Day 44 | stuck in the Clare Valley wine area: it's a long way to the Margaret River (that's my excuse)

15 km | Heading west total: 1,660 km

The 900 km long Mawson Trail has been set up as some sort of tourist adventure by the South Australian government and a host of volunteers and the level of investment in signage and the trail documentation is impressive.

It has used pre-existing back roads, tracks, firebreaks, farm roads etc. But the trajectory looks as if it was designed by watching the route an ant would take across a map: ie it’s all over the place.

There’s a few commercial supported trips a year where you ride your full suspension bike with just the water you need for the ride with everything else carried in the accompanying van. All food is prepared and you only have to set up and take down your tent each day. (Why am I dragging the Bob around I ask myself but deep down I know I’ll wait til I’m 75 before I do it that way.)

Finally had a close scrutiny of my Mawson Trail maps today. Just getting your head around the map packet is a big task. There are a total of 18 separate maps to cover the 900km each with a high level of detail: the road/ track names are shown as well as contours and other features such as wineries and ruins. (Each town also has a more detailed diagram showing how to get in and out, the camping grounds and for some reason the hotels.)

Major surprise. I’m still on map 5.

I knew I wasn’t travelling too well but Burra is only about a third of the way along the trail and after a couple of rest days here in Clare I won’t be there until the day after tomorrow. That will be Day 9 so I guess the whole trail isn’t going to take the 15 days I had originally anticipated. I had thought that 80 or 90km might be achievable a day, but with the state of the dirt roads, and things to see along the way, it’s looking more like 60km is doing well. I’m doing about 12km/ hour as an average over the course of each day and I don’t know that it’s going to get much faster. Once I leave Burra there’s a fair haul between towns/ localities, usually 2 or 3 days.

So it’s not hard to come to the conclusion that I should enjoy this very picturesque Clare Valley (wine) area before I do bigger days through the long more desolate stretches ahead. The next rest break will be at Quorn.