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Terra Australis 23

Terra Australis 23 is into the final countdown week. With no one having competed the course since the inaugural year in 2018 it’s time to put the record right and get this monster done once again!

All the couch surfing links are here ….

Starts: Friday 1 September 6:00am.

Race Tracker link … there is also a ‘Maprogress’ phone app you can download with the live tracking.

Full Race Route 6,300k

A static trace of the full race route on Google Maps with Street View.

Facebook - Bikepacking Ultra Racing Australia

Rider profiles, updates and maybe some on course race gossip…

The race route leg overlays on weather… temps, wind, radar etc

CapeYork -Mareeba




Canberra-Wilsons Prom

Three of this years four starters, myself Steve Watson [2018], Paul Lester [2019, 2022] and Meredith Quinlan [2022] have attempted the course before. If pre-race determination counts for anything we will get it DONE!. Mike Israel has signed on as a rookie, to make up the foursome, tackling the course for the first time though he’s been well versed in the challenge ahead and is under no illusions of the complex and difficult challenge the course presents.

The ‘Rigs of the Terra Australis’ on this page… provide some insight into what each of us have come up with as to the bike/gear solution that we believe will serve us best to make the journey south from Cape York to Wilson’s Promontory. Of course the challenges of the 6,300k are not limited to the distance along the way. Riders will grapple with 40ºC+ North Q heat through to likely zero overnight temps down through the Barrington Tops, Hunter Valley and finally possible snow through Kosciuszko National Park and on the way through the Victorian Alpine Wilderness before the Gippsland Victorian finish at Wilsons Promontory. Of course riders must commence the course prepared for all of these conditions. It’s not optional to take on, drop off gear along the way to suit the conditions other than reasonable repair/replacement items that don’t go the distance.

To get the bike’s rolling I’ll go first. It’s ten years since I purchased a new bike. As always I’ve gone for the weight weenie choosing an all carbon XL OPEN WI.DE [Winding Detours] doing something of a custom build, running flat bars, Shimano mtb brakes, 27.5 carbon hoops and my first venture into a 1X choosing the SRAM Eagle AXS drive train. With my existing bags and some sleep kit modifications, 2 x 1L bottles loaded dry weight tops the scales at 15.2kg … sweet!

Rigs of the Terra Australis


Name: Steve Watson

Age: M75+

From: Canberra ACT

Bike: Carbon OPEN WI.DE

Wheels: Carbon Chiner hoops, 27.5 x 2.1 Vittoria Mezcal tyres

Drive Train: SRAM Eagle GX AXS 34t x 10:52 spare battery + charge caddy.

Electronics: Pedal Cell rim drive dynamo, 2 x 10,000mAh Electjet fast charge batteries + fast charge wall plug, Apple iPhone7, multiple charge cables.

Lights: Cygolite Metro 1100L, Fenix F35R

Sundries: Bontreger aero Bars, Leyzine mini pump, Chiner carbon bottle cages.

Bags: Oveja Negra seat bag, half frame bag and top tube bag. BBD lge Gas Tank, 2 x 1L Feed Bags. DIY custom RipStop fabric caddy between aero Bars.

Navigation: Garmin Edge 810, OsmandMaps loaded as backup on iPhone.

Water: Salmon Skin5 vest 3.5L and 2 x1L Zefal bottles. Katadyn 1L Filter and tabs.

Sleep: SOL bivvy, S2S wool bag liner and pillow, Thermarest mat, DIY custom Tyvek outer bivvy shell…. plus clothing.

Ride Kit: Endura 3/4 pants, Pedal Mafia nicks and sht sleve jersey, LaPassione long sleve wool layers [2], fingerless and winter gloves, wool socks [2pr]. Shimano M7 spd shoes. OR Helium rain pants and jacket. Montbell down pants and jacket, Buff, KASK helmet, Rudy Project multi focal specs

Tools/Spares: Crank Bros multi tool, Leatherman Squirt, Tenacious Tape, Tubolito tube +patch kit, cleat screw, pully wheel, brake pads, Stanley blade, bag needle+thread, wheel valve and tyre plugs, zip ties, spokes[2],

Hygine/Health: toothbrush, toothpaste, dental floss, hand sanitiser. Butt ready … Cicalfate+, Lucas Papaw, Carmex, wet wipes.

Ride estimate: Best 40 days, Worst Christmas

Luxury indulgence: 2nd pair of socks, BlueTooth Speaker


I returned to the bike saddle for some fitness about 2005 buying a ‘recreational’ bike mostly riding off road fire trails … it was all downhill from there. XC, 24H [3rd at WEMBO 2013 M65] Bikepacking… the races got longer and I got slower. At my age I’m something of a life experiment. Not a lot of sports science about for septuagenarians so watch this space….good chance you can all get there! I’ve dispensed with usual medical solutions for the aged … statins, irbesartan and got a new hip in November and can now pedal with two legs. I’ve eliminated all grain carbs/sugar from my diet to minimise inflammation and oxidative stress and now principally fuel on fat. I might do a running social media diet post together with some scenic pics along the way. Stay tuned on this page!


Name: Paul Lester

Age: M55

From: Cooma NSW

Bike: Canyon Grizl Wheels: DT Swiss GT1800 spline. 29 x 2.0 Maxis Icons tyres

Drive Train: Shimano GRX 2X

Electronics: SP- hub dynamo,

Lights: KLite

Sundries: Profile Design aero bars with risers

Bags: Apidura full frame bag, Top Tube gas tank, Restrap seat bag

Water: Apidura 3L frame bladder. Camelbak + bottles. Katadyn BeFree Filter

Sleep: Outdoor Research Helium Bivvy, S2S mat, Mont sleeping bag

Ride Time Estimate: To the finish!


Retired rodeo bull rider and regular name on the start lists of multi day bikepacking races. Paul tackled the Terra Australis route in 2019 and again in 2022 but coming unstuck on the first day with some serious stomach issues that persisted for the next few days forcing him to scratch 600k down the route. In 2019 Paul was the only rider still standing when he crashed out just north of Coffs Harbour after 4250k. Paul also raced the abridged Terra Australis border locked Byron Bay-Canberra route in 2020. The remaining 800k of the TA route is in his backyard and most of it he’ll have an intimate knowledge of. Add two US Tour Divides 4,250k a Monaro Cloudride 1000k, multiple Alaskan fat bike races over a decade of north American winters and you have one very experienced rider. Paul’s again flying up on race eve from 0° mornings in Cooma to some balmy 30°c Cape York temps and will acclimatise on the job. The big change for Paul this year will be the switch to the Canyon Grizl gravel bike after his two previous attempts on a dual suspension Trek 29’r .


Name: Mike Israel

Age: M50+

From: North Shore, Sydney NSW

Bike: Giant XTC 29, Carbon rigid fork

Drive Train: Front Chain ring: Raceface 34t with E*thirteen XCX chainguide

Cassette - Shimano XT 11-42 10sp Shifter - Shimano XTR 10sp

Wheelset: 29" DT Swiss GR531 Tyres - Rear Maxxis Icon, Front Maxxis Ardent

Sundries: Brooks Saddle, XT Trail pedals, Ergon GP3 grips, profile design aero bars

Electronics: SP-Dynamo for 15mm TA

Lights: kLite ULTRA racing Adventure light

Bike Bags: Ortlieb, Apidura and Specialised Burra Burra.

Navigation: Hammerhead Karoo2

Water: 6 litres (incl 3ltr Katadyn BeFree + filter +bladder)

Backpack: Deuter Compact 10

Sleep: Outdoor Research Helium Bivy, Sea to Summit ultra light thermal mat and Mont Sleeping bag

Luxury indulgence: spare pair of socks and gloves, pillow, gas burner for on course cooking.

Ride estimate: Best 30 days, Worst 32 days.


Mike has always loved riding bicycles from the age of five when he rode no brakes down the new driveway, straight across the road and into the garage of the house opposite! He started riding seriously at age 38, better late than never, and in the last 17 years has been fortunate to meet many wonderful people and see some stunning scenery whilst riding bikes around the world. His current focus have moved beyond competitive racing, in order to introduce more people to the joy of cycling through the Graveleur community and associated organised gravel cycling events. For him, Terra Australis is a chance to see more of his home country whilst testing the limits of his physical stamina and mental resolve. Mike won the male elite 24H M45-49 at WEMBO 2013 and in 2017 tackled the Trans Continental [DNF @ 2795k] and promotes the popular bikepacker Graveleur Thunderbolts and Clark’s Gambit


Name: Meredith Quinlan

Age: F50+

From: North Shore, Sydney NSW

Bike: Curve, Uprock with front Fox 32

Drive Train: Front ring: 32t Cassette - SRAM Eagle 11:50t

Wheels: 29er 2.2 Maxxis icons

Sundries: 30 PRO aero bars, Tailfin Steel fork mounts and other stuff.

Electronics: SonDelux Dynamo

Lights: kLite ULTRA racing Adventure light

Bike Bags: BikeBagDude [BBD]

Water: 6 litres

Backpack: Deuter Compact 10

Sleep: Mountain Laurel Bivvy with cumulus sleep bag

Luxury indulgence: Hair brush

Ride estimate: Best 60 days, Worst 60 days.


We made the sweeping statement last year ‘when Meredith starts Meredith finishes’… a year later she’s about to confirm and put that 2022 DNF to rest! Last year not one, but two ride ending mechanicals ended her ride at Longreach. There is no better skilled more determined ultra endurance woman capable of completing the challenge than Meredith. A multi disciplined skill set honed over two decades of trail running, hiking, navigating mixing in 6,12, 24h cross country mountain bike endurance races resulting in a glittering trophy cabinet of results … often finishing on the podium amongst the men. She is a ‘5 Year Legend’ on the Ultra Trail Australia Hall of Fame finishers list. In 2019 Meredith entered her first unsupported bikepacking race completing the Monaro Cloudride 1000 finishing 5th in 5d:11h against 14 male racers. Later the same year she completed the truncated unsupported Race to the Rock 3000k [Port Douglas-Alice Springs].


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