Onward towards West Wyalong along the Mid Western Hwy and the Shire
of Bland is indeed living up to its name. The roads are straight,
the corners sparse and the scenery quite monotonous consisting mainly of
mid height dried grass and the odd tree. Sims Gap marks the end of
the straight roads for a while and the heat has a chance to spread to the
edges of the tyres. Iím surprised the centre of the BT020 on the
rear is still showing tread as it looked like it only had 1000km left in
it when I left Melbourne. I guess it's roads like this where dual
compound tyres really are a good idea. After arriving at West Wyalong
at 4pm I decide to keep moving along the Newell Hwy to Forbes without stopping
for fuel. By my estimations I should have enough fuel to reach Forbes.
As Murphyís Law predicts the fuel gauge soon starts to plummet. 70km
to go and the reserve light is flashing. The Honda manual states
a 3 litre reserve capacity. I know that in the past I have ridden
60km on reserve so I continue on while conserving fuel. Of course
the further I go the more paranoid I get. By the time Iím 20km from
Forbes It seems like the bike has been on reserve for ever and Iím slowing
down 100 despite the 110kph limit. I finally reach Forbes and fill
the tank. The 23 litre tank takes 20 litres of fuel. So much
for the 3 litre reserve. I find a motel and take a walk around the
town. With a population of only 8500 there are 10 pubs servicing
this town. At least it guarantees prompt service in the two pubs
The rest of the road to Ebor is a great high speed run. A few tight corners which are good quality and predictable. For the most part the surface is good with fresh bitumen and a consistent surface. In Ebor there is a ďbiker friendlyĒ pub with accommodation available according to their advertisement in the local tourist magazine. Past Ebor and the fun really begins. Road works mark the first stretch on my map which is shown to be gravel (that is if your idea of gravel road is large pointy rocks embedded in hard compacted clay). Approaching Tyringham I slow to admire the scenery and as I start moving again I spy a bike in my mirrors. Itís the first bike Iíve seen on the road since Monday morning. A red Guzzi I think, maybe a beemer. Two up. It stops in a town before I get the chance at a closer look.
Tyringham marks the beginning of more fun. Probably the first
advisory signs marking corners with numbers less than 85kph Iíve seen since
Friday. This particular road reminds me of roads around Emerald and
parts of the run up Mt Baw Baw.
8 or 9 km more gravel and then more good winding roads lead into Grafton. Grafton to Casino is 100km of road suited to those who like to cruise in the region of 150kph. Long, long straights, few towns and changing scenery if you get the chance to take your eyes off the road. Casino is as good a place for lunch as any and I find an internet cafe where I can eat and browse my inbox. The Buxnor Hwy to Lismore is boring. Lismore to Nimbin on the other hand, signposted as 80kph zone but it tempts the throttle to be twisted harder and is equal to the best of the roads winding through the Gippsland dairy farms, though with a slightly better surface. Past Nimbin the sign below the old ďDelimited ZoneĒ sign says ďDrive to suit conditionsĒ.
The conditions were perfect!!!
The run from Murwillumbah to Brisbane doesnít even warrant a mention.
Slightly more interesting than the Sturt Hwy. But only slightly.
Surely they donít actually put film in these things. The warning
signs approaching the cameras are so huge itís hard to imagine that anyone
would be able to speed. Youíd be too busy slowing down to read the
signs. I am convinced that the real camera is a little further down
the road, in a less obvious position, waiting to nab the drivers who will
speed up immediately past the signposted camera. From Grafton
I head back inland to Glen Innes along the Gwydir Hwy. Wow!
Iím glad I chose this route. Itís fast, mostly smooth and tempts
the wrist to twist more and more, but at the same time itís tempting to
slow right down to admire the scenery. A compromise is found at about
Through the Gibraltar Range National Park the climb up the hill reminds me of a smooth version of the Maroondah Hwy through the Black Spur, except this version has lookouts with spectacular views which I find myself slowing down for. After refuelling in Glen Innes the remainder of the day is spent cruising down the New England Hwy to Ularra where I spend another night at the pub I know. Unfortunately since my last visit 3 nights prior the chef has resigned or been sacked and the kitchen is closed. Damn. I was looking forward to another serve of their steak in mushroom sauce.
Walchope to Nabiac is an uneventful trip once again on the Pacific
Hwy. The further south I get the more black clouds I see gathering.
I stop at the National Motorcycle Museum in Nabiac. There are over
500 bikes on display (Even a CX500 Turbo). One section of wall space
is a ďtributeĒ to Dale Buggins an Australian motorcycle stuntman (a Queenslander
from memory) back in the late Ď70s.
I think it was my 12th birthday which fell during the Melbourne Show and my parents asked if there was anything special I wanted to do. Sure, I wanted to go to the show to see Dale Buggins performing motorcycle stunts in the main arena. So my birthday came round and we all packed in the car to go to the Showgrounds for the day. The news comes on the radio as we drive across the city. "Dale Buggins fatally shot himself in the head with a shotgun overnight in his room at the Marco Polo Hotel in North Melbourne". Thanks mate. He ruined my birthday. I still havenít forgiven him.
I had previously decided to take the long route from Nabiac to Newcastle
(via Gloucester) but as I return to my bike the rain starts to fall.
I put on all my wet weather gear because the sky looks like this weather
might set in. I decide that in the wet Iíd be better off avoiding
the back roads and just cruising down the Pacific Hwy. As I turn
onto the Hwy I spot the Gloucester turn off sign and make the decision
to take that route regardless of the weather. After a few minutes
the rain eases and Iím heading towards blue skies. It appears that
the weather to the north and west is still fine. The roads are damp
but there is little other traffic to kick up a spray, and cruising speed
is a comfortable 110 for the most part despite the 90kph limit. The
route I have chosen has circled around the rain which I can still see to
my left as I loop through Glocester and back towards Newcastle. Soon
the roads are again dry and when I rejoin the Pacific Hwy the wet weather
gear goes back in the pack. I stop at Raymond Terrace to refuel and
thereís a message on my phone from Pisshead Pete. Heís still hours
away and I still have a couple of hours of daylight left. I decide
to skip the planned meeting with Pete and to continue along to the next
destination on my map, the Putty Road. A police car in front of me
sees a steady pace held on the New England Hwy through Maitland and onto
Singleton where I find a hotel room at the Central Hotel after visiting
5 different pubs which are all fully booked. Through the window of
the room I have a view of the local bike shop which is directly across
the street. This must be the good room. The barman even directs
me into the beer garden where I am able to park my bike in the locked yard
overnight and itís undercover to boot.
Unloading my gear I make the discovery that my new Ventura rack is hanging on by a mere thread. Faaarrrk. It looks like a welding repair job will be required but itís almost 5pm on Saturday now. The publican introduces me to Woz, the resident welder who drinks at the bar every evening at this time. We take his car to his workshop where he performs a quick repair with a MIG and a grinder. Before long weíre back at the pub, the rack is back on the bike and we're back in the public bar.
I had planed to head for Katoomba and then Wollongong and then follow the Princes Hwy around the SE coast and back to Melbourne, even catch my father who is holidaying in Bairnsdale along the way. In light of the problem with the rack I make the decision to cut the trip short and head straight for the Hume Hwy. In the event of further problems with the rack itíll be a lot easier to get my gear transported back to Melbourne on a passing truck on the Hume.
A police car I saw leaving town while I was at the bakery has stopped someone on the road just outside of town. On the law of averages I shouldnít spot any more at this end of the Putty Rd, and especially at this early hour. Past a few turnoffs and the road signs confuse me a bit and I stop to check my map. Iím still on the right path but unfortunately the cop passes me while Iím stopped. A few turns down the road and Iíve lost sight of him. I donít know whether heís continued on to police the highway to Denman or whether heís gone down the Putty Rd and is choosing a nice hiding spot to check my speed. I take it easy for a while. As it turns out there is no need because just as soon as I hit the winding roads it is obvious that the rain has been falling here overnight. The road is quite wet though it still has ample grip but Iím not likely to be exceeding the limit too much.
Iíd prefer to be hooking into the corners but I find a comfortable speed and cruise through the hills. Iíd expected the Putty Rd would be 171km of corner after corner which would earn it the reputation as the 2nd best road in the land, but Iím a bit disappointed to find that itís a series of several lengths of twisties separated by some rather mundane straights with the odd sweeping corner thrown in for good measure.
Itís mostly damp till I reach Colo Heights where the roads are once again dry and Iím able to give my best effort to the series of tight corners as the road winds its way down the mountain. A brief stop in Colo to stretch my legs and give the news of the wet roads ahead to the dozen or so riders who are assembling for their Sunday morning fang before I head off once again, taking the Braxley Ridge Rd to meet Bells Line of Road just short of Currajong. I am again a bit disappointed in this road which Iíd read about as being one of the best near Sydney. There are too many low speed zones through towns for my liking, not to mention all the Sunday drivers on the roads this morning. Eventually I reach Bells Mountain where Iím able to open the throttle a bit through the sweepers and enjoy the views as the road winds down to Lithgow.
From Lithgow to Bathurst is an uneventful run along the highway. A lap of the track at Mt Panorama on the Blackbird requires far less effort than the memories of doing the same trip in the back of my fatherís Kingswood station wagon as we towed the caravan on a lap of the mountain about 25 years ago, mostly in first gear on the uphill stretch. I continue along the highway to Cowra where I stop for lunch before diverting from the main road to head south to Boorowa, Binalong and finally meet up with the Hume Hwy at Bookham. Fortunately my memories of this town are not revisited. The last time I was here back in 1996 I left $300 and 4 demerit points poorer.
Rain clouds in the distance donít seem as much as a threat as they are. Although I head straight into falling rain I hope it wonít be too bad and I can continue through to Albury without stopping to don my wet weather gear. About 30km short of Albury I realise the folly of my ways as the rain comes bucketing down. Fortunately Iím about 1km from a small town where I stop under the cover of a closed petrol station to put on my wet weather gear and cover my luggage. The rain becomes showers and they continue to fall occasionally between Wodonga and Wangaratta. By the time I reach the Glenrowan Service Centre the skies are clear and the only water comes in the form of spray from the tyres of other road users. The wet roads are replaced by thick fog just south of Broadford which continues all the way till I reach my home in suburban Melbourne. 1150km for the day and Iíd go straight to sleep if I wasnít going to stay up and watch the MotoGP.
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