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South Australia - Mawson Trail

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South Australia - Mawson Trail

If anyone is thinking about riding the Mawson Trail in South Australia ( I will be happy to assist with information, advice or hosting in Adelaide. The best time of year would be spring (Sep-Nov) or Autumn (Mar-May). Winter is ok, but there are some muddy bits (see my blog here

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Thanks Rabbit. I am planning

Thanks Rabbit. I am planning on doing the Mawson Trail in Spring (after completing WA's Munda Biddi in winter). Do you think that a MTB is really necessary, or is a Touring bike with wide tyres sufficient (Surly LHT w 600x35 Schwalbe puncture-resistant tyres). I'll hire a bike if front-suspension is essential, but would prefer to stick with my trusty steed...
Thanks in advance.

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Rusty Trusty on the Mawson

Nah. no suspension is needed.

I met 2 guys last year and they rode Melrose To Blinman on 700 road wheels. A bit harsh for one guy (700x25 tyres), so the x35 will be fine. The race team I supported on the non-stop race back to Blinman took my back tyre to use (26in Schwalbe) and ditched their lightweight knobbly. In 2008, my 26 in road tyre had the least amount of clay blocking up the brakes, while bikes with knobblies had to walk there bikes through patches of clay to prevent seize up.
See photos here

Most of the above information is linked to here:

See also my mad rantings here


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20 Aug and 17 Sep 2011 trips

I am planing rides in the mid-north on the Mawson around the weekend 20 Aug 2011, plus will likely repeat the ride to Blinman to support a race team back to Melrose (prob in the week prior to 17 Sept). Watch this space...

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Thanks Rabbit. I'll be

Thanks Rabbit. I'll be cycling Mawson Trail from Blinman to Adelaide some time in September. Maybe I'll see you there :)

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August Mawson Far North - Sept Mawson Mid North maybe

Just noticed a date change. The Kona event is 17-21 Aug 2011, so I probably will do the Far-north in August. See this discussion...

If I take a shortcut back to Adelaide in August 2011, I am keen to do the Mid-North South Australia section in September 2011 (around 17 Sept). The section from Spalding to Burra is on my to-do list.

I have friends in the North, and plan to recruit NEW WarmShower friends along the way. There are few past 100kms north, but I hope to change this.

No doubt my ranting will be blogged here:


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Mawson Trail

Hi Rabbit
I and three other friends are planning to bike the Mawson Trail in June this year. I would much appreciate any advice you could give me repairs getting supplies,weather conditions,bike requirements . I will riding a top fuel trek mountain bike and pulling a bike trailer. I am an experienced tourist pulling a trailer but this adventure is something different.
Many thanks
Sue Murray

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Mawson Trail

Hi Sue

No problems. I have ridden the all of the mawson and have photos and blogs that recorded the ride.

Hey, will you be here around June Longweekend? Fat Tyre Festival at Melrose

Do you have the maps? I can send you PDFs (don't print very well) and you are welcome to borrow mine. They are good. I am uploading one to Google for you to download and check out.

More questions...
Are you planning to ride the whole 900kms?

How many days will you take? If you are pressed for time, I suggest bypass MtBryan (ride from Spalding to Burra by road and save one day). Another day can be saved by catching the train from Gawler (leaving the Mawson at Tanunda). The northern 2 thirds is the BEST. Take the longest time from Blinman to Clare.

I assume you will be happy to bush camp. That said, there are good caravan parks along the way (stay at Rawnsley Park in preference to Wilpena). Bush camping in the last 70kms to Adelaide is tricky and no good caravan parks. I can show you a spot I used (or catch the train and bypass the last 70ks).

For supplies and repairs, the northern third is the most remote, but there is a town-a-day, so only one day's water and food supply needed. That said, supplies are expensive in the northern third, so you may choose to buy stuff in adelaide to start your trip. Water is REALLY BAD, so you will be buying bottled water or boxes of water at each town. You may find a rainwater tank, but not in the northern third.

Bus service to Blinman (parachilna, then ride across) is (or was... I can't find their timetable)

Melrose (Fat Tyre Festival June longweekend) is about halfway. A GREAT bike shop is and if you have any trouble with the bus service, ring these guys and ask if they can help. A couple of years ago they helped 4 friends of mine and cut of a section by taking them in a van. Split between 4 people they may take you to Blinman for a reasonable cost!

Not much bike shop help in the northern 2 thirds other than Melrose, in fact, NO bike shops.

The trail is not rough. See my photos of "quorn to Blinman" and you will see two guys I met, one on a road bike and one on a tourer. That said, if wet, the mud is a bit sticky... ROAD TYRES are better in mud than knobby, if fact, road tyres on the back is all you need. When I supported a rider team in the non-stop Blinman to Melrose, they took off their expensive knobby rear tyre and opted for my Schwalbe off my bike.

Click on 2010 in the right side of my blog, then scroll down

Weather... VERY COLD. If wet the mud can be a challenge.

I would seriously consider my suggestion to a road tyre on the rear. The gravel does not need a knobbly. They are mostly roads or fire roads. Where it is rocks, sand or gravel it is only for a very short section (ie less than 100 metres).
(Schwalbe Marathon Plus 26" Bike Tyre - SmartGuard). A knobby on the front is ok.. get one that rolls easy (small knobs with a constant contact section in the centre of the tyre - ie QUIET when on hard surface).

I did not get any punctures. I ran slime though, so prickles would have re-sealed themselves. The better the tyre the less chance of a puncture. A 16in trailer tyre may be a hassle to buy if you shredded it. I have an old one here you are welcome to borrow. Car seat belt is a good gater and tyre repair in the event of a slashed tyre.

Chain oil - Wet grass will wipe all the oil off.

Warm bedding... spare no expense

Blinman Hotel has a campground out the back, but the ground is rough, the generator runs all night, and I think it wasn't cheap. Consider just having a beer and bush camp 10 ks down the road.

Bounce me the answers to the questions and I can suggest how to section up your ride. If you enjoy bush walking, take an extra day at Rawnsley to walk to the top. It is as good as St Mary's peak, but if you have 2 days to put aside you can do both.

If you are new to touring I can give you more suggestions. If you have done 60+ kms per day touing riding on mixed dirt roads then you will have as much bike set up knowledge as me.

Staying at my place is no problem. If my bedrooms have boarders, then the garage and lounge floor will be available.

Oh.. and a Spray bottle is handy. Either a pump up weedsprayer, or a hand squirter. Good for washing off mud, dishes etc when water usage has to be kept to a minimum.

Mossie/fly face nets.

sunburn cream (yep, even in June)

Not much mobile phone coverage north of Quorn, but it is here and there along the way.



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Hi again Rabbit Forgot to

Hi again Rabbit
Forgot to tell you we are going from north to south.
Sue Murray

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I enjoyed it a peaceful and beautiful...Flinders Ranges is a dream...

Cheers Heike

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Mawson Trail Security Precautions

Hi rabbit

We are a Swiss couple preparing to do the Mawson Trail from Wilpena Pound to Adelaide next month. Both of us love to bushcamp but are not sure what security precautions to take.

Is it necessary to bring a radio along (given that mobile phones probably do not work in the Flinders). How to prepare for an emergency (snake bites, bush fires)?

Looking forward to hearing from you.

Kind regards,

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Mawson Trail Security

Two Way Radios:
You are right. North of Hawker you have little phone coverage, and basically only at Wilpena and maybe Ransley Park. AND that is only if you are on Telstra. the other providers have very little coverage north of CLARE.

A 2 way is not essential, but handy. If you do buy one you need a 40Channel UHF WITH REPEATER. That said, stay in touch as I may have one I can lend you. We are spending a week in the northern section (Blinman to Hawker) from Oct 6 to Oct 12 (2014).

Snakes are an issue. There are some common sense things, but easy to overlook, as did a friend of mine on the mawson. He wasn't bitten, but STOOD on a snake that was curled up having a snooze in the sun! THey both got a fright and ran off! That was near Spalding (alongside the water channels). In hindsight, a water channel is a habitat for all sorts of animals (mice, birds, rabbits etc), hence snakes are more likely.

Snakes don't chase humans, just defend themselves. If they hear you coming, the go!

If you need to walk off the track in grass, walk slowly, and loudly!

Snakes don't live in the middle of nowhere. They need a food source, so if there is human food waste, livestock, water and rubbish (ie old tin, logs, car bodies, tanks etc) to live in/under, then be careful.

There is not enough fuel up north to be a risk (north of Melrose). In summer, there has been fires in the forest(s) between Melrose and Spalding, but it would have to be hot and dry. Same applies near Adelaide (south of Rowland Flat). Except for the forests, the Mawson passes through grazing and farming county, and there is little chance of being caught in a bushfire. Care needs to be taken when camping though, especially if dry/hot/windy.

I have copied the above to my "discussion" spreadsheet. It has multiple sheets, and your question has prompted me to add this to the discussion. Here is the link:

I am happy to provide more information. NOTE my comments re the Maps.. Well worth having. I am happy to lend you mine if you want to save $$.


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Mawson Trail Security

Hi Jim

Thanks a lot for your post. I am acctually thinking of purchasing a two-way radio myself. It probably will not be our last visit to Australia and we might use it again. What brand of radio are you using and where did you get it from?

The 9 Mawson Trail Maps are great. I purchased them a while back. They are even more detailed than the Google Map secion of this area.

We are actually looking forward to encountering lots of wildlife, even snakes. Just STANDING ON them seems a bit too close...

Kind regards,

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If you are not in a hurry I

If you are not in a hurry I will find out from a colleague what they bought recently. I am actually buying a couple of second-hand radios from him, but will find out what they bought to replace them and how they are price-wise.

I will be taking my radios with me Oct 6-12 and I will test them then. Bounce me a reminder if I haven't got back to you after that.


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second-hand radios

Hi Jim

Yes, sure. Maybe you would like to sell one of your second-hand radios? That would be even better.
We will arrive in Milpena Pound on Oct 20 and probably stay there for a couple of nights before starting south.

Kind regards,

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Mawson Trail - October 2018

On the off chance anyone is interested, I will be riding up TO the Flinders Rangers Outback Experience (FROE) event around Wilpena Pound (probably last weekend in Oct 2018) self-supported, probably from somewhere north of Clare. After the event some friends are riding Hawker to Blinman section, probably about 70kms per day but with vehicle support (ha!... who needs vehicles!).

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