Riding the Savannah Way on Cairns to Karumba Bike Ride

by Fiona Harper

High fives and tears, hot chips and beers greeted riders on arrival in Karumba. Read about this Savannah Way adventure in Go Camping magazine.

The Cairns to Karumba Bike Ride is an annual fundraiser that starts in Cairns, finishing seven days later across Cape York on the shore of the Gulf of Carpentaria. Raising funds to support distance education for kids in remote communities, a convoy of volunteers and support crew follow the riders across the Savannah Way. Communities roll out the red carpet as Dirty Boys (mountain bikers) and Rugged Roadies (road riders) roll into town hungry and thirsty after a day in the saddle. The event supports some pretty heavy numbers on its broad dust-cloaked shoulders:

  • 114 Road Riders riding 780km
  • 52 Dirty Boys riding approx. 500km
  • 18 Support Personnel
  • 77 Volunteers
  • Funds raised to date: almost $100,000
  • Youngest rider: 14 year old Samuel Carmody
  • Oldest rider: 79 year old Ian Jackson (Pack 4 Leader)

Fiona Harper roped along two running buddies, forever known as CRoMBi’s – Chick Runners on Mountain Bikes,  for the dirt ride to Karumba. Mother Claudette played a starring role, volunteering with the catering crew and driving the aptly named ‘mother ship’, a plush Euro Camper from Apollo Campers, which became a haven of civilisation for saddle-weary bodies at the end of each day.

Picking up the 'mother ship' from Apollo Campers in Cairns
Morning tea at Jabiru Safari Lodge at Mareeba Wetlands
Long neck beers & a fabulous lunch spread at Northcote Station
Relics of mining days
River crossings were mandatory before lunch
The end of a dirty, dusty fun day
Mt Garnet Rodeo grounds campsite was a real treat
Ant hills bigger than riders were a hazard for some who misjudged them
Riding through cattle stations, the hoofers always had right of way
Cattle station roads concealed bulldust hazards that caught some riders out
The salt pans on the home stretch to Karumba are slowing claiming a long ago bogged Kombi
Early morning starts combined with late afternoon finishes made for long days
Dirty Boys definitely got dirty - the further west, the dustier it got!
Rugged Roadies raced the Gulflander while Dirty Boys took to the trails
Rugged Roadies setting out from Croydon
"look Mum no hands"
Blue skies and dry, flat plains made for fun, fast riding
Escort vehicles kept hungry riders fed, fuelled and supported - we couldn't have ridden without you - thanks guys!
This is what it's all about - fun riding!
Krys the Croc claims a road bike!
The final run into Karumba required a river crossing & the mandatory beer
Normanton's Krys the Croc is bigger than the Apollo mother ship
The old and the new ways of traversing the Savannah Way
Normantons' Purple Pub is legendary
The return journey back to Cairns

You may also like

Travel Boating Lifestyle is managed by Fiona Harper

We acknowledge the Traditional Owners of the land and waters on which we live, work and travel. As people who seek meaning and knowledge through storytelling, we recognise that the First Peoples of this land have been doing so for over 60,000 years. We pay our respects to Elders past, present and emerging.