Out There and Back
In 2004-05 I completed the Great Australian Cycle Expedition (GRACE Expedition), a 25,000km journey through Australia, and published my first book, Out There and Back about my experiences and the very grounded perspective I gained from over the handlebars. While this was a comprehensive exploration of Australia, there is still much more to explore of this enormous continent by bike.
Since 2005 I have completed many more journeys, including the first west to east bicycle crossing of the African continent, Breaking the Cycle in Africa, from Senegal to Somalia. Then, on my quest to cycle across Antarctica via the South Pole, I have completed smaller, credible expeditions on all seven continents.
Using a custom-made all-wheel drive fatbike, designed for pedalling over soft and rugged terrain (such as snow, sand and loose stones), has helped me to bend ideas of what’s possible on a bicycle. It has enabled me to pedal where there are no roads at all, such as in the Arctic and Antarctic, down Namibia’s entire coastline, (the Skeleton Coast) and following the course of central Australia’s Finke River – all completely unique expeditions that had never been attempted before.
Back Out There – Breaking the Cycle Across Australia
Beginning at Cape Byron, (NSW) Australia’s most easterly point, this 7500km fatbike journey will take me across the continent’s sunburnt interior to its most westerly tip, Steep Point, (WA). I will cross the tracks of several intrepid pioneers and explorers while experiencing the cultures and nature that survive in some of the world’s most remote deserts.
Every journey changes me a little and I hope to be able to explore my country with new eyes, delving deeper into places not normally accessible by bicycle.
Start: 1st May 2021 (forced to postpone due to a broken collarbone on Day 17 after 1528km; the expedition will restart in June 2023
Time: 17 Days done in 2021; 13 weeks (approximately) to do in 2023
Conditions: Approximately 250km of bitumen roads, 4250km of gravel and tracks with corrugations and gibber (small stones), 1500km of sand.
This will be new territory for me as I will only intersect my 2004 route three times – at the start, at Wiluna, and then Shark Bay near the finish. I will also connect with my Following the Finke River expedition at the town of Finke/Aputula, where I ended the 2018 ride, as I attempt to complete the final 500km of the course of (unofficially) the world’s oldest river, the Finke or Larapinta.
Starting in 2021 at Cape Byron, Australia’s most easterly point, I crossed the Great Dividing Range, continuing through the far north of NSW to Moree, Bourke and on to Tibooburra before my accident in the Strzelecki Desert/Corner Country. (see map below)
In 2023 I will resume the journey from where I stopped, following the Strzlelecki and Cordillo Downs tracks to Birdsville, then crossing the Simpson Desert via Madigan’s Line (600+ sand dunes) to Old Andado Station and Finke/Aputula. Recent rains have caused the Simpson Desert and normally dry Finke River to flood, so I expect to see this land refreshed, teeming with wildlife and tinged with green new growth as I pedal through the region.
I hope to gain permissions to follow the Finke River to where it dissipates into the Simpson Desert, then where it flows underground, all the way to Lake Eyre. From there it will be west to Coober Pedy, then through central South Australia along the 1300km-long, heavily corrugated Anne Beadell Highway, crossing the Great Victoria Desert, diverting to Maralinga, then Tjuntjuntjara and on to Laverton in Western Australia.
From there it will be north to Wiluna, initially along the Canning Stock Route to Frere Range to rediscover some of the roots of my Great Uncle, William Snell, who reconditioned two thirds of the CSR in 1929 and had several pastoral leases in the region. The plan is to cross over to do a section of the Rabbit Proof Fence through the Little Sandy Desert to Jigalong. William Snell was known to drove his cattle using a bicycle rather than a horse between his pastoral leases; Bridleface lease on the CSR and Governor lease in the Opthalmia Range (near Newman). In the spirit of Snell, I plan to pedal the same landscapes almost a century after him.
From Jigalong, the plan is the divert to Parnngurr community and Karlamilyi NP to meet some of the Martu (from both communities) and learn firsthand about their history, two-way education initiatives and self-determination to preserve their culture for future generations.
From Newman I will pass through Opthalmia Range, before taking in Mount Augustus (the world’s biggest monocline), Jack Hills (contains evidence of the world’s oldest rocks – zircons), Wooleen Station, Mullewa, Eurardy, Kalbarri NP and eventually to Shark Bay, diverting through the Peron Peninsula to explore the World Heritage-listed area before finally finishing at Steep Point.
During the expedition I aim to seed the journey with stories about sustainability, indigenous culture (knowledge mapping of the Simpson, Great Victoria and Little Sandy deserts), of past explorers and pioneering characters.
The journey is supported so we can capture it effectively on video and stills, so I can run the education programme. Heading up the support are experienced outback specialists, Neil Cocks, Martin Bailey, Rick Hunter and Russell Knight.
- Education partner Belouga will be transforming the content we produce from the journey – blogs and regular short videos – into a series of lessons. To find out more and to access the lessons (educators only, free sign up), go to https://www.breakingthecycle.education/belouga/.
- Students (and educators) can then follow the journey as it happens by subscribing to the blogs (Sign up for the newsletter).
- Two education modules, for years 5/6 and 8/9, have been created to complement my expeditions: https://www.breakingthecycle.education/all-lesson-plans/
- Post expedition, Kate can be booked to give presentation/Q&A sessions and workshops. Find out more HERE.
Videos from the 2021 journey
Part 1 (Week 1)