Destination Everywhere: Swan Hill to Adelaide

Photo: Jeremy Hooper

We all arrived at Swan Hill around midday. Pub meal and catch-up was the agenda. We headed to our accommodation to build our bikes. After that, the mandatory trek to the supermarket. The next days of riding towards Adelaide were through areas where we didn’t expect to be able to get supplies.

South Australia is technically not the Outback, but it is remote. We got ride food for the van stops, breakfasts and food to cook at both campsites and motels with limited facilities. Ready to go on our adventure to catch the Tour Down Under-action and the RADL GRVL race a few days out.

We rolled out at 05.30 am on Day 1, bound for Hopetoun 163 km away. Arriving at the first gravel road section the feeling was high - full of excitement and uncertainty with what we were in for.

The first issue - due to heavy rainfall from the days previous, roads had flooded at their low points and spread wide onto the neighbouring paddocks. With no option, we climbed through the fence and around - bikes getting stuck, pedals refusing to unclip and bodies falling. Wet shoes followed, with the decision to walk the safest one. 

Initial progress was slow, however, a turn of fate meant we were in for a strong tailwind for the remainder of the day which allowed us to arrive within schedule. We cleaned the bikes, cooled off and headed to the neighbouring pub. 

Day 2 had scheduled 183 km, heading to the even more remote Murrayville (population: 280). Again we had favourable conditions to start, with an intense sunrise and a comfortable tailwind. A heavy black cloud was threatening for most of the afternoon - lightning and thunder providing some added drama. Arriving in the early evening, the weather had cut the power to the accommodation, showers and cooking dinner had to wait.

The plan for Day 3 was to leave as early as possible. 220 km to Murray Bridge was the longest of the trip. Given the uncertainty of a lot of the roads we were taking meant progress could crawl, so we wanted to give ourselves enough wiggle room as a contingency. Alarms sounding at 04.00 am had us waking to heavy rain. We decided to wait it out, for both rider safety and morale. 

The rain had done serious damage to the smaller arterial roads that made up lots of our route. With huge collections of muddy water being a frequent obstacle. Some are rideable, some not with lots of time walking and clearing the subsequent mud from the cleats. A long hot day out in the end had us rushing to order our dinner before the pub kitchen closed, before making it to the motel for bed.

Day 4 was set to be a ceremonious one, a short 90 km ride down into Adelaide. Some routing issues however had us hiking our bikes through an MTB park slowing progress significantly. A short stint on the main freeway and a conversation with the police improved on things and we arrived in Stirling to meet our contingent before the descent down into the TDU village.

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