Most people who read blogs are reading for information as they are planning a trip, so I’ll do my best to write an informative useful piece rather than a personal recount of our trip!
MAWSON TRAIL SOUTH AUSTRALIA!
The trail runs from Adelaide to Blinman (approximately 900k north of Adelaide). The maps can be purchased from BicycleSA and I highly recommend doing this. The trail signs run both ways, so you can ride north to south or south to north!
Logistically for us it made sense to ride North to South. We drove to Adelaide, left the car at a depot, got on a minibus – Genesis Bus Company, and got driven up towards Blinman. It cost $185 per person with bike, it does take about 8 hours though as it is a courier service so stops all the time. It only goes up on Wednesdays and Saturdays. This meant we could ride back to our car and get home in time for work, had we of ridden from Adelaide it would have been difficult to get a lift back down. South Australia had copped a lot of rain the week prior and some roads were flooded. The bus actually takes you to Parachilna, and the plan was to ride across to Blinman – 32k through the Parachilna Gorge, but it was closed so our bus driver took us up past Wilpena Pound and we rode on the road towards Blinman.
Day 1 Riding – 40km on the road to the start of the trail. The first 10k of the Mawson trail are on the road coming out of Blinman. We found the start of the dirt trail, rode a few hundred metres past it, to Deadmans Gap Hut and spend the night in the hut which was great.
Day 2- 90k. Deadmans Hut to Kangaroo Gap Campground-caravan park. The campground is located in Rawnsley Park Station, there are no signs to the campground and it would be very easy to miss, it is on the maps. Amazing sunrise over the bluff. The scenery today was epic, far better than I had imagined. Being in the Flinders Ranges it was truly spectuclaur. The bright red ground, red rocks, green grass, colourful wildlife, truly amazing!
Day 3- Kangaroo Gap (Rawnsley Park Station)- Hawker. Hawker Pub has delicious pizzas and Coopers beer on tap. Booked a room at the Outback Motel, accomodation expensive but a storm was on its way so we opted for a nice warm bed! Saw wildlife everywhere – hawks, emus, baby emus, kangaroos. On the road Hawker is quite close but the trail weaves around and is much further, I recommend sticking to the trail as much as possible for the nothern section as you dont want to miss any of it, it is so spectacular.
Day 4- Hawker- Quorn. Conditions make this ride difficult. A 40kph head wind all day long made for a long slow day. We were told no water available between Quorn to Blinman, however we did not find this an issue. Wilpena Pound has water thats fine to drink. Noticing chages in the landscape, riding through green rolling hills. Plenty of cafes and accomodation in Quorn. Caravan park here was lovely.
Day 5- Quorn – Melrose. 65Km took us nearly 7 hours. The overnight rain had left the trail in a bit of a bog. The infamous Mawson mud we had heard so much about was upon us. The clay just sticks to your bike, clogging up the entire thing making it impossible to ride and very difficult to even push. Luckily it was only a small section and we were able to get onto the road and ride into Melrose to be attacked by the most aggressive magpie I had ever encountered. We stayed in Melrose as the music festival was on, grabbed a delicious meal from one cafe and a coffee from Over the Edge bike shop. Downside was the sleepless night due to drunk rockers nearby, I then promised myself only to sleep in a tent in the bush not in a caravan park ever again.
Day 6- 100km through a lot of farmland. Scenery not so amazing, very similar to a lot of the places we ride around here in Gippsland. Epic headwinds continued, as did the aggressive magpies. A mechanical issue had us make our way to Jamestown- slightly off the trail for the night.
Day 7- Jamestown – Clare. Entering wine country! This is where our journey of the Mawson ended as South Australia was going to get hit with their worst storm in history and once we saw the news we were very glad we had gotten out of there! The trail continues for another 200 or so kilometres through the Barossa Valley and Mount Lofty Ranges.
Clare- Riverton – 50km
Riverton- Tanunda- 75km
Tanunda-Adelaide – 90km
Do yourself a favour and get over to the Mawson Trail. The northern section is amazing, the conditions can make it hard – rain will make the trail unrideable, headwinds can make it slow. If you can, ride all the northern sections of the trail and if you have to bypass sections, the lower sections aren’t overly exciting (for someone who lives in the country this section was very similar to bush land at home).Good time to go – April and September. Winter wouldn’t be great due to rain, summer would be super hot. Nights are cold in spring but days are warm. Have fun out there! The wildlife and the scenery are like no other.