Personal setups, Trip Reports » Australian bush – Great Dividing Trail overnight

Trip Summary

In late November 2013, I went on my first solo mtb trip along the Goldfields Track, in the central historical goldfields of Victora, Australia. The trip was a 35km roundtrip through amazing flowing singletrack and sections of fire road, with an overnight camp at Vaughan Springs. The Goldfields Track – a section of the Great Dividing Trail – is  a walking track that runs between Bendigo and Ballarat, two historical goldrush towns, now major rural centres.

For my first solo trip, I decided not to be too ambitious. A 2-3 hour ride from the edge of town to the campsite-which I started on late afternoon, then a half day of riding the next day.  The solitude was addictive. I met no one else on the trail apart from a couple of boxing kangaroos and a range of birdlife.

My bike setupphoto 1-1

Gear List

Giant Trance x29er 1

Thule Pack n’ Pedal Tour (pannier rack – can be fitted front or rear)

CamelBak Alpine Pro 30l (with 3l bladder)

Sea to Summit compression dry sack (Medium)

Topeak Tri-bag top tube bag

Bike tools, spares etc.

These were mainly kept in my top tube bag, with the exception of the pump and headlamp, which were in my CamelBak.

The top tube bag had a Lezyne bike multitool, Leatherman Wave multitool, Dry patch kit, Spare chain links

In my CamelBak I had a Fenix headlamp with spare batteries, and a crankbrothers mini pump.

Shelter and cooking

OzTrail Starlight 2 (actually 1!) person tent

Big Agnes Air Core sleeping pad

Kathmandu Comet sleeping

Trangia spirit burner stove

GearPod stove pod kit (solid fuel and spirit stove, windshield and mug)

Waterproof matches

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Clothes

L/s downhill-style cycling jersey (loosefit)

S/s cycling jersey (loosefit)

Merino wool l/s top (x2)

Merino wool s/s top

Columbia convertible pants (light, quickdry)

Fleece mid-layer top

Flannelette PJ bottoms

Light foldaway rain jacket

Trail running shoes (old pear of Nike ACG)

Socks and undies!

Food

Tinned tuna in tomato

Mexican style burrito wraps

Instant noodles

Energy bars (x4)

Gels (x4)

Coffee/sugar and a mini long life milk carton

Navigation and Tech

Ipad, HTC phone / GPS

Topo map of region

Tourist maps to region

First aid and medicine

St John’s First Aid Kit supplemented with quikclot sport (25g), compression bandages and non-woven combine dressing (mainly for cuts, bleeds and snakebite).

Ibuprofen, Paracetamol, Antihistamine

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How things held up

The Giant Trance 29er was superbly capable for the task. Even with gear on front and back, it was zippy through singletrack and the stock standard NobyNic 2.25″ roll fast and grip just as well as they roll.

My best investment in gear would have to be the Thule Pack ‘n Pedal. An ingenious way to carry gear on your mountain bike. It was very stable throughout the ride, with my hammering down steep and rocky descents. The Pack ‘n Pedal went nowhere! It worked really well with my dropper seat, which is the advantage over seatpost bags. Revelate make some very nice gear by way of seatpost bags, but nothing beats the ability to hammer a descent while bikepacking. The Pack ‘n Pedal attaches to the rear chain stay (and opposing stay), so on a full suspension bike, the gear weight is distributed over the stays that make up the rear triangle – this means no sitting on your gear if (and when) you drop the saddle. I wouldn’t make a habit of rough descents with a gear-laden bike though!

My best investment in clothing would be a tie between a good merino top (excellent breath-ability) and columbia’s convertible pants. The pants are incredibly light, water resistant and hard-wearing. Mine are about 6 years old, and still going strong. If it gets too hot, I just zip the leggings off.

Lessons Learned!

1. Factor in navigation time. Even though I was riding on a marked track, walking tracks appear to be less intuitive to riders and the track was overgrown in a few places due to recent rains. I found myself having to get off quite a few times, check my GPS position and consult the topo map. I got lost, at least twice and had to backtrack. All of these stoppages cost time. I almost pitched my tent in the dark, which is not optimal.

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2. I packed too many clothes. For an overnight trip in warmer weather, I could have done without 1 merino top and the fleece PJ bottoms. Even though the weather was fine, I felt comfortable knowing I had a fleece top as insurance, in case temps dropped.

3. More water stowed would have been good. It was only an overnight, but in the heat, my 3l CamelBak was not enough-especially since I needed to be self sufficient as far as water goes. I’ve heard advice that 3l a day is sufficient, however this was certainly not the case for me. For my next trip, I’m going to fit at least another two water carriers to my bike, in addition to the CamelBak!

4.Related to point 1, pack a compass. Even if your only map is in your head!! It’s always good to know which way is North. My GPS has no internal compass, so I had to move off point for a good half hour to get direction/bearing!

Here’s a video of part of the water race singletrack section. There were other sublime section of singletrack, running alongside massive abandoned mining pits, and Australian bush all around.

Comments (3)

WillMarch 6th, 2014 at 10:08 am

Nicely done! I have a compass for the reasons you stated. Check out the pathfinder series from Casio. Compass, altimeter, and a barometer all in one.

ShawnaMarch 29th, 2014 at 5:24 pm

Nice. That Pack ‘n Pedal seems like a sweet piece of gear that I need to check out. Thanks for the cool write up.

PierreApril 12th, 2014 at 2:19 am

Will and Shawna, thanks for the comments, and for taking a look. Will, I’ve looked at the pathfinder and they are pretty neat. I’m doing my best to reduce weight so having a wrist watch that does a few things is not a bad idea.
Shawna, the pack’n pedal is worth the investment. I can switch it between front and back and between my city bike and mtb. It holds together really well, and is relatively light. I just did another trip with it more recently, and again very happy with the investment.

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