Not long to go now before many members will be heading off for the AGM at Alice Springs and some may even still be considering it but in any case, here are some basic and simple things that anyone heading off to Alice should consider:
Make sure you are up for the ride. It goes almost without saying that it’s a long ride for most to Alice with many days on the road. Are you fit, well and ready for the challenge? What will you need to take with you to ensure your well-being and health for the journey to Alice and then back again? Remember to combat fatigue on long rides. Apart from a good night’s sleep, small/light meals and plenty of water to keep hydrated is a sure bet to help stay alert and focused on your ride.
Make sure your bike is up for it. This AGM will present a lot of distance for most of us and if your bike hasn’t been serviced recently or even if its scheduled service is still a little way off, it may well be worthwhile to bring that forward before the trip. Tyres should be a particularly important consideration with the distance involved as it may prove difficult to get just what you need in the bush, especially if you haven’t pre-booked in the local Alice Springs area. Many riders will be travelling quite a few thousand kilometres on this trip and starting out with just a couple of thousand left on your current set of tyres wouldn’t be wise,so it might be prudent to ditch the hoops a little earlier than you might and get some fresh rubber before you head off – and don’t forget to carry a puncture kit of some kind, some basic tools and a first aid kit is probably a good idea as well (or if riding in a group, ensure that at least someone in the group is carrying one).
What about your accommodation? This consideration goes hand in hand with your planned route. For those not camping & swagging their way to Alice, the availability of hard-bed accommodation needs to be pre-organised, what with potentially thousands of Ulyssians making their way to Alice. There might be no problems finding accommodation along the more populated routes but as you get closer to Alice,hard-bed availability becomes harder to secure, especially as the AGM approaches. For members travelling across WA and across the middle of Queensland to 3 Ways, hard-bed accommodation becomes an issue pretty much straight away. Remember that there really are only two ways finally to get to Alice and that’s from the top down the Stuart Highway via “Three Ways” or from the bottom up along the Stuart Highway from Port Augusta. This is of course assuming that you won’t be venturing across deserts to get to Alice!
OK, so if you’re coming across from WA, it will be pretty much straight across the Nullarbor along the Eyre Highway(A1) to Port Augusta and then up the Stuart Highway (87) to Alice.
Queenslanders will basically have the option of either coming across via the Barkly Highway (A2,66) to the “3 Ways”and then down the Stuart Highway (87) to Alice or they can head across further south and down into NSW and then make their way across into SA, eventually getting to Port Augusta and then from there up the Stuart Highway (87) to Alice.
In NSW, the final journey across into SA and up to Port Augusta will basically be either across the middle via the Barrier Highway (32) and through Broken Hill into SA or across the southern region of NSW, via the Sturt Highway (20) and through Mildura (briefly into the north-west of Victoria) before heading across into SA via the town of Renmark and then eventually making a choice of roads leading up to Port Augusta.
Members heading up from Victoria and Tasmania will have the options above for the south of NSW or they can also go via that beautiful Victorian coastline across and into SA via Portland and Mount Gambier.
Whichever route you take, remember that once civilisation starts to space out, fuel availability will become an issue. If you are travelling the Nullarbor or once away heading north from Port Augusta or even westward across Queensland and then down to Alice, a packed bike, pillions and especially if towing a trailer, you will need to carefully consider distance and fuel availability as load and headwinds will all affect your bike’s normal fuel range. It would be wise to carry extra fuel (a five litre fuel can at least) and remember that if your bike prefers the higher octane fuels, they may not be readily available out in the bush. Remember too that once in the bush, be patient at fuel stops as there will likely be a line-up at times at fuel stops,an inevitability on such a journey to the AGM.
Penultimately – ride safely. If going alone, be prepared and stay alert on the outback roads. If riding in a group on outback roads, stay close enough so that you can see each other but not too close in the event of stray animals or where you might focus for too long on the bike right in front of you (which can easily happen on long, straight stretches of road).
Finally, for those coming up from Port Augusta, here’s a worthwhile link to a great narrative on things to consider for that journey: