I got going early and was on the road by 7:30am. I rode through a quiet Kapunda. Out the out side of Kapunda I joined the dirt roads of the Mawson trail. A few days earlier on Facebook a couple of New Zealanders ahead of me had suffered in the mud, having great difficulties getting through. However for me it had mostly dried out. I meandered through grape vines until eventually I got to the main Sturt Highway. It was a bit of a shock, road trains, lots of traffic, it was difficult to just cross. I stopped at the servo for a snack, then rode along the badly laid bitumen of the bike lane into Nurioopta . Eventually I got out of Nuri and joined the bike lane that runs along the main road, and turned north riding through the outskirts of Tanunda. The track then crossed the Little Para River and wound through farmland and grape vines until I got back to the highway at Rowlands Flat. That is where I left the Mawson Trail. There was about 75km of the Mawson trail to go that winds through the Adelaide Hills. I had done that section before, and accommodation is sparse in the Adelaide Hills. I had done 835km of the Mawson and I now was heading to the Gawler train station. It was 21km to Gawler along the Barossa Bikeway, which was very nice. I arrived at the station at 3pm in the afternoon to catch the train to Adelaide.
It was a cold night and a cold morning. It was very easy to stay just a bit longer in the sleeping bag. However the sky was mostly clear, and the sun started warming things up.
I got going at 9am, and headed down the Rattler rail trail. It was a great 20km ride to Riverton. The sun was out the wind was mild, the hills were moderate. I stopped for supplies and a pastie in Riverton, then headed south out of town. I was a bit reticent getting back on the dirt roads of the Mawson trail. I was a bit fearful of finding mud again. However it was mostly dried out. I skipped a couple of sections that looked dodgy. The roads were pretty devoid of vehicles. I eventually came out on the Tarlee to Kapunda bitumen road, and it was a mostly downhill ride into Kapunda, where I arrived just after 4pm.
It rained a fair bit last night, and it was pretty cold. I got up and carried stuff to the BBQ shelter and started breakfast. The sun shone into the BBQ shelter and it was quite warm, so in the end I had everything drying in the sun
I headed off late at 9:40am towards Clare on the bitumen road, I was wary of going down any muddy dirt roads considering the rain we had over the last two days. It rained a little bit on the way to Clare, with a couple of hills to cross.
I stopped for lunch at the Subway in Clare, then headed down the Reisling bike trail. The trail is a steady upwards climb up to its midpoint. There I broke another spoke, which was the first one for 3 days. I fixed that and headed gently downhill to Auburn Caravan Park.
A bit of a miserable day. It rained most of the night. The tent stayed mostly dry but I do have to waterproof the floor a bit more. I went into the camp kitchen and very, very slowly got organised. I was hoping the weather would moderate. My the time I had breakfast and packed it was 11am when I left.
I followed the Mawson trail out of Burra in light drizzle , but I should have skipped it and taken the highway. I was mostly pushing my bike through mud. A few km out of Burra it rained hard with strong wind, I could barely see where I was going. I continued following the Mawson for about 10km, and then detoured south to Farrell Flat. I joined up with the Barrier Highway, and then turned onto the Farrell Flat Road, which had a bit of traffic on it. I then arrived at the Farrell Flat camping area around 3pm and holed up in the covered BBQ area (with power!) , to keep out of the occasional rain.
It was a cold night, even inside the hut. All thermals worn. John got going early because he was trying to get to Clare, while I only wanted to get to Burra. I was pretty low on food, basically only had barley left.
I tried to my rear wheel trued. The tyre was intermittently rubbing the frame. My constant spoke replacement makes the wheel slightly more wonky despite my attempts to get it true.
I got going a couple more climbs, until eventually I could see the wind generators above Hallett, and could see the highway to Burra. Down the hill I went and made Burra around 1pm. First stop was the takeaway for a Chicken Burger and chips. I was starving. Then I went to the Post Office to collect my food parcel that my Mum had posted to me. Then off to the Caravan Park for a campsite. Bad weather is coming in again, and I was thinking of staying two nights in Burra. However I think I will stay one night and get out during the day tomorrow when the weather is meant to be better to get to Farrell Flat.
I left the railway station at 8am checked the General store, but they didn’t open until 9am, so I pushed on out of town. It was good weather and getting sunny. The track got smaller. I met a couple of riders heading north who were loaded as much as me. They were both carrying lightweight folding chairs. I have decided that the difference between the bikepackers and the more traditional touring cyclists is whether they are carrying a folding chair.
I stopped at 11am for early lunch, and a car actually went past. One of two cars I saw all day. I got to the far North East part of the route which had great views . I then bumped into a bike rider who had posted on Facebook he was riding 200km a day. When I met him I had done 30km he had done 105km .
I continued on southward then I bumped into John, who was also heading to Black Jack Hut. He was faster than me. There was a steep hill about 3km from the hut where while resting and stationary part way up the hill, I broke spoke number 9.
I made it to Black Jack Hut, which is a newly built hut, and met John again.
I had a terrible night last night. Around 11pm the wind got stronger and stronger until I was sitting up bracing the side of the tent against the wind. I decided I would have to pull the tent down and put it in one of the sporting sheds at the oval. I managed to collapse the tent without breaking any of the poles. I then carried the tent to an open shed and put it up there out of the wind.
Next morning it was still raining intermittently, when I rode out of Spalding up towards the range of hills between Spalding and Hallett. I detoured a couple of bits of the Mawson trail that would have been too muddy after the overnight rain. The rain stopped as I climbed out of Spalding, but the wind was relentless. Near the top of the range I broke spoke number 8. I found a tree with a bit of shelter, and replaced the spoke. Then it was a descent and then another climb up a range covered in wind generators.
I then descended into Hallett, and visited the General Store where Chris gave me the combination to the lock on the old railway station, where I am staying tonight. Thankfully I am out of the wind.
I had a good night at Curnow’s Hut, quiet and peaceful, and not too cold. I cooked breakfast thinking I would run out of gas, but I still have a little bit of gas left. I loaded the bike and rode the 1km of Heysen trail back to the gate, and unloaded and hefted the bike over the gate. The the Mawson continued straight opposite the gate. I worked my way up a rough track, then through a gate along a faint track that went through hilly sheep country. About 3km later I descended steeply down to the main road to Spalding. I was cognisant that there was a rainstorm and possibly thunder coming after lunch, so I was prepared to bypass some of the Mawson trail if I needed to. However the weather radar still showed it a way of, so a couple of km down the road I left the R M Williams Way and headed west. The track meandered over the hills eventually going under an ancient railway bridge for a railway line that one time went I don’t know where.
The track went past Bundaleer reservoir, and then onto the Bundaleer road. This road was not very nice, a bit too narrow and too much traffic. I wasn’t going to take the Bundaleer aquifer track because it is notorious for puncture inducing 3 cornered jacks, but the Bundaleer road was so bad I decided to take it anyway. I managed to avoid any three cornered jack punctures, but I opened lots and lots of gates, which is hard to do on a loaded touring bike. I got back onto the R.M. Williams way about 5km out of town and had an easy ride to the Spalding oval where they have free camping. I beat the rain as well. I got some supplies at the local general store, and importantly got another gas canister.
It was a cold night and a cold morning. I am going to have to get out the thermals. Lots of people in the Caravan Park were packing up to leave at the end of the Easter long weekend. I cooked breakfast in the camp kitchen saving my gas cannister. I was slow to pack up because of the cold. I said goodbye to Scott and Liz who were heading back to Kangaroo Island. I got more supplies at the IGA supermarket and headed east out of Laura. It was a slow climb out of the town, the road having almost no traffic.
I crossed the road to Jamestown and did a series of long climbs and descents. I stopped for lunch under a tree, the flies pestering me. Then another long climb. I wasn’t going to make Spalding, it was too far. So I consulted my list of huts and there was one on the Heysen trail that could be used by bike riders on the Mawson. So I headed for Curnow’s Hut. I got to the gate and the sty, and had to unload the bike and put everything over the fence. Then I lifted the bike over the gate, and reloaded it. Then it was a 1km ride to Curnow’s Hut. I got there at 4pm. It’s a nice large hut with 3 rooms and an outside drop toilet, and rainwater tanks. I put my gear inside and then set up the solar panels to charge phone and other electronics.
Quiet morning at my stealth campsite, never heard anyone. I was so tired the previous night I went to bed at 6pm and slept for 11 hours. I headed off at 8:10am, the weather was looking up, cloudy but some sun. About 20km along I met another bike rider Andrew who was a Laura local, or as he said a refugee from Adelaide. He told me how Laura was growing in population. I left Andrew and detoured to the Stone Hut bakery and had a delicious chunky steak pie and sausage roll. The bakery has lots of customers, many more than when we stopped on the way up in the bus to Parachilna. I then rode a leisurely 10km into Laura. I got some supplies at the supermarket, and then stopped early for the day at the very nice Laura caravan park. Later in the afternoon I spent several hours talking to Scott and Liz from Kangaroo Island who have way more experience bike touring than me.
It rained a fair bit of the night. Plus there were so many people camped that some people had to party on until midnight. I cooked breakfast and packed up the wet tent. I hit the road at 8:10am. I went up to the servo to see if they had some duct tape – they didn’t, but they had huge queue of campers waiting for their coffee fix. I rode the steep grade out of Melrose, and at the top it started to rain. It rained on and off, until 7km out of Melrose I broke spoke number 7. So in the rain I replaced the spoke and another random spoke, and kept going, because I was getting cold. I kept hitting patches of mud that really slowed me down. I originally wanted to get to Laura but there was no way I was going to make that. I Set on making it to Wirrabara Ippinitchie campground. About 10km from the campground I decided maybe it would be a good idea to see if there were any vacancies online. Of course it was fully booked, so I started looking for stealth camping spots while I was still in the forest. I found one at 3pm, so I finished very early
Well it was a character building day. The night up on Richmans Gap was good, didn’t see anyone. I got going at 8am. The ride down was a bit sandy like the ride up, so a bit difficult to stay stable. I got onto a better road, which went up and down. I got about 13 km when I broke another spoke. It had been more than 150km since the last one, so no big deal. I stripped the tyre off to find there were bead wires sticking out of the tyre. This was very ominous. One wire was sticking inside the tyre, potentially stabbing the inner tube. I tried to cut the wires off cleanly. Fixed the spoke and went onwards for about 500m. The tyre was flat, the bead wire had holed the tube. I pulled the tyre off again, and made a protective layer from the old inner tube, and put it all together again. I got 300m, this time the tyre bulged off the rim. The tyre bead was broken, and not containing the inner tube. I try again with a lower pressure. I get about 500m and the tyre bulged off again. I stop for lunch and try wiring it on with wire I find nearby, but the wire is too thick. I put it all together again and realise that I will have to push the bike 20km to Wilmington. I get about 12km pushing, it’s about 4pm, and a ute with a couple of guys stop. They offer to take me to Wilmington, and we get to the Wilmington caravan park but no vacancies. So they very kindly take me 20km to Melrose, where there’s a bike shop. They drop me off, and I go round to the bike shop which is closed, but the lights are on. He opens up for me and sells me the one tyre that might fit, which is really too big, plus some more tubes.
I wheel the bike to the Caravan park and thankfully they have room for me, it’s a huge park, with lots of families camped. I put up the tent and I work on the bike. I stuff around for an hour or so and find I have to remove the rear mudguard to fit the new big tyre. Eventually I have it fixed, and reward myself with the first shower for several days. I think I will be mobile again tomorrow.
The flies were waiting for me on the outside of the tent when I got up. The night was quiet, no cars. I was on the road by 7;10am. There were black clouds in the distance. Then there was lightning, then it started to rain, then it poured. I hid in a quarry for a while during some of the lightning, I felt a bit exposed. After an hour or so it stopped raining, the sun came out intermittently to dry everything. During the rain, the clay roads turned to instant mud, clagging up my wheels. The road was very quiet, very few cars. I was on a mission to get to the PO in Quorn for my food parcel. I stopped at Probys grave. I had another stop for morning tea in a creek bed, and by 1pm I was in Quorn. I collected my parcel and headed for the Caravan Park to see if I could get a campsite. No luck, fully booked, no room even for my little tent.
I would have to keep heading south. I would have to stealth camp somewhere. Redman’s Gap looked a likely prospect on the map. I got some lunch from the IGA, and lounged around on the front lawn of the train station. I didn’t want to get to Redman’s Gap too early, I wanted to arrive at dusk, so it was less likely people would see me.
I headed off at 4pm, down Redman Valley Road, then turned onto the little track up to Redman’s Gap. The track up was too sandy to ride, so I pushed I was pretty loaded up with food and water. I got to the top at 5:30pm. There were not a lot of tent sites, so I got going clearing the rocks from a small area. I had the tent up just as the sun went down.
Well I got an email telling me the spokes parcel was at the post office. I got to the PO too early, and had to wait until 9am for it to open. Then back to the Caravan park to fix some spokes. I really didn’t know what to do, so I changed about 6 random spokes, then packed up and was finally on the road at 12 noon. I had 110km to Quorn, and I knew it would take me 2 days. Also I have a food parcel waiting for me at the Quorn PO, so I have to get there by 4pm Thursday, after that they will be closed for Easter. 13km out of town I broke another spoke. So I stopped for lunch and also changed two more spokes. I then continued on to Craddock. Then the road turned east and was a really nice windy road. Hardly any cars. I eventually crossed and travelled along the main Hawker Quorn road, but only a few cars. Then back on the dirt. After 60km, and pending darkness at 6pm, I cleared a spot by the side of the road, and put up my tent. I haven’t seen any cars for an hour before I stopped, and I don’t expect any to go past tonight.
The spokes parcel did not arrive today. I guess I am not surprised, everyone around here said it would be one or two days. So I rested, worked on some websites in the camp kitchen, and had a great cheese burger and chips (without the cheese) at the Flinders Food Co.
Another good day, bad day. I got up early and was on the road at 7:25am. I was hunting for the missing pannier, and I thought if I could be first on the road it wouldn’t get run over. I rode the 3km out to the highway, and just as I got close to the highway, twang! another spoke broke. I didn’t want to fix it straight away so I took the risk that riding with a broken spokes would not cause a cascade of more broken spokes. I kept going up the Moralana road I had come down the previous afternoon. Then 3km up the road, I found it. The pannier sitting in the middle of the road undamaged. No-one had been along since I was there just before sunset the day before.
So I stop down the road and go through the usual. The broken spoke is another drive side spoke, and I replace it with my last spare drive side spoke. So I have to make some decisions. I ride back to the highway, and get fringe phone service. I try to ring my son Sam, but it’s too fringe, and we can’t talk. So I send an email and texts to get him to express post some spokes from Bicycle express in Adelaide to Hawker. I then decide that I cannot risk riding the Mawson Trail to Hawker, I will have to stick to the highway. So 5 hours later, I arrive in Hawker, and camp in the Hawker Caravan park.
So I wait. Sam has sent the spokes. The locals say I might get them tomorrow, or I might have to wait another day.
Well it was a good day and a bad day. Wilpena Pound campsite was good, great showers, and I managed to charge up some electronics. Daylight savings ended, so I woke up at 6am rather than 7am. The morning was cold, and I dragged out some more clothes. I had breakfast, packed and headed to the visitor centre to pay for the camping. Then I bought some water at the store, and some more snacks I then headed off down the highway. I really zoomed along on the highway, the wind was behind me. I went so well I missed the turnoff to the Mawson trail detour to Rawnsley Bluff. The Mawson trail rejoins the highway, so I only missed a bit. I then turned off along the Moralana Scenic route. I stopped for lunch about 15km in. There was a bit of traffic, but I went for long periods seeing nobody.
Then a ping, and I had broken another spoke. I pulled off under a tree. This spoke was more complicated, as it was the drive side of the wheel, and that meant I had to remove the rear cassette. I had brought a tool, but was missing the other tools I needed like a chain whip, and a very large spanner. I stuffed around for a while, but with a rock and a fold up screwdriver I got it off. I replaced the spoke with one that is a little too short. I got going and a few KMs down the road a local stopped in a ute to see how I was going. He even offered to carry me and the bike is his ute to the highway. I said I would be OK, and it was about 6km to the highway, and then 3km into Merna Mora. It was close to sunset, and I was riding right into the sun. I arrived at Merna Mora Homestead, and went to get water bottles from my front panniers to find, one of my front panniers had fallen off. I don’t know where I have lost it but it could be 15km back. I feel rather dumb having lost a front pannier and not noticed it, although they are hidden under the tent. So tomorrow I will have to back track to see if I can find it. Mostly it had food.
Nice campsite here, good showers, and rainwater, although I don’t have as many bottles to fill.
Looking north to WilpenaFixing another broken spokeCamped at Merna Mora
A good night’s sleep in Dedmans Hut, except for the strange noises from the roof, which was probably birds. It was completely still and quiet in the morning, wasn’t even anyone driving on the nearby road. I worked on trying to true the rear wheel as good as I could, so that I hopefully don’t have anymore broken spokes. I headed out, crossed the highway and headed down a narrow track. I was headed down the Trezona track which is east of the Aroona valley. It was sunny and picturesque, however lots of creek crossings, pushing the bike uphill. I stopped for lunch at Middlewater hut. Then further south to the Bunyeroo Gorge road, where I actually saw some other people. South of Bunyeroo was a slog, I was getting tired. The last 5km of the track was detoured and rough. At one stage I had to unload the bike to be able to push it up the hill. I arrived at Wilpena Pound campground at 7pm.
I got up at 7am, having slept about 10 hours. I really needed to catch up after having so little sleep the night before. It was still before sunup. I cooked my barley, let it cool while I worked on shortening the chain by removing a link, as the bike was not working properly in low gear. The day was much cooler, with overcast clouds, nicer to ride in, and with less flies. I packed and got going at 9am. I passed a few other campers in Parachilna gorge, mostly caravans. There was even a small amount of water in the creek in places. It was a fair climb to Blinman, about 500m. After 6km I stopped at Ankorichina, and bought a snack and drink. The owner was stocking his shop ready for the Easter onslaught.
Onward towards Blinman. I was slow, lots of pushing up hills. Eventually I made it to Blinman a bit after 1pm. I was surprised to have mobile coverage in Blinman. I got water and a sausage roll from the Bakery. I had lunch and then packed up and headed south, finally on the Mawson trail.
Disaster struck about 4km out of town, I broke two spokes simultaneously on the rear wheel. I had broken a spoke on one of my test rides, which worried me. So I packed 4 spare spokes, but now I would need two of them already. I pulled off, stripped the gear of the bike, and about an hour later I had replaced both spokes. Why did they break? The road is smooth bitumen, I hadn’t hit a bump. I wondered whether a loose occy strap had caught the spokes, although this may be wishful thinking on my part. So I don’t really know. My whole trip could be scuttled by breaking spokes. I rearranged the gear, putting more weight on the front wheel. Once mobile I headed the 13km to Dedmans Hut which I arrived at about 5pm. Hut is OK, but more importantly it has a full rainwater tank. I was a bit concerned that maybe I should have bought more water in Blinman. There are mice in the hut so I am going to put my tent up inside the hut.
Stopped for a rest along the road to BlinmanLunch spot in BlinmanTwo broken spokesDedmans HutInside Dedmans HutTent set up in Dedmans Hut
Total distance 19km, 7km to the pickup point at Willunga Hill, 12km from Parachilna.
I left home at 4:45am. It took me 25 minutes to ride and push, mostly push up to the top of the hill at range road. After that it was mostly flat along to Victor Harbour Road. I turned onto Victor Harbour Rd at 5:35am. I was surprised how much traffic there was so early in the morning.
I didn’t wait long at the pull-out part way down Willunga Hill, at 5:50am the Genesis Bus rolled up. We loaded my bike in the trailer, and headed to Morphett Vale to swap drivers. Axel took over and we headed to the Adelaide Bus Depot. We were at least half an hour early. Two more bike riders arrived, Craig and Bruce who were also going to Parachilna, and riding the Mawson trail. It was a good drive to Parachilna. We stopped at Port Wakefield, Stone Hut (great bakery) and Hawker. We were dropped of at Parachilna. We got out bikes organised, but unsurprisingly Craig and Bruce were way faster than me, and I lost them in the distance. I stopped at the 10km mark to camp in Parachilna gorge. It had been such a long day. The flies are really bad, I am glad I brought a head net.
The Genesis bus waiting for passengers at dawn near the bus stationAt Parachilna ready to ride with Craig and Bruce