The Mexican Outback


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If Mexico has a place that an Aussie can call the outback then surely the state of Durango would be it. My home state or more correctly Territory, The Northern Territory, is known as the outback to most Aussies. It’s even printed on our vehicle registration plates. Crocodile Dundee made us famous. So it was no surprise that I enjoyed cycling from Parrel to the states capital, Durango.

As appears to be my usual form I set off late from Parral. There were a lot of cyclists on the road. I haven’t seen any road cyclists since entering Mexico. I received many fist pumps and cheers. Several of them cycled with me or stopped to chat with this stranger on a heavily loaded bike.

I chatted with several professional cyclists from the Chihuahua State cycling team. I didn’t even know there were professional cyclists in Mexico. Several other cyclists stopped for a chat. Turns out that cycling is big in Parral.

These cyclists said they would have loved it if I did a presentation of my trip when in town. Makes me think, is that something I should consider doing! I guess my trip might be of interest for some people.

The scenery for the several hundred kilometers was rather unremarkable, as is sometimes the case in the outback. My nights were spent camped in farmers paddocks and my days were kept entertained by listening to podcasts, audiobooks and a selection of songs.

The largest town between Parral and Durango is called Rodeo. Reminded me of a Mexican version of Tennant Creek in the Northern Territory, or TFC as we call it! My friends at home will now know what Rodeo is like!

The capital of Durango state is called Durango. A town where there’s a police officer on every street corner and a real central market. My first real market in Mexico. A place where almost anything can be bought or sold. I wandered the market and the streets of the town.

Again I seem to be the only non Latino in town. People speak fast here. I thought my Spanish was coming along ok till now. I seriously struggle to understand people here. I can communicate what I want but they speak so fast it’s hard to comprehend. I can’t wait to get back on the road to the small towns where people speak slow enough that even I can understand them.

For a city of 500,000 people it’s the nicest city I’ve yet visited in Mexico. The food is awesome and cheap, except on the pedestrian tourist strip where a meal costs around US$7-10. Not the usual US$3-5 that I spend when I eat out.

I planned a route out of town, stocked up on supplies, washed my clothes, oiled the chain and readied myself to leave town. Only one thing to do, check the weather forecast. Hurricane Sandra heading straight for me! What, a hurricane in the last week of November! Luckily it was weakening but threatened to bring a bit of rain and wind. Decision made, I’ll stay a couple of days longer. I kind of like Durango.

I also caught up on the local news only to find that a couple of Aussie tourists have gone missing in the state of Sinaloa, which I cycled through not long ago. Things don’t look good.

myself, Juan and Miguel
sometimes its very dissappointing to see so much rubbish


sunset beer in a farmers field


Next : The Lonely Road

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About the Author:
Brad is an Australian who has completed the hiking Triple Crown after he hiked the Pacific Crest Trail, Continental Divide Trail and Appalachian Trail. He has hiked on every continent (except Antarctica) and has cycled from Alaska to Ecuador. He is an expert on outdoor gear currently living in Chile.

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19 thoughts on “The Mexican Outback”

  1. Hi Brad, I finally dug out my journal of my travels through Mexico and Central America in 1974 on my ’72 Honda 750. One of the goals of our trip was to visit several of the major Mayan ruins. The ruins at Teotihuacan (N/E of Mexico City) were the first. We spent 9 days in and around The Capital. Huge Central Market, good cheap food of every description. We spent 4 days in Oaxaca, did some vehicle maintenance. We originally were going to camp along the road like you are doing, but when we would stay at a trailer park/camp site, we got so much information from other campers about places to see and places to avoid that we sought out these camp sites the rest of our trip. From Oaxaca we rode north to Villa Hermosa then out to the ruins at Palenque. The ruins were the best we had seen so far. We also learned about a swimming area just before the entrance to ruins. You couldn’t see the pools and waterfalls from the road, you needed specific directions to find them. They were one of the highlights of our trip.
    more later

  2. Do you like the company of the other bikers or prefer the solitude of the previous weeks? There must be a balance in there somewhere. Good to see that you made it safely through the previous area in spite of the warnings. How do you say “Just passing through” in Spanish? Ha! Ha!

    • A combination of people and solitude. I would really love to share the trail with other people bit my idea of places to visit and routes does not work with most people. Oh and my Spanish isn’t that great yet, I can communicate but not translate!

  3. Hi Brad,
    LOL. TFC.
    Sad about the Aussie surfers. Not being a big tv watcher, coverage seems to be slim over here. I don’t recall anything on the NT aunty channel.
    Re the wild weather you are having, indications downunder are for an El-nino pattern again this summer. NW Queensland already looks parched when I drove through last week, legacy of the previous recent droughts. I had heard discussions of a dry wet in the topend this year. Time will tell. Very sticky up there at the moment in the buildup.

    • TFC, you know it. In coming days ongoing to have abut if a search about what the El Niño will mean to me in the places I’ll be travelling. Some cycling friends in the deserts of Bolivia and Peru are already being treated to storms and wildflowers.

      • About 80km north of Adelaide had a bad bushfire in November. Sadly with loss of life. Strong winds and dry cereal crops ready for harvest combined to cause a rapid moving fire front. Unusually close to Adelaide.

        Water holes around the Alice are very low, some still able to swim them but rain is desperately needed to replenish them. Kangaroos are coming in to the better fodder along the sides of the roads. I have seen camels from the far western desert country coming in to about 100km from the Alice, looking for better food. Some patchy rain sprinkles have cause a bit of short lived green in the last week.

        Have you been treated to any good star shows at night from your current latitudes. The last time I checked up there was when Venus and Jupiter came close together, and we had patchy cloud cover, but did manage to see it. I need to check what happening in the wild night sky

  4. If you haven’t heard the latest about the Aussie surfers, their van was found totally burned with two bodies inside burned beyond recognition…DNA required to ID the bodies but I’m sure its the missing surfers..

    • Thanks Ron. The Australian media has run with the story, as a result I’ve received countless message. The news is not good but I am safe and well. Food for thought.

  5. What a beautiful place! You are certainly having a grand adventure, mate! Keep on going, Brad – you are a rock star.

    What are your plans for Christmas?

    Mike M, Riverside, CA

  6. Good to hear from you even though I do not know you. It has been a while since you posted and I was wondering if worrying would help,no. Happy to hear you are moving on and staying safe. Durango looked very clean, interesting pictures

    • Thanks Margaret. I plan to only post about once a week at this stage. So sometimes I’ll be a little behind depending on where I can find wifi.

  7. Hey Brad! Good to hear that you’ve found a nice city to spend a few days in while you wait out the bad weather.

    I was wondering what you have been using to find your way around Mexico. Does Pocket Earth have maps that are good enough to plan your route or have you been using paper maps? Maybe something else? I used Pocket Earth a lot when I was biking around Europe this fall and it was missing some roads and bike paths. But overall it was really good. I’m wondering if the quality of the maps in Pocket Earth is just as good in Mexico.

    • I use a combination of paper maps, pocket earth and google maps. There is a lot of inconsistency between them all and a lot of new roads are being/have been built in Mexico recently. When the roads show up on two of my sources I’m happy to plan the route. I’m also happy that pocket earth now has topo maps. Great for planning.


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