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Darwin to Adelaide River via Litchfield National Park, NT, Australia – A Bicycle Touring Note

Dreaming Tour Overview Map

Dreaming Tour Overview Map As Originally Planned

In July 2012 I had the opportunity to take three months long service leave and my plan was to use this time to challenge myself with a bicycle ride from Darwin to Perth via a mix of coastal and inland routes.

Regretfully after only four days of riding through Litchfield National Park and having arrived at Adelaide River I had to bail to Darwin and eventually back to Perth as I had come down with a serious bout of influenza. It took me three weeks to recover before I was able to head out again, this time on a shortened ride in Western Australia, Chasing the dirt – Out and back to Burringurrah (Mt Augustus) by bicycle tour.

This page now just summarises my four days on the road.

DAY 1 JULY 9, 2012 – DARWIN TO BUSH CAMP 40 KM OUTSIDE OF LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK

86 kilometres of riding at an average speed of 15.1 km/h today. Fairly flat riding with 211 metres of climbing. No Telstra Next G coverage at the camp.

Sea-Cat Ferries - Darwin to Mandorah Ferry

Sea-Cat Ferries – Darwin to Mandorah Ferry

All abord Sea-Cat Ferries - Darwin to Mandorah Ferry

All abord Sea-Cat Ferries – Darwin to Mandorah Ferry

I left Darwin via the Fast Ferries Darwin to Mandorah ferry.  Easy as to load the bike on to the ferry and the helpful crew helped unload at the Mandorah end. I had heard stories about the number of steps to climb at Mandorah but I only had a few steps to bother with. No major issue that is for sure.  The trip over cost $15.00 for myself and the bike. Ticket was brought on the ferry.

 

Mandorah Ferry pier ... ready to head off into the wild blue yonder

Mandorah Ferry pier … ready to head off into the wild blue yonder

Not long after leaving Mandorah I managed to make an error of judgement and instead of turning south on the Cox Peninsular Road, continued straight ahead on Charles Point Road. That bit of stupidity cost me 20 kilometres and over an hours riding. Once back on Cox Peninsular Road, a fairly flat but hot road entailed. Thankfully the wind was light so not bother, but the temperature hurt. I hit a max of 39 C on the bike.  The road is in good condition, bitumen and light traffic. All up a dull riding.

A taste of Cox Peninsula Road

A taste of Cox Peninsula Road

I stopped in a Belyuen Aboriginal Community for a drink. The general store here is not much good for more than a drink. Not a friendly place either.

Bushcamp #1 - Litchfield Park Road

Bushcamp #1 – Litchfield Park Road

My planned approach was where I would be bush camping to start looking for a campsite after 4:00 PM each day.  So as planned I find a nice camp spot on a ridge down a track that came off the Litchfield Park Road. It was a hot night’s camping but as there was little breeze.  I learnt that my choice of a sold interior for the Tarptent Scarp 1 was not a good one.

One thing to note, this section is dry in terms of water bar possibility of getting water at the Belyuen Aboriginal Community.

To cap off my day, my Schwalbe Marathon Mondial on the Extrawheel Voyager got a puncture. It turns out the cause was a grass seed through the side wall. This tyre had done 86 kilometres, i.e., it was brand new.

DAY 2 JULY 10, 2012 – BUSH CAMP 40 KM OUTSIDE OF LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK TO WALKER CREEK LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK

50 kilometres of riding at an average speed of 12.9 km/h today. A slow long day of acsending with 253 metres of climbing.

I had a delayed start this morning as I had to repair the tube which post re-fitment then went bang!  End of tube. One spare now used; I carried two spare tubes.  Not sure why it went ka-boom but. Maybe a dodgy tube. I couldn’t find anything in the tyre to cause the bang; the rim tape looked okay. Just one of those things.  I did find a grass seed in the front tyre so guess that was the cause of the puncture in the first place.

Getting on with the ride. Today’s ride was a mix of bitumen and good dirt road followed by bitumen and loose dirt road and then bitumen again, whislt steadly climing all day with the temperatures hitting 40 C at one point. All this made Walker Creek that much more inviting!

Finniss River "Bad Crossing" - Litchfield Park Road

Finniss River “Bad Crossing” – Litchfield Park Road

At lunch - Finniss River, Litchfield Park Road

At lunch – Finniss River, Litchfield Park Road

But first the Finniss River. I had concerns about this crossing; it is marked “Bad Crossing” on the map.  What an anti-climax. A rocky approach to the bridge is the Finniss River “bad crossing”.  I stopped at the river for lunch and refilled my water bottles with cold water – bliss.

Walker Creek - Litchfield National Park

Walker Creek – Litchfield National Park

Walker Creek: Six campsites along the creek. One books at the car park; there is a board there for the purpose.  I grabbed campsite number 1, Rocky Falls, which entailed a 600 metre walk (15 steps up, 18 steps down).  Great spot to camp with a waterfall, “spa” and a swimming hole.  The downside is that as it is campsite #1 Rocky Falls there may be  a few day visitors.  My suggestion is to park the bike somewhere up top to avoid the 18 steps down and then say carrying the panniers to the campsite.

In the spa - Rocky Falls campsite - Walker Creek - Litchfield National Park

In the spa – Rocky Falls campsite – Walker Creek – Litchfield National Park

Rocky Falls campsite - Walker Creek - Litchfield National Park

Rocky Falls campsite – Walker Creek – Litchfield National Park

Rocky Falls campsite - Walker Creek - Litchfield National Park

Rocky Falls campsite – Walker Creek – Litchfield National Park

I could have stayed a second day here … magic.

The campsite has a picnic table of sorts (no seat) and a fire ring. There is no toilet and there is no Telstra Next G phone coverage. The camping fee was $3.30 per person.  I took water from the creek which was fine for me.

Camping at Rocky Falls campsite - Walker Creek - Litchfield National Park

Camping at Rocky Falls campsite – Walker Creek – Litchfield National Park

DAY 3 JULY 11, 2012 – WALKER CREEK TO FLORENCE FALLS, LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK

54 kilometres of riding at an average speed of 14.4 km/h today. A bit more climbing today, 355 metres including my walking of two hills where the grades where around 12%. I was able to get a text out via Telstra Next G at Florence Falls but not make a voice call.

Litchfield Cafe - grass, coffee and cake

Litchfield Cafe – grass, coffee and cake

I stopped in at the Litchfield Cafe which I consider well worth a visit for a coffee and cake :).  From there I visited Wnangi Falls for lunch (koisk). I found that there was way to many people here so moved on to Tolmer Falls and then Buley Rockhole which was again very crowded and the campsite didn’t look that speacial.  So I decided to move on to Florence Falls which is not a bad campsite, well it does have showers!  Oh if you want to go for a swim it is 135 steps down and up to the plunge pool but :)

Popular place - Wanji Falls - Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory

Popular place – Wanji Falls – Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory

All up a relatively easy going day. I did have a small problem with my Brooks England B67 saddle which I need to refine its position but otherwise all good.

Camping at Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory

Camping at Florence Falls, Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory

I shared the campsite here with three German gilrs, an Aussie bloke who was not keen on cyclists , an Aussie/English couple and a group of loud French backpackers. An interesting evening for sure :)

DAY 4 JULY 12, 2012 – FLORENCE FALLS, LITCHFIELD NATIONAL PARK TO ADELAIDE RIVER

79 kilometres of riding at an average speed of 14.6 km/h today. A bit more climbing today, 373 metres. There is Telstra Next G at Batchelor and Adelaide River

In my favour! Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory

In my favour! Litchfield National Park, Northern Territory

From Florence Falls it is a fairly pleasant ride out to Batchelor. I passed about three caravan parks so there are alteranatives for camping/water/drinks and food.  I got Telstra Next G range at Batchelor which also has a half descent general store so is a reasonable resupply option.
From Batchelor I headed towards the Stuart Highway with the intention of camping at Crater Lake. I found Crater Lake Road but missed the track into the lake! In hindsight a good thing.  I decided then to continue to Adelaide River. I was feeling pretty crap when I arrived so took a room for two nights at the Adelaide River Inn for $110 a night to try and recover.  Recovery was not to happen and hence my Dreaming Tour came to and end here at Adelaide River.
Adelaide River Post Office

Adelaide River Post Office

2 Responses to Darwin to Adelaide River via Litchfield National Park, NT, Australia – A Bicycle Touring Note

  1. Marty graves February 28, 2013 at 7:56 AM #

    Sounds like it would have been a great trip Andrew, shame about the flu. Are you intending to give it another go sometime?

    Ps the LHT looks great with the extrawheel

    Marty

    • Andrew Priest March 2, 2013 at 3:55 PM #

      It was shaping up to be a good one for sure, but sadly as you mentioned brought to an early conclusion.

      As to a second go, I would love to but don’t know if I will ever get a second chance. I guess will just have to wait and see on that one.

      So many other rides to do as well :)

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