5 EPIC Australian touring rides that will inspire you

Australia is a BIG country - in fact its land mass is 50% greater than Europe, 32 times greater than the UK and almost as great the US. There are millions of kms of sealed roads, dirt roads, and of course, thousands of bike trails.

Here we take a look at 5 Australian touring trails that are EPIC, courtesy of Cycle Trails Australia. They're certainly not everyone's cup of tea, touring is a lot of hard work, but if you're up for the challenge or just looking for some inspiration, these are impressive rides.

1) Murray River Trail

States: SA, NSW, VIC
Distance:
Around 1850km
Time: 3 - 4 weeks
When: October to early January and March to May
Murray River

Murray River TrailImage source: Cycle Trails Australia

A humongous muddy river through extensive River Red Gum forests (dirt tracks adjacent), riverside campsites, the possibility of a cooling swim, wildlife, not many hills, plenty of occasional civilisation to restock supplies... there are lots of reasons to ride this trail.

It also helps that there's excellent access. You can start or finish, close to Adelaide or Canberra, and the full ride can be achieved in various stages if a 3 to 4 week block doesn't work in with your schedule.

Best parts: the Murray Mouth at Goolwa around to Wellington; Renmark to Wentworth on the remote north side via the extraordinary Rufus River (amazing birdlife); the riverside tracks through the State Forests from Swan Hill to Torrumbarry Weir; forest trails from Mathoura to Tocumwal; and then pretty much everything from the ferry at Wyman above the Hume Weir until Jindabyne.

All bike tourers should at least do the impressive Swan Hill to Echuca section, which is mostly right by the river and has numerous free official campsites perched on the banks.

Want to know more about this ride? Visit Cycle Trails Australia.

2) Mawson Trail

State: SA
Distance:
 Around 900km
Time: 16 Days
When: March to November
Mawson

Mawson TrailImage source: Cycle Trails Australia

The 900km long Mawson Trail has been set up for tourists by the South Australian government, and the investment in signage is obvious and trail documentation is impressive. The route seems designed by watching the track an ant would take across a map, i.e. it’s all over the place. If there’s a direct road between places the trail will usually take some other more deviant route up an adjacent valley with a hill up-and-over involved.

The Mawson is a mountain bike trail, rather than a cycle tour, over pre-existing unsealed back roads, forestry tracks, fire trails, farm roads etc that has had plenty of signage installed along the way. It’s a fantastic introduction to off-highway dirt track riding, more challenging than you might think, particularly the steep sections on the first few days when you head through the Adelaide Hills and into the Barossa Valley. The whole track is scenic but the north section through the Flinders Ranges is particularly dramatic.

Want to know more about this ride? Visit Cycle Trails Australia.

Get the gear you need for this epic ride at the Reid Cycles Adelaide store or online!

3) Munda Biddi Trail

State: WA
Distance:
 Around 1100km
Time: 3 weeks
When: March to December
Mundi Biddi

Munda Biddi TrailImage source: Cycle Trails Australia

The Munda Biddi is one huge, fun ride, with plenty of sweat, toil and hardship thrown in.

The advertising says a lot about the “world class” trail that stretches from Mundaring, (only about 35km east of downtown Perth), to Albany. No official word as to the exact length, somewhere between 1000 and 1100km,  that makes it the longest off road mountain bike trail in the world, apparently. This is mountain bike territory, not really a family touring bike trail like the Mawson Trail in South Australia, despite the official blurb. It’s aimed at a lightly loaded bike, with fat tyres, or semi-supported expeditions. The reason is that there’s a fair amount of difficult track surface, (pea gravel, sometimes deep and at times not rideable, further south there are patches of sand) along the way which combined with the generally undulating terrain makes for a fairly physical adventure. She’s a full on wrestle on a roller coaster for anyone with a touring load aboard. Despite that there are long sections each day, mostly, where the riding is just sublime, long stretches, kilometres in a go, whizzing downhill on narrow single track through the forest. There’s buckets of fun on this little adventure, just don’t underestimate the amount of effort required.

Want to know more about this ride? Visit Cycle Trails Australia.

Get the gear you need for this epic ride at our Perth store or online!

4) South Coast Trail

State: WA
Distance:
 Around 1500km
Time: 4 weeks
When: December to March
South Coast

South Coast TrailImage source: Cycle Trails Australia

This is the great secret in long distance riding across Australia, kind of like Victoria’s Great Ocean Road on steroids. Zip around the coast, plenty to see, not much in the way of traffic. What’s not to like?

Well, there is a bit, the first three that come immediately to mind: hills, wind and inclement weather. There’s lashings of all three. It’s a roller coaster, true, but you get to whizz down the hills and it’s mostly less than 20 minutes of up before the down. There’s a fair chance of wind behind you as you head east, that’s a plus, unless, of course, you are riding into it. The weather, basically there can be just far too much of it.

But despite these factors the countryside you traverse more than adequately makes up for it: surf beaches (Yallingup), wineries (Margaret River), Cape Leeuwin lighthouse, rail trails (Cowaramup, and Denmark/Nornalup), big tree forest (Pemberton to Walpole), beaches (numerous but Greens Pool, Two Peoples Bay, Point Ann etc are a start), national parks (Leeuwin Naturaliste, D’Entrecasteaux, Walpole-Nornalup, Stirling Ranges, Porongurup, Fitzgerald River.)

Want to know more about this ride? Visit Cycle Trails Australia.

5) Kakadu National Park Trail

State: NT
Distance:
 460km to 840km (depending on excursions)
Time: 6 days + extra for excursions
When: May to September

Kakadu

Kakadu TrailImage source: Cycle Trails Australia

It’s a sealed highway loop but most of the interesting sights in the national park are well off the Kakadu Highway on unsealed roads. You can’t see much from the car, you have to make an effort. Koolpin Gorge, Gunlom, Maguk, Twin Falls all take a bit of getting to. Caravan’s just can’t hack it and many don’t want to risk their car on the dirt.

Not so bad for those on an off-road bike, a mountain bike is handy, the essential sights, Ubirr, Nourlangie Rock, Maguk, Twin & Jim Jim Falls, Koolpin Gorge, oh, and those crocs down at Cahill’s Crossing, etc, are every bit as good as the tourist advertising proclaims.

Want to know more about this ride? Visit Cycle Trails Australia.

Well, there you have it, 5 EPIC Australian touring rides. Thank you to Cycle Trails Australia for the content. If you'd like to explore these trails further, or find out what others are out there, take a look at the Cycle Trails Australia website. If you're looking at getting involved in some longer rides, Reid have a couple of bikes that are very well suited. The Osprey Elite if you're mostly going to be cycling sealed roads, or the City 1 if you're taking on some off road trails.