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Photo by Igor Djokovic, camping above San Juan river, Arizona USA

I haven't been everywhere...
but it's on my list!

Photo by Igor Djokovic,
camping above San Juan river,
Arizona USA

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  • 1 Post By wynne
  • 1 Post By Snakeboy

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Old 21 May 2017
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Riding solo from Darwin to Melbourne via Alice Springs

Hi - Am from the U.S. and am planning to ride solo (female) from Darwin to Melbourne via Alice Springs in September 2017. Was thinking of camping -- any thoughts. Have never been to Australia before. What is the camping like? In the U.S. we can get a shower at an RV park. Other than black cows at night (like here in my town) and grizzlies in Alaska, and deer bounding unexpectedly out in the road, (and those termite mounds) any other helpful tips? What about the weather?

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Old 21 May 2017
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It shouldnt be any big problem doing that. There should be enough campgrounds so that you can plan your ride in advance and find a safe spot every night. If you download and use Wikicamps Australia (costs a few $) on your phone and also use the map application Mapsme (free) those are connected. All official and most unofficial campgrounds are on there. And its very well explained and have detailed information about every campground. And if its a commercial campground, state run campground (in national parks) unofficial campground (bushcamp) What the cost is, what amenities there are or not are as toilets, showers, kitchen, water and if its potable or not etc.

Dont ride at dusk or dawn as its the time the Kangaroos and other wildlife comes alive, and of course not after dark.

Yes there are a lot of ants, so cover your food 100 % tight, if not they will be all over it. Carry a LOT of water in case of an emergency as it can get extremely hot in north and central Australia.

September shouldnt be so bad, early spring there. But I leave that to native aussies to tell... I was in Alice Springs and the Red center July last year and had minus 4 degrees one night....
In the end everything will be fine. If its not fine its not the end....
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Old 21 May 2017
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You are mad if you don't camp! Along the 'track' from Darwin south ...

Fee camp in the wild. Enjoy the night sky, a camp fire. Chose a spot where no one is around, go a bit off the road and hide from the traffic. While there are no 'facilities' .. there is lots of peace and quite, and less light = more stars.

Showers can be had at the 'roadhouses' (gas stations) or commercial camp grounds .. just ask.

It can be a long way between roadhouses on the track, most of them have warning signs on how far it is to the next fuel.

Map? The Hemma Motorcycle Atlas is good - has fuel and groceries where it matters. Bring your AA card - member benefits in sister organisations here .. including good maps free.

Darwin is hot any time of year .. daily max is usually 32C. They put jumpers on at 25C! But the Art Gallery is worth seeing .. has a cyclone facsimile that is worth experiencing, and a good restaurant (caution - large servings) and stuffed animals etc as well as some art.

After Port Augusta (where you turn east) it is harder to find free camp sites that are reasonable. So use the commercial ones there on.
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Old 21 May 2017
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Ditto above, plus there are plenty of people travelling that route, however if you want to experience a few different roads (dirt and bitumen) then its worthwhile taking some side trips. Uluru for sure, Kakadu National Park, turn off the highway at Marla and head down the Oodnadatta Track and end up at Lake Eyre and further on the Flinders Ranges. Go to Broken Hill and then down to Mildura, follow the Murray Valley Hwy to Echuca then head South to Melbourne. Most of the dirt roads in that area are easy to ride on, just watch for sand. If you decide to go via Adelaide follow the coast road down to Melbourne via Mt Gam.

In the Northern Territory assume that any water has a crocodile living in it and don't camp close >100metres. Look for warning signs and always follow the advice given.

If you travel alone send a text message to friends letting them know where you are each night - if possible, a lot of Australia does not have phone coverage unless you buy a sat phone - which is probably cheaper than international roaming charges on a mobile phone. If you decide on a mobile phone - Telstra has the best coverage but is the most expensive.

Camping, buy a tent that is free standing - igloos are good as they don't need pegs to stay up. It will still be cool to cold at night - good sleeping bag, as you get further South it maybe cold and wet - good riding gear.

Accident - stay with your bike, never wander off as its easier to spot your bike than you. Plenty of good advice on the exploreoz website.

Most of those roads are unfenced, so not only 'roos but cattle as well.
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Old 21 May 2017
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September shouldn't be too hot, as mentioned Darwin is always warm but as you head south it be comfortable. The nights as mentioned can be cool-cold.
Also agree no riding at dusk/night too much wildlife and cattle like to camp on the warm roads at night as much of the region is unfenced.
Are you riding just the tar or doing some dirt? If so there are many roads that will get you where you want but add a different view to the endless asphalt in front of you.
You haven't mentioned your bike type, try to get something with a big tank because if you venture off the tar you will need it.
Its beautiful out there and the bush camping you'll never forget and theres no crazies out there a la Wolf Creek
As we say here, she'll be right.
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Old 31 May 2017
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Darwin to Melbourne via Alice Springs

There are several ways to go in my view. I have used the main highway from Darwin to Adelaide and at another time the tracks from the northern South Australian border through the Flinders Ranges to Adelaide. Camping is certainly best and I found the road houses had good facilities and provided the chance for a chat (and information gathering) at night. Many of the staff are people (often on two year rural visas) from all parts of the world and are great to talk to.

Once you are near Adelaide you have the option to head for Melbourne via the wine growing areas of South Australia and then gold rush areas of Victoria or you could do a coastal ride to Melbourne (or a bit of both).

As others have said - no riding at night and it is best to sms ahead to let someone know your location and travel path. Phone reception is available at road houses but can be patchy elsewhere. The advice to use a Telstra sim card is good. Carry a couple of litres of water.

Safe travels
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Old 22 Aug 2017
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G'day Wynne,

Most of the petrol stations have showers and you can camp just about anywhere you like once out of town. It will be humid in Darwin for the start of your ride but it will drop off as you head south. Few thing to keep an eye out for, crocodiles above the 26th parallel, snakes too but rarely cause a problem if you keep the campsite clear and well away from water. If you need anything while in Darwin, tyres, maintenance, route info, camping equipment ect ect. Possibly a room also, just holler!

Cheers Dave
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Old 23 Aug 2017
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It's a great part of the country. I'd strongly recommend not missing King's Canyon (you can do the loop through the West Macdonnell Park on the way - lots of great finger canyons to stop off at) and the Olgas (out past Uluru). And depending on your route, the Painted Desert is pretty neat as well. But do keep an eye on petrol - as mentioned the stations are few and far between.

As an aside, we found the best pizza we've ever had *anywhere* in Coober Pedy ...
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Old 23 Aug 2017
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Originally Posted by travel4four View Post
As an aside, we found the best pizza we've ever had *anywhere* in Coober Pedy ...
The small Chinese restaurant out the back of the pub/motel is pretty damn good too
My memory is becoming that good, I should be able to organise my own surprise party soon
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Old 23 Aug 2017
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Yes the Chinese restaurant is really good with excellent service. Coober Pedy is an interesting place and worth a look around.

Safe riding
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australia, september, solo

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