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 3000 kilometres of stunning, but incredibly challenging terrain.
More than 100 competitors in the 4x4, motorbike and quad classes will struggle to look straight ahead and not at the beautiful scenery when they take off from Perth and travel north up the coast to Geraldton. They'll then go through the wheat-belt and Murchison to tropical Carnarvon, then station country and the start of the Ningaloo Reef before finishing back at Geraldton.
In a shift from the dust, paddocks, and fence lines featured in previous years, completely new terrain is on the cards. Sandy creeks, river crossings, vegetated sand hills, and natural landscapes will be mixed with with some impressive and extreme coastal stages. The course travels on mostly privately owned land, meaning this will be the only chance competitors have to experience this otherwise inaccessible course.
Eventscorp Executive Director, Gwyn Dolphin, said it was great to see the 2012 Safari travel through some of WA's most stunning and diverse landscapes in the Coral Coast and Golden Outback regions.
"The television coverage of this year's event is guaranteed to be spectacular, and will provide valuable national and international exposure for the region and the State as a whole," Dolphin said.
The stunning Hillary's Boat Harbour, on Perth's northern beaches, will host the sunset Safari Show and Ceremonial Start on Friday 21 September. While 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 is 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 the Safari then heads to Shark Bay. Much of the area is made up of national parks and reserves but the course avoids these areas. 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 when competitors travel north through stations that border the Indian Ocean and Ningaloo Reef. Travelling east, the Kennedy Ranges will be the backdrop for competitors as they tackle rocky outcrops, red sand dunes, Spinifex, Wattle and Mallee trees. The Safari then heads inland to the Shire of Upper Gascoyne for Leg Five, and a double overnight stop in Gascoyne Junction. While 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," said Hunt.
Whilst a shorter course this year - in 2011 competitors travelled almost 4000km - 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.
For details on entry or to register interest visit http://www.australasiansafari.com.au.
Moto entrants have the new opportunity of entering the Dakar Challenge, with the highest placed Moto competitor who has registered for the Dakar Challenge receiving free entry into Dakar 2013. For full regulations visit the Safari website.