Homeward bound - but Maree forced to take new desert route

Posted: 7am 23 Aug 2021

Maree Stephenson is on the final leg of her 10,000km, 10-desert cycling challenge – but it’s a different route to the original plan.

She was going south to cross the Simpson Desert via Mt Dare and the K1/Rig Road which criss-crosses the Northern Territory, South Australia and Queensland borders. 

But border closures, due to COVID, have forced the Griffin resident to go north from Alice Springs and take the Plenty Highway to Queensland, then ride down to Boulia and Birdsville.

One of Maree's camps on the Tanami, behind some rocks.

From there the 53-year-old will do a loop into the Simpson Desert and back again to tick off the 10th and final desert of her 140-day fundraising marathon.

The consolation is, last week Ms Stephenson reached her target of raising $10,000 for Beyond Blue, the mental health and well-being support organisation.

Five figures came up with donations from the journey along the arduous 1000km Tanami Track, from Halls Creek in the Kimberley to Alice Springs.

Stocking up with water, left hidden behind a marked tree by a Tanami Track passer-by.

It included $465 from the Exact Contracting team. “I paid the cash in and thought ‘wow’, that’s cool,” Ms Stephenson said on passing $10,000.

“It was so special to see that milestone come up. Bless everyone supporting our challenge.”

The support of mine workers and road teams maintaining the Tanami Track have been a feature with many stopping to check on Ms Stephenson and her fat-wheeled bike Banjo.

Hot day in the saddle on the Tanami Track

With water being essential, passers-by have topped up her supplies, one took water ahead to lighten the load and another left extra water bottles behind a tree, marked with a ribbon.

“The Tanami was hard, tiring and exhausting," Ms Stephenson said. "At times I was crying and was over it, bottomed out, but worked through it.

“It really was next level challenge. But the guys (contractors, mine workers) were so full of joy, so wanting to help and be open about mental health.

Hidden behind bushes, Maree settles in for the night.

"I'm almost a public face of challenges in Beyond Blue. I think that's why I'm on the receiving end of so much generosity

“They are on that track all the time. It’s a collective comaraderie out there.”

Ms Stephenson left Woodford on May 1 on a journey which has taken her to the coast of Western Australia.

Stunning sunrises and sunsets on the Tanami.

She will now finish in Birdsville on September 11 where her family will greet her. "I can't wait to see them again," Ms Stephenson said.

To follow the 10 Desert Challenge and donate to the cause visit

There's more news here.



Waging war on graffiti at Kippa-Ring

Petrie MP Luke Howarth was sick of seeing a prominent building on one of the Moreton Bay Region’s main arterials at Kippa-Ring covered in graffiti. Find out how he fixed it……

New car helps in Braking the Cycle

Caboolture Sports Club (CSC) Group and Morayfield Lions have teamed up to help Caboolture PCYC buy a second car for their Braking the Cycle community program.…

More you might like:


Local News   •   18-9-2021  •   Nick Crockford

Makenzi ready to take on world

Mango Hill teenager Makenzi Goodwin has been selected for the globe’s biggest acting showcase, which will be shown live next week.…

Local News   •   17-9-2021  •   Nick Crockford

Sign-up for free seniors expo

Registrations are now open for the 2021 LRegistrations are now open for the 2021 Longman Seniors Expo which is being held next month at two locations.…

Local News   •   17-9-2021  •   Kylie Knight

Engineering program takes off

Every Wednesday, a group of St Columban’s College students and their mentors head to the workshop, where they are carefully constructing an aeroplane. The Caboolture school is the first to do it in Australia as part of the Flight Youth Engineering program. We take a look …

Local News   •   17-9-2021  •   Nick Crockford

Better 5G coverage on way for Caboolture suburbs

Residents and businesses in Narangba, Caboolture, Morayfield and Ningi will soon have more options when choosing a 5G network provider.…

Local News   •   17-9-2021  •   Nick Crockford

World first in Morayfield - Beep Cricket

The world’s first Beep Cricket Match will be held in Morayfield this weekend and is set to open up sport for the blind and vision impaired.…

Local News   •   17-9-2021  •   Nick Crockford

$290,000 boost for community hub

Caboolture disability support organisation Better Together has received more than $290,000 to accelerate construction of a centre for people with a disability.…

Your free local community newspaper, home delivered fortnightly.

Read Latest Edition