It Was Wild: 10 Years Of The Trans-Oceania Cycling Tour
Doug Percival has worked for TDA Global Cycling for over a decade as a Bike Mechanic & Tour Leader. In this post, our very own Hunter S Thompson takes us on a chaotic literary ride as he looks back at his experiences on the Trans-Oceania Cycling Tour.
A glorious decade.
That’s what’s it’s been since TDA first dabbed its toes and bike tyres onto the Australian continent.
In the last half of 2014, Having started their Journey in Sumatra, Indonesia..
TDA crossed several islands on ferries, passed by volcanos, rode questionable “official roads”, dodged scooters and roaming street animals…then jumped on a short flight and arrived in Darwin, Australia.
DARWIN is Possibly one of the quietest Cities on the planet.
Darwin is a small. (Population (+- 140 000)
It’s flat, the roads are wide, trucks are a prominent feature, beer is
the favourite meal of the day for some….
the population is small, It’s a world away from an Indonesian City!
Oh, and it’s outrageously hot. Swimming in the ocean is a NO NO,
because of basically every known deadly aqua marine creature lurks
there waiting for your plunge….including the crocodiles which
frequent the local beaches.
It’s a tough old spot, mildly intimidating.
As if that doesn’t set the scene for a tough start to a continent, how
about jumping on your bike and heading due south across the
Australian Outback for 2700km ?
I was there, its was Wild.
Flys, road trains, kangaroos, miles and miles and miles of desert
Camping sometimes on the side of the road, or at a Road house with
basic services and a wonderfully over taxed refreshment.
That doesn’t stop a thirsty TDA client worldwide!!!… (and i’ve
witnessed that Globally with TDA!)
I recall riding My hottest afternoon sweep duty ever there, into a
small mining town called Coober Pedy. It was 49 degrees celsius on
3 of our devices.
It was a furnace.
Camping under the night sky in The Australian desert, is one of the
places on Earth where you still are just blown away at the clarity of
the night skies.
“The Hotel room with 5 Billion stars” as the new age ‘influencers’ of
the travelling scene may say…
We saw it. It was Wild.
After the desert, we rolled up the famous Southern coast of
Australia. Adelaide via the 12 Apostles, Melbourne had a dash of wet
weather, chilly evenings, and a Lavish dinner at the founder of
Lonely Planet’s house!
We continued on cruising through the million rolling hills of
Eucalyptus forests to reach Sydney.
The inaugural TDA Trans Oceania was complete.
It was a toughy.
It was Wild.
The 2nd visit for TDA repeated this Route, and faced all of the same
issues, similar epic stories of hardship still echo through the TDA
vehicles some afternoons on the road.
The 3rd Tour got changed up, and the Riders started their Tour in
Perth, on the West Coast of Australia.
They began their tour with a gentle 2700km across the Nullarbor desert.
Another one of Australia’s harshest environments. However instead
of wrapping up the fun in Sydney, TDA jumped across the water and
continued the tour from Auckland on the North Island of New
Zealand to Queenstown in the South Island.
A huge variation in scenery, climates, lifestyles and riding…
It was Wild.
After 3 tours across Some of the Worlds most desolate locations, in
2019, TDA sent me to scout a new route, connecting Darwin in the
North, to Cairns on the East Coast, and then Southerly to Sydney.
The idea was to Traverse along a road called the Savannah Highway.
With 500-600kms between drinkable water sources, roads that
required serious 4×4 vehicles, bull dust pits, corrugations shin deep,
deadly snakes and ‘comfortable’ camping sites non existing…..
Sadly the route had to be shelved due to rather obvious logistic impossibilities.
A global pandemic passed, we weathered that Storm. Borders
reopened, and enthusiasm to return to the Southerly Continent was
So we returned. This time starting in Adelaide, rolling through Winelands to
Melbourne , back past some of the Eucalyptus Forests… although this
time we ventured south, to circle around Tasmania.
But mother nature had something to say again this time round…as
we were delayed in riding around Tasmania due to large scale
Even the main harbour was ‘flooded’ and the Ferry from the mainland could not dock…(a concept I’m still trying to grasp 18
Tasmania was Incredible.
Big Mountains, fantastic cycling, but Wow, we got wet.
And the rain never stopped there, New Zealand Rained for a month!
Our saviour…Times have changed and this Tour was all in hotel
A sanctuary to dry the clothes and to not be deafened by the driving rain.
It was tough.
And there was something to be thought about… and the topic on all
our lips, some Global Weather change, happening right In front of my
Same place, different years…
But despite the weather craziness, the kangaroos, and the eye
watering jet lag to get to that Southern Region, it somehow always
provides the Challenge, the comforts, the peculiar ways, and
strangeness and uniqueness that all the other continents provide.
Like the Kilimanjaro of Africa, or the Andes of South America,
Australia and New Zealand can equally provide a rural or “wow”
experience that makes you feel very alone on this planet…
And i put that to our Routing we create, which all starts at the Crazy
Scientist Headquarters Office in Toronto, is then handed to one of Us
Leaders to go scout, and if all aligns, becomes a Tour for clients to
join and cross a continent safely.
The 2024 version of Trans Oceania is on the Horizon.
It is almost guaranteed to have some sort of challenge, they wouldn’t
have it Any other way… The Aussies and kiwis make it tough, and it’s beautiful.
Nowadays we cross the Continent with hotel accommodation, the
days of camping have ended for now…. Both came with times of
challenge, and times of pure joy.
In some ways, i miss the brutal era of camping in those harsh
environments, most days i swore in discomfort..and ten weeks of
crossing a brutal environment is a great memory to share with those
clients who were doing tours in that era.
In other ways, hotel tours have brought some normality to the
situation, and made these wild environments Enjoyable to cross by bike.
Both equally satisfying.
So with the 10th year of TDA crossing this Wild Continent
approaching, i say to you the Reader…
Don’t underestimate this trip, don’t presume it’s ‘easy’ or just desert
and flys … Its a highly unique World down there!
You won’t forget your first encounter with an Australian Road Train
Truck driver in a hurry
And to the Reader who thinks the idea of the desert, the camping,
the real back country and the ‘going back in time and doing the Hard
Miles’ across a desert type tour…..
Let us know, One thing I’ve learnt from my 12 years of being apart of this Outfit, is the “Out of
the Question” discussion, is probably well and truly deep in discussion at the Toronto office.
Pedaling across southeastern Australia, Tasmania, and both islands of New Zealand the multitude of experiences will be hard to fathom: pleasant wine...