Cycling Tours in South Australia

South Australia is an Australian cycling mecca made more so in recent years by the television coverage of the Santos Tour Down Under showcasing the absolute best of Adelaide and South Australia’s famed wine regions of the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills and Coonawarra.

Adelaide and eastern South Australia has an excellent network of cycling trails perfect for all levels of rider. Whether you are looking for a leisurely ride through Adelaide, day tours into the local wine regions, a longer tour into the outback and  Flinders Ranges; or to challenge yourself on all the Tour Down Under climbs, South Australia has a lot to offer.

Close up of flower bunches of Sturt's Desert Pea growing on spreading ground-hugging vine. Each flower is a vibrant red with a black centre, known as the ‘boss’.

Sturt's Desert Pea, Swainsona formosa, is the floral emblem of South Australia

About South Australia

South Australia (abbreviated SA) is the third most populous (1.7Million) and the fourth largest of the 8 Australian States and Territories accounting for 12.8% of Australia’s landmass. Nearly 80% of the population lives in Adelaide, the capital city of South Australia. 

South Australia shares borders with every Australian mainland state and territory except the ACT. It borders Queensland, New South Wales and Victoria to the east, the Northern Territory to the north and Western Australia to the west.

Unlike other 18th and 19th century Australian colonies British convicts were never transported to South Australia with the colony being settled by free settlers. Up until 1851 criminals convicted of major crimes in South Australia were sent as convicts to the eastern colonies.

South Australia is divided into 12 tourism regions all of which embrace bicycle tourism. 

Adelaide Adelaide Hills Barossa
Clare Valley Eyre Peninsula Fleurieu Peninsula
Flinders Ranges & Outback Kangaroo Island Limestone Coast
Murray River Riverland Yorke Peninsula

Adelaide is home to the Santos Tour Down Under.

What is the best season to visit South Australia?

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

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

A very useful tool for working out the best time to go bicycle touring in the different regions of South 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 South Australia local government boundaries. The planning authorities use the zones to determine the heating, cooling and insulation requirements for new buildings.

South 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 for your cycling tour in South Australia.

To assist with the planning for your bike ride we have matched the climate zones with each of South Australia’s tourism regions.

Two coloured maps of South Australia, one beside the other. The left map shows the three climate zones experienced in South Australia. Each zone is represented by a different colour – Arid, Warm Temperate and Mild Temperate,. The right map shows the 12 tourism regions of South Australia. Each region is represented by a different colour, the regions are - Adelaide, Adelaide Hills, Barossa, Clare Valley, Eyre Peninsula, Fleurieu Peninsula, Flinders Ranges & Outback, Kangaroo Island, Limestone Coast, Murray River, Riverland and Yorke Peninsula.

Climate Zone map of South Australia and Tourism Region map of South Australia

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. 

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. 

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

  • Spring and Autumn are the times to visit Adelaide and the surrounding regions.
  • November and Early December is a great time to cycle through the Eyre Peninsula along the Seafood Frontier Touring Route. 
  • 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

  • May, June and July is the time to consider visiting the Flinders Ranges or even further north to Lake Eyre.
  • February, March and April is vintage time in South Australia’s world famous wine regions. This is the perfect time to visit the Barossa Valley, Clare Valley, McLaren Vale, Eden Valley, Adelaide Hills and Coonawarra.
  • January is Santos Tour Down Under time. 

If you intend travelling in the outback it is important you carry more than enough water and a satellite phone and EPIRB are a must. Do not travel by yourself and let someone responsible know where you are going and check in with them each day.

Flash flooding in the outback is common after heavy rain so do not start a tour into the outback when heavy rain is forecast.

2 photos side by side. The photo on the left shows a road cut by fast flowing flood water. The photo on the right shows the same section of road 15 hours later with no water covering the road.

September outback flash flooding - after a 60 minute rain storm - photos 15 hours apart - Leigh Creek, South Australia.

The rainfall pattern in South Australia is winter dominant and if you are lucky enough to visit the outback after a soaking rain you can be rewarded with a fantastic display of wildflowers. However, that same rain can make many of the outback roads impassable. 

Northern South Australia can also experience “dry floods”, these are when rain does not fall in the immediate area but roads are cut by floodwaters flowing from Queensland into Lake Eyre. Sometimes these floods may occur some weeks after the initial rain event.

During this time it is important to monitor the Government of South Australia’s Outback Road Warnings website.

South Australia is an important grain producer with winter crops usually being harvested between October to late December. The actual start and finish of the harvest time is dependant upon when the crop was sown and when the winter rains arrived. During harvest there will be wide machinery and long trucks on the roads moving the grain to the silos and bunkers. Some of the trucks may be what are called B-triples, which are up to 35 metres in length. If you are touring on a bicycle during this time special care must be taken and it is important that you make it easy for the drivers of the heavy vehicles to pass you safely. Sometimes it may be necessary to pull off the road completely to allow these vehicles to pass.

Two photos side by side. Left – a large billboard beside a bitumen road. A bicycle is travelling on the road. The billboard has a photo of vineyard and what looks like a church in the background. Text reads Welcome to Clare Valley, Clare 14km. Right – Two touring bicycles on a gravel section of the Riesling Trail. Vineyards stretch to the horizon, blue sky.

The Clare Valley and The Riesling Trail

What is the best time to visit South Australia?

High season or peak holiday times in South Australia are linked to the state’s school and public holidays. Mostly these are the same, with some slight variations, as the other Australian States and Territories. More information about high and low seasons, including dates, can be found in our answer to the question - “What is the best time to visit Australia?

How to stay safe in the 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 South Australia summer also brings an increased risk of bush fires. If you are planning a bike ride 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 was to start 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. 

A cyclist’s guide to road rules in South Australia

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

Under the Australian Road Rules a bicycle is considered a vehicle and as such cyclists have the same responsibilities and rights as other road users. Some road rules are specific to bicycles and these vary between the states.

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

Supported cycling tours in South Australia

Mulga has a full calendar of supported Australian cycling tours 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.

Mulga Tours offers the following supported cycling tours in South Australia.

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.

  • 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

Supported cycling tours in the Victoria

  • North East Victoria 8-Day Spring Bicycle Tour

    Wrap yourself in the incredible natural beauty and history of North East Victoria’s mountains, valleys and rivers. On this bike tour you will enjoy gastronomic delights, visit wineries, distilleries and breweries and explore the alpine townships of Beechworth, Stanley, Myrtleford, Bright, Milawa and Whitfield.

    More about this tour

  • 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

  • Murray to Mountains 5-Day Autumn Bike Tour

    Enjoy the autumn colours of Victoria's High Country on this five-day bicycle tour along the Murray to Mountains Rail Trail. Learn about the regions history and explore the alpine townships of Beechworth, Bright, Milawa and Whitfield.

    More about this tour

  • Three Rivers

    Experience the beauty of the Kiewa, Ovens and King rivers and valleys. Appreciate the delicious food, local wineries and breweries, and learn about the region’s intriguing history on this 8-day biking tour.

    More about this tour

  • Three Rivers and a Waterfall

    This is a special version of our Three Rivers tour, offering two-night stays in each of four unique locations. Enjoy delicious food and wine, immerse yourself in the natural beauty of North-East Victoria.

    More about this tour

Supported cycling tours in NSW

  • Country NSW Canberra To Dubbo 11-Day Cycling Tour

    NEW Tour in 2019. Enjoy the best of inland NSW on this easy-does-it cycling tour from Canberra to Dubbo. Ride past fields of golden canola. Visit charming historic villages, enjoy delicious local produce and take in some fascinating attractions.

    More about this tour

  • Sarah Maddock Sydney to Melbourne 125 Year Commemorative Cycling Tour

    Celebrate the achievements of Sarah Maddock the first woman to ride from Sydney to Melbourne in 1894. Our route is a modern day version of Sarah’s 1894 Sydney to Melbourne achievement taking in some new towns and the Murray to Mountains and Great Victorian rail trails.

    More about this tour

  • Bicycle tour of NSW and Canberra's Enlighten Festival

    This bike tour of Canberra and surrounding New South Wales is extra special. Why? Because it coincides with the renowned Enlighten Festival. You'll see Canberra in a whole new light. Ride, Eat, See and Explore.

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  • Capital Country ANZAC Day

    Our special ANZAC cycle tour combines an exhilarating autumn ride through the spectacular Capital Country with the chance to take part in a beautiful ANZAC Day ceremony at the Australian War Memorial.

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  • 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

Supported cycling tours in the Australian Capital Territory

  • Canberra's Enlighten 3 Day Bicycle Tour

    Enjoy the scenery and tranquillity as you cycle from Canberra to Goulburn. Rest in charming country towns each night, then put your feet up for the transfer back to Canberra.

    More about this tour

  • Capital Country, Truffles & Bettongs

    Rug up for a wonderful winter cycling experience. Take in all the delights of Canberra, take part in a thrilling truffle hunt, then ride through the spectacular scenery of the majestic Capital Region.

    More about this tour

  • Capital Country 3 Day Floriade

    Join us for the last three days of our Floriade 2018 tour and enjoy the scenery and tranquillity as you cycle from Canberra to Goulburn. Rest in charming country towns each night, then put your feet up for the transfer back to Canberra.

    More about this tour

  • Capital Country Spring Tour

    A spring bike tour of Canberra’s most spectacular cycle routes. Be enchanted by Canberra’s delights and immerse yourself in the cultural, historical and natural highlights of the wider region.

    More about this tour

  • Capital Country Spring Tour - 5 Days

    Spring into the new season with this 5-day 4-night bike tour through SE NSW. Take in breathtaking views and all the highlights of Capital Country. Enjoy overnight stays in Gunning, Crookwell, Goulburn and Bungendore.

    More about this tour

Cycling day tours of Canberra and the ACT

  • Private Guided Bicycle Tours of Canberra

    You tell us what you want to see and how far you would like to ride and we will curate a private guided bicycle tour that is personalised and tailored to fit your schedule, ability, interests, and budget. 

    More about this tour

  • Capital Highlights Tour

    Explore the historical, political and cultural sites of Canberra on a bicycle. This tour provides an excellent orientation for all visitors to Canberra. Price includes a light lunch, guide, bike, helmet and a small bike mounted bag to carry your gear.

    More about this tour

  • Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve Tour

    Cycle through Tidbinbilla Nature Reserve on its 35kph 16 kilometre sealed loop road and experience Australian fauna and flora first-hand. Price includes a picnic lunch, guide, bike, helmet and a small bike mounted bag to carry your gear.

    More about this tour

  • Capital Twilight Tour

    This bike tour is a shorter version of our Capital Highlights Tour with a special side trip to the Australian War Memorial to attend The Last Post Ceremony. Price includes guide, bike, helmet and a small bike mounted bag to carry your gear.

    More about this tour

Supported cycling tours in Queensland

  • 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

  • Cairns to Karumba across Cape York

    The outback experience of a lifetime. Start near the sea and traverse rainforest, mountains and savannah as we cross Cape York, arriving in the Gulf of Carpentaria to watch the sunset over the sea.

    More about this tour

  • 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