Carrying Water on the cross Nullarbor ride? - CycleBlaze

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Carrying Water on the cross Nullarbor ride?

Graham Smith

I’m seeking advice on how much water storage to carry on a trans Australia ride, and more specifically, how many litres of water storage may be needed on the bike on the long haul Nullarbor section of the ride?

I’m currently planning to be able to carry 10-12 litres (in cage bottles, and in collapsible Platypus bladders) if needed. Is this enough to ride between roadhouses/settlements/water supplies?

Any watery tips or aqueous insights from treadling experiences on trans Oz rides? 

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3 months ago
Catherine HacquoilTo Graham Smith

Hi Graham,

I can't help you directly, but have you checked out the group Bikepacking Australia on Facebook?  Look for Felix Hoang Nguyen who has just crossed the Nullarbor, currently in ?Esperance on his way to Perth.  Here's a link:

I'm not the most tech-savvy so I hope that link works.

The Nullabor is on my bucket list of t0-do rides.  I'm sure you'll have a great time out there.  Enjoy!

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3 months ago
Graham SmithTo Catherine Hacquoil

Thanks Catherine. That’s an interesting FB journal and reassuring. The other cycle tourers Felix met along the way seem to be carrying a lot less water than I’m planning to be able carry. 

And Felix’s touring bike, and touring set up looks interesting, and different to anything I’ve seen before. 

Looking at Felix’s blog, I’m fairly sure that by the time I reach Port Augusta I’ll meet cycle tourers coming in the opposite direction who’ll have good info, and Port Augusta is a large enough town to stock up.

Thanks again. Most helpful.

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3 months ago
Jet AgeTo Graham Smith

Hi Graham,

It would completely depend on when you plan to ride and how far you'll think you get in a day.

As you know temperatures very vastly summer/winter out in the desert. In the summer heat (40°C+) out west I went through about 8-10 liters of water a day. This included the water used for cooking. But in winter in the center with temperatures much milder (15-20°C) I only needed about 4-5 liters a day. You are still cycling a big part of the day and carrying a decent amount of gear.

Distances between roadhouses and distance covered will be the deciding factor how much to carry. If they are 150km apart and you ride 80km a day you'll get to one every other day. But if they are 300km apart and with a headwind (or puncture) you only cover 60 a day 10L won't quite get you there. I haven't gone the Nullarbor way so don't quite know how far apart the services are spread. You might want to double check none have closed before you go, that would be a bummer to find out when you arrive.

Of course the Nullarbor is a well traveled route so you can always get some water along the way from others on the road.

Places out there get abandoned, but even abandoned places might still have a rainwater tank. If they do please let it run for a minute or until the water runs clear and maybe boil it before use. Or have a bath :)

When do you plan on going? And which way will you go?


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3 months ago
Graham SmithTo Jet Age

Thanks Jet. Good advice, especially about checking on roadhouses. I got lucky today. Two friends of mine messaged me to say they are about to drive from Perth to Sydney, so they will do a bit of reccé for me.

“When do you plan on going? And which way will you go?“

Departure is soon. Sunday 18 April. And the ride will be Canberra to Perth. Hence, “Against the Wind” is the theme.

I recall when you set out heading north in WA I was concerned for your welfare as I’d only just cycled The Kimberley and driven home via Newman and Perth. I was convinced you’d desiccate on that WA stretch.

I think The Nullarbor in autumn will be a lot easier than your WA ride. Further south, more services and less distance. Fingers crossed 🤞.

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3 months ago
Graham SmithTo Graham Smith

I’m pleased to conclude this thread (after finishing the Canberra to Perth ride last week) with a confirmation that during autumn, being able to carry 6-12 litres was adequate, if averaging 90-100km per day. Fresh water is very scarce for almost the entire central part of the route (approx 1600km). There are zero rivers. 

We were able to fill up with water at roadhouses at least every second day, and usually every day.

Only one roadhouse (Caiguna) refused to give water as their way of selling expensive bottled water. Nundroo Roadhouse tap water was undrinkable, so we had to buy water there.

Fraser Range and Yalata Roadhouses were closed. 

Several times caravaners offered us water, but we didn’t need or rely on them as a source. 

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1 month ago