Updated October 24, 2016
This post is about cycling the Holland Track from Hyden to Coolgardie with an extension on to Kalgoorlie in September, 2016 on my bikepacking configured Salsa Mukluk fatbike. This will be my inaugural bikepacking ride so it will be interesting to see how it turns out. This post is going to be a work in progress as I document my planning and later riding of the Holland Track in Western Australia. Working notes for me and anyone curious in riding the Holland Track.
Also with this post I am going to document some of the gear choices I make as move from what may be described as a traditional pannier based touring style where I didn’t have a strong focus on weight carried or volume of gear carried to where I have much more limited carrying space and hence volume and weight become more important, e.g., my Chasing the Dirt Tour.
That said riding the Holland Track as planned means there will be no re-supply points between Hyden and Coolgardie and hence I need to carry sufficient food and water. Riding in spring, late September, assuming good winter rains there should be water available at a couple of granite rock outcrops, Thursday Rock and Victoria Rock. However Thursday Rock is likely to be three days riding from Hyden and Victoria Rock is four days riding, hence I will need to carry at least three days water for most of the ride, i.e., about 18 litres or look at the possibility of a couple water drops to spread the load. If water drops turn out to not be an option I will need to pull my Extrawheel trailer. The trailer will only be used to carry the water for the first three days.
Holland Track: Planned Ride Schedule and Logistics
My window of time to complete this ride is very much limited by work and hence I have a one week window in September, 2016. Easter is probably a better option timewise but then you are also likely to be sharing the Track with a lot more 4WDrivers due to its popularity. Winter is the other option but apparently the track can be closed if there is a lot of rain, so I am back to having one week in September.
Normally my preference is to either bus to the start and finish of a ride or ride from home, but with the Holland Track bus options are limited. Transwa only services Hyden once a twice a week, Tuesdays ex Perth and Thursdays ex Esperance. Add to this, the only bus service to Coolgardie and/or Kalgoorlie is via Esperance (two days ex Perth). Coolgardie is also only serviced twice a week with the outgoing bus service on Fridays ex Kalgoorlie and the incoming bus from Esperance on Sundays. Kalgoorlie, a 40 kilometre ride from Coolgardie is better serviced with outgoing buses three times a week (Monday, Wednesday, Friday) and incoming buses three times a week on Sunday, Wednesday and Friday. Most of the services connect in Esperance with Perth buses. It just requires an overnight stay.
The Transwa rail service to Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie, the Prospector, does not take bicycles, well unless they are folders and in a bag that is. Transwa bicycle transport terms and conditions are available here; currently there is a $15.00 charge for bicycles.
Given all the above plus a prior commitment on the first Sunday of my one week window my plan is now to do a water-drop drive to Hyden in one day (Saturday), catch the Transwa bus to Hyden on the Tuesday, ride to Kalgoorlie and then catch the return bus to Esperance and onwards to Perth. Oh the joys of wanting to undertake a more interesting bicycle tour in Western Australia 🙂
Holland Track: The Route and Schedule Summary
|Saturday||Perth||Mt Holland||900 km||Complete pre-ride water drops|
|Day 1 - Tuesday||East Perth Perth||Hyden (Transwa bus) then ride to Emu Rock||66 km||Transwa bus service EP3 arrives at Hyden at 12:40. Hopefully about a three to four hour ride from Hyden to Emu Rock. My chosen route from Hyden is selected to avoid as much bitumen as possible.|
|Day 2 - Wednesday||Emu Rock||Sandalwood Camp||78 km||Water drop at Emu Rock; Water drop at Mt Holland enroute to the dry camp at Sandalwood Camp|
|Day 3 - Thursday||Sandalwood Camp||Thursday Rock||99 km||Water anticipated at Thursday Rock|
|Day 4 - Friday||Thursday Rock||Victoria Rock||52 km||Water anticipated at Victoria Rock; Popular local camping area|
|Day 5 - Saturday||Victoria Rock||Coolgardie||47 km|
|Day 6 - Sunday||Coolgardie||Kalgoorlie||42 km||End of Trip|
|Day 7 - Monday||Kalgoorlie||Esperance||-||Transwa bus service 671 - Departs 14:30, arrives 19:30|
|Day 8 - Tuesday||Esperance||East Perth||Transwa bus service EP6. Departs at 08:00 and arrives at East Perth at 18:15|
Holland Track – Done and Dusted
I completed my ride of the Holland Track in September 2016. The following is my summary of the ride including the trip down on the bus from East Perth to Hyden and the then return via Transwa from Kalgoorlie to Esperance to East Perth.
Day 1: East Perth to Emu Rock on the Holland Track
My day started with a mix of riding, train and a Transwa bus. Transwa have new buses which it turns out have luggage spaces that are not as high as the old buses and maybe a bit smaller overall. Definitely a tight fit for my bike; expect to have to remove the front wheel. Also on this leg at least, they enforced the limit of two bikes, so it pays to book in advance. The bonus with the new buses is that they come with USB charging ports times two. Handy for keeping the phone etc charged whilst traveling.
The bus trip from East Perth to Hyden is pretty straight forward. I left East Perth at 8:00 AM and was off the bus at 12:40 PM. A quick unloading and check of everything and I was off on my adventure. As today’s riding was mainly paths, bitumen roads and hard pack dirt roads I had the tyres on the Mukluk pumped up to their max at 30 PSI. I didn’t feel this was a disadvantage and with the tail winds I rode hard and fast; is 20 km/h fast? 🙂
The weather started out okay when I left Hyden with it blowing hard but in the last few kilometres before Emu Rock it bucketed down. That led me to bailing for the day a bit earlier than planned. Of course after getting all setup, it stopped raining and cleared up. Duh.
This was my first night in my new tent, a Zpacks Duplex and whilst I had pitched it home, I did have a bit of fun with it on this first night. Thankfully over the ride I got my pitching of the tent pretty well sorted and it worked well. Love the light weight, the space, oh the space, but the packed size is a bit on the bulky side. Apparently rolling is better than stuffing with Cuben Fibre tents but it didn’t seem to make much difference to me.
Oh it turned out to be the coldest night of the ride, easily sub-zero and of course I had managed to leave my puffy jacket at home! Stupid stupid stupid. Thankfully my Icebreaker thermal, plus riding shirt plus RAB rain jacket came to the rescue, well sort of. Lets just say it was a bloody cold night! Lesson learnt: If you take something out of the bag, put it back!
All that said, I was happy with my route chosen to get to the start of the Holland Track with the local roads in good condition and reasonably flat riding.
In terms of phone coverage, I had nothing on my Telstra blue tick phone at the base of Emu Rock but I didn’t get up on top of the rock so maybe there might be a bit of reception there. It was too cold for me to bother checking.
On the water front it turned out that there is very good water catchment at Emu Rock with a vast amount of water on the eastern side of the track and also a kilometre or two north of Emu Rock. That said this winter was pretty wet so it maybe not so positive in a dry winter.
Holland Track – Useful Sources of Information
Most sources of information I have found on the Holland Track are from a 4WD perspective or motorbike perspective. There is little around from a cycling perspective. That said the 4WD resources have been useful to me in planning this ride. The main resources I have made use of are:
- The Holland Track guide-book, Explore the Holland Track and Cave Hill Woodlines, Explorer Series: Western Australia No. 1 3rd edition. Published by Westate Publishers Pty Ltd, Kalamunda, WA 6926.
- Holland Track – This webpage is a bit dated now but is handy for the GPS coördinates to various points on the Track.
- The Holland Track – A more contemporary trip report on the Track.
- From a cycling perspective there has been some discussion at the Australian Cycling Forums including a trip report of a ride undertaken in November when it starts to get hot out on the Track.