Top 10 Australian Adventure Rides
- Cape York, Queensland: Still the ultimate adventure-riding destination. It’s getting easier to get there every year and the four-wheel drives are making the most of it, but for adventure-riders, the CREB Track, The Lion’s Den, Cooktown, the deepwater crossings and the salties mean it’s still one of the world’s greatest adventure rides.
- Across the continent: From the west coast in WA to the east coast in NSW, or back the other way, across the centre, is riding that equals any in the world for sheer majesty, diversity and challenge.
- Jacob’s Ladder, Tasmania: One of the most stunning and breathtaking rides of either hemisphere. The relatively short run up the switchback dirt road to the Ben Lomond ski fields in Tasmania is awesome. It’s awesome not just for the ascent and descent, but for the riding to get there.
- The Flinders, SA: It’s hard to find words for this one. ‘A-frigging-mazing’ is as close as we can go. Arkaroola, Rawnsley, Wilpena Pound…they’re beyond stunning and the riding varies from challenging to flat-knacker, high-speed craziness.
- The Victorian High Country: Iconic stops like Dargo and Craig’s Hut, Bright, Myrtleford and The Billygoat Track. It’s the stuff of adventure-riding legend.
- Cameron Corner, Qld: Where three States meet, and there’s no easy way to get there no matter which direction you start from. The desert, the Dingo Fence and the Strzelecki Track are all part of the Cameron Corner experience.
7: New England, NSW: The clear air, granitic roads and historic sites of New England make the riding in the region superb. Towns like Inverell, Glen Innes and Armidale cry out to riders to stop and enjoy the atmosphere. When the poplars are golden and the sun is shining, there’s nowhere like it anywhere else on Earth.
- Finke, NT: For most riders the name ‘Finke’ will automatically mean the race, but the ride to the Finke River from Alice Springs is a cracker at any time. The Finke Gorge is another that’s there for the seriously tough riders and bikes, with views to match the challenge of the terrain.
- The Great Ocean Road, Victoria: The road itself is fabulous for riders on big bikes who love to cruise winding bitumen roads littered with excellent cafes, pubs and eateries – not to mention the scenery – but the off-road riding in the area is superb. From the 12 Apostles, along the coast to Lorne and Torquay, the road is amazing, and for those with an adventurous spirit, the dirt leading off to the north at regular intervals offers hugely rewarding adventure riding, including access to the incredible Otways.
- The Otways, Victoria: Over 100,000 hectares of one of the world’s most glorious National Parks. Days and days of incredibly rewarding scenery and varied terrain.
Have we missed any? Reckon you’ve got a better Top 10? Let us know.
Top 10 things that take the fun out of a ride
1. Flat tyres
Flat tyres are a complete pain. They can be expensive, too. Big adventure bikes make repairs even more painful with heavy, speed-rated tyres that cling to rims so frigging tight that even Arnie couldn’t break the bead. And for those with tubeless, a torn tyre wall can be a terminator.
Is there anything to compare to the prolonged misery of a long, slow, ride through non-stop pissing rain? Wet crotches, wet luggage, low visibility, gloves that weigh a kilo each and foggy helmet visors are just the start. Lack of traction is usually the finish.
A seriously hot Australian day can mean fluids boil and things just plain won’t work. That’s the rider. It’s worse for the bike. And as smashing heat bounces back from the road or track it can be hard to just draw a breath. Dehydration can have serious consequences, and the battle to just keep moving can be a struggle. A day of 40-degree heat in the Australian desert sorts the men from the DNFers, and often the DNFers are the lucky ones. At least they don’t have to keep pushing on.
A day in the dust can leave a rider feeling as though someone’s sandpapered his eyeballs and filled his snout with Polyfilla. Any lack of care with regard to the airfilter has dire consequences, and desert dust will often leave a permanent red reminder in apparel and luggage. It’s crap.
5. Drowning a bike
Submerging a bike means a session of hard work and a test of mechanical skill. And who wants that in the middle of a ride? At best, luggage, airfilter and plugs will have to be removed, the bike turned upside down or held upright, and the engine turned over until the worst of the water’s pumped out. At worst bike and rider can disappear downstream in a rush, leaving the rest of the group an anxious and scary time of search and – hopefully –rescue.
Whether the results are ’bars a little off-centre or serious injury, there’s nothing good about crashing. A rider can hope nobody saw it and there was no damage, but that hardly ever happens. Usually someone is waiting with a camera and a direct link to Youtube. Injuries are the worst and cast a gloom over any ride. There’s nothing at all that can be said to lighten the impact of an injury.
7. Getting lost
Blasting happily along until geographically embarrassed can really be a pain in the G-P-arse. Fuel becomes a problem, there’s no hope of making the bakery in town, and there’s even a chance there’ll be some hiking in the very near future. Spewin’!
8. Monkey butt
Politely called ‘chafing of the nether regions’, monkey butt is the curse of the long-distance rider. If you wonder why those guys standing on the ‘pegs ride so fast, it’s because if their arse touches the seat it feels like having a blowtorch aimed up their jacksie, and the faster they get to the finish and apply a handful of soothing ointment, the happier they’ll be. Thumb’s up for the ointment!
9. One rider being a complete pain
There’s always one who’s a whinger, or who’s dead slow and holds everyone up, or is lightning quick and has to shower everyone with rocks, or doesn’t carry any tools even though his bike’s the biggest heap of shit in the pack. Does that sound like someone you’ve ridden with? Did that rider make the whole trip a heap of fun?
10. Nothing goes wrong
The absolute worst situation is when none of the things on this list happen. Imagine arriving home and having to say, “Yeah. It was good. Comfortable the whole time, and everything exactly as planned.” It’s an adventure ride, ferchrissake.