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It took us 23 days to do the Mawson Trail (including transport logistics), and we were fully self-sufficient.  Depending on what you enjoy, the trail can be done without much gear as well, but it will cost more money.  We met some guys who completed the whole trail in 9 days staying in accommodation and eating out for every meal. It is really a matter of preference.

We are not:

  • About speed or setting records, but rather enjoy the journey no matter how long it takes.  For us, camping, exploring, and generally having fun are part of our Mawson Trail adventure;
  • Mawson Trail purists, i.e. when there is a need or better option we are quite happy to deviate from the trail; 
  • Credit Card tourers but like to camp in the bush; or
  • Weight weenies, i.e. we prefer a bit of comfort over the advantages of lightweight travel i.e. we carry all our gear for self-sustained touring, this sometimes includes wine and other treats.

Time of Year

We did it in June.  Although we prefer the cold over the hot, it would have been more comfortable to do the ride in May.  We experienced very cold and wet conditions, which were testing at times.  May would most likely have been a bit warmer and a lot drier.

Bike set up

We opted for the Marin Pine Mountain 2 and Pine Mountain 1 as the most suited bikes for our needs and budget.  We wanted two Pine Mountain 2's, but at the time Kerrie's size wasn't available, hence we settled for a Pine Mountain 1 for Kerrie.  In retrospect, the PM 2 has much better components and we were sorry not to get one for Kerrie.

We also decided on a pannier over a bike packing set up to give us more carrying capacity and easier access to our gear and food.

We went with the default tube (vs. tubeless setup) and were lucky with no punctures.

We believe the Mawson Trail can be done on pretty much any bike with any setup.  We saw everything from gravel bikes, fat tyre bikes, backpacks, bike touring setup to a 'Bob' trailer.

Spare Parts

2 x tubes

2 x tube repair kits

1 x spare tyre

2 x multitools

2 x pump

1 x derailleur

1 x brake cable

4 x spokes

1 x bike lube

Apart from the multitools and bike lube, we didn't need to use anything (lucky).


7 x nights in Heysen Trail huts

5 x nights free camping in tent

2 x nights motel (including 1st night in Adelaide)

1 x night Pub

6 x nights in a tent at a caravan park

1 x night in a caravan park cabin

Our highlights were the Heysen Trail huts (sometimes requiring a bit of a detour) and free camping in the bush.


Dinners - Kerrie dehydrated most of our dinners, which are an affordable and delicious option.

Breakfast - Normally cereal, either dry (Kerrie) or with powdered milk (Alex)

Lunch - Mainly cheese, tuna, herrings, crackers, or bakery in towns.


Pre MT Day Wednesday

Dropped off car and trailer at a Rogaine acquaintance and rode 18km to Adelaide city.  The first kilometer was a killer with a 10% gradient and fully loaded i.e. nice intro to our ride, but then it was all downhill to our hotel in the city.

The hotel we stayed in was the cheapest we could find in Adelaide's red light district.  Kerrie says that's not the case, but to me, any hotel that has pink flamingos all over it is pretty dodgy.  But with cheapness also come benefits, e.g. we could take our bikes up the lift and into our room.

There was no microwave, so we had to heat up our dinner in the Trangia in the bathroom, well away from the fire alarm.

Day 0 Thursday

The night was very interesting with the air conditioning churning away like a freight train and people partying outside until 4am.  Once things quietened down outside we got out of bed for coffee and hot chocolate, again in the Trangia.

With the bikes loaded we head for the bus terminal in the dark, and of course, we didn't bring the bike lights.  We made it to the bus depot without incident although we had to pass the police station and several police officers, who obviously didn't care about us not having lights.

The bus trip was uneventful and we shared the bus with a couple walking part of the Heysen Trail and 3 others cycling the northern half of the Mawson Trail.  The three cyclists also had been part of the rogaine we participated in the previous weekend.

Instead of dropping us off at Parachilna, the bus driver was kind enough to drop us all at the Heysen trailhead, which is 15km down Parachilna gorge.  We all parted ways and Kerrie and I headed off towards Blinman (i.e. Mawson trailhead).  After about 6k of uphill riding we found a nice camp for the night.  No pink flamingos here, but instead we have a half-rotten goat's head.  Soooo much better.

Tonight's dinner, fire-cooked carrots, and sweet potato washed down with a nice Chardy and my favorite red carton wine.  Off to bed just after 6pm.

Day 1 Friday

After an awesome night's sleep, we are up just before 6am.  We were a little disappointed for not making it a 12-hour sleep, but we'll manage.

On our bikes by 9am, we have an undulating ride to Blinman for a visit to the health food shop (bakery) and the official start of the Mawson Trail.  As soon as the cake settled we are off zooming down the highway for about 18 km, seeing the 'Great Wall of China' (the Australian version).  We then head off onto an awesome dirt road to check out Dedman's hut.

7 km further we deviate off the Mawson Trail a bit, to find a nice campsite beside a creek.  Leaving us with a nice short 1 km hike up to Red Hill lookout, giving us a 360-degree view of the Flinders area.

Back at camp, we prepare a nice meal of Spag bol (dehydrated by Kerrie) washing it down with a bit more red cartonè.  Unfortunately, Kerrie is out of Chardy.  At 5:30 pm a rain shower forces us into the tent and we took advantage of this by going to sleep.

Day 2 Saturday

Woke up at 5:30 am.  Wahooo, 12 hours of sleep.  Meanwhile, I am lying there, trying to decide which is the most urgent desire to get me out of bed.  That is, to wee or the first cup of coffee.

This time we were on our way by 8 am and after about 5 km of undulating riding, we came across the 3 others camped just off the trail.  We introduce Ferdinand (our mascot) to everyone and have a bit of a chat before moving on, past Trezona campsite.  This section is a really good gravel road, before heading off cross country to Middlesite Water Elatina Hut.  This hut is awesome with bunk beds inside, although you cannot use the fireplace.

The next stop was Yanyanna Hut, which didn't have bunk beds but contained an emergency matt and sleeping bag.  I guess for people that had lost theirs (although I am unsure how you would lose a sleeping mat).

From here it was a downhill hoot past Bunyeroo, Razorback, and another lookout (not sure what that was called, as old age causes memory issues). We decided against walking up Bunyeroo gorge as we were running out of daylight, but proceeded 7 km further to Wilcolo camp.  7 km sounded easy enough, but with our fitness level (i.e. pretty low), it was tough going across the rocky track and about 50 creek crossings (50 may be a bit overstated, but it certainly felt that way).  The other 3 cyclists caught up with us about 2 km from camp.  The camp was magnificent with the Flinders Ranges as a backdrop.  And it even had a toilet and water tank.

We had a late night talking to the others, which was very enjoyable and went to bed at 6:30pm after a nice meal of cottage pie (again Kerrie's magic dehydration).  At 8:30 pm the temperature dropped significantly and we had to interrupt our beauty sleep to put on some more layers.

Day 3 Sunday

After only 11 hours of sleep, I am hoping to cope with the day ahead. But I am confident. Pleasant coffee, breakfast, and chat to the neighbors see us off by 8:30 am.

Soon after, the trail turned off the track onto some interesting single track along which we met a couple walking the Heysen Trail and they are in week 9 (awesome effort).

We arrive in Wilpena Pound early in the morning and are gobsmacked by the number of people there.  But on the positive, this was the first time we had phone reception and enjoyed talking to our kids (well, adult kids).  I was extremely happy when Kerrie suggested moving on and heading for Rawnsley Park.

We enjoyed some easy riding on bitumen out of Wilpena Pound but then were even happier to turn onto the old telegraph dirt track.  7 km later we are back onto Wilpena Road for a downhill cruise to Arkaroo Rock turnoff, which we took.  It was only a 2 km (one way) detour and we enjoyed the 3 km circuit walk to Arkaroo Rock and it's Aboriginal paintings.  It was a bit of a pity that the site had to be completely fenced off.

Back on the main road, we cruised for another 3 km before turning off to Rawnsley Park.  This track proved to be very rocky with interesting creek crossings.  We made it to the park by 3 pm, where we met 4 cyclists heading the opposite way.  Their next stop (i.e. one day) will be Blinman, which took us 3 days.  I am sure we all enjoy things in a different way.

Kerrie is highly excited as she may be able to get some real milk here.  I am getting a bit down as I nearly finished my supply of cartonè and on top of that, I spilled about a quarter of a glass.  We spent dinner in the warm camp kitchen and had a chat with some other travellers before heading to bed.

Day 4 Monday

Another glorious night's sleep and relaxing morning before we head off again.  After a few km, we hit the main road for 12 km, which is a relief for our butts.  But then we are glad to turn back onto a dirt road again i.e. Moralana Scenic drive.  This 28 km had amazing scenery changing from a green wooded area to arid hillsides.

This morning I forgot to check all the rack bolts and thought to myself "she'll be right".  At lunch, Kerrie reminded me to check the bolts and I was nearly not going to do it.  Fortunately, I did, as a couple of the bolts nearly worked themselves out.  This could have ended in disaster (would you believe at least a little disaster?)

The plan was to camp along this track, but the farmers have many signs along here prohibiting camping due to environmental reasons.  With windy and wet weather forecast tomorrow we decided to head to Mayo Hut (which is located on the Heysen Trail).

The wind had picked up considerably and once we were back onto the bitumen the tailwind actually pushed us up some gradual hills (no complaints here).  Back on a dirt track, we were crossing dust-blown plains skirting the Flinders Ranges.  Near a dam, actually containing water, we come across some wild camels that inspected us with friendly curiosity.  Other wildlife, apart from us, were kangaroos and emus.  Mayo Hut is up Mayo Gorge (I don't think it's got anything to do with mayonnaise), about 3 km off the Mawson Trail on the Heysen Trail.  The first 1.7 km are ridable up the creek, but the rest required a lot of pushing.

After a long (for us) 71 km day, we made it to the most perfect inviting hut that will give us shelter from the high winds and rain forecast for tonight. But not before a clear stary sky in the evening.  We were the only ones there and looked forward to a cosy sleep indoors and out of the elements.  Soon after we went to bed, the wind was howling outside and some light rain started falling during the night.

Day 5 Tuesday

Amazingly the morning was only a little overcast, but the wind was still going strong.  We decided to head towards Hawker.

Not long after exiting Mayo Gorge and back on the Mawson Trail we hit our first steep uphill which was 100% push a bike over large rocks.  Even 4 supported (i.e. no gear on the bikes) Mawson Trail riders going the opposite way had to walk down the hill.

With Kerrie's backside being a bit tenderised we limped into Hawker, where we decided to stay at the caravan park to have a restful afternoon and also do some washing (clothes as well as ourselves).  Good decision as more rain was rolling in.  Fortunately, a nice guy gave us a lend of his axe and we managed to make some firewood for the wood heater in the camp kitchen.

We enjoyed some local SA wine, I even splashed out on a bottle rather than my usual carton, and collected our first food drop box from the information centre. The evening was spent in the nice warm camp kitchen having a bit of a party with some other travellers.

Day 6 Wednesday

The day looked pretty good until we started riding and the arctic blast hit us as a full-on headwind.  We were battling this wind and making our way slowly to Craddock when it starts to drizzle and we put our raincoats on.  Just as we get to Craddock the rain stops, but the raincoats felt quite nice and we left them on.  Soon after the rain started again and we sheltered in a nice memorial park under some cover.  Here we sat and contemplated what the BOM's 5% chance of 0 mm rain actually means.  Maybe it means 95% more than 0 mm!

Once the rain stops we head over a plain towards hills in a persistent strong headwind.  The idea is to camp in the hills amongst the trees.  As we got closer to the hills, we realise that there are no trees, only 50 km/h winds.  With Kerrie's backside on fire (which also affects my health), I was getting a bit worried about finding a camp out of the freezing wind.  Luckily only a few kilometers on we come upon a nice sheltered creek where we set up the tent and enjoy the warmth of the campfire.  By the time we go to sleep, the sky is amazing with not a cloud in the sky.

Day 7 Thursday

The morning was still windy and clouds had come back overhead but the rain seemed to hold off.  Shortly after we set off for the day we made another deviation from the Mawson Trail to check out the Kanyaka ruins.  These are probably the best ruins we have seen, giving us a glimpse back in time.

Riding conditions with the headwind i.e. southerly, are pretty tough until we start heading west and eventually north, where the wind pushes us all the way to "The Town That Never Was".  I thought this was the place with the oddest history.

Unfortunately, we were now heading against the wind again until we veer off trail for 2 km to a Heysen Trail campsite, for an early but well-deserved finish.

Day 8 Friday

Today we took the first major deviation from the Mawson Trail to get to Dutchmans Stern Hut.  It was a relatively easy uneventful ride partially on bitumen, which was music to Kerrie's rear.

Dutchmans Stern Heysen Trail hut turned out to be very luxurious with power, flushing toilets, wood stove, kettle, lights and microwave.

Previous users had left a little bit of firewood, which we used to get the hut to a reasonable temperature.  The only issue was that one of the wood pieces left, was treated pine and our hut was contaminated by toxic smoke that took all night to clear.

Day 9 Saturday

On our first rest day from cycling, we enjoyed a shortish 10 km walk up Dutchman's Stern. This is one walk well worth doing.  We walked it in an anticlockwise direction and enjoyed the magnificent views on the way up, only to be well surpassed by the views from the top.  You could see as far as the Spencer Gulf (i.e. Gulf of Port Augusta).  The way down was more wooded but soon entered a gorge, which was spectacular in its own right.

Back at camp, the first thing we did was to make some decent firewood that would not be toxic.  We ended up with heaps of wood for us and the next campers as well.

We thought that the hut was only ours again for the night when a couple of Heysen Trail hikers showed up at 6:30 pm.  To our surprise, it was the same couple that we caught the bus with to the start of the ride/hike.  After a bit of a chat, we went to bed as did the others soon after.  Not long after, the other guy started moaning loudly and there was a lot of commotion.  Kerrie thought there was a bit of hanky panky happening right above our heads i.e. they were in the bunk above us.  As it all started a couple of hours later again, we decided that it was moans of pain rather than pleasure.  The poor guy had really bad calf cramps.  Needless to say, we didn't have the best night's sleep.

Day 10 Sunday

We got away early with a cruisy run down to Quorn (back on the Mawson Trail), where to my bitter disappointment there was no bakery and I was soooo hanging out for an apple turnover or 2, maybe even 3!  Kerrie came up with the great idea that instead of a bakery breakfast we would have a counter lunch in Wilmington instead. 

We put on our race faces and today's ride became all about the food, but first, we had to conquer a minor range followed by an undulating downhill run.  Although it was downhill, the large rocky road (not the eating variety) made going a bit rough.  But I tuned all this out with the thought of our first non-dehydrated major meal.  We knocked over 50 km before lunch to get to Wilmington.  We both had schnitzels, chips, and salad washed down with a couple of beers (Alex anyway).  The food and beers tasted soooo good.  With full tummies, we made it to the local caravan park (complete with sheep) for a nice hot shower, a relaxing afternoon, and an early night.

Day 11 Monday

To our dismay, we realised that the rough roads have caused the front pannier brackets to rub against our shock absorbers causing some pretty bad scratching and indentation, especially on Kerrie's bike.  Hopefully, this will not affect the shocks, but we had to improvise, taking off the pannier brackets and tie on the panniers with strings.  This is less than ideal as we are now unable to remove the panniers, but at least this will not cause any further damage.

With the panniers fixed and a content tummy, we felt very olympic this morning and headed towards Melrose.  We chose not to follow the rail trail, but stick to the Mawson Trail, which was a bit longer and uneventful ride through farming country.  Melrose was overrun by cyclists, the leftovers from the long weekend MTB event.  There were far too many people for my liking and we continued on towards Ippinitchie campsite in Wirrabara State Forest.  Shortly after Melrose, we came across the first vineyard on our ride and we developed a thirst for some wines in the next days.

Now being in the hills, we had a good workout, but still managed our second longest day with just under 70 km.  Arriving at Ippinitchie camp just as it started raining, we had a pleasant surprise.  One, the campsite was free, two, there was a shelter for us to sit in and three, only one other couple was there camping.  Bingo.

Day 12 Tuesday

After our long day yesterday, we decide on a short trip to Laura for the day.  All started very pleasantly along a gravel road until we turned off onto a dirt road, red dirt, which soon turned our bikes into clay bricks with no turning components.  The wheels were completely blocked with red mud.  Persistently clearing the red mud with the help of sticks we finally got onto a better road surface, where we met a day cyclist who told us about the Stone Hut bakery.  We gladly took his advice and took a small detour to enjoy a couple of apricot pies.

From the bakery, it was an easy 7 km on the rail trail to Laura and we were joined by Andrew, the rider who we had met previously.  Chatting to Andrew, he offered the use of his shed and tools for us to fix our panniers.  We took up his offer, after setting up camp in the caravan park and having washed and oiled our bikes.  It turned out that Andrew is the inventor and manufacturer of the "Crank Tank", which seems like an awesome idea.

Back at the caravan park, we met Peter, who had riden his bike from WA across the Nullabor into SA.  It was great learning things from him.  Laura caravan park had an awesome camp kitchen and we enjoyed nice chicken strips with salad, washed down with some SA wine for dinner, all purchased in town. Our dehydrated food could wait!

Day 13 Wednesday

With the rain forecast for tomorrow, we headed out with Curnows Hut as our destination.  This would also give us an option to sit out on a rainy day if required.  As it rained overnight, we soon hit the dreaded red soil and Kerrie was reduced to swearing and both of us trying to unclog our bikes.  It must have been bad because Kerrie normally never swears.  As soon as we got back onto a gravel road, we reconsidered our route choice and used a bit of an alternative route to the official Mawson Trail.  But soon we were back on the trail and had to don our rain jackets as the weather started to roll in.

We made it to Curnows Hut, which we gave a bit of a tidy up and sweep out, followed by making firewood with the provided handsaw (good upper body exercise).  As the weather became more unpleasant we enjoyed the shelter and wood stove in the hut before going to sleep in front of the stove.

Day 14 Thursday

Not long after dawn and heavy fog, we walked up the hill to get reception and check the weather forecast.  We decided it would be best to wait out the rainy day and spent another day at Curnows Hut.  After a leisurely breakfast, Kerrie fixed a couple of things sewing and I cleaned and oiled the bikes ready for tomorrow.

The rest of the day we made some more firewood and relaxed in front of the fire while the wind and rain howled outside.

Day 15 Friday

The rain stopped and the wind eased.  But there were lots of puddles still around.  We made a combined decision to continue on the Mawson Trail along a minor path rather than taking a detour along gravel roads.  After about 500 meters we started to regret that decision battling against red mud, but we continued on.  The mud was very sticky and blocked tires as well as gunged up gears, chains, and derailleurs.  We tried to clean the mud out as much as possible, even using our drinking water.  My drive train felt very rough and noisy.

Going around a corner we came across two Alpacas, one standing up and the other seemed to be laying down.  As we got closer we realised that the Alpaca laying down was actually wedged underneath a big log.  Not sure how it got there but it seemed to have slid underneath it and was not able to get up.  Judging by the amount of accumulated poo, it must have been there for a while.  As soon as we lifted the log off the animal it got up on very shaky legs, but otherwise seemed ok.  Both started heading towards a small dam.  This really made my day, especially seeing how its mate didn't leave the stuck one by itself.

By the time we got back to the main road, I also discovered that my right crank was very wobbly.  As I thought that I did not have the right size allen key, I could not check the crank tension, but it looked like the right bottom bracket bearing had gone.

We decided to deviate from the Mawson Trail a bit and head straight for Spalding along the highway.  With my bottom bracket or crank problem as well as all the mud in the drive train, we thought, the bikes needed some urgent TLC before continuing.  We crunched on (it was really painful hearing the grinding noise in the bikes) and finally made it to Spalding.  There I found a friendly tradie with the right allen key and to my joy it was only a loose crank rather than a bottom bracket issue.

We scored the last room at the Spalding Hotel and I discovered that I actually do have an allen key the right size for the crank.  If I had checked this while on the road, it would have saved a lot of worries.  I was a bit annoyed, but I just put it down to experience (I seem to put a lot of things down to experience).

After cleaning and maintaining the bikes for an hour we warmed up and enjoyed a pub dinner with a couple of drinks.

Day 16 Saturday

Completely refreshed we were looking forward to a clear day of riding.  We left Spalding early and the bikes were purring like new again.

Following the Bundaleer Channels out of town, we encountered only minor red soil and then started crossing the range, twice, passing a lot of wind turbines, before rolling into Hallet Railway Station.  Hallet Railway Station now serves as a Heysen Trail hut and we were pleased to find our last food drop box.  We noticed that someone had helped themselves to some salami sticks, crackers, cheese, and biscuits but left a block of Kit Kat in lieu.  As we still had quite some food leftover from the previous drop it was a nice swap, but if we had eaten all our other food, we would not have been that happy about the little muncher.  To my surprise, Kerrie had even packed some wine for me in the food drop box, which had not been pillaged.  Life's good.

Day 17 Sunday

Heading out fully loaded towards Rogaining country, it was just as cold as I remember it.  And yes, we found the track that we had walked on during the rogaine.  It was great to be out of the agricultural country and back into bushland.  All we had to do is climb a mountain (with excellent views) and meander along to Old Mt Bryan East Schoolhouse.  We got there early, but this Heysen Trail hut was too good not to stay at.  It offered several rooms and fireplaces.

When we arrived, there were a couple of car travellers cooking sausages, we stared and our mouths watered.  But what the heck, we have our dehydrated food to look forward to.  After maintaining our bikes and making firewood we were nice and cosy in our hut.  A couple of Heysen Trail walkers joined us and we had a pleasant evening chatting.

Day 18 Monday

We managed to get away early as we had a biggish hilly day ahead of us to get to Burra.  It all started out nice and easy with a few kilometers downhill on a nice crisp sunny morning, which was slowly dissolving the morning frost.  It was not long until we reached the foot of the hills, where we had morning tea and coffee before the ascent.  Most of the road is red soil now, but we are lucky that it didn't rain the previous day.  We imagined that it would be pretty much impassable if wet.  We tackled the hills with vigor to start with and summited peak after peak (they seemed not to stop) for about 7 km before heading downhill south into the valley towards Burra.  Still lots of  red soil roads and we are hoping to leave it all behind before the next lot of forecast rainy days.  Prior to turning off and tackling the last big hill we came across the "Midnight Oil" house, which still looks the same as on the "Diesel and Dust" cover.  But really not that much different to the other 100 or so old buildings we have seen on this trip.  Yet it was still good to see this Aussie icon.

After 52 km and our biggest elevation day we hit Burra about 3 pm and checked into the caravan park.  I went into town and scored a hot chicken, potato salad, and two bottles of wine, white for Kerrie and red for me.  The evening we spent chatting with Peter, the cyclist who we last saw in Laura.

Day 19 Tuesday

We indulged by having two huge donuts from a bakery (2nd breakfast) and then set off on our next stage.  The weather was overcast, but the rain was holding off.  For the first part going was great along country roads with the Camel Hump range giving us a bit of a workout, before a nice downhill run and then onto the Riesling Rail Trail leading us into Clare.  We didn't stop here but rather continued along the rail trail towards Leasingham where we set up camp in a caravan park.  I also scored a loaf of bread and butter from the bakery next door (at a premium price) for breakfast the next day.

The southern part of the Mawson Trail is not as exciting as the Northern 2 thirds and it felt a bit like an anti-climax, but still enjoyable.  It is more like an everyday ride through the populated countryside.

Day 20 Wednesday

During the night the rain started coming in again and we left in the drizzle, but not before nice toast and butter in the camp kitchen.  Although it was bitterly cold and wet, the first 30 km were a hoon on the rail trail, first the Riesling then the Rattler Rail Trail.  These meandered through vineyards until Riverton, where we headed back onto country roads.  The road surfaces were gravel and solid, even with the rain,  until the Mawson Trail headed off onto dirt road. We could have gone around it but we wanted to stay on the trail.  Bad mistake.  We got stuck in the mud again and were cursing for not staying on the gravel road.

After cleaning, pushing, cleaning, and more pushing we finally got back onto a gravel road, but the mud has caused havoc with my drive train and also broke the plastic spoke guard.  After cleaning the bikes again as much as possible (I am getting very good at cleaning bikes) we decided to re-route avoiding dirt tracks as much as possible.

The going improved although the chain was crunching a lot with all the residual mud on it.  Not much further along we came across a sheep, yes not an Alpaca this time,  stuck in a chainlink fence.  To get it free I had to cut one strand of wire in the fence.  Sorry to the farmer, but I saved their sheep!

Continuing on through beautiful landscapes along solid country roads, the rain stopped and the sun even came out.  It is amazing how much difference the sun makes to one's disposition.

Tonight we camped at Kapunda Caravan Park making use of the camp kitchen again.

Day 21 Thursday

At around midnight the wind started whipping up, but I just pulled my head into the sleeping bag.  That is until around 4 am when Kerrie woke me up as the tent seemed close to blowing over.  We grabbed everything i.e. including tent and bikes and moved them into the camp kitchen.  Then we were ready for my morning coffee.

The wind this morning should have been a sign, and if I would have known that this would be the day the mud broke us, I would have had a second coffee and gone back to bed.

It all started out innocent enough, it was a bit overcast, and the roads were not too bad.  Slowly bit by bit the gravel road turned into red soil and what seemed to be OK at first, with just a bit of mud accumulating around the wheels, things soon turned into a nightmare.  The wheels were still turning where we got to a junction where the Mawson Trail led down a small sidetrack.  With dismay, Kerrie and I looked at the red mud strip and we both knew it was impassable.  We decided (i.e. no real alternative) to take another deviation and stay on the more major road.  We got no more the 200 meters down that road when the mud stopped everything.  We tried everything, including pushing the bikes through the long grass on the side of the road, but that was even worse.  We had no choice but to unclog our bikes, try and push them for 10 meters until it is all clogged up again, and then repeat the process.  This was sole destroying, but Kerrie put on a brave face and I tried to lighten things with amazing dad jokes (they were so funny that Kerrie was nearly in tears with amusement).  It took several hours until we got out of the mud and back onto a gravel road.  We were knackered and decided to take a straight line to Tanunda via Nuriootpa.  The rain started picking up again and we both looked like mud monsters from the deep as we headed into town.

As so often happens hardship is rewarded and this was no different.  Kerrie spotted an awesome-looking bakery which we invaded with our muddy bikes and outfits.  We got some odd glances and stares, but we didn't care.  Kerrie took off her shoes and I stayed outside to minimise dripping mud into the shop.  We enjoyed the best apple turnover and crossiants of the whole trip.  Life may be muddy sometimes, but it is good.

It was still raining and tonight we would reward ourselves with a cabin stay, but not until the bikes were cleaned once again. The Tanunda Caravan Park has an awseome bike cleaning & repair station.

With rain forecast for the next few days, we didn't want to face any more mud and were going to take the main roads into Adelaide until we got some inside information on how we could avoid all mud along back roads and end up at our car near Stirling.  We both conceded that this is not strictly the Mawson Trail, but the prospect of no mud and not needing to ride through the city of Adelaide was a convincing factor for us.  So the plan was set.

Day 22 Friday

The morning looked a lot better and we headed off with clean bikes and new enthusiasm.  Last night we booked a motel room in Birdwood for our last night on the Mawson Trail.

From Tanunda we followed the Barossa Trail for quite some time, which meandered nicely through the vineyards, including Jacobs Creek and we enjoyed the scenery.  With the Barossa Trail behind us, we started up into the hills and soon were surrounded by thick fog, which stayed with us for most of the morning.  The weather was not too bad with just some light drizzle and there was no red mud in sight. Happy times!

As soon as we hit an exposed ridge, so did the wind and rain hit us.  But we were hardened Mawson Trail riders by now and this wind and rain did not phase us at all.  As if the weather knew that it couldn't beat us it cleared up again and we had a pleasant ride into Birdwood where our luxury motel room awaited us.

As this was the last night of our Mawson Trail adventure, we both felt a bit sad but also excited about our achievement.

Day 23 Saturday

It was still raining and we were getting a bit over the cold and wet.  We packed our bikes for the last time and took off down some nice backcountry roads (i.e. no mud), which eventually led us to the Amy Gillet Bikeway.  The bikeway was fun and at Woodside, we had another pit stop at a health food shop (read bakery).

From here the roads got busy and we were reminiscing of the outback tracks of the northern Mawson Trail.  A nice touch was passing the Heysen House whose namesake trail gave us so many nice huts and places to stay.

We skirted Hahndorf and headed for the hills around Stirling, before our final descent to where we had parked our car over three weeks ago.

It is hard to say what we felt when we finished but it probably was a sense of achievement mixed with sadness that this awesome adventure had come to an end.

This certainly has been our best ever cycle tour and we would recommend it for anyone who is out for a bit of an adventure.

Length of Ride

  Nearly 1000 km


  23 days (including transport to start)

Best Time to do

   Autumn or Spring


    Easy to hard, depending on kms cycled each day and whether done by self-sufficient camping or staying in pubs/motels etc, but overall this can be done by any reasonably fit person. 


  1. That was about the best write up Ive seen so far on riding the mawson. We did it a couple of years ago and cut a few corners too. In those situations I asked myself if Mawson himself would have laboured through that, or if he would have gone around. Thanks for sharing! ps. was Dutchmans stern technically not supposed to be ridden to? I thought not, but I had always wanted to go.

    1. Thanks Brenton. It indeed made sense to detour around in places. The Mawson Trail was a truely outstanding experience. You are correct, Dutchmans Stern is only a walking track. We just cycled to the hut and walked up to the stern. It was a nice way to spend the day off the bike.


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