Why Australia is perfect for your next bicycle tour

Australia is often overlooked as a cycling holiday destination but when you look closely you may be surprised to find Australia has as much, if not more, to offer than popular cycling destinations such as France, Italy, North America and New Zealand.

Celebrated for its ancient culture, unique plants and animals, beautiful coastline, national parks, ancient geological formations, abundant seafood, gourmet food, wine and brewing, gently rolling country and its reasonably quiet roads, particularly in the country, Australia is the perfect destination for a cycling holiday.

About Australia

Australia's formal name is the Commonwealth of Australia and it’s a federation of 6 self-governing States (New South Wales, Queensland, Western Australia, South Australia, Tasmania and Victoria) and 2 self-governing Territories (Australian Capital Territory and Northern Territory). 

Australia is both a representative democracy and a constitutional monarchy with Queen Elizabeth II as Australia's head of state. The national capital of Australia is Canberra, which is in the Australian Capital Territory. 

Australia is the lowest, flattest and driest inhabited continent and the sixth largest country in the world. Mount Kosciuszko in New South Wales is Australia’s highest mountain at 2228 metres. Lake Eyre, a salt lake in outback South Australia, is the lowest natural point at 15 metres below sea level. On the rare occasions that it fills, Lake Eyre becomes Australia’s largest lake with the same salinity level as the ocean. 

The spectacular interior is mostly uninhabited and on average records the lowest rainfall in the world. Thus the majority of Australia’s 25 million people live in the more arable regions close to the coastline.

Five cyclists enjoying the descent of the Newcastle Range on a well formed bitumen section of National Highway 1 or Gulf Development Road. Orange red cliffs are in the background.

The dramatic scenery of the Newcastle Range, Cape York, Queensland

From a cycling perspective it is important not to overlook how big Australia is and underestimate the distances between some of the towns, particularly in the more remote regions of the country.

All Australian states and territories embrace bicycle tourism.

What is the best season to visit Australia?

If you pick your destination whilst keeping in mind the time of the year it is possible to cycle comfortably most of the year somewhere in Australia, even in winter. 

Due to its size and location Australia has a very varied climate. Some regions have four distinct seasons (spring, summer, autumn and winter) whereas some only have a wet and dry season.

Australia's seasons are the opposite to the northern hemisphere, it is summer in Australia when its winter in the northern hemisphere.

A very useful tool for working out the best time to go bicycle touring in the different states of Australia is the climate zone model defined by the Australian Building Codes Board (ABCB). Using climate data from the Australian Bureau of Meteorology the ABCB has divided Australia into 8 climate zones of differing climatic characteristics. 

The different climate zone boundaries are aligned to the local government boundaries. The planning authorities use the zones to determine the heating, cooling and insulation requirements for new buildings.

Australia’s tourism regions are also defined by local government boundaries so the climate zone model can easily be used to inform your decisions about the most comfortable and best time to be cycling in Australia or a particular state.

To assist with the planning for your bike ride we have matched the climate zones with the different state tourism regions and you can find this information by following the links below:

The 8 climate zones are:

Zone 1 – Tropical: Highly humid summer, warm winter. Cyclones in summer with high rainfall and local/wide flooding. ‘Dry season’ in winter. High temperatures year round with minimum seasonal temperature variation. 

Zone 2 – Sub-Tropical: Distinct summer and winter seasons. Hot to very hot humid summers, mild winters - a definite ‘dry season’. Moderate to low daily temperature range which can vary significantly between regions e.g. inland to coastal.

Zone 3 – Hot Arid: Hot Arid: Distinct wet and dry seasons. Hot to extremely hot dry summers, cool to warm winters, low rainfall and low humidity. Significant daily temperature range. Extreme heat in summer can exceed human comfort range.

Zone 4 – Arid: Distinct seasons with low humidity all year round. Extremely hot dry summers, cool winters. Summers commonly have hot, dry winds; winters have cold dry winds. Extreme heat in summer can exceed human comfort range. Low rainfall. 

Zone 5 – Warm Temperate: Four distinct seasons, mild winters with low humidity, hot to very hot summers with moderate humidity. Extreme heat in summer and cold in winter can exceed human comfort range. Spring and autumn are ideal for human comfort. Low daily temperature range near the coast to high daily temperature range inland.

Zone 6 – Mild Temperate: Four distinct seasons, mild to cool winters with low humidity, hot to very hot summers with moderate humidity. Spring and autumn are ideal for human comfort. Heat in summer and cold in winter can exceed human comfort range. Low daily temperature range near coast to high daily temperature range inland.

Zone 7 – Cool Temperate: Four distinct seasons, cold to very cold winters with majority of rainfall, hot dry summers. Comfortable spring and autumn conditions. Low humidity. High summer temperatures may exceed human comfort range. Winter can fall short of human comfort range

Zone 8 – Alpine: Four distinct seasons, cold to very cold winters with majority of rainfall and some snowfall. Winter can fall short of human comfort range. Warm to hot, dry summers. Variable spring and autumn conditions. Low humidity. 

When planning your trip to Australia you may wish to consider:

  • From November to March it is hot and humid in the tropics, so head south in search of the Australian Alps or the South Australian, Victorian or New South Wales coastline (Zones 5, 6, 7 & 8).
  • Spirit of Eyre Peninsula 12-Day Cycling Tour

    NEW Tour in 2019. Mulga Tours will show you the best places to visit on Eyre Peninsula. You will ride, explore, relax and dine and if you wish we can ramp up the excitement and take you cage diving with Great White Sharks. What more could you want from a bike tour?

    More about this tour

  • April and May is a time to take in the autumn colours of Canberra, North East Victoria and Tasmania. (Zones 6 & 7).
  • North East Victoria 8-Day Autumn Bike Tour

    Immerse yourself in the autumn colours of North East Victoria on this eight-day bicycle tour. Enjoy gastronomic delights, explore alpine townships from Beechworth to Bright, and take in some fascinating history along the way.

    More about this tour

  • Between May and early August, when the mountains in south-eastern Australia may be covered in snow, is the perfect time to be cycling in the outback or the tropical north (Zones 1, 2, 3 & 4).
  • Carnarvon Gorge & The Great Inland Way Cycling Tour

    A NEW bicycle tour from St George to Emerald through the many changing landscapes of Queensland's Great Inland Way. Includes two days exploring the magnificent Carnarvon Gorge National Park.

    More about this tour

  • Cairns To Karumba Across Cape York Bike Ride

    A Queensland cycling adventure like no other. A 10-day bike tour from Cairns to Karumba, complete with plenty of spectacular scenery, intriguing wildlife & plenty of fascinating stories to keep you company.

    More about this tour

  • For 4 weeks in September/October Canberra hosts the largest floral festival in the southern hemisphere - Floriade (Zones 7 & 8).
  • Capital Country Floriade

    This glorious spring experience combines the delights of Canberra, including a visit to the world-class Floriade festival, with an invigorating cycle tour through the spectacular scenery and historic townships of South East NSW.

    More about this tour

  • Between July and November you’ll find wildflowers in the southern half of Australia. This is also the time to go whale watching along the east and west coasts (Zones 4, 5, 6, 7 & 8).

A triptych of 3 photos. Left - Small Tongue Orchid. Middle - Kangaroo Paws. Right – Vanilla Lilly.

Left - Small Tongue Orchid, Gipsy Point, Victoria. Middle - Kangaroo Paws, Great Northern Highway, Chittering, Western Australia. Right – Vanilla Lilly, Mt Franklin, Australian Capital Territory.

What is the best time to visit Australia?

The peak holiday periods in Australia correspond to the school holidays. Each state and territory works on a four-term year with each setting its own term calendar. There is some variance by a week or more between neighbouring states. Therefore, because of the overlaping school holidays, Peak Season for the airlines and hotels can sometimes be longer than the local school holidays.

A list of term dates for each of Australia's state and territory government schools can be found here  …

Australia celebrates 7 national public holidays (New Year's Day, Australia Day, Good Friday, Easter Monday, Anzac Day, Christmas Day and Boxing Day) with up to another 5 public holidays being set by each of the states. When these public holidays fall on a Monday or Friday they create what is locally known as a “long weekend” which may also see high season rates being charged.

A complete list of National and State public holidays can be found here …

There are two popular Australian holiday breaks, the Easter break between School Terms 1 and 2 and the Christmas/Summer break that runs from the week before Christmas to the end of January. From a biking perspective it is best to avoid both of these periods as the roads can be extremely busy.

Low season is generally May to August as this is winter. However, in Central Australia and the tropical north this is peak season as the weather is the most comfortable for bicycle touring. We run all our Outback Queensland bicycle tours at this time of the year.

How to stay safe in the Australian sun?

The Australian sun can be extremely intense, which means if you do not take appropriate precautions prolonged sun exposure can be bad for your health. In fact, Australia has the highest level of skin cancer in the world. To avoid getting burnt by the sun, follow the 5 SunSmart rules – Slip, Slop, Slap, Seek and Slide.

What are Summer Heatwaves?

Summer brings an increased likelihood of extreme heat waves where very hot days are followed by hot nights making it hard for your body to cool down. Even fit and healthy people can become very ill during these periods, therefore, if you are on a cycling tour you should avoid strenuous activity during times of extreme heat. If untreated, heat illness can lead to the more serious and potentially life-threatening condition of heat stroke. Heatwaves should not be underestimated as they cause more deaths in Australia than any other natural hazard.

All sporting organisations in Australia have hot weather guidelines that they use to determine if a sporting activity needs to be modified or cancelled during periods of hot weather.

It is not uncommon for the Tour Down Under to shorten its competitive stages and cancel the community rides during heatwave conditions.

When is the Bush Fire Danger period?

In the south of Australia summer is also a time of high bush fire danger. In the tropical north the fire season is during winter or the dry season. If you are planning bike rides during the bush fire season it is important that you monitor the Fire Danger Rating each day. This will help you assess your level of bush fire risk so you can plan what to do if a fire starts near you. It is important to understand that the Fire Danger Rating IS NOT a predictor of how likely a bush fire is to occur but an indicator of how dangerous a bush fire may be if it does occur.

What is the cost of touring in Australia?

Bicycle touring in Australia may be cheaper than you think. For the international visitor the exchange rate in many currencies, particularly the US dollar, is in the visitors’ favour so it costs less for many to visit and take an Australian biking tour.

A cyclist’s guide to road rules in Australia

Australians ride and drive on the LEFT SIDE of two-way roads.

There is not a single set of nationwide road rules in Australia with each state and territory legislating their own road rules based upon a common set of rules called the Australian Road Rules. Even though the rules are drawn from a common base there are variations in the rules from state to state.

Under each of the state and territory road rules a bicycle is considered a vehicle and as such cyclists have the same responsibilities and rights as other road users. Some of the rules that are specific to bicycles vary between the states.

An explanation of the road rules and how they apply to cyclists in each state can be found here.

A triptych of 3 photos showing some of the unique wildlife to be seen in Australia. Male King Parrot, Bright, Victoria. Two Western Grey Kangaroo on a beach, Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia. Platypus, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, ACT.

Left - Male King Parrot, Bright, Victoria. Middle - Western Grey Kangaroos, Cape Le Grand National Park, Western Australia. Right - Platypus, Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve, ACT.

Scheduled Australian cycling holidays with Mulga Tours

Mulga has a full calendar of supported Australian bike rides that fit with the seasons and optimum touring times. Tours vary in length from 3 to 12 days with daily distances averaging 70km.

Every Mulga tour is achievable by the average cyclist with the focus on enjoying each day, not stacking up the kilometres or racing the clock. Our goal is to soak in the scenery, marvel at fascinating stories, then recharge the batteries with a good feed and a good rest.

To see our calendar of guided Australian cycling tours please go here.

When planning your trip to Australia your first decision should be to decide in which state or territory you wish to start your journey. You should then put some thought into the best season to visit.

To search our bike tours by state please use the links below.

If none of these bicycle tours suit, or a tour in which you are interested is not currently scheduled, feel free to Contact Us and we’ll work with you to provide a customised or private alternative.