A quad bike adventure in the Aussie outback
If you’re a guy who loves the feeling of wind in your hair, the smell of freedom in the air, and the thrill of acceleration, then there are a few experiences you need to tick off at least once in your life.
Learning how to ride a pushbike on your local street, two-wheeling in a tuktuk in Bangkok, cruising in a convertible Mustang in Los Angeles – all of these are obvious. I didn’t know it then, but a quad bike adventure in the Australian outback is another must-do.
Just two-and-a-half hours from Sydney, I hop off a plane in Alice Springs ready to explore and kick up some dust. Rightfully first on the list of things to do is the quad bike adventure tour at the Undoolya cattle station. If you really want to immerse youself in the landscape – to see it, smell it and feel it under your tyres – then Undoolya is the place for you.
We’re fetched from our hotel by “Frosty”, our wise and ever-entertaining tour guide. With his stories of life in the outback and unique sense of humor, the transfer to the cattle station is probably one of the best introductions to the outback you can get.
Ten minutes from the hotel and we’re standing at the start of the quad bike trail, with the bikes already lined up and ready to go. It’s safety first and Frosty takes it very seriously – there’s no hooning here! But it’s mostly common sense stuff, really. Then it’s off to pick a helmet, grab a bottle of water and get ready to get down and dirty.
We’re on the Rolls Royce of quad bikes, the Polaris 330. They’re seriously easy to ride, pack a bit of power, and handle rocks and branches with no problems! Frosty calls them his “mechanical ponies” and deep down a little part of me feels like a cowboy in the Wild West. As soon as we got the engines roaring, Frosty takes us on an informative tour full of history, tales of survival, facts about the livestock, and an overall sense of how life works on these cattle stations.
We start off slow to get a feel for the bikes, but the speed picks up fairly quickly. The best part of the ride is zipping through the dry creek bed, weaving in and out of the ghost gums and wild shrubs as we dodge the occasional fallen tree trunk. On this stretch of the tour you can really push the bike to its limits. For those wanting a bit more of a challenge, there’s also some crazily steep rocky hills to climb with rewarding views of the adjacent mountain ranges once you’re at the top. (Tip: Frosty has a two-seater, so if you’re planning on taking someone who isn’t comfortable with driving they can ride with Frosty)
Of course, just as it feels like we’re getting the hang of it we’re back at the starting point. We’re on our feet putting our helmets on their hooks, then in a car and driving back to town. It’s at this point I realise, as I stare out the window, that seeing the outback from a car doesn’t even come close to experiencing it on a quad bike.