I suggested it to Mr O but the thing is I have been thinking about it myself. Back in the day I drove from Sydney to Adelaide via Broken Hill. I had been there once before when Dad took my sister, my brother and I to pick my mum up from a practicum she did at Broken Hill base hospital when she did her Diploma of Applied Science Nursing. 

I later went to "The Hill" 3 times including 2 trips to Adelaide. I have been thinking about going out through the outback again except this time by bike. The route I am thinking about is going from Broken Hill to Peterborough and may be on to Clare.

At this stage it looks like an good trip although at this stage (the planning stage) most trips look good. I am looking at some transport if I have to bail early and this will most likely be a bus. I will contact the bus company to find out if they take bikes.

My question is has anyone cycled through "The Hill" and beyond before? If so can you suggest:

  • Places to stay - I have been wondering if the trip could be done as a credit card tour - staying at hotels/ pubs along the way or will camping be the go
  • Type of bike - I was thinking either my tourer or a road bike but looking at the route profile of some of the places I want to go I was wondering if it could be done on my single speed (looks like manageable gradients). 
  • Type of equipment to be taken - there will be about 50 to 60 km between hotels etc in someplaces. Probably buggar all mobile reception so should I take an Epirb?

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gap from cobar to the roadhouse is 160km

gap from the roadhouse to wilcania is 101km

gap from wilcania to little topar roadhouse is 119km - there is a rest area on the way that may or may not have water.

gap from little topar to broken hill is 76km

Afaik the gap Cockburn to Manna Hill = 105km

If one of those 2 roadhouses is shut/gone/on holiday you could be looking at 260km between water sources/food.   If you are covering unexpected inability to get water - you may well need 10L (10kgs) - I'd also tend to be ready to bail from the roadway for traffic coming up from behind if it wasn't obvious they were moving over - those things would probably choose my bike for me (something that can carry a fair bit and won't immediately fall over on gravel), and a tent or tarp to escape direct sun for a while during the middle of the day (some of those trips you won't be able to finish just in the morning.

What are your thoughts on a trailer? Not a single wheel bob like thing, but a wide, flat style (perhaps with a very tall truck height flag on the back RHS corner?

They carry a lot of stuff, can go on gravel without much issue, if you have the coin can take a small solar panel and battery to maintain all your devices/ lights etc...

I've found in suburban riding, because of their width from the back, the cars leave me a lot more room. Do you think that is a universal truth?

And do you think they take a lot more effort to lug, then the same mass on the bike?

Problem is when really out west the road edges can drop off or fall away into rubbish gravel which will will see the left wheel roll very differently to the right. Worse when it is wet and the road base is muddy and will tug you of your straight line. A bob will track your wheels but with a 2 wheeler you really need to keep on the tar and this is really tricky with road trains and narrow roads.
In regard to riding out Cobar and Wilcania way when the road trains are busy, I find riding into the oncoming traffic (IE ride on the right hand side of the road) better in regard to seeing just how much road the driver is happy to give you. Most are very good but you still get blown out then sucked back in so better to bail into the table drain if you can see that the driver has not seen you.

I don't think a driver won't see you, unless due to a crest or bend, which you must be very wary of, but sometimes they can't move over to pass- oncoming traffic, poor road surface, etc- in which case they will give a very loud blast on air horn and you bail immediately, even if the edge is a mini-cliff and the shoulder is rocks. One thing about road trains is that you can hear them coming for some time, (except on crests). Be prepared!

Also beware of wheel ruts in the tar near the edge, these can be hard to leave once in them, and can collect rocks. Makes it hard to bail and increases risk of a flat.

Many other life and death situations, like being caught out by a road train when riding in the middle of a sandy section of road. Do you duck for the left hand side across a sand patch and risk falling off or hold your line and hope the driver will go either side?

Is there any reason why a good touring bike would not be the ideal choice? This seems rather obvious to me. 

For sealed roads and most gravel yes, but if getting on to sandy badly corrugated roads wide tyred MTB might be the go. Don't see many tourers on the non sealed roads and station tracks north and NW of Broken Hill for instance. But probably most just wouldn't have considered or been aware of the possibility. I did see one guy on a cheap supermarket bike, doing it as a dare, and he made it out to the NW corner on the Silver City Treadler outback ride I did. Then it fell to bits IIRCC.

Can't you get a tourer with fat tyres, and almost have it all, apart from suspension forks? Just need a frame with good clearance. Eg This one here (handbuilt in Germany, am going to pick one up and ride it home one day) allows for tyres up to 60mm.

I do a lot of Outback driving (and just arrived home yesterday after a 3 week trip).

Between Broken Hill and Clare there is good Telstra coverage. There are of course a few gaps on the way but nothing too bad for too long

As for an EPIRB, they are fairly large and mainly for marine use. PLBs are quite small and compact and you'd only really want one if you were going fairly remote.

A good alternative to the PLB is a Find Me Spot device (http://www.findmespot.net.au/). I use it to track my position so the missus can see where I am and know that I am safe as I can "Check In" or send for help if needed. It also has an Emergency help button which works in the same way as a PLB.


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