We spent almost a month ambling around the south eastern corner of Australia. This trip was about finding the best riding and doing it by looking in places most neglect to visit. We bought some mapping, removed any notion of a plan and headed for the hills. Australia has plenty of elevated landmass and most of it is filled with incredible riding. These are our best snippets of advice to you in your next trip.
The Outback is what Australia is most famous for. Don’t get us wrong, it is a really special place, with incredible starry nights, endless desert vistas, and some truly remote locations. But with that huge empty desert comes long straight days in the saddle and…. Yup, we’ve got no more.
Australia might not be famous for it, but the hills and forestry are where some of the finest areas are found. Aussie forestry is incredibly unique and sports some ridiculous views. Whether it’s in Tasmania, Kosciusko, the Blue Mountains and all the way up into the legendary Daintree, seeking trees will bring its just desserts. Plus, it’s where most of the cool wildlife and gnarly plants live…
Snakes and Spiders aren’t the only things out there quite capable of causing you a problem. In reality it isn’t as bad as folk will have you believe. No-one has died from a confirmed spider bite since way back in ’79 and death by snake is less likely than death by bee-sting or horse.
That doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep your wits about you, especially when riding. Aussie wildlife is big and not scared. Kangaroos, Emu’s, and all the fluffy stuff can be just as painful as the dreaded spiders, snakes, scorpions, crocs and box jellyfish.
Come dusk the animals appear in force. They’re everywhere and quite happy to amble across the road wondering what that noise in the distance is. Like most big animals, they don’t merely bump under the wheels either, so unless it is an emergency, ride in the daylight hours. We rode at dusk/night a few times and had five near collisions with Roos.
Australia is surprisingly well mapped and that makes exploring the uninhabited lands far easier that a lot of other places. HEMA have produced 4X4 maps of most of the country. These come in many different forms, but our favourite method is using their app. It comes on Android or iPhone and will let you create GPX routes. This can either be exported for use elsewhere or used as your primary navigation. The app will provide your current location even when working offline.
When hunting trails and planning a day, this was our best source. We mounted the iPhone to our bars and were away. The only struggle was the iPhone battery, but this can be rectified with a small external unit.
You can find out more on the mapping by clicking here.
Tasmania is probably the most underrated place to explore in Australia. It’s three times as big as Wales, but has half a million inhabitants. Half of those live in Hobart, meaning it’s nigh on empty.
The Western Explorer, Strahan (pronounced Straun) and the road to Queenstown are must rides. The untouched gnarled bush, the 5000 year old pine forest, silly boat crossing, incredible 10km beach to ride on and the best tarmac of our trip. Do it.
Ben Lomond and the infamous Jacobs ladder are also very much worth the trek for the incredible vistas and a mountain road built to shake those with a fear of heights. The whole region is full of exquisite off-road exploration and is definitely worth a day of your time.
This is all part of Aussie tradition. Australia does pies better than anywhere on earth and every pie shop in Australia has a sign telling you it’s the best at something. Trust us when we tell you, you need to stop at a bakery, buy a pie and order a chocolate malt milkshake. You’ll thanks us.
It’s the lunch adventures and a nation* were built on. If you’ve gotten sick of all the milkshakes, grab yourself an Iced Coffee. It’s a truly Aussie product, with more brands than you can imagine. Just beware of the obscene sugar content.
(Australia was not built on this lunch, it merely reads well.)
There are a whole collection of amazing roads in the mountains of Victoria and New South Wales, but two stand out as worth mentioning. First is the The Great Alpine Way from Wodonga to Omeo (C543). A healthy 303km of mountain top bliss. Tight, twisty roads, snow gums, great tarmac and smiles for miles.
The Alpine Way is another stupendous ribbon of tarmac that provides a link between the towns of Khancoban and Jindabyne. It’s a little rough and rugged, but the endless corners and incredible view of untouched forestry are breath-taking. Both are worth the effort to seek out. The state forest on the southern side of the Alpine Way is also an incredible, expansive place to explore and well worth breaking the map out for.
Australia’s most famous road is famous for a reason. The views are amazing, as is the winding road. It’s twisty, well built, and entirely worth the effort. The only downside is the swarms of tourists that descend upon it, thus making it a busy place to ride. The conservative speed limits can also grind but if you can relax enough to get over those small hurdles you’ll have a hell of a ride.
Australia is brilliant at weather. When it’s hot, it’s savage. When it rains the water falls from the sky as heavily as anywhere. When the sun is out it is brutal and when it disappears, Australia can be damn cold. Our trip gave us a total temperature swing of 49ºC in three weeks. In the mountains they get decent snow during the winter and bush fires in the summer. The UV is harsh so sunscreen, plenty of shade hogging and a decent waterproof set is a must. Be prepared for all conditions, you never know what’ll get handed to you.
This goes without saying for a lot of the world, but often there are huge distances between fuel, especially when you’re a little further from big towns. More often than not there will be a sign stating when you’re entering a more remote area so always fill up when you pass a station.
We’re a magazine based in the UK, by the sea. The UK is the home of fish and chips. It turns out Britain is horrible at fish and chips. Australia should be. Every fish and chips we had anywhere was dramatically better than in the UK. Maybe it’s something to do with the sun?
Anyway. Get to the beach, have yourself some fish and thank us for it later.
This sounds like a pretty basic thing to remember but Australia is a massive place. Things don’t look that far away but they truly are. Sydney to Melbourne in the grand scheme of Australia, is just around the corner. The reality is that it’s 800+kms. The maps in Aus have a really good habit of making distance shrink, so if you’ve got a list of places to be, make sure you plan enough time to get through them all.
Australia is great but they hate speeding. They’re strict on the limits and the restrictions can be painfully slow. Police hide, use radar guns and have a zero tolerance approach. Getting pulled for speeding is a total kill-joy so taking the time to enjoy your surroundings is key.