When people ask me how this ride has been (or, as I anticipate, when people ask me how it was), this is what I tell them.
There’s no sugar-coating it, riding a bicycle across the Outback is fucking boring.
Other adjectives I commonly use to describe the experience are: frustrating (headwind), frightening (thunderstorms), and possibly “worst thing ever” (flies).
Sure, there are things to see and Uluru was incredible, but a lot of what I’ve experienced could easily be categorized as “not that chill”.
This is not to say I haven’t had some extraordinary experiences these past two months; I met wonderful people (Grey Nomads), I learned a lot about bicycling (like how to replace a spoke), and I saw things that few people get to see (likw a Swiss man pushing a shopping cart across the Outback). I also got to return to my diet of eating whatever I want and was able to show myself that us humans are capable of more than we think.
But ultimately, instead of pretending that this trip has been some inspirational, otherworldly, path to enlightenment, let’s just call it what it has been: boring.
The Stuart Highway stretches 1,761 miles (2,834 km) from Port Augusta to Darwin, and I’ve personally seen all but 25 mi / 40 km of it – and not while flying through the open speed zones in a car at 100 mph (160 km/h).
I can tell you with all the confidence in the world that there is very little to see out here.
Will I ever do another bicycle trip? Probably. I think Japan or Eastern Europe would be great places to try next.
Will I ever do another bicycle trip in Australia? No, no I will not.
However, I would love to return to the Outback with an air-conditioned four-wheel drive vehicle. This place is far too vast to be adequately explored with just two wheels and a pair of legs (at least, not if you don’t plan on devoting a solid percentage of your life to the endeavor).
Today I made it to a place called Struass WWII Airfield – about twenty-five miles (40 km) outside of Darwin.
It’s posted here that camping is prohibited (unless you’re in an RV), but my other options (ride into the city and pay for accommodation or continue searching for somewhere legal to camp) are not looking like they’re going to happen.
Camping (peacefully) generally becomes more difficult as you get nearer to civilization, and Australia is no exception. During my breaks to avoid the heat these past few days, I’ve heard stories of police showing up early in the morning to known (illegal) campsites to ticket people.
Unfortunately, my home for tonight is one of these places.
Looks like it’s going to be an early morning tomorrow.
I guess I’ll have the rest of the day to celebrate?
…if I make it to Darwin, that is.
- START: Bridge Creek, Northern Territory
- END: Struass WWII Airfield, Northern Territory
- DAY’S DISTANCE: 63.69 mi / 102.5 km
- TOTAL DISTANCE: 2,398.33 mi / 3,858.91 km