An Introduction to
Bicycle Touring In
Grace Newhaven < bikefishATiinet.net.au >
Revised 2008. July 17
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Warning : Broken Links Ahead !
Please note : while the information presented here in 2001 remains basically correct, many Links have failed & are now unreliable; unfortunately they are impossible to detect & repair economically.If you wish to report them to me, please do , but please remember to report both “This Page Title” and “Link broken”
There is, however, very little information available for independent cycle touring in SA, and this page hopes to provide you with a useful background which will make your trip a lot easier. Cycle touring in this part of the world is not always easy, but it is rewarding - especially with a little preparation for this refreshingly unusual environment.
bicycle traveller, South
falls into two
general regions: a gently undulating temperate agricultural and forest zone
The state has a
"Mediterranean" climate - dry & warm for much of the year. Summer
temperatures can be 40 degrees or more in
All roads are open to bikes, with the exception of about 20 kms. of freeways.
Main towns are connected by all weather bitumen roads, some wide, some narrow, with varying densities of motor traffic. Road shoulders are generally not sealed so there is not always a good separation of bikes and other vehicles. Highway speed limit is 110 km/h, but this is not well observed.
Road trains are common on the highways in the North of the state, but can be managed by cyclists who are aware of their unusual characteristics. While they can usually overtake a bike quite safely, a bike must leave the road if a road train needs to pass a third vehicle at the same place as the cycle happens to be ( particularly important when one road train passes another !) This does not happen often, as traffic is light on the roads where road trains operate.
Any cyclist on the highways needs to wear bright clothes, as an absolute minimum. Bright clothes allow motorists to see you faster, and thus prepare their overtaking approach that much more carefully - which is much better for the cyclist ! (bright clothes do not need to be lurid or even expensive !)
A bright helmet colour is also a very good idea - avoid dark helmets at all costs. A mirror is also very useful.
As a safer and more pleasant alternative to the highways, there is also a network of dirt roads that vary in surface, but are mostly cycleable at a good speed, say , 20 km/h with a full camping load. Maps of a scale appropriate to travel by the dirt roads are readily available from motoring organisations, on a scale of approx. 1 Cm = 4 Km. Many of these roads were the highways of the last century, and as such have some historical interest which will be especially evident to a cyclist.
There are /
were a number of bicycle-specific maps, available from Information SA , and bike shops, generally
on 1 :100 000 scale. ( These have recently been declared "obsolete" -
for no good reason - and are now sometimes heavily discounted, around A$1.00,
if they are still available. Otherwise, they are around A$7.00 each.) There is
also a set of maps for the Mawson Trail, around A$8.00 each. There is not, however, a
continuous bicycle map of the whole state. For a fuller list of bicycle-useful
Travellers by bike
will notice that Bottle deposit laws, unique to
Apart from traffic
dangers, there is nowhere in
Bike theft is unlikely outside large urban centres, but you should still use at least minimum security if you're out of sight of your bike.
A travellers' messaging and contact service, of particular interest to foreigners, is available commercially from Backpackers Connection.
There is a range of in-door commercial accommodation across SA, but an independent tour would be difficult without at least some camping, so a tent will be essential for most cycle tourers.
Showers List" includes several members in
There are several
commercial campsites in
Most small towns have at least one grocery store stocking an adequate range of non-perishable foods. There may also be small fast foods shops, and often "pubs" [bars] selling prepared food and alcohol. Trading hours are long - but not infinite! Generally however, don't assume food will be available away from main highways, unless you have reliable local advice. It is essential to carry emergency food rations for at least one meal.
In larger towns, supermarket chains are increasingly open for very long trading hours, usually seven days a week. While it is debatable what social effect such chains have on small towns, for visiting cyclists they are very useful. If you're on a budget, try the "short code" shelves for discounted perishable food to use quickly.
Supermarket generic branded products - sometimes with useful re-usable containers -are also an economical alternative to advertised brands.
In this dry climate it is particularly important to have the capacity to carry sufficient water for sometimes long stretches - distances between water points may easily be 20 km, often much more in the interior. Bikes should have a minimum capacity of two litres, and spare folding bottles would be advisable. You may wish to consider making a water bag.
Tap water in SA tends to be unpleasantly salty and "hard",- locals prefer rain water, collected in large metal tanks, and generally available from farmsteads, if you ask politely. Bottled water is available everywhere where money is useful. ( The "hard" water makes excellent British style beers, which SA exports to the world.)
Adelaide was a planned city of the early nineteenth century, with broad
straight streets and an attractive belt of open parkland. As such it is unique
Further out from the centre is a flat sprawling city, about 80 km long and 40 wide, between the Hills and the sea. 75% of SA's 1.4 million or so people live in the metropolitan area, with almost all the rest living within a 300 km radius of the city. 25 % of the population has a non-English speaking family background, particularly Italian, Greek and German. 1 % of the population identifies as Aboriginal.
The SA Museum on North Terrace provides an excellent introduction to the animal and plant life of the region, as well as the histories of both Aboriginal and European communities.
For the cyclist who wants to avoid the city, there is a bike friendly, local train system with exits to the North and South. You can take your bike on almost every train, simply walk on/walk off, though you will need a ticket for yourself (and another for your bike if you travel during commuter peak periods on week days.) Tickets are one-price, valid for unlimited travel within a two-hour period.
There is also a
"linear park" along the
The international airport is also close to the
If you arrive by bus, the terminal is close to the city centre - but that is the best you can say of it at the moment.
Rail links beyond
Email services are available cheaply or free at many libraries across the state ( walk in and ask ), and at an increasing number of "internet cafes" which charge commercial prices. Bus terminals in the interior also feature www access points. At most sites, you will be able to access a machine very quickly.
In SA - and throughout
The moral is : if you're a cycle traveller, bring whatever you need rather than attempt to find it here.
There are a lot of "outlaw" bicycle couriers on the streets of the CBD. Most of them will ignore anyone else on a bike.
To the immediate
Kangaroo Island is a very attractive destination for the expedition cyclist -
it is only a long day's cycle from
The Flinders Ranges offer spectacular desert landscapes, in beautiful colours of red stone, as well as an experience of great solitude for the cycle traveller . The sealed road ends at Wilpena Pound, an enormous and unforgettable geological structure resembling a crater many kilometres across. From there, dirt roads lead further into the Outback. There are food shops at Blinman and at the Arkaroola Resort, though with a limited and relatively expensive stock - you may wish to use the post office for re-supply. Water is the main problem, as there are few creeks. Bore water is available, but will be very salty. For drinkable water, you will need to ask at sheep "stations" [ ranches ] along the way, and be aware that local people may not always have a good impression of the tourist traffic which - apart from a few tour companies - is largely suburban Four wheel drivers, who can be quite a nuisance to the locals. You will have a better reception if you offer to pay for drinking water - remember these people are dependent on rain for all their drinking water, and they often don=t have much to spare, especially for arrogant visitors.
The South East is a temperate zone, with temperatures a little lower than Adelaide.There are beautiful , deserted ocean beaches, some dangerous for swimming. The Coorong lagoon is a particular attraction, with spectacularly beautiful sand dunes and beaches ( unfortunately, not practically accessible by bike). Further on, there is a local lobster industry to sample, and several pleasant seaside towns. There is also an extensive plantation forest system, with various quiet and easy bike routes. The region also contains a number of limestone cave complexes, some open to the public. Wineries, maritime scenery and reasonable distances between towns make for a pleasant journey, with plenty of camping opportunities.
Eyre Peninsula can be visited as the
beginning of the Nullabor
The Riverland is an agricultural region, producing high
quality citrus and stone fruits with intensive irrigation based on the waters
The Far North is a challenge for cycle camping , with settlement increasingly sparse, and facilities for bicycle travellers very few. However, the unusual towns of Coober Pedy and Woomera may be of interest, while the desert itself presents spectacular views.
Recommendations & additions to this guide are always welcome!
Please e mail <bikefishATiinet.net.au > , (preferably with a meaningful title to your message - my inbox is full of irrelevant material )
There are a number of small-scale
This list is intended to make these
services better known to the
Listing at this space is free. No endorsement should be assumed. Services may have been discontinued since publication, and this site takes no responsibility for transactions conducted between these producers and customers.
Sewing bike clothes
Sally Hopton operates a specialty sewing business, with experience of bicycle clothing. Sally is prepared to consider customised orders. < firstname.lastname@example.org >
Neil Polley makes panniers to his own design, emphasing quality & durability. He is also prepared to consider customers' own individual requirements. By appointment only tel 8297 7800. Polley & Bailey 43 Flinders Street Edwardstown 5039. < no email >
Wayne Roberts is an
Refer to Max at "Holdfast Cycles " 726 Anzac Highway GLENELG . Tel 8294 4537
Bicycle frame and touring equipment repairs. By appointment as I'm retired from this occupation. Peter Good email@example.com Phone 8331 7735
2001 / January 20
The following maps are readily
Bicycle-Specific Touring Maps
The "SA Cycle Route"
series is a set of maps covering the temperate regions around
SA Cycle Route series consists of the following titles :
· Mid North
· South East region
The SA Dept of Recreation and Sport
also publishes a set of maps for The Mawson Trail
The Royal Automobile Association ( " RAA" ) produces a set of regional road maps. These are free to members of car clubs ( local or foreign) ; or A$1.50 each to the general public. Scale varies , around 1 : 200 000 or 375 000. These maps show road surfaces in four different types, from highways to 4 X 4 tracks, no topographic details. Rather flimsy paper, but - with care - they should last a few weeks on the road.
The RAA has a head office in
While there is no catalogue of these maps, the following titles are available :
· Outback ( Flinders & Far North )
· South East - Upper & Lower
· Mid North
· Government agency Tourism South Australia provides free give-away maps of the state & its regions, on a highway scale, and containing some useful information.
· Motor fuel companies ( BP , Shell etc) sell maps for car travellers, covering the whole state, around 1 : 1 000 000 scale. These generally do not show minor roads. Around A$ 10.00 at ( car) service stations. Not as useful as those of the RAA ( above) but cheap for those cyclists who travel only on highways.