Cycle-touring on the Mawson Trail, South Australia

May 2012

See also: Photos Google Earth map Bike SA (phone to buy maps)

This was the first 'official marked' cycle tour we've done, but it was a very good ride with loads of scenic minor roads which we wouldn't have found without following the trail. It isn't very direct but takes in good sights/scenery (especially Parachilna/Blinman to Hawker).

Direction + Logistics: We went North to South. Genesis Tours take bikes whole (when booked a couple of days in advance). The route of their Flinders Ranges Bus Service roughly follows the Mawson (return trip 1 or 2 times a week). We took the bus Adelaide to Parachilna (32km from Blinman, which is a nice scenic ride through the gorge on a quiet road). 8 days later we took the bus from Melrose to Blyth (20km from Clare), which cut about 250km off the trail. If we went again, we would start further north and see more of the outback, and would allow 3 weeks for the entire trail (with tourist/singletrack stops etc.).

Air NZ need bike boxes when departing Adelaide (airport rules--even though they will take bikes whole from anywhere else). Quantas Info desk at Adelaide airport sells boxes for $16.50.

The trail really is marked every km or so!! The maps are useful though.

There is a long marked diversion S of Hawker and via Craddock, E of the old trail. May be because a farmer has stopped access apparently??

Temperature: It was too cold in May! (several nights of freezing temperatures but ok in the day). It was colder than average though. If we went again we would go in February or March for warmer temperatures.

Water: Available in all towns. Most creeks are dry most of the time. In the north (Quorn-Blinman) where towns are further apart there is also water at:
* Heyson campsite + hut (marked on map) 30km S of Blinman
* Not much between Wilpena and back near the main road (Moralana Plane, 75km S of Wilpena). There are regular farm dams and bores from here south (poor water quality). There are 2 campsites not marked on the maps: one signed a few km from the N end of the main road section at Moralana Plane, and another, with water, on the trail at Mount Little, (25km further south--100km S of Wilpena/35 N of Hawker). S of Hawker there's just farm bores (Hotel at Craddock could be useful for a water stop??), and Kanayaka Creek had water in when we were there. South of Quorn, towns are close enough together. Most (all?) have campsites.

We carried 4 litres each at most. We treated river/farm dam water with iodine a couple of times.

Camping: Plenty of places to wild camp. At worst 20km between suitable spots (in the farmland towards Adelaide). There are also enough motor camps/real camp grounds to stay every night.

Shops: All towns have shops selling at least basic food (pasta, rice, tins, a few veges, etc.). Wilpena resort is well-stocked. Shop sells camping gas. Quorn shops shut 2pm on weekends (supermarkets from here South). Good pies in Diggers Cafe in Birdswood, good beer at Loebethal Bierhaus (that was the day it rained :)

Punctures: I rode through a thorn bush near Melrose which killed 2 innertubes (>5 punctures in both, with lightweight XC tyres). No other punctures. Apparently the Spalding Water race is full of thorns and is worth avoiding. I broke a pannier rack which we fixed with a splint (metal bracket and guy line---would have struggled to repair it without the bracket). Also used lots of cable ties to keep the panniers attached to racks.

See also: Photos Google Earth map Bike SA (phone to buy maps)