Clarke Petrick is a fourth generation Centralian from the much-loved Petrick clan. Clarke’s boyhood in Alice Springs is filled with wonderful memories of family get togethers, exploring, climbing rocks and biking through the terrains of the bushland. Clarke met and married Justine in his hometown and three kids later, he can’t imagine calling any other place home.
In his early twenties, Clarke and Justine spent a sabbatical year travelling around the world where Clarke's passion for mountain biking intensified. For Clarke, discovering unknown territories on the back of a bike was the most magical and exciting experience that any traveller could have. Discover how Clarke turned that passion into a career.
Taking the ride of his life... Clarke Petrick's story
Meet Clarke Petrick, the man behind the handlebars, who turned his passion for mountain biking into a career. Along with his partner in life and in business, Justine; they own Outback Cycling, Uluru Cycling and the Trail Station based at the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Heritage Precinct. For Clarke, his love for cycling is mutually inclusive of his love for the bush. These two passions stem from his childhood.
“Growing up in Alice Springs was wonderful because of the freedom that this place gives you; it’s every kid’s dream. We had push bikes and motorbikes and the space to ride and explore”
Having the bush as his backyard also meant young Clarke had some wonderful adventures:
“One of my happiest memories of childhood is of my brother and me riding our small motorbikes in the bush. I remember this one particular day, I was about eight or nine, and my brother and I on the whim packed some steak sandwiches and rode off into the bush. We found this little creek, whipped out our lunches, rested for a bit and then we hopped onto our motorbikes and rode home”.
In his teens, Clarke left the red pastures of Central Australia for Adelaide to attend high school, followed by university where he studied Geophysics. After obtaining his degree, Clarke returned to his childhood home – Alice Springs.
The following years saw Clarke working as a geophysicist for the Northern Territory Government. It was a job that at times required him to fly all around the Territory in a helicopter looking for oil and gold. The other times were spent analysing soil samples in the office. After seven years in the job, the boy who loved the freedom of the outdoors felt restrained with the amount of time he was spending indoors. And by this stage, Clarke had met and fallen in love with his future wife – so this twosome did what a lot of folks in their mid-twenties do, they packed their bags for a sabbatical year of travelling.
Around the world
From the north of Ireland, to the Swiss Alps to the Patagonia and many more places far and wide; Justine and Clarke traversed through the differing landscapes of people, environment, culture, cuisine and language. Seeing the world together was a very special time in their lives.
It was also during this time away that Clarke’s passion for mountain biking was reignited.
“We rode all around Europe but it wasn’t until South America that I bought a really good mountain bike. I remember this one ride I did in Chile – Justine took a bus down the Patagonia with all our bags and I rode each leg on the bike instead of the bus. It took five days and some days I was doing 150km, but such a great way to see the country.”
The experience of riding on this magnificent volcano in Chile, as well as Switzerland, Greece and Italy to name a few, would play a crucial role in years to come.
Mountain biking & fatherhood
Outback Cycling was born in 2010, the same year a beautiful little strawberry blonde girl called Isla Rose Petrick came into this world. Clarke and Justine became joint business partners and parents. For Clarke, both of these developments in life made perfect sense. His child was born out of love for Justine and the business was born out of love for mountain biking and the bush. Both have changed him.
On fatherhood: “It’s a satisfying and rewarding adventure and I can’t imagine not being a father. It gives you additional challenges but also excitement and it stops you being a selfish person. You also don’t need external validation because you get all this internal love”
Starting Outback Cycling made perfect sense to Clarke, he knew his career path would lead him outdoors and he wanted to combine his love for mountain biking with the bushlands that he grew up in. In 2013, the business also expanded to include bike hire in Uluru and Justine and Clarke have also been awarded a ten-year management lease to develop the Trail Station at Alice Springs Telegraph Station.
So what can we expect to see with mountain biking in the Red Centre within the next few years? The Petricks are expanding the bike hire and tour products in both Alice Springs and Uluru. They are also working in tandem with other stakeholders in developing the trail network, so expect to see more mountain bike trails throughout Central Australia. There will be a café opening at the Trail Station in the Alice Springs Telegraph Station Historical Precinct and the business is currently developing three-day mountain bike tours that will be heavily marketed interstate. Their goal is to grow that high quality mountain biking experience.
In between being a father, husband and owner of multiple ventures, Clarke says he’s right where he belongs.
“When I’m mountain biking, it’s one of the happiest places I can really be. My mind is completely clear with only the task that’s right in front of me. I see these snapshots of what’s happening right before my eyes and it’s about focus and processing how I’m going to get through this obstacle, then it’s the next snapshot and I’m just weaving in between all these images.”“My family are the reason I do everything but it helps that I love everything I do,”