Need a place to ride your dirt bike near Mackay? Well, we actually found 5 spots that you can take your trail or dirt bike for a spin in the bush!
Best Places to Ride a Dirt Bike near Mackay
In writing this guide, we recommend that you do your research regarding necessary permits and licensing. If you have an unregistered dirt bike then you might be riding illegally.
Also, wear your dirt bike protection gear and bring your hydration pack. You take a hard crash on your trail bike, then you’ll be able to get yourself out of a sticky situation much easier.
The best places to ride are:
1. Cathu State Forest
Drive an hour north of Mackay and you’ll come across Cathu State Forest. This is a great place for dirt bikes and you’ll need to stay on formed tracks.
You can also go camping inside the state forest as well. Use this map for a reference of where to base yourself for a day of riding on the trails.
The tracks here are forest fire trails and tight technical sections. Not so beginner friendly but you’ll find some flat areas for sure.
2. Mia Mia State Forest
Instead of driving north, you could instead go west! If you’re looking for more open plains and fast flowing gravel tracks, then you’ve found it!
Mia Mia State Forest is an open forest mostly comprising of eucalptys. Houses out this way are limited and you’re less likely to come across mountain bikers, hikers or tourists in general.
The tracks here are more open country where you might see triple digits on the speedo. Just like Cathu, you can certainly go camping here.
3. Drummonds Run
If you’re OK to shell out a few dollars then go along to Drummonds Run. This Enduro and Moto X Park is seriously well setup covering a diverse range of conditions.
Unfortunately, given the wet season, it appears that this place is temporarily closed. The owners are hinting that this place is permanently closed and never to re-open.
This sucks as Mackay already has so few good places to ride a trail bike in general, and if your dirt bike was unregistered as is the case for many people, then this really was your only choice.
4. Gum Valley Veterans Natural Terrain MX Track
Head 45 minutes south of Mackay and you’ll come across this MX track and club. The track is a bit more unique as it runs on natural terrain and has a longer run than most other tracks.
The club runs regular events and new members are welcome at any time. The club also runs some social events, group rides and beach runs.
They welcome dirt bikes of any size whether unregistered or not. Worth checking out!
5. Mackay Junior MX track
Yep – you probably knew about this one, but if you didn’t, the Mackay junior MX track is perfect for kids needing to improve their dirt bike riding skills but adults are welcome to go riding here too, even if you don’t have kids.
There are now around 2,500 members in the Mackay Junior Motocross public group. This is the perfect place to find someone for which to explore new tracks with on weekends in the Mackay region.
The club itself charges affordable membership fees and meets weekly.
6. Pioneer Valley Enduro Club
Join the Pioneer Valley Enduro Club and you’ll get some seriously fast-flowing sections worth of fun. They run races every few weeks in good community spirit as well as casual trail bike riding days.
Races aren’t for you? Not to worry! You can put yourself in the rear of the group and just follow along in the fun. There is a strong sense of community here and everyone really gets along.
They’re only 30 minutes outside of the Mackay CBD making this one of the closest dirt bike riding experiences available. Some people even ride their road-registered dirt bike straight in and out!
The terrain here is sandy and open savanna country. Nothing too technical.
Pro Mackay region riding tips
Before you load up your dirt bike on the trailer, here are some tips and pointers:
Don’t go on to private property. If the gate is closed with a sign, then there is a good reason.
If an area says no dirt bikes, then it means no dirt bikes. Don’t close areas for other people.
Get inside Facebook groups. They are a wealth of information for riders.
Check your permits! Rangers patrol these areas often and will issue tickets for unregistered dirt bike riding anywhere near Mackay.
Always ride with a buddy or two. Even better – join an enduro club and go trail riding, meet some new friends and have a laugh!
It’s always good to plan a ride and ensure your trail bike or dirt bike is up to the task.
That’s it for this list! Where have you ridden before? Any issues with coppers or rangers? Let us know in the comments below.
Looking to cross the Canning Stock Route by motorcycle or 4×4? I decided to create a guide to help you accomplish just that.
Canning Stock Route Crossing Guide
This 1,700-kilometer track is iconic and top of the bucket list for many adventurous Australians. Unfortunately, there has been crashes, disasters and indeed deaths over the years.
For this reason, everything comes down to preparedness. You won’t find mechanics, fuel stops or the local Woolies anywhere on this route. You’ll even need a permit to start it too.
It will require up to 17 days to complete the entire length of the Canning Stock Route. Some people have finished it in less than 4 days, however this is tough going.
Canning Stock Route fuel
One of the biggest challenges for Crossing the Canning Stock Route is fuel., so I decided to start this guide with the petrol/diesel situation.
There are no fuel stations on the way. Both Halls Creek and Wiluna have fuel, and depending on the season, there may be a fuel dump at Well 23 on the route. Alternatively, we’ve heard reports of the Parngurr community having fuel for emergency use but this shouldn’t be relied upon.
You will need between 200L and 500L of fuel to cross the Canning Stock Route. 200L for motorcycles, 300L for 4×4’s and 500L for offroad trucks.
For many people, this entails have multiple jerry cans. Some dirt bike riders have organized trips with a support vehicle which carries plenty of fuel to make it through. One such example is Outback Adventure Treks who run this trip every few months.
In the past, you were permitted to have a fuel drop pre-organized around the half way point at one of the wells. The Capricorn Roadhouse organizes this on your behalf. Unfortunately, this appears to be no longer permitted.
The Kunawarritji Roadhouse sits around halfway and may have fuel as might the Billiluna Community Store.
Generally it’s best to do complete the Canning Stock Route during the winter months. From early May to late September. July and August are ideal to complete the trek either by motorcycle or 4×4.
During the Australian summer (December to February) it’s simply too hot to complete this route. You’ll inherently need to carry more fuel and aren’t likely to come across anyone else on this route.
Also, avoid Spring and Autumn months. The wet season can create excessively muddy conditions that could leave you bogged and stranded for days at a time.
Accommodation and camping
There are no hotels, motels or caravan parks on the Canning Stock Route. You’ll need to pitch a tent every night. Bringing a caravan, even a small one, is very much discouraged.
Most people camp at each well when they arrive in the evenings. This is because the wells sometimes have water though some aren’t operational too.
For a comfortable experience, you’ll need to bring:
A high quality tent from a respected brand name
A high quality sleeping bag that is rated to minus 5c.
Depending on the season, a think sleeping pad
The desert gets very cold in winter, especially as night falls. It’s not uncommon to reach 0c but it never shows on the Canning Stock Route due to the low altitude.
The track conditions on the Canning Stock Route can vary, though it is typically very sandy. You will need to be an experienced motorcyclist with at least 1 year of sand riding experience to truly enjoy this experience.
We actually wrote a guide on how to take your motorcycle riding in the sand. Essentially, you need to keep the power high in the rev range while leaning back. This is fatiguing so you’ll need to have a high level of fitness in addition to your experience behind the handlebars.
Parts of the track have washouts and creek crossings, plus vegetation, big rocks and the biggest risk of them all – other users. That’s right – it’s frequented by 4×4 enthusiasts and other dirt bike riders quite often, especially in the winter months.
The Canning Stock Route is often closed for the entire wet season to tourist traffic, both 4x4s and motorcycles.
You will come across an array of wildlife on the Canning Stock Route. This includes:
Eastern grey kangaroos
Brown and black snakes. Taipans too.
Emus and dingoes. Plenty of these.
Camels. They love the desert
Lizards. These are the most common
Scorpions depending on where you are
You won’t find deer, koalas, buffalo or drop bears on the track. Nor will you find UFOs or the Yowie.
Taking dogs on the Canning Stock Route
As for taking your own animals, it’s certainly possible. Yes, you can bring your dog on the Canning Stock Route. You will need to be mindful of the dingoes and potentially wild dogs in the area, as well as 1080 baits which are routinely set by both station managers and the Western Australian government. Bring a muzzle just in case.
Remember that it isn’t a National Park so you’re very much unrestricted. If you do bring your dog, then ensure it has a safe and secure place to travel with you. Standing in the tray on a 34c day while bouncing up and down sand dunes isn’t enjoyable for dogs of any size.
Most travelers choose to have their dogs stay in the tent with them while they sleep, often in the open section at the front.
Deaths on the Canning Stock Route
Yes, sadly there have been multiple fatalities on the Canning Stock Route. Deaths could happen for the following reasons:
Broken down engine and owner walked for supplies
Vehicle crashes which lead to blunt force trauma
Poisonous snake bites
Contaminated well water
Past medical history leading to heart attack
Remember you are a long way from help. While the Royal Flying Doctor can help people on the Canning Stock Route, there are almost no functioning landing strips apart from some nearby stations. And so if you do get stranded or seriously injured, you’ll endure a long trip first to find a functional airstrip.
As an alternative to the RFDS, helicopters are routinely used to rescue people in these parts.
List of people who have died (and survived) the CSR
There have been people who have died in their pursuit of making this crossing, with most of them attempting to do it solo.
Bradley John Richards and nephew Mac Bevan Cody died in April 2005 after running out of water and fuel on the route. Their dog also perished.
Kim Hardt from Germany was bogged in her hired 4×4 for 3 consecutive days on the Canning Stock Route.
Phil Blampied survived for almost a month after his car became stuck in the sand dunes and later running out of petrol. A rescue helicopter had to recover him in the middle of summer.
James Smith died in 1939 after a fall from his horse. Reference.
In 2016, an unnamed man in his 80’s attempted the CSR but broke down twice and was grossly ill-prepared for the journey, despite his big motivations.
In fact, each year, dozens of people get stuck on the Canning Stock Route for various reasons outlined above. That’s why this expedition starts with solid preparation.
Food and toilets
There are toilets on the Canning Stock Route and these are only found at certain wells. For most travellers, a shovel does the job. Pro-tip: Bury it deep and bring the insect repellant as there are lots of flies, especially in the winter months.
As for food, you’ll need to bring your own. You won’t come across wildlife that you can comfortably eat and the vegetarian is very limited.
As with any expedition, take all your rubbish home with you. The CSR isn’t a rubbish tip. In the evening, have it sealed so the dingoes don’t find their way into your campsite at 3am.
Permits for the Canning Stock Route
You will need a permit for the Canning Stock Route. This covers vehicles such as trucks, motorcycles and 4x4s as well as bicycles and pedestrians.
For most travelers wanting to complete the entire route, you’ll need 2 permits:
The 1st permit is for the Birriliburu, Ngurrara and Tjurabalan sections of the CSR track. This makes up the bulk of the route.
The 2nd permit simply covers the Martu section which you’ll encounter roughly around half way.
In 2020, these can now be purchased online. The cost for the Canning Stock Route Permit is now $175 inc GST.
Information for ADV motorcycles
As we’re a motorcycle brand, we want to provide some more insights specifically for 2-wheel travel. Because each year, about 100 adventure motorcycles complete the entire length of the Canning Stock Route.
Here are some tips:
It’s almost impossible to do an unsupported trip of the Canning Stock Route. Doing so requires carrying heavy amounts of fuel over vast distances plus making a fuel drop mid-way. You’ll find it much easier to have a support truck.
Take 3 spare tubes with you. Inherently you or someone in your group will sustain a flat tyre somewhere on the Canning Stock Route. Some groups take spare tyres as well.
Pack some muscle relaxant cream. Given the distance and challenges of riding on sand, you’ll be quite sore at the end of each day. It could be a challenge to get to sleep in a tent.
Be wary of the dingoes. Those with rooftop tents have the luxury of staying clear of dingo packs. Unfortunately, ADV riders don’t have that privilege.
Safety is paramount. Packing a GPS, EPIRB and satellite phone into your panniers isn’t going to take up much space at all. Wear all of your protection gear as well.
Lastly, it’s not a race. Pace yourself and take it easy. Most riders only do 30km/h average when riding the CSR route. This isn’t the Dakar after all. It’s a challenging expedition for adventure motorcycle riders.
Fastest crossing of the Canning Stock Route
While we advise 2 to 3 weeks to finish the entire length, did you know someone has done it a lot faster? That’s Scot Brinell, an ironman from right here in Australia.
In 2016, the world record for the fastest crossing of the Canning Stock Route was set at 48 hours. That’s 2 days start to finish! It was completed on a KTM 690R Dakar requiring strategic fuel drops.
Often if you do the CSR in less than 1 week it’s considered very fast.
Check out the full article if you want to learn more about this unbelievable record set by Scot. And…part of it was in the rain too. What a challenge!
The Canning Stock Route is a lot of fun and should be crossed off the bucket list for many adventure motorcycle riders. Getting there is half the battle and so are those first few hundred kilometres.
Get yourself prepared and pack just the bare essentials, while not forgoing your safety gear. It’s a heck of a lot of fun, but this all starts with planning.
We recently decided to purchase a premium membership to the Rever Phone App to see if it’s worth it for adventure riders.
Rever Premium App Review
Straight up – the coolest part about this app is that you can install it for free and access many of its features. Essentially, it was built by motorcycle riders and the community really keeps it updated.
With Rever, you can:
Find new places to ride that other riders have uploaded into the app
Build your custom route while also tracking your daily rides
Share the ride reports with others including other ADV riders globally
Access the maps offline, while also tracking and recording your data
3D maps so you can see terrain variances with a big-picture view
Use the LiveRide feature which sends an automatic SMS to friends/family including location
You can use waypoints on any routes to take note of any landmarks, either for yourself or other riders in the community. All the data exists in the cloud so you don’t need to download anything to your computer after a day of riding.
One of the coolest things is that the data can be imported into a GPS unit via the GPX format. Often when riding we have our cell phone but also a standalone GPS unit too. We don’t believe at this time that phones are quite the replacement, but the world seems to be trending this way.
Our ADV experiences with Rever
We really loved the fact that, while this is an app, you can just as easily use it offline. It’s normal for adventure riders not to have phone signal and yet the app still works reasonably well. That is – as long as we don’t stray too far from the chosen route. I found the accuracy wasn’t the best but good enough for a non-gps system.
Is it worth the $48/year membership fee? Well if you’re a regular rider, absolutely! This works out to just $4/month USD. If this is only something you might use every few months, then stick with the free version. Save that for 3 tanks of fuel.
In our experience, you’ll want to use a phone mount and protective case if you’re riding offroad. Most ADV riders use a GPS instead and the Rever App won’t work on a GPS. Also, get an anti-glass screen cover installed so you can view your Rever maps in direct sunlight as smartphones are notoriously bad during high noon.
Pros and cons
Archiving and sharing rides with fellow adventure riders is the key feature for this app and one that we really praise. Not only that but on 2 occasions we reached out to their tech support and got a reply back within a few hours.
However, the app can be a little buggy and as we’ve noted, the offline maps aren’t perfectly accurate. Also – you are reliant on the riding community for route information which might not always be accurate.
One thing that the app doesn’t take into account for is changing track conditions or differences in weather or seasonality. So while you might see someone else finishing a ride in 3 hours, this could take you 5 hours and well past sunset.
But these are merely 1st world problems. Given that the data stays in the cloud so you don’t need to mess around with transferring data or map files, it suffices to say that apps like these for riders will soon overtake GPS systems, even for round-the-world motorcycle travel.
Start with the free version to learn the ropes. Even the free version provides some basic value. Many riders do opt to take up a Pro subscription which they don’t regret. If you search around, there are various people offering a Rever coupon online.
Rever is the almost-perfect solution to adventure riders everywhere. As technology improves, so will this app.
Many people are confused as to which green lanes are legal and which are illegal. After all, we don’t want to get motorcycle fines.
Given that the United Kingdom has its fair share of rules and restrictions, it’s no wonder that many beginners and experienced ADV riders look for green lanes.
After all, they are a passport to freedom on a Sunday afternoon. A chance to leave behind the troubles of modern-day suburbs, office politics and family dramas.
But could you still receive a ticket on your adventure bike? Maybe.
Legal Green Lanes in the UK
Laws surrounding green lane usage are complex for the inexperienced and simple for those who have been riding such out-of-the-way trails for years.
Generally, it’s best to check an Ordnance Survey Map for roads which are shown as a byway and open to all traffic. This is the symbol you’ll see:
A restricted byway is a trail where no vehicle with a motor can go on it. While obviously this excludes all types of motorcycles, this often includes electric mountain bikes too.
While there might be temptation to take a shortcut, refer to your maps to find a longer route. After all, we’re adventure riders. It’s about the journey, not making the quickest lap times.
Temporarily closed green lanes
Many green lanes you’ll find are closed in the winter months due to excessive rain. By closing them, they reduce the amount of track damaged caused by adventure riders and weekend riders with dirt bikes.
The best way to check the status of a closed green lane is via Trailways. This database is routinely updated by the community by the Green Lane Association Limited, a not-for-profit whose aim is to help preserve unsurfaced roads for all trail users including 4x4s, dirt bikes, adventure riders and mountain bikes.
Totally forbidden routes
It’s very much forbidden for you to travel via bridleways and footpaths. However, the police in rural areas often have limited reach. There are bigger problems in the city and local towns after all.
While it is an offence under Section 34 of the Road Traffic Act UK, it’s actually not one that can be endorsed. The police can seize your motorcycle if you repeatedly do the wrong thing, but this happens rarely.
Fines for green lanes
So the question still remains: Will you get fined if you use a green lane?
While you could be fined for up to £1,000 for illegal green lane usage, this rarely happens. The police have very little presence in rural areas across the UK.
Now, while your chances of actually being persecuted are slim, don’t underestimate the power of country folk. While many are humble, understanding and reasonable people, they are never pleased to see ruined green lanes due to excessive rear wheel spin.
Angry farmers with a firearm could easily ruin your afternoon ride in the countryside, so do your best to stick to well-established routes. If unsure, don’t take that route!
Riding responsibly on green routes
Instead of ripping up a trail like you might on an MX track, instead take a conservative approach. There is nothing wrong with cruising along at 30kms per hour on a green lane.
If you’re coming around a bend, slow down considerably. There might be pedestrians and horses on the other side which you haven’t yet seen.
Look out for wildlife such as foxes as well as livestock that might have escaped. Running into a 300kg fully grown bull is a sure-fire way to ruin your afternoon fun, even at low speeds.
You certainly can ride on green routes, but ensure you pay close attention to both Ordnance Surveys and road signs. Often road signs are more reliable than maps, even the digital type.
Be respectful of other road users and local residents. Often they have to use such routes to carry out their livelihood.
If you’re new to green lane riding, then riding with a group of experienced riders is often the best choice.