Songwriter Paul Kelly said it best: From little things big things grow.

The mighty Mawson Trail – 900km through some of South Australia’s most spectacular territory from the Adelaide Hills to Blinman – originated from a meeting of just a handful of cycling enthusiasts in 1990.

That was when representatives of the SA Touring Cyclists’ Association (now Bicycle SA), the Cycling Protection Association (now Bicycle Institute of SA), the Cycling for Pleasure Group and the Mountain Bike Club (now Adelaide MTB Club) met in June to plan and create the new Off-Road Cycling Trail – later named after Antarctic explorer Douglas Mawson – that would meander through some of SA’s most spectacular countryside from the capital city to the northern Flinders Ranges.

Volunteer weekend trail marking work began the next year and continued until the mid-90s, establishing the trail that comprises little-used country roads, state forest and national park fire trails, farm access tracks and unmade or unused road reserves. The Mawson avoids traffic and bitumen roads and leads cyclists into the remote areas of the Flinders Ranges.

Beginning near the top end of the Linear Park track that runs from West Beach to Athelstone – meaning you can in fact ride from sea level to SA’s second highest town of Blinman (615m) – the trail takes riders through the Adelaide Hills, traversing forests, farmland and historic towns such as Lobethal and Birdwood. It passes the world-famous Barossa Valley wine region to the mid-north towns of Kapunda and Burra then winds past Hallett and Spalding through the Bundaleer Forest and into the Flinders Ranges including Melrose, Hawker, the awesome spectacle of Wilpena Pound and finally to Blinman.

Six members of SATCA – John Bassett, Peter Woolford, David Wilson, Margaret Day, David Cook and Jim Gray – were part of the original group who rode from Blinman to Adelaide in early 1990 to test out the intended route with a feasibility ride. Jim Gray said of that first ride: “I do feel that some parts of the route will only be used by a very few very experienced off-road cyclists”.

Fast forward to 2002 and the first of our biennial Outback Odyssey adventures riding the full length of the Mawson and people of all ages, ability and experience have taken on that trail and fallen in love with its beauty AND its challenges.

Certainly, the Mawson is no armchair ride. However, spectacular views, abundant wildlife, unique flora and extensive vistas always reward the hard physical work.

The Mawson is now an important part of SA’s heritage. It embraces our history, tourism industry, environmental celebration and protection and the extraordinary cultural diversity of all the many communities it passes through over its vast length.

And you can’t write the history of the Mawson without Bike SA. It’s part of our DNA and we a part of it – at the beginning, now and as long as people love to explore on two wheels.