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South Australia, 2017. 1500Km around the mid north and southern ranges.

Once again I flew to Adelaide in January 2017 to enjoy the cycling atmosphere of the Tour Down Under professional bike race. But my interest was in touring around the ranges and I saw very little of the tour as I decided to visit Port Pirie and Burra instead and I only arrived in Adelaide just as the last stage of the race was running.

My route

route map Sa 2017After an early morning flight from Darwin I arrived in Adelaide at 11am. My plan was to reach Moonta by evening and to do this I needed to use some bus transport for part of the route, so I took a shuttle to the bus station. The only suitable bus went to Port Augusta and I wanted to disembark at Port Wakefield from where I would ride to Moonta. But although the bus passed through and stopped at Port Wakefield, passengers were not allowed to disembark there! How crazy! So I decided to ride instead, although it would not be possible to ride all of the 200 Km to Moonta before nightfall as it was already 2pm when I left the city centre.

The weather was pleasant with a slight tail wind so I enjoyed a strenuous ride of about 130Km almost to Port Wakefield, where a friend met me and took me by car to Moonta. So despite a complete change of plans I arrived that evening as originally planned.

After some short circuit rides near Moonta over the next few days, I decided to ride to Port Pirie. This was just 120 Km away and would be a easy day ride. However the afternoon temperature was near 40 C and I became dehydrated and I was quite exhausted upon reaching Port Pirie. The temperature next day was predicted to be 44 C, so I planned a short morning ride to the only nearby scenic attraction, Telowie gorge, about 25 Km away. The last 5Km was on a dirt road and the gorge was pleasant, though not spectacular, a pleasant ride morning ride despite the hot weather and I returned to my hotel to cool down while I watched the "tour down under" live television coverage.

That evening a storm arrived and cooled the temperature and I planned to ride east next day, expecting a westerly tail wind. My ride east to Jamestown was pleasant although I seemed to have headwinds all day. I was able to avoid riding on the busy Port Augusta highway (route A1) except for just 1 Km and had no trouble with traffic all day. Jamestown is a sleepy small town and I was surprised to find that most of the accommodation was occupied. I found a room in a hotel and learned that a wind farm was being built nearby and all the construction workers were housed in the motels and hotels here.

The ride from Jamestown to Burra went via Spalding to minimise my use of primary highways and was fun with a modest tail wind until I turned eastwards after Spalding. I was surprised by the network of irrigation channels in this area, although they did not seem to be in current use. Burra is an old copper mining township dating back to 1845 when it was a major world supplier of copper and I stopped to view the open pits and old mine facilities. It is a cute town with many old stone buildings and I stayed overnight in a restored mining cottage, now with additional features such as water, toilets, electricity, television and air-conditioning! Not really much like the 1845 lifestyle at all!

Overnight there was another storm with much rain and it was damp and quite cool (too cool for me!) when I left next morning heading south on the "worlds end highway".  This road is on the east edge of the ranges and although it is not hilly, I had a fierce headwind all the way to Eudunda where I needed a long recovery rest before continuing on to Kapunda for the night. Although Kapunda was the site of the first discovery of copper in SA in 1844, there is only a little evidence of the old mining activity remaining here.

Next morning the bakery was still closed at 8am so i left without breakfast. On my way I stopped to observe a Canberra bomber jet aircraft parked beside the road in a private "aviation museum" just north of Greenock. As I passed through the tiny township of Greenock I found a small coffee shop where I sat in the morning sunshine and enjoyed a most pleasant breakfast. Now I was ready to ride through the Barossa towns of Nurioopta and Angaston and on south to Lobethal on my favourite cycling route through the Adelaide hills.

From Lobethal it is an exciting and mostly fast ride down the Gorge to Adelaide and I arrived in time to see the final race of the Tour down under, a criterium in the city centre. I then continued on to the coast at Semaphore to stay with my friends and over the next week I enjoyed many rides back up into the hills as well as south to Willunga and Myponga.

The Adelaide hills are a pleasant cycling destination and Adelaide is making an effort to accommodate cycling with marked on-road bicycle lanes (which do not always connect up) and some separated bicycle paths. Although I had some very hot weather and storms at first, for the last week of my cycling the weather was warm with gentle winds, just great for cycling.