TIME: 14 days
SNAKES NEARLY RUN OVER: 3
HEART RATE WHEN NEARLY RUNNING OVER A SNAKE: 200bpm
MAX TEMPERATURE: 41 degrees
The Mawson Trail
The Mawson trail in South Australia is a truly breathtaking journey. Spanning 950km’s, the trail flows through the famed Barossa Valley before snaking it’s way around the picturesque Clare Valley and finishing up in the raw, untouched beauty of the Flinders Ranges. This trail is truly any bike-packers delight.
In February, 2021, we headed off to tackle the challenging route. Being bike-packing “newbies” my friend Conan and I took to the dirt track’s with little knowledge of the challenges that came with bike-packing. At this point I have to embarrassingly admit that two weeks prior to the commencement of our trip, I had no idea how to change a tyre, what crank shafts were (still don’t know what they are) and what “cow throp” meant for my tyres (a thorny plant that covers the track like an out of control vine — A bike-packing nightmare!). Choosing to ride the trail in the peak of summer compounded our inexperience as the soaring, high 30 degree temperatures, tested both our resolve and temperament. However naivety brings about a certain innocent optimism and as we headed off into the hills of Adelaide, we felt excited with the unknown to come.
Day 1 was tough. Climbing through the fire trails of the Adelaide Hills was brutal. Rocky underfoot and hitting gradients upwards of 20% saw us walking up the majority of the hills and had me thinking if we’d accidentally signed up to a hiking trail on bikes! Thankfully for my mood and frustration levels, day 2 became a smooth descent into the Barossa Valley and as the next few days unfolded, the beauty of the country-side became evident. Riding besides hundreds of Kangaroos, the trail took us into truly remote parts of southern South Australia. From fire-trails to hiking paths and remote farm land, we snaked our way more north, seeing the landscape change quickly from wine country, to farm land and then to the remote, baroness of the Flinders Ranges.
From camping in old huts to people’s backyards and behind old pubs, our day’s were long and tiresome. The nights were made harder with no shower and the prospect of sleeping in your own sweat for the night. Not comfortable! However whilst the mosquito infested nights were challenging, the morning’s were breathtaking! Riding through the towering Flinders Ranges as the sun comes up is a special experience that one would not forget easily.
I’m not sure there’s many things more beautiful than the Australian outback at 7 O’clock in the morning.
The surface was arguably the most challenging aspect of the trip. Riding on sand with 30kg of weight on your bike is not something I wish upon anyone. Every time sand was hit, you would have to dismount and walk the section, which I can tell you is not fun when a thousand, buzzing flies are circulating.
A breathtaking journey that spans across some of South Australia’s most beautiful scenery. A truly hidden gem, the Mawson Trail will have you thinking why you haven’t heard more about this region of Australia. With it’s rugged beauty, abundant wildlife, friendly locals and quintessential Aussie pubs, this trip provides a snap shot of Australia in all it’s diverse beauty. Any bike-packer should have this high on their list.
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