This adventure begins with a 10 week island hopping extravaganza across Indonesia and its “sultry kaleidoscope” of cultures and contrasts. From the jungles of Sumatra to the artistic traditions of Yogyakarta, from heavenly Bali to the empty beaches of Flores the route includes several inter-island ferry rides, enabling participants to immerse themselves in the intoxicating local foods and customs and sights en route. After a flight from East Timor to Darwin the cyclists continue to pedal across the Outback and along The Great Ocean Road, via Alice Springs & the magnificent Uluru (Ayers Rock), Adelaide (& its vineyards) and Melbourne, before finishing at the iconic Sydney Opera House.
The Trans-Oceania is our newest long distance cycling expedition, and at almost 10,800 kilometers, the 7th of our 7 Epics.
It features 2 distinct halves, beginning with a 10 week Island hopping extravaganza across Indonesia and its “sultry kaleidoscope” of cultures and contrasts. After a short flight from Timor to northern Australia, we then embark on an 8 week trans-continental spin across the Outback and along The Great Ocean Road, via Alice Springs, Adelaide and Melbourne, before finishing at the iconic Sydney Opera House.
This tour features the most rest days – 31 in all – of any of our Epic Tours, along with several inter-island ferry rides, enabling participants to immerse themselves in the intoxicating local foods and customs and sights en route. From the jungles of Sumatra to the artistic traditions of Yogyakarta, from heavenly Bali to the empty beaches of Flores, from magnificent Uluru (Ayers Rock) to the vineyards of South Australia, the Trans-Oceania most certainly is another one of the adventures of a lifetime that we offer.
*the quotations in the Trans-Oceania route descriptions are all credit Lonely Planet Guides
Our tour begins in the northern Sumatra port of Medan. After 2 days of peddling into the Island’s interior, we arrive at mystical Danau Toba, the largest lake in SE Asia, set among volcanic peaks and the traditional villages of the Batak people. From there we head south past lush paddy fields, imposing volcanoes, and ubiquitous mosques to another rest day in the market town of Bukittinggi. The Indian Ocean greets us near Padang, the urban centre of the matrilineal Minangkabau culture (wherein women tell men what to do), and remains our close by companion through Bengkulu and onto Carita on Java’s west coast. There riders can take a boat ride to the infamous volcanic island of Krakatoa, before we cross the Sunda Strait to Java.
This shorter section highlights the western half of Indonesia’s most densely populated island. Javanese culture is a “cocktail of pre-Hindu, Hindu and Islamic influences.” From Carita, we‘ll ride south to avoid the hustle and pollution of greater Jakarta, and meander through tea plantations and terraced fields. At Pandangaran riders can enjoy Java’s premier beach and visit a national park set in dense jungle before peddling on to the artistic and cultural capital of Yogyakarta. Here a double rest day will allow you to see the city’s famous walled palace or Kraton area and the nearby Borobodur Temple Compounds, which are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Leaving Yogya, we’ll ride towards East Java province, a wild rolling region of towering peaks, smoking volcanoes and unspoilt panoramas. After the temple-ringed and Dutch colonial hilltop city of Malang, we’ll pause in Bromo Tengger Semeru Park, home to the Gunung Semeru volcano, Indonesia’s highest peak. Then it’s across the Ijen plateau, another beautiful and forested volcanic region, to Ketapang and a quick ferry ride across the Bali Strait to Gilimanuk. From there we cycle along Bali’s northwest shoreline to Lovina, before heading inland and completing this section in Ubud, the center of Bali’s unique version of Hindu culture.
Many of us have dreamed of taking tramp steamers from one island paradise to another, and leaving the modern world behind. This section of the trans-Oceania odyssey turns that fantasy into reality, as we traverse the Nusa Tenggara region, spinning our wheels from Hindu Bali, across Islamic Lombok and Sumbawa, to Catholic Flores, and finally Timor. En route you can relax on remote pink sand beaches, sup on an endless variety of seafood, snorkel or dive coral reefs teeming with marine life, encounter Komodo Dragon lizards, explore remote villages of beehive houses on West Timor, and kick back on the ferry rides from one island to the next. This section ends in Dili, capital of the newly independent nation of Timor-Leste, from where we will fly across the Timor Sea to Darwin in Australia’s Northern Territory. We wouldn’t be surprised if a rider or 2 decided to forego their plane ticket and settle permanently on one of these idyllic isles.
The 2nd half of our Epic trans-Oceania ride begins in tropical Darwin, which has evolved from “brawling frontier outpost” to cosmopolitan small city, fuelled by mining, tourism and crocodiles. After stocking up and making sure we have plenty of Fosters in the “eskie” (cooler) we’ll head off on the Stuart Highway and into the Outback, a vast tract of “scrublands, red desert sands, and galloping roadside Emus.” 300 km down the road our first rest day will be in the town of Katherine from where riders can visit the picturesque sandstone gorges at Nitmiluk National Park or the Cutta Cutta Caves. Continuing south we’ll encounter the fascinating ghost town of Newcastle Waters before arriving in Tennant Creek, which services the region’s remote cattle stations and aboriginal communities. Further on we’ll pass by piles of gigantic boulders known as the Devil’s Marbles and camp at roadhouses en route to Alice Springs, known to locals simply as “Alice.” Here, a triple rest day marks the end of this section and will give our intrepid cyclists plenty of time for the 450 km side trip by bus or by plane to astonishing Uluru (Ayers Rock).
Continuing south from Alice through Australia’s desolate “red heart”, with road trains and kangaroos as our companions, we’ll eventually arrive in the opal mining center of Coober Pedy, which has been the base for “end of the world’ movies including Mad Max. Then it’s across the government-owned Woomera Prohibited Area, the western world’s largest ground and airspace weapons testing range, to the eerie village of Woomera, home to rocket scientists and a Missile Park. Our tran-Outback “rideabout” ends at Port Augusta, the “Crossroads of Australia,” at the top of Spencer Gulf. From there it’s a 3 day spin through South Australia’s fabled wine country to the sophisticated city of Adelaide, which is renowned for its many festivals and culinary delights. After our month long journey down the Stuart Highway, Adelaide may feel like the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Here you can spend your rest day visiting the superb central market, wandering thru botanical gardens and art galleries, or imbibing Shiraz and Riesling at the National Wine Centre.
This 12 day section highlights the South Australia and Victoria State coastlines. Our reluctance to leave Adelaide’s wine bars behind is quickly forgotten, as we cross the Murray River and cycle along the Limestone Coast through the fertile lagoon landscapes of Coorong National Park. We will wind our way past Discovery Bay to the whale watching centre of Warrnambool. The incredibly scenic 250 km Great Ocean Road, an Australian National Heritage, begins at Allansford, and takes us along the rugged Shipwreck and Surf coasts, through rainforests, and past sheer cliffs, waterfalls, and fantastic rock formations including the 12 Apostles. This stretch of our expedition ends in Melbourne, Oz’s 2nd largest city and the centre of its rabid Aussie Rules Football (footy) culture. Melbourne is packed with attractions, and you’ll have a rest day to explore its vibrant atmosphere, from laid-back laneways and lush parks to grand museums and sumptuous restaurants.
The final section of our two-wheeled odyssey takes us across the much varied terrain of Oz’s south-east corner. After cycling through Gippsland Lakes Coastal Park, we leave the Tasman Sea behind, and climb over the Australian Alps on secondary roads, into the planned city of Canberra, the national capital and political heart. The excitement builds as we enter New South Wales and near our ultimate destination, world class and diverse Sydney. No doubt we’ll celebrate long and hard, in true Aussie style, as we spin up it’s magnificent natural harbour and clamber off our bikes for the last time at the iconic Opera House. It’s gonna be tough to bid farewell to our cycling comrades, but hopefully, before heading home, we’ll all spend a little more time together, over some Fosters at Bondi Beach, relishing the many adventures since we departed Medan several moons ago.