I'm a little out of sync so I'll go back to when I arrived at the Mann River camping area.
I camped here before one Easter and it was filled with the usual Easter crowd - kids, dogs, blow-up boats, caravans, mini-bikes, etc. For some reason that was what had in mind as I rolled across the bridge this time. But the place was deserted. I went from one end to the other and there was only one other group in the whole place. Now, when I arrive at a campsite that has plenty of people around I just go and find a spot and set up camp, and don't think any more of it. But with only one other camp in the whole place it would be downright rude if I didn't at least go and say g'day.
So I did.
As I approached the caravan I heard a voice say “That's it, that's exactly the same as mine”, and so I met H and his friends.
H (this is what he prefers to be called) has bought a 650 Strom and is from the Gold Coast as well. Needless to say we will be setting up some rides together pretty soon. This was a group of five blokes from the Goldie doing just what I was, taking advantage of the show day holiday and getting out of town. They treated me like a long lost brother, insisting I bunk down right there next to them.
It was a brilliant night, just close your eyes and picture this. A cool but not cold night,you're tired from a long day in the saddle, there's a crackling fire warming your feet, a million stars overhead, you're being handed a glass of very good red and Paul Kelly is singing quietly in the background. Absolute bliss in a totally estrogen-free zone, life does not get any better. But dammit, I forgot to take photos.
Ah well, on with the show.
Sunrise lighting up the hills to the west
And we're off again. Heading away from camp on Coombadjha Rd.
“Good morning Fat Suzy” say the local lads.
“Hello boys” answers Suzy, “that's some impressive humps you have there”
“Why, thank you Suzy, “but I'll bet you say that to all the boys” replies them. “Bye now,take care”.
Coombadjha Road turns into Cangai Road.
The bridge over the Mann river at Jackadgery
It's great having 23 litres, fill her up in the morning and you're good to go all day
Back on the tar again. Gwydir Hwy heading west.
Gaining altitude on the Gilbratar switch-backs. Fat Suzy stops to admire the view
Up on top of the range. OMFG... it's freezing up here, my fingers have locked up. Turning left after the prison, Montrerey Road cuts across to Old Grafton Road.
Here begins the most scenic part of the whole trip, I could have taken a hundred photos through this area. Unfortunately, as luck would have it, my camera started flashing 'low battery' right about here and I didn't have spare batteries with me so I had to be frugal and save it in case something special showed up. I'm glad I did.
When you travel through places you haven't been or even heard of before, it's easy to think of it as 'new', to forget that people have lived and toiled and died in these areas for generations. It may look remote now, but this is the 'Old' Grafton Road, once the main throughfare to the coast and accordingly settled much earlier than other districts around. There is a lot of history here.
A lonely monument. “Dedicated to the sons of this area who laid down their lives in the Great War – 1915. Lest we Forget”
Convicts cut miles of these cuttings with picks and wheelbarrows into the mountain beside the river for no other reason than to allow me to doddle through here on my motorbike 150 years later. All of their striving has been leading up to this moment.
Things move slowly out here. It took so long to put the walls up on this house a tree grew instead.
"Ooh, hello horsey" tweets Fat Suzy. She really is the most terrible flirt.
Located along the famous convict carved road, the Old Grafton to Glen Innes Road, you will find this old historic Tunnel which was built by a contractor in c1866-68; it is situated approximately 120 kilometres east of Glen Innes and was hewn out of rock by convicts in the last century.
No concrete holding this up, just hewn out of the natural Rock.
You probably don't need to hear my opinion of people like Tony and his pals who like to demonstrate their lack of respect with cans of flourescent spray paint. Suffice to say we would all be better off if some people were drowned at birth. Kenny puts it well YouTube - Vandals
And out the other side...
Nymboyda River crossing at Buccarumbi. Time for a spot of lunch. The road became more civilized from here and it wasn't long before we were back on the tar.
Aftre a sensational mornings ride from the top of the Great Dividing Range down to the farmlands of Grafton, it all kind of fell apart in the afternoon. When going through the maps a few nights ago I looked at an area of nicely square-set roads set against the ocean and I was thinking 'farmland', easy country lanes with cows and crops.
Wrong. Nice square-set roads turned out to be forestry roads. But you can see the ocean from here.
Soon turned into this...
… and this. Aptly named Dirty Creek Road - I think, by this time I wasn't sure where I was and was relying heavily on the GPS to get me out.
And so my trusty Aldi GPS brought me here... should have got a Zumo.
no way around this time, just wall to wall slops. After checking it out a bit I decided the best spot to cross would be to drop over this log and hope momentum would carry her through. It wasn't overly technical, on the old XR I would have lofted the front over and gone back and done it three more times just for the fun of it. But when 250kgs of bike starts to tip sideways and you can't get a foot down you're probably going to end up under it. With the shadows lengthening in the late afternoon, on a road that probably doesn't get used more than a few times a week, sitting in a puddle overnight with my leg under a Fat Suzuki wasn't a prospect I really relished. In fact,I'll admit to being a bit nervous about it. This is the downside of riding alone.
Who da man? Fat Suzy on the other side.
After all that it was good to get back to the ol' M1 for a nice relaxing slab run to Woody Point where I was going to camp for the night.
Woody Point campground was at exactly the opposite end of the scale than Mann River was, it was packed! I got there just before dark and I hurried to get the tent up before the dark closed in. Once that was done it was back on the bike and into town for some beer. I took this and my chair over to the beach and polished them off under the stars and watched the surf roll in.
I could get used to this. Unfortunately again, no pics.
Just for the hell of it, here's one of the inside of “La Casa Grande”.
Thank you again for taking the time, day three coming up soon,