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In March 2012 I’m planning to ride with a group of 40 riders/drivers across Australia in a mixture of pre 1919 vehicles to celebrate the first motorised crossing of the country in 1912.
I have ridden across the USA, Europe, India, China, etc in the past, been to some incredible places and met some wonderful people but on reflection it strikes me that this 4000 km crossing at 25-30 mph for 10 hours a day for three weeks direct from Perth to Sydney on a straight road with no towns could end up being the most boring ride ever. Three weeks of the same, without almost a turn or a gear change! Has anyone done this route before and what is it like?
We’re not even locals, we’ll be shipping our bikes and gear in from the UK, hiring a back up vehicle and then shipping everything back afterwards. Seems to me a coastal tour would be far more interesting and we wouldn’t have to cross our fingers every time one of those giant trucks overtook at 80. What do you think? Thanks.
The route is right across the bottom of the country but keeping north of the coast. Perth, York, Southern Cross, Kalgoorlie, Norseman, Balladonia, Cockelbiddy, Eucla
Nullarbor, Ceduna, Ceduna, Kimba, Peterborough, Broken Hill, Broken Hill, Wilcannia, Cobar, Dubbo, Bathurst, Penrith, Sydney.
That's pretty much the standard route for getting from Perth to Sydney - a lot of riders I know have done it many times and I've done it myself once back in '99.
There really isn't much of a true coastal route alternative as all the Australian roads which seemingly run by the coast are actually 5-50km inland the vast majority of the time and can be just as boring if you don't bother to take side trips off them to the actual coast. The only real exception being the Great Ocean Road between Lorne and Torquay in Victoria.
In any case you will see the coast once you leave Eucla and cross the WA/SA border - there is a turn-off and a shortish (2-300 metres or so) road to the cliffs overlooking the Great Australian Bight.
The reality, of course, is that for most visitors to Australia it can take quite a while to come to terms with distances between towns and cities. From Perth to anywhere east, is a long, long way whichever way you do it, and between Kalgoorlie and Ceduna you have close to 1,000 miles of road where you will see nothing but tiny one-stop towns every 200km where a single business provides fuel, food and lodgings - and there are no other residents!
Once you hit Port Augusta it's pretty much the same thing again, except every 4-500km you will hit a population centre of 1,000+ inhabitants.
So yes, it can be boring, but as you have already ridden across the US then you will be familiar with the interstates across the prairies states, and they provide a pretty good yardstick for comparison.
Ok three weeks is a long time and you are going slow but I don't think you'll be bored.
I worried about this when I made my first long Australian trip up through the centre 25 years ago. But in that trip and many since, including straight across Sydney to Perth following roughly your route, I can honestly say its always been fascinating. It's hard to describe nothing changes fast - yet something is always changing; rocks, sky, vegetation you seem to be in an endless expanse and yet imperceptebly you find yourself always moving into something new. I wish I could express it better. Anyway do it - I'm sure you'll enjoy not only the camaraderie of the trip but also the environment.
Location: Cornwall, in the far southwest of England, UK
Originally Posted by hit the road
.. on a straight road with no towns could end up being the most boring ride ever. Three weeks of the same, without almost a turn or a gear change! Has anyone done this route before and what is it like?
Obviously you will be crossing the Nullarbor Plain. Here's a taster of what you can expect. And I agree with navalarchitect - 'Nothing' can be quite fascinating - something us native poms don't experience too often:
OK, well that's essentially the route by which I returned from Perth.
I've now done a fair amount of outback riding (and flying) and don't find it boring, but I still think there's more scenic variety if you keep closer to the coast.
As mentioned above, the road across the Nullarbor actually runs very close to the coast between Eucla and Nullarbor roadhouse, so there are many opportunities to enjoy some excellent scenery there.
I found the ride from Port Augusta to Ceduna via Port Lincoln more enjoyable than the return from Ceduna to Port Augusta via Kimba.
Farquhar -- one of the reasons I went via the coast was specifically to ride the Great Ocean Road. But as you point out, you miss a lot in NSW and Victoria if you don't make diversions off the highway to places like Bermagui and Mallacoota.
A lot will depend on your boredom level, its not the most exciting journey, probably comparable with sitting on a motorway on a foggy day where you get occasional interesting glimpses. The food in the road houses not the best generally speaking . Ive done it a couple of times, its like flying to OZ you only do it coz you have to. I can think of far better ways to spend time travelling in Oz for 3 weeks JMHO
Personally I think you should take the Great Central Highway from Laverton to Uluru. Then down the Oodnadatta Track before heading over to Broken Hill and onto Sydney. It will far better replicate the road conditions of 1912.
In about 1965 a friend of mine did the Nullabor trip on a Triumph and he has photos of sitting on the bike with only the handlbars showing out of a bulldust hole. The mate he was travelling with dislocated his shoulder in a fall and had to ride for another day before they got to a station and got basic medical help from the owner via a radio doctor telling them how to put his shoulder back.
Thanks for all your replies everyone. As Roger says I'm sure there are better ways to replicate conditions more akin to the original 1912 route but this is an organised event on a prescribed route. Stories like the bulldust hole and the diy medication are what travelling is all about. Cheers.
I have done the route across the Nullabor three times now and each time I have found it to be okay. Yes there can be better scenery in other areas of the country / world, but it is by far not the worst road I've ridden.
I recently did the 'coast' road from Melbourne to Adelaide - the Great Ocean Road included. Great road and scenery, but very slow - 40km/h much of the time, so this may suit??? It is a good route, but beware of the gusts along the roads.
I'm also a Pom in Aus, so if you need anything - shout!!
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