Firstly, I’m not a cyclist. I have the romantic notion that Cycling is the best way to experience the landscape by being close to the environment – whilst still covering distance. You can carry enough load to keep you going for weeks if you are prepared and you can cover large distances if you are committed.
During October 2016, I commenced a 3.5 week, unsupported cycling adventure through one of Australia’s harshest and most remote off road tracks – The Gibb River Road.
The average daily temperature in this region exceeds 38.5°C/101.3F and the trip covered approximately 950kms/590 miles (with side trips) through the rough, corrugated gravel roads.
Being so close to the equator, the climate is considered tropical and at this time of the year the landscape is devoid of water after the Dry season (6 months with no rain). There are 2 basic stores along the entire distance for supplies. The first time I travelled the Gibb one of these stores was closed.
Consuming 10-12 litres (3 gallons) of water per day is not uncommon however carrying water for atleast 2 days is a common chore. Carrying water was the single hardest thing about this type of travel. Carrying the weight combined with the rough roads put an enormous strain on tyres/spokes and rider.
Water is available at some of the side tracks and that is the beauty about the Gibb – the side tracks.
One of the side tracks of note is Windjana Gorge. At this right time of day it is simply beautiful. Late afternoon is best. At sunset you can watch thousands of bats swoop down to the water to feed whilst dodging the crocodiles that are launching out of the water to catch them! It is a surreal demonstration of the wild nature of this place.
The warm temperatures of this region can make getting rest difficult at night even after a hard day of riding. The night sky in this remote region is unreal.
In closing the Gibb River Road is an area of Australia that is remote, isolated and stunning. It is a region of immense natural beauty and where extreme care is required. I would recommend this location to everyone however ensure that you research and plan your trip accordingly. The best time to travel the Gibb River Road is at the start of the Dry season (April/May) and keep in mind that this is not a gentle stroll through a national park and no, a campervan will not make the journey.