Sunday, July 29, 2012

SAND: The Gear and The Video

I won't go into a huge amount of detail here, just a quick run down on the gear we used that some of you will find useful when planning a trip like this.


Salsa Mukluk 3 with 1x10 gearing, 22t front and 11-34 cassette. Apart from one broken chain, the bikes ran perfectly. This gearing gave us a top speed of about 18km/hr on the hard packed sand which was a little frustrating at times. Even though the trip wasn't about speed and I would use a 1x10 setup again, a 26t front ring would probably be a better choice. For the sake of simplicity and weight savings we chose not to fit back brakes, which worked well, but we should have packed spare pads, by the end of the trip the pads were almost down to the metal. For spares we carried one tube each, some patches, chain links, a few M5 bolts and one derailleur hanger.


Seat Bag - Revelate Viscacha with Spocket. An amazingly well designed and made bit of kit. Lightweight, stable and can be removed and put in your pack if need be. This carried our shelter, both sleeping mats, both bivys and my spare clothes. The Spocket carried chain lube and sunnies. If your only going to buy one piece of bikepacking gear this should be it. Gear of the trip.

Frame Bag - MYOG. I made this from materials salvaged from an old tote bag. It worked well but I don't expect a long service life. I think I'll make the next one from a heavier fabric like VX21 perhaps. This carried spare tubes and parts, stove, tent pole, headlamps, spare camera batteries, Kindle and food.

Handlebar Bag - Revelate Pocket with 13l S2S Big River Dry Bag. This worked well as long as the straps were tightened regularly to keep the dry bag in place. I would possibly consider the new Sweetroll next time. The Pocket itself carried a GoPro, sunscreen, a Leatherman and snacks. The dry bag carried food.

Top Tube Bag - Revelate Gas Tank. Super handy. Carried a multi tool and snacks.

Backpack - Sea to Summit Ultra Sil Dry Day Pack. Seam sealed with a roll top closure, this 22l pack stuffs to the size of an apple when not in use and weighs 100gms! This carried a quilt and the map.

Water Storage - 3 x King Stainless Cages with 1l Zefal bottles and 1 x 2l Platy. Didn't need the Platy, water is everywhere on Fraser.

SHELTER - Black Diamond Mega Light. It rained a lot so having a big shelter was great but head nets would have been good to have for the sand flies on the west coast.
BIVY - MYOG. Just used as a ground sheet.
MAT - Thermarest Neo Air short. Great.
QUILT - MLD Spirit 30. Too warm.
STOVE - Jetboil Sol Ti. Very fuel efficient, used less than one 100gm canister.
RAIN JACKET - Arc'teryx Alpha LT. Great.
T-SHIRT  - Patagonia Cap 2 x 2. Great
L/S SHIRT - Patagonia Cap 2. Didn't use.
WARM JACKET - Patagonia R1 Hoody. Great.
LONG PANTS - Patagonia GI2. Great.
KNICKS - Pearl Izumi. Good knicks but one small Bodyglide was not enough chamois creme! We also forgot wipes which was a serious mistake. Not surprisingly a week riding on a sand island did lead to some chaffing. 

Sunday, July 15, 2012


The largest sand island on the planet, more perched lakes than anywhere else in the world,  giant 1000 year old Satinay and towering Tallowood trees, Australia's purest strain of Dingo and crystal clear, sand filtered, freshwater streams running through postcard perfect sub-tropical rainforest. Fraser is special. And this was a special trip. The kind of trip that reaffirms just how important spending time in nature - with nature is, that going outside and staying out for more than a day or two is the only way to (at the risk of sounding trite) 'drink deeply' of the bush. 

Unfortunately, since being listed as a World Heritage Area in 1992, Fraser Island has not been given the protection it deserves. A seemingly unregulated stream of four wheel drive vehicles pour on to the island everyday despite the fact most of the island is national park. For those that like to travel in a low-impact fashion Fraser offers outstanding opportunities to explore - places the 4WD crowd can't reach - by foot, sea kayak, bike or combinations of. Sal and I had walked and combined paddling and walking on previous trips but on this trip our tool of choice was our Salsa Mukluk enough to get us all the way around the island in seven days but not so fast as to not allow us to 'stop and smell the flowers'. Helped by plenty of rain to keep the sand moist and firm, our four inch wide tyres proved to be a fantastic choice for a leisurely sand tour. 

The itinerary:

Day 1 - Hook pt to near the Maheno wreck 70k
Day 2 - Maheno to Ocean Lake 40k
Day 3 - Ocean Lake to Rooney pt 45k
Day 4 - Rooney pt to Moon pt 50k
Day 5 - Moon pt to Lake Mackenzie 50k
Day 6 - Lake Mackenzie to Dilli Village 35k
Day 7 - Dilli to Rainbow Beach 35k

See map.

All distances are approximate. Due to the firm sand on the beaches and inland tracks travel was fairly easy for most of the trip and we rode our bikes 95% of the time. On the beach we were able to ride about two hours either side of high tide. The west coast was a bit of an unknown, particularly Rooney pt to Wathumba Creek, as we knew of no one riding a bike on this beach before (although I'm sure someone has). As it turned out, apart from a few soft patches here and there the beach was firm and rideable. Wathumba is the biggest creek on the west coast and needs to be crossed about 500m upstream from the mouth within an hour of low tide. Ideally Coongul Creek should also be crossed close to low water, we didn't and the water was well over waist deep, lucky fatbikes float! All the other creeks are no more than about knee deep. Overall we had close to ideal conditions for a Fraser fatbike tour. A video as well as a gear rundown will follow.