave husband:
denk je echt dat het in cairns nog beroerd is tegen de tijd dat wij er zijn?
En moeten we een dikke trui mee nemen of is dat echte onzin?
SPANNEND!!!!

love
els

Mar 24, 2011
you guys are simply amazing!!
by: Anna

Derar everyone,
I used to bike along Stuart Hiway in Darwin to work and its amazing seeing all the stars before the break of dawn! ...and then i had a DREAM to do a long distance ride from Darwin to anywhere but i had no one to go with.. and then my work visa got messed up so i had to leave Australia. (so naturally i brought my beloved bike to home with me! the best memories of Australia was on the bike!) and now ive been reading all the comments and i regret not being able to do this. wish i met you dear cyclists...enjoy the ride...
:(

Jun 22, 2010
Re:Cycling from Darwin to Adelaide
by: jenifer26

It was a great achievement to do that. No one is ever gonna believe it at the first sight but as of now, as it has been done it is a part of a history.

Apr 04, 2010
Thanks again
by: Anonymous

Thanks again Margie! No chance of getting bored in Cairns.
groEtjes (Els)
Dion

Apr 04, 2010
Attractions in Cairns
by: Margie

Hi Dion,
If you are visiting Cairns, you must take a trip to the outer Barrier Reef (cleaner than closer to shore). A trip to the Daintree Rainforest is a MUST also, as is Tjapukai By Night, a wonderful experience of indigenous culture. There has been a recent landslide on the Kuranda rail so I don't know if it has reopened. If so, take the rail ride to Kuranda and the Skyrail back for spectacular views.
There has been a lot of rain in Cairns so I'll keep my fingers crossed for clear weather when you visit.

Mar 19, 2010
Thanks, no choice
by: Dion

Thank you for the info Margie. The idea was to start south, so that's definite now. Start later regretfully is no option since by the end of may I have to be back in the Netherlands for work and the vacation of my wife and son (today is his eleventh birthday, nog gefreliciteerd Siempie) are in the first two weeks of may. So after a week or so in Darwin I want to go to Cairns to do some scuba diving and explore the rainforest. Any info about what's definitely not to miss in Cairns and surroundings?
grotjes, Dion

Mar 16, 2010
Wind direction Stuarty Hwy
by: Margie

In March/April, the wind direction is predominately south east, although you do get occasional northerlies. There's been a lot of rain in Central Australia so, as long as the creeks aren't flooded, the vegetation and birdlife will be spectacular. I'd leave the trip until April though, as Darwin is still enjoying monsoonal weather.
Cheers,
Margie
www.renalride.com

Mar 08, 2010
wind direction
by: Dion

Dear Rita, readers,
I'm planning to cycle the SH in March or April 2011. For the temperature/rain conditions it's best to start in Port Augusta and go north.
But what about the wind? Can anybody tell me what the (general)wind direction is(in March/April)? Curious for the answer,regards
Dion (the Netherlands)

Jan 28, 2010
thanks
by: Rita

Hi Pascal,

thank you for your very helpful post. Reading your story makes me want to do that as well It must be a great adventure... cycling the Stuart Highway.

Rita

Jan 28, 2010
Darwin to Adelaide 2004
by: Pascal Bolduc

Hello.

I cycled my solitary way down from Darwin to Adelaide in 2004. I started mid-September and ended at the end of October, 26 riding days and not a single flat tire or sunburn!!! At first, I rode at night because days were simply too hot for me. From Tennant Creek on, I started riding in broad daylight and was longing for more sunlight. I got myself used to it.

Water can be a problem but it usually isn't. Roadhouses are not that fare from each other except for the Woomera Prohibited Area down south. Only once along the way did I find an empty tank... which isn't a happy experience on the moment, let me tell you.

Crocodiles, snakes, spiders etc. shouldn't be a problem. It wasn't for me. Be prepared to eat mouthfuls of flies on your way down (or up), they're everywhere! Apart from that, I've seen plenty of wildlife. Emus, all sorts of kangaroos, dingos, lizards, snakes, etc. That's an Australia you wouldn't discover on a tourist expedition...

The Highway was certainly not that busy. I could spend hours without meeting a car or a road train. Those road trains, there polite as said in previous posts and will usually (if possible) get in the other lane to help you cope with all the turbulence that follows them. Beware of the buses though. They're much more silent and usually go along much faster as well... and are not so polite.

When I did it, there were huge bushfires in the north (the Barkley Ranges). It was such a nice show at night! But pay attention to the signs of approaching fire. That can happen real fast. Beware also of the heavy smoke that goes along with it.

My experience was incredible. Go for it! You'll get a sense of accomplishment that you won't get anywhere else.

Good luck.

Pascal :)

Oct 28, 2009
easy to be accomplish
by: Andreas

Well, in December/January 2008/2009 I cycled from Adelaide to Darwin.

So regarding water needs:
there are water supplies every 80 to 100km and the water is drinkable for the time being, so a filter is not necessary. I never had more than 15 liter of water with me which was more than double of what I really needed.

You should be able to do about 130km a day which is a no brainer as there is basically nothing to do between the night stops.
The road train drivers are polite so no worries about this as well.

I completed the tour from Adelaide to Darwin in less than 35 cycling days...so on a 2 month journey you can do it including Litchfield and Kakadu , but not with Urulu (which adds an additional 700km return)




Sep 07, 2009
Melbourne to Darwin by bicycle blog
by: Johnno

Hey i followed this guys blog and its there to be read and talks about all his stops on the way it only took him 6 weeks Man that's amazing.
Nickman's ride to Darwin

May 16, 2009
Way to go
by: Rita

Hi Margie,

thank you so much for your tips.

Good luck for your oncoming project. Stay safe on the roads. If you like, keep us informed how it's going.

Rita

May 16, 2009
Cycling Stuart Hwy - do it!
by: Margie

During my solo cycle around Australia, cycling from 3 Ways Roadhouse to Darwin was one of my favourite experiences.

I'm cycling the whole Stuart Hwy in July - Sept 2009 and including side trips to Uluru and the rest.
If you google Renal Ride Australia, you can follow my journey.

The biggest problem will be traffic travelling at 130 km/hr. Be nice to road train drivers & they will be nice to you.
You will probably meet heaps of cyclists along the way. Start in Adelaide & finish in Darwin, enjoying the warmer climate as you travel north.

Hope to see you on the road. Happy pedalling!

Apr 13, 2009
I want to go back on the road
by: Peter

Jeezzz.. that picture... ahh.. I haven't been to Australia but I did cycle a little here and there (see my bicycle site).

But I haven't been on long journeys the last few years, only shorter ones. Seeing that picture I want to go again. Didn't Neil Young say that it is better to burn out then to rust..

Apr 13, 2009
Stuart Highway
by: Rita

Well, the Stuart Highway is not as busy as a hwy on the east coast. However, it isn't a quiet Outback road either.
As a cyclist, you really need to take care of the road trains. These "monster" trucks can blow you off the road easily. And they drive a lot on the Stuart.

Rita

Apr 13, 2009
Thanks
by: Rob

G'day Rita,

and thank you for all your advice. I may well have to think again and do just from the top end to the rock or there abouts. It won't be for a while yet or if ever as my son is studying for uni, but he is as nutty as me and is up for it given half a chance. Thanks for all the info on the snakes and crocs. My dad says all we have to worry about now is the spiders.

Oh yes, I have been to Australia a few times, 30 yrs ago I cycled from Melbourne to Adelaide so
I have had a mind to do this big cycle for a while.
Can u tell me how busy traffic wise is the Stuart highway, is it that you are continually in traffic or is it the desert highway and the big quiet that I imagine it to be?
Thanks once again, byeeee Rob

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