Patsy rode solo from Perth across the Nullarbor.

Patsy posted these comments on the Bike Leichhardt Touring Group Facebook site, prompting a casual conversation with Marlene:

  • 26 August – “Hello, I’ve just crossed the Nullarbor on a solo tour, I initially had some concerns about being on my own, by far out it was fantastic, so simple, checked which way the wind blows booked my flight and off I went. I’m currently enjoying oysters in the oyster capital, Ceduna. I still have a few hundred kilometer’s to Adelaide. I really recommend this as a solo tour.”
  • 31 August – “Whoo hoo, I’ve finished my Nullarbor ride. Finished a day or 2 early, the ferry from the Eyre Peninsular to Yorke Peninsular is out so I’m on the bus instead” ….


Cycling is my happy place (like most of us who cycle). It is a long ride, flat, sealed surfaces all the time. My husband and I had been planning it just before Covid and got as far as Adelaide when the borders closed. This time my husband decided to do something else, so I thought well why not, I’ll just do it myself! (When prompted, “I made sure I didn’t watch Wolf Creek before I left”).

  • Q. Any concerns about doing it on your own?
  • A. “Not really – a truck taking me out was my most concern”.


5 August 2023 – flight from Sydney to Perth
2 September 2023 – flight from Adelaide to Sydney


2,500km in total, of which the Nullarbor (from Norseman to Ceduna) is 1,266km


A Vivente touring bike with wide touring handlebars, rearview mirror, lights, back mud guard, front disc brakes, rack, handlebar bag, back paniers plus a large round duffle bag sitting across the back rack, with elastic straps.

Cycled 2,500km in total, averaging around 100km/day.
Carrying approx. 25kg of weight, including the following, plus 4-6 litres of water at any time:
• New bike tent (Big Agnes), blow-up mattress and blow-up pillow
• Camping gas canister and cooker
• Food (breakfast muesli, dehydrated food items, crispbread biscuits, powdered milk), plus and ‘all-in-one’ coffee plunger/cup and plunger coffee
(Unfortunately, I can’t recommend the food at any of the roadhouses).
• Tools/Spares (3 tubes, spare spokes and tool, chain break tool and chain link, spare cable)
• Small first aid kit
• “layers” of clothes (it could be cool/cold at night)

Prep and Planning

• Read other people’s blogs of their trips (“one blog talked about the mental strain, which worried me a bit but I did not have any mental strain!”)
• Cycling enough beforehand to be fit for Day 1
(as we get incrementally fitter each day as the ride goes on from there)

Incident before departure

About one month before the trip I was at Central Station in Sydney on route for a training ride to Windsor, and at an escalator and my bike fell on top of me. Whilst I dusted off ok, my leather Brooks bike seat ended up with 3 slashes in it, and this presented itself as a health issue in the first few days of the trip … see Perth to Kalgoorlie below.

Where did you stay?

Often stayed in motels. I was going to camp mostly but then I realized I might like a bed and a shower! I did camp about half a dozen nights, twice off the side of the road in open bush where others were camped. One of these nights was between Perth and Kalgoorlie and the other at Maureen Rocks (?). Also camped sometimes at ‘truckstops’, including once where I pitched my tent in the covered little community information ‘hut’ to try to avoid a wet tent from dew in the morning.

Once I got into the trip, and if I knew what I was definitely going to cycle the next day, I did pre-book some accommodation (once I realized that it does sell out and I might be left with no option other than to camp!)

Did you see animals? What was the vegetation like?

Mostly only two types of lizards, the shingle back lizard and the thorny devil. Only saw one kangaroo on the Nullarbor.
There were some magnificent trees to start with and then mainly shrubby vegetation. I was surprised that I didn’t see any sandy deserts.

What were the roads/traffic and other road-users like?

From the WA/SA border there was no shoulder on the road, so about 6 times a day I would need to edge off the road and stop for a brief moment to let trucks pass safely. The road trains were about 50m long with up to 4 ‘carriages’ connected. A few trucks whizzed by closely and rattled by balance at times. Most people gave a wide berth when passing me. I had one vehicle pass and the driver gave me the finger sign (for no apparent reason that I could work out), and one person stopped and clapped me on, whilst some people stopped and asked if I needed water. Most people were so pleasant.I only saw two other cyclists in the whole journey, one guy cycling in the opposite direction and a French chap who had cycled from France

Typical Daily Routine?

I used to stir around 5.30am, have breakfast, pack up and get on the road by about 7am.
On the rode I would also often listen to radio 702, and audio books from Borrow Box, but would sometimes turn off everything and just ride.

Sometimes I got on the road in the mornings in the dark and about half a dozen times it was quite foggy.

Generally the night before I’d look at the planned route for the next day in Komoot and save this for the next day navigation.


Unfortunately, I can’t recommend the food at any of the roadhouses, other than a great Indian restaurant in Penong.

Some Highlights

• Maureen Rocks (near Caiguna ??) was a beautiful area.
• The Bunda Cliffs, just east of Eucla, where you can see the water, and I saw lots of whales (it’s where they breed) – the colour of the water is stunning and ideal.

The Journey …

Perth to Kalgoorlie (4 days/nights)
Flew to Perth and spent first night camping near the airport to test out the tent etc, where I met a man who gave me some heat packs as he was concerned that I might get cold on the trip … and no, I didn’t get cold!

Then on the road, along the pipeline, for 88kms to my first stop, York, where I stayed in a hotel (pub).

A rest day in Kalgoorlie for me was necessary! The slashes in my bike seat seat (from the escalator incident at Central Station one month prior) had ‘rubbed a hole in my butt’ in those first 4 days of riding. I’d taped kitchen sponges to my seat but in the end a large bandaid was the solution to stop the rubbing.

Kalgoorlie to Norseman
It was at Widgiemooltha (my stop after Kalgoorlie) where I stayed at the roadhouse/tavern that I met the cyclist who’d ridden from France (and was cycling to Sydney).
From Widgiemooltha to Norseman was 91kms.

Norseman onwards … (The official start of the Nullarbor!)
(The Nullarbor from Norseman to Ceduna is 1,266km)
First night from Norseman was spent at Newman Rocks rest area camping ground and then onto Balladonia where I met a guy who was running 100km/day (he had a support crew).

From Balladonia starts the 146.6km of straight road, one of the longest in the world to Caiguna. As I had a favorable westerly tailwind, rather than camp halfway, I took the option to ride all the way to Caiguna, and then further east to the Cocklebiddy Roadhouse, a total of 180kms, in only 8.5 hours, averaging 21.7km/hr.

Cocklebiddy – Eucla – Border Village
Eucla is where you see the white beaches, beautiful water and a sand-filled old telegraph station (they had to move the whole town further up at one point!)

Border Village to Nullarbor Roadhouse
From Border Village, the wind was not so kind, but I still cycled 186km to Nullarbor Roadhouse, averaging 17km/hr over 11 hours. Once arrived I found that there were no rooms left at the Roadhouse, uhg! So I had to camp there.

Nullarbor Roadhouse – Yalata – Nundroo
Yalata had been closed for a while and it is under re-construction so there was not much there. I was going to stay there, but kept going, 144km to Nundroo instead.

Nundroo – Penong
82km – great Indian restaurant at Penong! Yum!

Penong – Ceduna (official end of the Nullarbor)
73km – the big thing at Ceduna is the oysters! They are just soooo good! Just bought them straight at the supermarket for $15/dozen.

Ceduna – Streaky Bay
At Streaky Bay my bike started to feel like a slug and I realized the rack was starting to come out, so it was pushing down on the tyre. As luck would have it, a fellow camper fixed it for me! It seems that a screw had already fallen out and this chap had to drill out something in order to resolve the situation. This generous camper/helper said “you go out for a walk to the beach” while he worked on it for about 1.5 hours!

Just the night before I received a message that the usual ferry from Cowell and Lucky Bay across Spencer Gulf to Walleroo “was not running”, so I had to catch a bus to Adelaide.

The “fun” in Adelaide with the Bike Box

After exploring options through bike shops I eventually settled on getting a bike box from Kennards, only 1.5km from the airport. Foregoing any other solution, I then ‘walked’, relay-style with both separately (box and bike) a few hundred metres, circling back and forth to collect the bike and up to meet the box until all arrived safely at the airport and the bike packing exercise began before I boarded my flight home.

Cycling Solo Across the Nullarbor

3 thoughts on “Cycling Solo Across the Nullarbor

  • October 1, 2023 at 10:43 pm

    So impressive Patsy. Amazing trip. I have only driven across the Nullarbor – and that took a long time!

  • October 31, 2023 at 10:14 am

    That day with the favourable wind and 186 km! Must have given you a real buzz. Interesting to read of the saddle damage issue, its often the little things that blow up. Great to read your story.

  • October 31, 2023 at 10:18 am

    And the bike box! Didnt they have one at the airport?

    I had a similar experience at Geelong once, dragged a bike box about a mile to where the bus stop for the airport was. Then found they had boxes at the airport.


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