| 19/05/2012 | 0 Comments

Australia’s toughest off road adventure, the Australasian Safari, takes a new turn in September when it heads to the coast for a course covering more than 3000km of stunning but incredibly challenging terrain.

More than 100 competitors in 4x4s, on motorbikes and quad bikes will struggle to look straight ahead and not at the scenery when they will take off from Perth and travel north up the coast to Geraldton, through the wheatbelt and Murchison to tropical Carnarvon, station country and the start of the Ningaloo Reef, before finishing back at Geraldton.
In a shift from the dust, paddocks, and fence lines featuring in previous years, this year new terrain will be challenging. Sandy creeks, river crossings, vegetated sand hills, and natural landscapes are on the cards with some impressive and extreme coastal stages planned. The course travels on mostly private owned land, meaning this will be the only chance competitors have to experience this otherwise inaccessible course.
The stunning Hillary’s Boat Harbour, on Perth’s northern beaches, will host the sunset Safari Show and Ceremonial Start on Friday 21 September.
The competition stages will start and finish in Geraldton, one of Western Australia’s largest regional cities renowned for its rich farmland, fishing industry and expanded port facilities. Geraldton are also the gateway to the Coral Coast, one of Australia’s greatest natural playgrounds.
Legs Two and Six will finish at one of WA’s favourite family holiday destinations, Kalbarri, known for its almost year-round sunshine. The landscape around Kalbarri is dramatic with limestone gorges and beautiful beaches.
Competition is bound to get fierce when Safari then heads to Shark Bay. Much of the area is made up of national parks and reserves but the course avoids these areas. Nearby Monkey Mia is known for its dolphins, which come to the shore for feeding.
At the mouth of the Gascoyne River, Carnarvon will host Safari for two nights for Legs Three and Four. Leg Three is tipped as the most spectacular stage in the history of Safari. Competitors will travel north through stations that border the Indian Ocean and Ningaloo Reef, providing truly spectacular vision.
Travelling east, the Kennedy Ranges will be the backdrop for competitors as they tackle rocky outcrops, red sand dunes, spinifex, wattle and mallee trees – it’s no wonder this is a favourite spot for 4WD enthusiasts.
Safari then heads inland to the Shire of Upper Gascoyne for Leg Five, and a double overnight stop in Gascoyne Junction. This is a region that is synonymous with the challenges and the romance of early station life. The area suffered devastating flooding in the summer of 2010/11, and the small community is drawing deeply on its pioneer spirit, determined to rebuild the town bigger and better than it was before. The final leg will bring the competitors back to Geraldton and the Finish on Saturday 29 September.
Event director Justin Hunt said community support was vital in ensuring Safari can travel offroad in WA. “We’ve been overwhelmed by support, camaraderie and excitement as we’ve travelled to plan the course and meet with landowners over the last few months,” he said.
Whilst a shorter course this year – in 2011 competitors travelled almost 4000kms – competitors will be forced to race at a lower average competition speed due to technically challenging and rough terrain. The course will be complex for riders and drivers, making the Australasian Safari true to its title of the toughest off-road challenge in Australasia.

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