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Australian Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets

Conventional tourist information in Australia rarely provides useful information for anyone not travelling by car.

These fact sheets by contrast are intended to provide specifically bicycle related background information on a range of destinations, eg availability of food and water, camping possibilities, road and traffic conditions etc. The fact sheets assume that you want to go there already, and that you can find general information and maps from conventional sources…

Current Fact Sheets include

If you have experience of any particular region of Australia, we would be very pleased to hear from you ! click here for details

 


Australian Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets

www.iinet.net.au/~bikefish/ | * PO Box 3331 Rundle Mall SA 5000 Australia

Series editor: Grace Newhaven

The Plenty Highway

By Claire & Bob Rogers - 2000 / December 12

EMail: brogers644_AT_yahoo.com

 

Purpose

This fact sheet is intended as an introductory guide to bicycle camping on the Plenty Highway. The region is an established 4 X 4 tourist route, and general tourist and promotional information is readily available from mainstream sources elsewhere. This fact sheet assumes the reader has, or will have, access to those sources. You are welcome to print this information , but read this first to save paper !

Resources

There is no bicycle-specific map of the Plenty Highway.

Westprint Heritage Map Plenty Highway ( 2nd ed.1999 , scale 1: 1 000 000 ) $6.95 . Contains useful background information. http://www.westprint.com.au

"4 X 4 Tracks and Unsealed Roads of Central Australia" is a free pamphlet, with mudmaps and contact details intended for four wheel drivers, but informative & useful for bikes . Available from "Central Australian Tourism" [a travel agency] Cnr Gregory Tce & Hartley Streets. PO Box 2227 ALICE SPRINGS NT 0871. Tel 1800 645 199 or (08) 8952 5800 [ as at 2000/ 07 ] . E: visinfo_AT_catia.asn.au

Outback Highway Map on www : http://www.outback-hwy.gov.au/map.html

RACQ ( car club ) regional map South West District Map ( aprox 1 : 1,000,000 ), is useful. $ 4.00 or free to members. http://www.racq.com.au/05_shop/0_shopframe.htm

Mt Isa Tourist Information Centre Ph. 07 4749 1555

Claire & Bob's own narrative of the Plenty Highway is at http://www.HearingCommSys.com/Bob-Claire/

"Bull Dust & Pedal Power " Peter Thomas. A day-by-day narrative of a journey from Perth to the Gold Coast via the Warburton Road, Uluru and the Plenty Highway. Thomas covered the 5300 km in 53 days, riding unsupported and alone. The book (unconsciously?) challenges many current ideas of preparation & equipment, and devotes much attention to kitsch trivialities, and numerous irrelevant digressions. Practical value: strictly limited. Available in libraries. ( 1998 Access Press , 178 pp. Large format paperback. ISBN 0 86445 128 8)

History :

Aborigines inhabited the region for millennia before European settlement . The Aboriginal people with traditional ties to this region are mainly Eastern Arrernte

The road is named after the " Plenty Well", discovered by a survey team in 1878. The road was first used as a stock route in the 1880's. In the present time, it is a working road, servicing the cattle industry. It is also a minor 4x4 tourist route.

Environment

The road follows the northern edge of the Simpson Desert. There are beautiful river red gums along creek beds near the Qld border. There are also spinifex, mallee and red sand zones. Along the centre stretch, there are mulga & gidgee areas. At the western end there are attractive views of hills & ranges.

The best time to travel is early June, after the "wet" season but before too much bull dust forms. Dry season temperatures ranged from 30 C during the day, down to cold nights - warm clothes are essential.

Getting there

by bike

from Mt Isa ( 853 km to Alice Springs) , Boulia or Alice Springs ( 800 km to Boulia)

by bus

No scheduled public transport on the Plenty Hwy. There is a backpacker bus between Cairns / Alice Springs, overnighting at Urandangi Hotel.

by rail

to Alice Springs via The Ghan . About twice the price of bus travel. Cheap with YHA card

Roads & traffic

The Plenty is a one-lane bitumen road from the Stuart Hwy junction to Gemtree ( aprox 100km).Gemtree to the Qld border is a graded, unsealed road. Between Tobermorey and the Qld border is dry weather access only, with sections of extreme bulldust & corrugation. the road is graded several times a year on the NT side, less so on the Qld side.

There are around 20 vehicles a day on the road, and depending on the season, some of them may be road trains , though only a couple of times a day usually. Be aware that these huge trucks will not and cannot try to avoid you on your bicycle: that is your responsibility. Bright clothes are essential.                

Bob & Claire averaged 90km / day on their tandem, towing a BOB trailer. However, after rain, cycling will be very difficult or impossible, though rain will stop a bike before it stops cars and 4X4's, so there will be a good possibility of a lift on one of the farm utility trucks that are relatively frequent.

NT Dept of Transport provides road information at http://www.nt.gov.au/dtw/links/roadreport.shtml Or tel. 08 8952 7111.

For Queensland, tel 1300 130 595 for 24-hour road reports or 07 3219 0900 or Internet http://www.racq.com.au/cgi-bin/roadreports.pl

Water

The longest gap between water points is between Jervois & Tobermorey Stations, aprox 220 km. Between water points, it may be necessary to carry water for three or four days. Carry several containers in case of breakage. A water bag will be useful. It's also possible to insulate conventional bike bottles to avoid some of the heat that makes water less palatable.

There are underground bores in the area for watering cattle, with artesian water collected in "drains" or tanks, but these are not entirely reliable, and may also be unpalatably salty. Bore water is also readily available at the cattle stations along the route. If you're lucky, you could be offered rain water, stored in tanks at the stations.

If using ground water (not recommended), purification devices will be necessary. At all times, you will need to seek local advice continuously regarding water availability.

Food

Many 4X4 guides mention " stores" in remote Australia, implying that these sell "food", and there are several such stores on the Highway. However, the stock may consist only of unhealthy "junk foods" (ice cream, sweets, meat pies etc -- hardly appropriate to cyclists!)

As an alternative, send yourself a food parcel , after negotiating with one of the stations ( contacts below). The postal service runs by air from Mt Isa to Jervois once a week (only). Alternatively, it will be useful to bring a good stock of lightweight foods from supermarkets in Alice Springs or Mt Isa. (see below).

Damper is also a simple and weight effective alternative to reliance on store foods. Note that alcohol is not available between Urandangi and Alice Springs.

Camping

This is a great place for bush camping, with suitable sites available almost everywhere. There is ample fire wood, and little fire hazard, though you should use a fire pit at all times. A plastic camping trowel is useful for digging fire and toilet pits. There are a few widely separated places offering formalised campsites (see below)

Services

Atitjere

small Aboriginal community, store

 

Gemtree caravan park

Junk food, rain water

"Un-Powered Site / Camping A$14"

08 8956 9855 / Fax (08) 8956 9860

gemtree_AT_gemtree.com.au

Boulia

Small town

Shire office 07 4776 3188

Boulia Library and Information Centre Ph. 07 4746 3386

Fx. 07 4746 3387

Caravan Park 07 4746 3135

Hart's Range

Junk food only. Fossicking. Historic settlement.

Police 08 8956 9772 not helpful

Store 08 89556 9773 (closed Sundays)

Jervois Station

Small store (junk food), showers Friendly, nice camp ground

t.08 8956 6307. Fax: 08 89566321

Denise Broad broad_AT_assoa.nt.edu.au.

Tobermorey Station

Junk food only, camping , accomodation, mech. repairs

07 4748 4996.

Not so friendly in 2000

Urandangi

Pub, limited groceries, junk food

 

 

This fact sheet was produced by grassroots cyclists. No responsibility for errors or omissions can be accepted. It is intended for free or low cost distribution on paper or on the www, and you are free to copy it on that basis. Suggestions for improvement are most welcome!

Other Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets in this series include

Central Australia | SA Kangaroo Island | SA Flinders Ranges | North Queensland

| WA Kimberley | Stuart Highway | NSW Central West | NSW Sydney to Canberra |

| NSW Hunter Valley | Nullarbor Eyre Highway | Qld/ NT: The Plenty Highway | Kakadu NP Oodnadatta Track


Australian Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets

www.iinet.net.au/~bikefish/ | * PO Box 3331 Rundle Mall SA 5000 Australia

Nullarbor

A Bicycle Travellers' Guide To The Eyre Highway

(updated 2002 / July)|  another 2008 guide here in a different style & format

Author : Belinda van Straaten

Abridged , additional material & HTML by Grace Newhaven

The Nullarbor Plain is one of the principal icons of modern Australia, emblematic of both the harshness as well as the grandeur of the Outback. It stretches 1200km from Ceduna in South Australia to Norseman in Western Australia. "Nullarbor" comes from the Latin meaning "no trees" (but for the most part, there are trees). There is a single sealed road, the Eyre Highway; and this guide deals with that route, with the addition of the Balladonia – Esperance section. There is also a much more difficult "inland " route ( see below), not considered in this information.

Cycling the Nullarbor is a journey that every touring cyclist should consider. In two short weeks we struck searing heat, cool rain, beautiful sunrises. Beyond the saltbush lie amazing natural wonders from the many limestone caves to the beautiful Bunda Cliffs. A bicycle crossing of the Nullarbor will be a spiritual journey as much as it is a physical one.

This information sheet is designed to answer many of the questions a cyclist might ask, and provide information on food, water and camping along the way. It is meant to be practical.

For instructions on how to print this information in a convenient format, click here. Please email any comments & updates for future editions of this guide, which is continuously revised. Happy Cycling!

General Information

Roads The Eyre highway is a 2 lane sealed road. The surface is generally smooth, and in some parts of WA the shoulder is also bitumen.

Traffic is usually light and consists mainly of tourist caravan trailers and "road trains" up to B triple size. Road trains are a potential hazard to cyclists and may be frightening at first. Generally (and where possible) they will give you a wide berth. However, if there is oncoming traffic or a blind corner or crest, you do need to be ready to get right off the road - there is room on the road for a truck and a car to pass, but not for a truck, a car and a cyclist ! You will also find your interaction with other traffic much less stressful if you wear a bright coloured shirt - yellow is ideal.

Water should not be a problem if you are well prepared. Most settlements rely on "bore" water, and you can usually have bore water free by asking in each roadhouse (but it would be a good gesture to buy at least something, eg orange juice- roadhouses are not a public service). The water is generally very good and certainly drinkable. In some places, you may be lucky enough to find rainwater tanks, though it's not possible to rely on them alone. We carried extra water in "sea to summit" 6 Litre water bags that contain refillable wine cask inners. These are great: very robust, fold down small when not in use and cost about $20 from most specialist camping stores. You might also consider a do-it-yourself water bag. It's also possible to insulate conventional bike bottles to avoid some of the heat that makes water less palatable.

Food There are supermarkets in Ceduna, Norseman and Esperance but there are very few groceries in between and they are very expensive, so it's best to purchase food before starting the journey. It is a good idea to mail a food parcel to a roadhouse en route that you can pick up later. You can post up to 20kg and it is relatively cheap (depending on where you send it from - check with the post office though, as the pricing policy is not a straight line: price increases drastically if your parcel crosses a state border !) Check with roadhouses beforehand and let them know your intentions. Don’t leave your mailout too late or you may arrive before your parcel does! Nearly every roadhouse also has a bar or a hotel but there is generally no sale of "take away" alcohol.

Travellers heading west must be aware that they cannot take any honey, fruit or vegetables into WA due to quarantine. Travellers heading east give up their fresh food in Ceduna (if it is not eaten already!).

Bike supplies Bring all your repair gear and spares with you. With the exception of a few very expensive patch repair kits there is nothing available. The bike shop in Esperance is helpful & enthusiastic, as is " Sportspower" in Ceduna.

Camping Unless you have a huge budget, camping is the only option for accommodation. Luckily bush camping is easy on the Nullarbor. Almost all the road is unfenced and there are good "rest areas" and patches of bush to set up a tent all the way along. There are toilets and showers at all roadhouses. Many roadhouses have "caravan parks" but these are expensive and usually consist of big patches of gravel.

Climate Summers can get very hot on the Nullarbor. Temperatures will frequently be above 40 in mid summer. Cyclists during this time will need to ride at night ( using good lights & reflectors !) and early in the morning to avoid the heat. Winters are cold, wet and windy. Optimum times for travel are therefore in Autumn and Spring.

Wind This should be a big factor in planning your trip. Winds on the Nullarbor can be very strong and it’s good to have them behind you! Although exact wind direction is variable, and may be affected by local conditions, there is a trend in wind direction. Warmer months: East to South Easterly winds with a high in the bight ; Cooler months: West to North Westerly winds

Maps It is not necessary to have a great amount of detail as there are few roads in this area! Maps supplied by the tourist information centres should be sufficient. Click for a strip map from the www.

Information The Eyre Peninsula Tourism Association publishes a detailed & comprehensive list of services & contacts along the Highway in a brochure entitled "The Nullarbor" , available on the SA side of the border - it even includes positive mention of cyclists ! Phone Ceduna information centre on freecall 1800 639 413 for a copy. ( you can also get a " Nullarbor Certificate" here) On the WWW , Nullarbornet offers a useful directory & guide to the natural attractions & settlements of the region. There is much general information & background on the www.

Email access is available via information centres & internet booths at Norseman, Border Village, Nullarbor, Penong.

Bicycle Information: articles on the Nullarbor crossing appeared in Freewheeling Magazine # 3:17 ; 5:20 ; 14:33 ( by unicycle!) ; 16:26; 29:21; 41:56 ( in the 1930's) 51:52 ( the inland route). Australian Cyclist Magazine featured the Nullarbor at 16:06:28 ( the inland route) 17:01:43 ; and 18:06:40. These articles are of varying practical value, but are available to copy at bicycle organisations' libraries. There are also a number of bicycle www sites, also of varying practicality. For information on the "Flinders Highway" [ by the coast from Ceduna to Pt Lincoln ] , contact Peter Good, who has cycled the route recently .

Ceduna to Penong 73km

Small rolling hills in farmland with occasional clumps of trees for shade. Rest areas at 40km east of Penong- Bin ; 25km east of Penong – Chair, table, bin ;

Camping- limited due to farms. Use rest areas

PENONG: a small town of many windmills. Post office, laundrette, pub, caravan park . General store: open 7 days. Small with reasonable range of groceries, fruit and veg. Prices around 2x supermarket. Roadhouse: open 24 hours. Takeaway food / restaurant. Showers $2 . Internet $3/15 mins

Penong to Nundroo 79km

Medium rolling hills with dense trees for first 20km, farms and patchy trees thereafter. Rest areas at 65km east of Nundroo- bin, shade, ok for camping ; 63km east of Nundroo- bin, shade, ok for camping; 31km east of Nundroo- bin, shade, ok for camping; 10km east of Nundroo- bin, shade, table, good camping

NUNDROO : Hotel, motel, pub, phone. No showers., staff are happy to give out rainwater if requested. Bore water salty but drinkable . Roadhouse: very limited range of basic groceries.

Nundroo to Yalata 52km

Hilly and well treed all the way. ( Monument to Japanese cyclist 7km W of Nundroo) Good camping everywhere except where fence is near the road. Rest areas at 27km east of Yalata- bin, table ; 25km east of Yalata- bin, table

8km east of Yalata- bin. (big truck stop, good camping at back)

YALATA: Aborigine owned and operated road house. Caravan park Phone, restaurant, cinema. Clinic. Permits available for Whale watching at the Head of the Bight ( May to October) .

Roadhouse: showers $2, some basic supplies but very expensive! Tube repair kit $7.

Yalata to Nullarbor 93km

Hilly and well treed with good camping UNTIL about 30km east of Nullarbor- Nullarbor Plain starts ! Flat and treeless!

Rest areas at 71km east of Nullarbor- bin, table, tank (unreliable water), some shade

36km east of Nullarbor- bin, table

NULLARBOR: Modern roadhouse facilities and welcome shade! Nice people! Water is 50c/litre .for reverse osmosis. Roadhouse: showers 5 min / $1, restaurant, bar, motel, laundry, internet. Tube repair kit $8.50. Small range of basic groceries .

Nullarbor to Border Village 186km

Trees resume soon after Nullarbor, some patches of scrub ok for camping. Flat terrain. Road approaches the coast and the Bunda cliffs. Very little shade along coastal section. Great views from the lookouts!

Rest areas at

  • 140km east of Border village- bin, water tank (unreliable)
  • 81km east of Border Village- bin, table. Good shade and camping!
  • 50km east of Border Village- bin, water tank (unreliable)

BORDER VILLAGE: brand new roadhouse. Quarantine Checkpoint!!! Roadhouse: showers $2/10min, phones, restaurant, NO groceries at all. Internet.

Border Village to Eucla 13km

Plenty of camping along hilly, well treed road.

EUCLA: the closest thing to a town you’ve seen in a while! Fascinating weather station open to public. Roadhouse: freshwater showers $1/5min, caravan park ($2.00), motel, restaurant. Nice bush setting with tables and shade, well stocked small "shop" reasonably priced. (the most groceries you will see in one place along the Nullarbor). Nice management.

Eucla to Mundrabilla 66km

Descend through Eucla pass. Road is flat and straight. Plenty of tree clumps for shade, easy camping on unfenced roadside.

Rest areas at 37km east of Mundrabilla- bin, some shade ; 29km east of Mundrabilla – bin, fireplace, trees (better for camping)

MUNDRABILLA: Roadhouse: phones, caravan park ( $6.00), bar, restaurant, showers $2.20, motel Virtually no groceries.

Mundrabilla to Madura 116km

Flat road with easy camping anywhere. Occasional tree clumps. Rest areas at     113km east of Madura- shelter, water tank. Not good camping, very bare

107km east of Madura- toilet, fireplace, table, big and shady, good camping.

65km east of Madura- bin, table. Big with trees and scrub

42km east of Madura- bin. Large area, trees and scrub for good camping. Emergency telephone

25km east of Madura- toilets, tables, bbqs. Lots of trees, good camping

MADURA: a roadhouse on a hill amongst the trees. Roadhouse: restaurant, motel, caravan park, phone, showers $3, swimming pool. NO groceries. ".. There are no Eftpos facilities across the Nullarbor except for the service station at Madura..." ( 2002)

 

Madura to Cocklebiddy 91km

Very gentle uphill to Cocklebiddy. Open wood and grassland. Unfenced road but few secluded camp spots.

Rest areas at           67km east of Cocklebiddy- bins, table, bbq. Nice area

44km east of Cocklebiddy-bins, table, bbq. Secluded from road, well treed, good camping

10km east of Cocklebiddy- good camping up bush track, secluded in scrub (no rest area)

COCKLEBIDDY: bicycle friendly staff and an emphasis on good healthy food! Roadhouse: motel, caravan park ($8.50), phone, $3 showers, laundry $2 wash, no groceries

Cocklebiddy to Caiguna 65km

Gently undulating road. Some rough surfaces. Open grasslands with few trees or good camping spots, except well treed area for 10km east of Caiguna.

Rest area at 21km east of Caiguna- water tanks, but taps destroyed ( 2000/12). Good for shade only. Bare wasteland

CAIGUNA: Roadhouse: "Don't as for water - refusal may offend" signs - but "…nice people there who showed me to their private reverse osmosis outlet..". No groceries. Phones, caravan park ( $12.00), showers $3, restaurant, playground with tables.

Caiguna to Balladonia 181km

Some trees near Caiguna, but mostly gently undulating through bare grassland for 90km. Last 90km woodland varies from dense to sparse. Road fenced but not too close for camping. Last 30km is hilly.

Rest areas at           141km east of Balladonia- water tank, shelter. Bare with some trees at back.

129km east of Balladonia- water tank, shelter. Bare but further off road.

90km east of Balladonia- not a rest area, but good place for shade or camping

50km east of Balladonia-bin, table. Good for camping

5km east of Balladonia- bin, table, shelter. Good camping.

BALLADONIA: modern roadhouse, excellent free museum with local history and information. Roadhouse: possibility of rainwater, (with a purchase), showers $3.50, backpackers, caravan park ( with kitchen $6.00), motel, bar. Small range of groceries but generally very expensive .

Balladonia to Condingup 200km

Important note: the Eyre Highway continues 190km west to Norseman. We preferred to take this short cut via Parmango road to Esperance on the coast. Be warned: the Balladonia roadhouse may try to persuade you NOT to take this road. The track starts opposite the roadhouse about 30m towards Caiguna, on the Eyre Highway at a crossroads. It is not signposted. If you like to go off the beaten track and away from the highway, this road is fantastic! It is true that the road quality is quite bad in places for the first 65km- corrugations and can be wet in spots after rain. There is no sand. Lower your tyres , and raise your adventure! Plenty of wildlife… alive. Plenty of camping.

Road conditions: As mentioned these can be quite bad for 65km, but it improves as you enter Esperance shire. After 88km the road is excellent unsealed road, and turns to bitumen at 165km from Balladonia.

Water: Take sufficient water from the roadhouse. However there is a water hole after about 66km that is signposted to the left. This is a green grassy area which would be nice for camping. There is also a water tank at the homestead.

Deralinya Homestead: A great restored homestead is open to travellers about 87km along the track. The divided road ends and the road forks. Take the track to the right and after about 150m you will see the house. Inside there are beds, a table, a fireplace with pots and pans and some general camping things. Out the back is a rain water tank. The house is 110 years old, and has been providing great free accommodation to travellers for 8 years. Show your appreciation by leaving the place tidy! This is definitely worth a stop.

Condingup: A small town in a grain growing area. The tavern is open 7 days and has a small general store attached. Prices are quite high but there is a good range of food if your supplies are low.

Cape Le Grand National Park: This is a beautiful national park with lovely beaches and some bushwalking. Camping fees are $12.50. Hot showers available at camp sites.

Esperance: Access to Esperance is via Fisheries road or from Cape Le Grand NP you may wish to ride along the beach, which is very firm at LOW tide. Follow the coast west from Cape Le Grand campground, the distance is 24km of sand before you can get back on the bitumen, or you can stay on the beach all the way into Esperance. Esperance is a lovely seaside town. All facilities and two bakeries to fill your stomach after the long trek. Visit Mark and Helen at the Shoestring Backpackers , highly recommended as a great friendly place for some well earned R and R. (ph. 9071 3396). Good bike shop.

ALTERNATIVE ROUTE:

Balladonia to Norseman 190km

(we didn’t take this road, so this is a bit sketchy on details)

Rest areas at           163km east of Norseman- bin, table, fireplace. Large shady area

108km east of Norseman- Fraser Range station- accommodation     

83km east of Norseman- toilet, bin, table,bbq . some shade in a large area

79km east of Norseman- bin, table, fireplace. Large shady area

NORSEMAN: All services . Internet at Ampol. telecentre for email weekdays only. Showers & good maps at Tourist Bureau .


This fact sheet was produced by grassroots cyclists. No responsibility for errors or omissions can be accepted. It is intended for free or low cost distribution on paper or on the www, and you are free to copy it on that basis. Suggestions for improvement are most welcome!

Other Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets in this series include

Central Australia | SA Kangaroo Island | SA Flinders Ranges | North Queensland

| WA Kimberley | Stuart Highway | NSW Central West | NSW Sydney to Canberra |

| NSW Hunter Valley | Nullarbor Eyre Highway | Qld/ NT: The Plenty Highway | Kakadu NP Oodnadatta Track


Australian Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets

www.iinet.net.au/~bikefish/  | * PO Box 3331 Rundle Mall SA 5000 Australia

Kakadu National Park

Northern Territory, Australia

By Grace Newhaven   

Purpose

This fact sheet is intended as an introductory guide to cycle camping in the Kakadu National Park & surrounding region The region is an established conventional tourist destination; and general tourist and promotional information is readily available from mainstream sources elsewhere. This fact sheet assumes the reader has, or will have, access to those sources.

Resources

There is no bicycle-specific map of the Kakadu region. Several bicycle travelogues about the NT are listed at the "Australia" section of Bicycle Fish.

"Crossing Australia's North [by Bicycle] " (1990, Julia Thorn 141 pp pocket size format). Detailed route guide for Townsville-to-Broome and Darwin / Kakadu region. Useful history and other observations. Provides some bicycle information , and a lot of useful background to Kakadu. Note, however, that this guide is now slightly dated.. ( Kangaroo Press ISBN 0 86417 305 9 )

Map of the Northern Territory (Royal Automobile Association (RAA) - ( Scale 1: 1 210 000.) Shows services, including some "rest areas", Aboriginal lands, National Parks etc. Very small print ! A$5.00 .Tel 1800 244 060 . http://www.raa.net . Free to members of car clubs, otherwise $5.00 .

"Kakadu National Park : Visitors Guide and Maps " (33 pages A5 format) is distributed at the Park's entrances : the guide contains useful maps and other information. Note that there is an entrance fee, around $ 18.00 or so per person, payable at the entry gates, which allows for a stay of 14 days - in theory Rangers will ask to see your receipt at the (mandatory) campsites. This author recommends that you pay the fee anyway. There are no concessions for cyclists.

Environment Australia (an agency of the Federal Government) manages Kakadu NP in cooperation with the traditional owners. There is an information centre & HQ at Bowali, near Jabiru, with a number of useful leaflets and maps. Be sure to find out about the free slide shows provided at most camp sites ( details in a "What's On " programme). http://www.ea.gov.au/parks/kakadu/index.html

Jabiru Tourist Centre : 6 Tasman Plaza Kakadu National Park NT 0886
Telephone: (08) 8979 2548 Facsimile: (08) 8979 2482

NT Tourist Commission: http ://www.ntholidays.com/home.asp

NT Department of Transport : http://www.nt.gov.au/ipe/dtw/roadconditions/

"For recorded information or to arrange for automatic facsimile, telephone 1800 246 199.

For road conditions and walking track access within the park, contact 8938 1121."

History

Aborigines of several tribes have inhabited this region for millennia before first contact with Mocassin seafarers. The area was first explored by Europeans in the expeditions of Ludwig Leichardt in the 1840's. There was some missionary activity in the early 20th century .The region has had a diverse modern history, with some attempts at cattle raising, as well as crocodile and buffalo hunting. In more recent times, uranium mining continues on the edge of the Park. At present, the Park is leased to the Australian Government's Nature Conservation Agency. Several Aboriginal communities continue to live within and close to the Park – many of the Park's staff are local Aboriginal people.

Environment

Kakadu owes its attraction and "World Heritage" status to the combination of its abundant wildlife and its Aboriginal cultural sites, rather than to beautiful lush scenery - the bush itself is generally dull, though there are also spectacular rocky plateaus. The year is divided into two main seasons, Wet (November to April) and Dry (May to October), with relatively high temperatures year round. The main tourist season is the Dry, which is slightly cooler than the Wet, and corresponds to the cold of the Southern winter. (Daily Max Temp : Jun 31C / Oct 37C , Lowest rain Jun - Sep) .On the www, the Bureau of meteorology provides weather averages and wind directions . Note that Wet season flooding may present particular difficulties for bicycles, as well as making off-road sites inaccessible. In some places, there are a lot of mosquitoes.

Getting there

by bike

From Pine Creek or Darwin

by bus

Greyhound & McCafferties intercity buses serve the Stuart Highway town of Pine Creek. They may also have services from Darwin to Jabiru. Both companies have " flat fee" charges for bikes that effectively discriminate against "short " journeys with a bike. Bus drivers may also handle your bike roughly. Note however that significant discounts may exist for tickets booked in advance. YHA discount is also available.

by rail

Nil, till DarwinAlice Springs railway is operational.

by air

To Darwin

Roads & Traffic

The main road between Pine Creek, Jabiru and Darwin is now fully sealed. Within the Park there are numerous dirt roads of varying quality, leading to various sites. Some of these are designated " 4 X 4 only". While these will generally be passable to bikes at least in the Dry, seek local advice .

Dry season traffic within the Park is generally light, compared to the Stuart Highway and the highway to Darwin; and consists mainly of tourist camper-vans ( many driven by foreigners, who often drive (in relation to cyclists) better than Australians - which is good !) You may encounter road trains on the main road, and should treat them with care – be careful to wear at least some bright clothes so they see you as early as possible. One noticeable feature of the road system is that wide verges are cut back into the bush to mitigate the effects of car crashes – one side effect however is to make for sometimes shadeless hot cycling - beware of dehydration.

Water

Water may be a problem in places, as it is sometimes a considerable distance between water points ( eg 75 km or more) . Be prepared to carry more water than usual, especially if leaving the main road. Within the whole region, most settlements are dependent on underground "bore" water, which is generally plentiful & OK to taste, but in a some places is quite salty. There was particularly "rough" bore water at the Park's Western entrance station. At the NPWS campsites, signs usually advise boiling the tap water as a precaution. If you're lucky, you could be offered rain water, stored in tanks at some places: if so, be grateful ! Bottled water is available, expensively, at the commercially operated sites. A do-it-yourself water bag. will be useful. It's also possible to insulate conventional bike bottles with socks, to avoid some of the heat that makes water less palatable.

Food

There is a small supermarket at Jabiru ; most roadhouses operate mini-groceries at high prices and very limited range. There was a tiny stock of groceries at Yellow Waters, but apart from these, there are no places to buy food supplies – with most travellers arriving by day-tripper bus or self-contained camper van, there is little incentive for local traders to supply anything really nourishing. You will also need fuel for your stove, as wood fires may be prohibited. It may be a good idea to mail a food parcel to a station or roadhouse en route.

Camping

Kakadu – unlike most other parts of Australia - is unusual in that "free" camping is not allowed, due in part to the danger from feral animals ( particularly buffalo) ; but also because Park Rangers routinely set fires, often at night, as a form of vegetation management ; they also shoot feral animals, without warning, when the opportunity arises ( eg, driving home at the end of their shift !) , and both these activities would be extremely hazardous to independent bush campers. For their own safety, visitors are therefore restricted to a number of officially maintained camp sites. These are well appointed, with showers toilets etc and are usually divided into "quiet" and "generator" zones . Fees are around $6.00/person. Be aware that lawn or grass is a scarce and fragile commodity in this climate, so you may not be able to pitch your tent on any that you do find : ask first ! Unfortunately, the Dry season alternative may be rock hard earth, so be prepared. These official camp sites are not placed at regular intervals – which is of little consequence to motorists, but can mean long riding days to the cyclist. In general it would be fair to say that the camping system (at the time of writing) is not "bicycle friendly". Note however, that at most camp sites, the Rangers provide interesting interpretative talks on a roster - get a timetable at Bowali Centre.

Services

Town / settlement / facility

Remarks / contacts

Bark Hut

Camping, Restaurant, liquor store, quiet, no mosquitos

Bowali Centre

Parks HQ. Free displays, information, souvenirs, restaurant etc

Cooinda

Camp site, Restaurant, bar, micro-grocery, email booth. Cultural Centre nearby.

Jabiru

Small shopping centre, with s/market, P.O., Pub but no takeaway alcohol. Camp site OK, wandering dingoes within. Email at Library

Mardugal

NPWS C/site. Tiny patch of grass. "Boil water "

Mary River Roadhouse

Friendly, a few groceries, beer etc. Good bore water from tap.Manager was/is a cyclist ( 2000)

Muriella Park

NPWS C/site , good water ; friendly Dry season management

Nourlangie Rock

No drinking water, no camping.

Pine Creek

Small grocery, liquor store. YH ( friendly, camping OK)

Sth.Alligator River /Frontier Village

Camping, some shade, swimming pool. Bore water OK , but noisy generator at night.

Ubirr / Border Store

Merl campsite, small grocery. YH. Lots of mossies - unbelievably so !

This fact sheet was produced by grassroots cyclists. No responsibility for errors or omissions can be accepted. It is intended for free or low cost distribution on paper or on the www, and you are free to copy it on that basis. Suggestions for improvement are most welcome!

This fact sheet was produced by grassroots cyclists. No responsibility for errors or omissions can be accepted. It is intended for free or low cost distribution on paper or on the www, and you are free to copy it on that basis. Suggestions for improvement are most welcome!

Other Bicycle Camping Fact Sheets in this series include

Central Australia | SA Kangaroo Island | SA Flinders Ranges | North Queensland

| WA Kimberley | Stuart Highway | NSW Central West | NSW Sydney to Canberra |

| NSW Hunter Valley | Nullarbor Eyre Highway | Qld/ NT: The Plenty Highway | Kakadu NP Oodnadatta Track


Melbourne to Goulburn

 

Part 1 : Melbourne to Beechworth

This route is based on an article in Freewheeling Magazine (# 12 , 1981/Sep ). The route is mostly on back roads. There are commercial camp sites at each of the stages.

Useful maps are

  • RACV's regional maps " Goulburn & Murray Waters" & "North Eastern Victoria", ( scale 1: 350 000, $3.95 each or free to members of car clubs)

 

  1. Melbourne to Epping ( by rail)
  2. Epping to Broadford, 56 Km on tar , mostly flat, E of M31 Hume Freeway
  3. Broadford to the bridge near Seymour , 28 km mostly flat - via Puckapunyal ( military museums open daily).
  4. near Seymour to Ngambie , 34 km . Mixed tar & gravel roads. Backroads to W of A39 Goulburn Valley Hwy.
  5. Nagambie to Murchison, 24 km on tar, almost flat.
  6. Murchison to Shepparton, 35 km on smooth wide, flat tar. ( Caltrop " three corner jacks" may be common in summer).
  7. Shepparton to Devenish, 52 km on flat, wide tarred road.
  8. Devenish to Glenrowan , 46 km , quiet tar road, C314, mostly flat & narrow. Nice camping in forest.
  9. Glenrowan to Wangaratta 20 km, flat , mostly wide tar.
  10. Wangarratta ( Via Great Alpine Road / Ovens Hwy / B500 & C 315) to Beechworth , 37 km on tar, flat then rolling hills. Beechworth is "… Victoria's best preserved gold fields town".

 

Part 2: Beechworth Vic. to Goulburn, NSW

This route is based on an article in Freewheeling Magazine ( #14, 1982/ May)

Useful maps are

  • RACV's regional map "North Eastern Victoria" ( scale 1: 350 000, $3.95 to non-members of car clubs)
  • NRMA's " Canberra & SE New South Wales" ( scale 1: 550 000, $5.00 non-members)
  1. Beechworth to Yackandandeh, 23 Km on tar. C 315 & C 532.
  2. Yackandandeh to Tallangatta 47 km , mostly tar. Camp at Tennis Club, Old Talangatta.C 533.
  3. Tallangatta to Corryong, 87 km , on variable tar, B 400.
  4. Corryong to Towong to Tooma 38 km on good tar, a few small hills, ( unnumbered on NSW side).
  5. Tooma to Tumbarumba, 37 km on tar , a few solid hills
  6. Tumbarumba to Batlow, 41 km tar, "narrow & rough for a lot of the way", some climbs.
  7. Batlow to Tumut, 32 km on variable tar, two big climbs
  8. Tumut to Gundagai, 38 km on mostly good tar, a couple of big hills.
  9. Gundagai to Cootamundra, 61 km , good tar, flat grazing country, becoming undulating
  10. Cootamundra to Harden, 40 km of good tar, undulating
  11. Harden to Boorowa, 39 km good tar, variable slopes
  12. Boorowa to Rugby, 36 km gravel & tar. Camp site at Rugby opposite the school.
  13. Rugby to Crookwell, 54 km . Some gravel. Nice camping at Wheeo Creek & Lachlan River.
  14. Crookwell to Goulburn 44 km. Crosses the Great Divide near Crookwell

For Goulburn to Canberra or Sydney, click here.

 

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