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Some of this ride report is a bit wordy, I like words. I also like piccies, but you ain't going to get piccies of a lot of the good roads, 'cause I was enjoying riding them at the time. You get what you pay for.

Day 0 - 20 Feb 2012 - Preparation

The plan for this ride was pretty simple:
- Christo and I would get to Bright by Friday afternoon for film festival registration, watch some movies, then turn around and head home.
- hopefully we'd do a few good bike roads along the way and see the sights without repeating ourselves
- distances wouldn't be extreme - as long as we covered about 500km/day on the way down we'd arrive in time(1600km roughly from SE Qld to Bright) which should allow us plenty of time to do stuff.
- plans and route would likely change on a day to day basis(or sooner) dependant on how we felt, what we saw worth doing and weather
- hope to spend a few nights bush camping, but again flexible depending on location and conditions
- return home was "flexible" but we planned for around 10 days

Christo had about 3 weeks of holidays and I'm between jobs currently.

We both have the same bikes (Suzuki 650 V-Strom) and are quite familiar with fuel ranges and the bike capabilities, so that makes fuel stops easier.

After completing the FarRide I had a bit of basic maintenance to do - clean and lube chain, check chain tension and oil level. One of the reasons chain maintenance is good to keep up with is that it gets you close to the rear tyre so you can see things like.......


Bugger.

The bike shop was more than willing to put a plug and a patch into the tyre on short notice, but it's more time out of the day that I could have used getting my gear together.

I also replaced the battery on the bike - the old battery was the original, about 2 and a half years old and had had a couple of "events" that had drained it. I had noticed that when the bike had sat still for a couple of days it was a bit hesitant to start.

The new battery had been on charge for several days, and while the old battery should be fully charged after the FarRide it only showed 12.3V against 13.4V on the new one.

The new cases gave me 60L of "new" storage that I could use, so I put the bulk of my gear(clothes, tools, cooking and camping gear) into the cases for security and lower centre of gravity, with my swag on the pillion seat and the luggage plate used for other small items in a Krispy Kreme bag tied to the plate. The idea was to keep most of the weight forward and low.

Each of us had some basic cooking gear and the makings for tea and coffee and plenty of water - I think I had about 4L in three containers, two relatively easy to access during the day and a 2L container in one of the cases for cooking/coffee use at night.

I'd planned to use my swag if the weather was good - the only problem was that it was bulky. The foam mattress was removed from the swag and replaced with a thinner/denser yoga mat type thing from a $2 shop - it's really only to insulate me from the ground but about 1/4 the thickness. My upper body would be on a 3/4 length self inflating mattress for comfort anyway.

Christo was bringing along a small hiking tent for me to use in case rain looked imminent, so that went onto the plate at the rear of the bike.

So all packed and ready to go in the morning!
 

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Day 1 - 21 Feb 2012 - Canungra to Walcha

Started early and Browni and I met Christo at the Outpost in Canungra for breakfast. Basic idea was to head out to Warwick, down the New England and see how far we got before we would have to make camp.

Not a lot to say about this leg - across Cunninghams Gap, Warwick, by Tenterfield the rain had started so we stopped for a break, only to be passed by the ice-cream truck from slow hell that we had passed about 20 minutes ago.....AAARGH!

Tenterfield:


Icecream truck:


If you look at those piccies you can see that the rain is only really where we are and the sky is lighter off in the distance. The shape of things to come....

Just south of Tenterfield we stopped at Bluff Rock for a photo stop - here's a piccie of Chrsto taking a piccie:


...and a piccie further back explaining why he's taking it from that spot specifically:


Another stop in Guyra for a tea and coffee - we figured we could make Walcha area before dark giving us time to get food and set up camp. Christos Camps Australia book gave us a couple of candidates that sounded promising - two on the Oxley highway.

In the category of "bikes and elevations":


Guyra proudly hosts the Lamb and Potato Festival:


After some shopping in Walcha we head to the first campsite to check out...the upper end of the Oxley


And we don't go any further than the first campsite......National park campsite, tables, flush toilets, firepits, well stocked wood bin, gas BBQ, nobody else around and just far enough out of town to discourage the local hoons.....


All this for $5 each!!! Done!

Campsite set up:


And dinner!


After dinner I had a go at assembling the tent Christo had brought for me - better than trying to figure out how it works in the dark while it's raining. I had just finished packing it up when it did start raining. Up goes the tent, swag and gear gets stowed inside and the rain stops. It didn't rain again that night and sky filled with stars in an amazing display that had to be seen to be believed.

A late night coffee, a discussion about how many photos we didn't take, some possum chasing and we went to sleep with only the rare zoom of a vehicle wizzing past on the Oxley to disturb the natural night sounds that enveloped us....
 

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Day 2 - 22 Feb 2012 - Walcha, Thunderbolts Way and Cessnock

The next morning, the sky was clear and the light was amazing!!


As quiet as we were, I think we disturbed the locals:


Christo made a small adjustment to his chain:


And I went for a walk to the edge of the gorge:




We managed to mess about for a fair while - but it was our first time re-packing the bikes and we got progressively better at it ove the course of the trip. We're on holidays anyway!

Unfortunately, once the tent was packed the clouds started reappearing over the horizon......hmmmmm.....

The Oxley should be a better road on the way up as it's easier for caravans and trucks to travel down, so we decided that we would come back here on our way back after travelling up the Oxley on the way home.

Which meant we could do Thunderbolts Way today!

Unfortunately as we started the climb through the hills to the top of the range we also climbed into the clouds. By the time we got onto the top of the range, things were pretty miserable:


Matters weren't helped by the hodge-podge condition of the road - patches everywhere left a mass of lumps and bumps with the rear wheel bouncing off the ground half the time, gravel on the corners, continual roadworks and slow moving trucks made this a less than enjoyable experience.

We didn't even bother stopping at the lookout as we were practically in whiteout conditions.

Eventually we arrived in Dungog and had a stretch and some soft drinks at the Bank Hotel:


Stopped for fuel in Muswelbrook and made arrangements to spend the night at a winery B&B with big_bear and his wife on their lap of Australia.

A funny thing happened on the way to the winery. We stopped at a small general store for directions, and as we did so a young gent on a dirtbike decided to try to impress us with his one-wheel antics (he was looking at us to make sure we were watching). While Christo was inside, the same bloke came into the carpark, looked at me as he did a loop and left, passing back again on one wheel about 30 seconds later. Was he trying to impress us or pick us up or something? Sounds like something young blokes do to try to impress chickie-babes rather than blokes on overloaded Stroms......Anyway - as we headed out to the winery a four wheel disco headed in the other direction so maybe his riding style did attract some attention.....

It was great to meet up with Chris and Chris at their little hideaway and we're very thankful for their hospitality!
 

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Day 3 - 23 Feb 2012 - Bylong, Rylstone, Ilford, Sofala, Bathurst and Cootamundra

The next morning Chris fired up the barbie for breakfast as we packed our gear up - the Billabong-Moon Winery B&B is very well set up and it was quite easy to forget that the rest of the world was out there...



...but eventually it was time to say our goodbyes and head out - the bears to head north, while we continue south.


We decided against the Putty Road (although it was on our list of things to do) as we wanted to avoid some weather and try out the road through Denman, Bylong Rylstone and Ilford which promised to be quite good.

What is it about fools on dirtbikes? Shortly after leaving town we saw another young lad on the gravel service road parrallel to the highway - he takes a look at us and winds the throttle up....and the front wheel goes up....and up.....and up.....and over.....amazing! At least he got up and started walking before we turned around to see if both his brain cells were intact....

Another photo in front of the pub at Denman:


Now, I don't have any photos of this road, or really many photos of good roads at all - I was generally having too much fun and had a lot of things to do rather than stop and take photos, you get what you pay for folks.

But i will tell you that this road is a ripper! Not too technical, corners handled largely using the throttle and windy enough to keep you interested. Some small gravel pathces associated with small roadworks, but nothing that would seriously afffect your mood with a little care.

The road winds its way along the side of the valley(the valley floor having been claimed for farming long ago) with National Park on the uphill side and beautiful scenery across the valley.

We stopped at the Bylong General Store(which really does sell everything) to refuel:


The churchyard across the road:


And then hit the road again......see that notch in the hills? That's where you're going.....


More road:


Eventually the road climbs a hill and just suddnly drops back down to the town of Safala - some nice tight corners here, unfortunately quite often occupied by tourists.....

Sofala is an old gold mining town (as are most of the towns in this area, including Bathurst).

We stopped at the pub for a soft drink and to sit in the shade....


....and wondered if the renovations across the road were to make the place look newer or older.....


Give it a few years and I think we'll be looking at another "ye olde quaint tourist trap"......

Across another range and into Bathurst for a lap around the track, some photos and head out again - but the track was closed for the Bathurst 12 Hour:


And I got my first look at the motel they built at the Chase:


That hill used to be packed with spectators when the races were on.......

On the road again and we stopped to admire a wind farm before heading off to Cowra:


At Cowra we stopped in a carpark under the bridge across the river - from a distance it looked as though this Burgman had an auxilary tank on the pillion seat - but it turned out to be a place for a King Charles to sit. He was quite comfortable being on the bike, but was constantly being stopped so the police could check out his spiked leather helmet.....


We had to stop at the info centre to check out the rose gardens


And then headed off to Cootamundra Caravan park for the night, managing to make it to the Ex-Services club for a Chook Kiev and Parmi before the kitchen closed:
 

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Day 4 - 24 Feb 2012 - Temora, Wodonga, Mt Beauty and arrive at the movies

Packing up again - we're getting better at this!


On the road again, we've decided that since we're within striking distance of Bright we can go to the Temora Aviation Museum for an hour or two.

On the way through Stockinbingal(an IBEM town) we had to stop for a train - what was frustrating was discovering that the road in and out of town crosses the line twice and there is a road between the two level crossings.......grrrr.....


The museum opened at 10 so we had some breakfast in town and arrived at the airstrip just after they opened the doors.

For those that don't know - Temora specialises in warbirds used by Australia, and *everything* *flies*. There are static displays, but all the aircraft in the collection fly and regular flying displays are held on weekends.

We got matched up with one of the volunteers, Geoff, to show us around and explain the exhibits. Geoff used to be an aircraft engineer and worked on several of the types in the collection and had interesting insights into several of the aircraft on display.

There's three main areas at the museum: the entry and personal stories exhibit, the maintenance hanger and the display hanger.

The maintenance hanger has a small mezzanine area overlooking the aircraft being worked on, with an interesting display of ejector seats.....this took Christo back a bit and he had to check that the displays were properly supplied.
(unfortunately the only shot containing the O-1 Bird Dog)


Spitfires:





Sabre:


Ryan STM S2:


CT-4A:


The display hanger has a number of other aircraft on display with smaller static displays between them. Unfortunately my camera ran out of memory in this hanger and I had to resort to the camera on my phone for a while....



Tiger Moth:


Boomerang:



Wirraway:



Meteor:


O-2:



Canberra:


Hudson:




Vampire:


Merlin engine:


Dragonfly:


But - all too soon we had to leave and do the dash to Bright.......

Weekend temperatures were predicted to be 37 to 38 degrees at Bright and it was *hot* on the road. This is an example of the road near Junee:


Not much in the way of pictures now as we kept moving - over the border to Wodonga where we refuelled and took a break under some trees on the side of the road. It's amazing how many cars will slow automatically when the driver sees a bloke in a fluoro vest beside a tree on the side of the road.....even if there is no way they could be going too fast.....

Next we take the back road to Bright via Mount Beauty. Another good road - nice countryside, nice roads and just enough corners to keep you interested.

Then we turned off that road and wound our way up and over the mountain to drop into Bright - that was a twisty windy climb and sudden drop! Nice lookouts, but no time to stop and who would want to?

Finally made it to the registration desk two hours later than we wanted, but apparently in plenty of time. They were a bit stunned that we had travelled from Queensland without booking tickets, but were glad to have us there!

Austin asked us to pretend to arrive and then leave again so he could get some footage - I get a bit nervous when people watch me ride but he seemed pretty forgiving when I nearly ran over his camera....ooops....

We relaxed for a while at the brewery as the crowds started to gather. Bright Brewery is one of the major sponsors of the Adventure Travel Film Festival and make some nice brews as well!


We found our caravan park pretty easily, well within walking distance of the brewery, but soon discovered that the booking was a little confused......on the walk back to the festival opening we stopped off at the office:

"Hi, we've got a cabin booking for two, but we've had a little falling out - not as bad as one of us sleeping on the verandah, but could we please have a set of linen for one of the bunks?"
They were most understanding and Christo went an interesting shade of red.......

Austin opened the Festival, introducing the team, pointing out the venues, facilities and sponsor displays.

The first film on show was "Yenisy River Expedition" under the stars in the park - four blokes trace the Yenisy river from it's source in the mountains, hiking, kayaking and finally rowing a locally built boat across Russias Lake Baikal and to the Arctic circle......

Late night drinks then off to bed ready for the next day!
 

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Day 5 - 25 Feb 2012

We started the day with a morning coffee - which was a bit chewier than expected due to the fridge being turned up a tad too high and freezing the milk.....



Some basic chores, breakfast washing and then it was back to the theatre for our first movie.

"Mondo Enduro" - Austin gave an interesting intro about the making of the movie and what has happened since then - including a crazy Polish student being inspired to put together "Moto Siberia".....

"Mondo Enduro" doesn't have the polish that more recent productions have, but that's part of what makes it so good - it's more authentic, unsponsored, largely unscripted(other than a quick chat about "how are we going to say this"), unsupported and the guys on the trip appear to be completely bonkers. It turns out that Austin and the guys were probably the first westerners to travel "The Road of Bones", essentially putting it on the map....and that's only the end of the first part of their journey!

Amazing trip!

Outside I noticed a couple of faces that I recognised from various ride reports - Glitch and Goodie!

They had travelled up from Melbourne that morning and we met up with a couple of other familiar names - K1W1, haysey, Canary......

Christo had gone to Austins talk on how to film your adventures ("I would never do anything the way I did Mondo Enduro again") so we waited around the sponsors displays and bikes parked around the front of the brewery:

These guys are familiar/famous/infamous amongst the Horizons Unlimited attendees:




It was amusing to watch people do a doubletake as they tried to figure out what these bikes were:



Today was Christos birthday, so he got a drink with an umbrella in it and a candle!


Lois Price' session on solo motorcycling though Africa was entertaining - finishing off with mechanically embarrasing a rugby team("What? A girl on a motorbike? Ho ho ho, don't worry darl, we'll help you out.......err....that didn't work......") to get her photo at the most southerly tip of Africa.

So the weather was as predicted - sunny and about 38 degrees....
...which made it even more surreal sitting in the marquee watching "Off the Rails", in which Tim Cope managed to have parts of his toes removed due to frostbite....

After a quick break, during which the marquee was opened up to provide a crossbreeze, we went back for a behind the scenes talk from Tim about making "The footsteps of Ghengis Khan".


Before Tim stared we had a short performace by Amra of a traditional Mongolian dance:



(come to think of it, I don't have any pictures of Austin, Lois, Tim or any other presenters.......oops....)

The second half of Tim's talk had a very different message to "Off the rails". On the bicycles they were always going to be considered as crazy outsiders just passing through, whereas on the horses Tim had to become part of the culture he was passing through("To defeat the wolf one must wear the skin of the wolf" - or something like that) if he wanted to get anywhere( and take a more sedate approach to move faster("Rush Slowly").

What had been planned to be an eighteen month trip ended up taking three and a half years - along the way he had to become more like the people around him and formed a bond with his horses and dog.

The talk ended when Austin asked the question that everyone must have been thinking(I was) "What happened to the dog?"

So Tim calls out "Tigan!"(sp?) and Tigan seemingly bounces off the screen and around the crowd to say hello before deciding to play in the creek outside.

The next session was to be John Muir talking about his adventures walking across Australia - I had heard he's a good speaker and well worth seeing, but the heat was getting to us and it was easier to relax at the bar and eventually head off to dinner.

After a dinner at one of the local hotels - Kangaroo Curry!!! - it was back to the park for the showing of "First Overland".

"First Overland" was produced recently using original footage from the 1955 Oxford and Cambridge Overland Expedition from Britain to Singapore. The original team and various involved people(David Attenborough) were contacted to give a history of the expedition and how the film was put together. As there was no original sound available, the original film maker was contacted to provide a commentary. Given that this was about 10 years after World War Two there were still remnants of damage and many of the hastily built military roads were starting to fall apart. Things were a bit different then, so they had to prove their Britishness occasionally by brewing tea in inappropriate places and participating in impromptu international cricket.


Said thanks, goodnight and goodbye to Austin and Rupert and planned to see the Melbourne group the next morning before we all departed.

That was the end of the film festival for us, and I loved every minute of it - now we just had to get home!
 

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Excellent report mate - looking forward to the return journey.

If I'd known about the Festival earlier I'd loved to have joined you, hopefully it will be run again next year. Would have been great to have caught up with Guzzioverland again too.

Pete.
 

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Yo, an absolutely brilliant weekend and superb company with all those adv-addicts coming from all over AUS.

Fantastic atmosphere around town, 100's sitting in the grass of the riverbanks watching the late-show ADV-flics under starry skies out the back of the brewery.
It just doesn't get better than that...can't wait for the next one (if it ever happens).

Loads of Stroms around, too.
Had a cracker of a ride home...getting chased by some fat, black clouds across the Dargo High Plains and into Gippsland, but that's another story.


Thanks for the yarns and pics, mate!!! :hurray::hurray:
 

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Day 6 - 26 Feb 2012

I'm particularly embarrassed that I skipped mentioning seeing "Back of Beyond" on day 5!!!

"Back of Beyond" was produced in 1955, covering the work of Tom Kruse, the Birdsville Mailman. Each mail run would take roughly 2 weeks and may have to battle sand, flood, heat and cold. The film is amazing for the time it was produced and you have some idea of the type of people that opened up Australia's interior. If you get the chance to see it you should - it's a classic.

Anyway - packed up and ready to go and meet the Melbourne crew at the servo at 8 o'clock to say final goodbyes and head off ourselves.

Glitch and K1W1 seemed to have a couple of interesting roads to ride and were hopeful of trying a section that may have been paved recently.

The bikes headed off and Christo and I stayed a while chatting to Canary and V-Twin until it started raining, so it was hastily into the wets and we're about to go when I notice....

"Hey mate, what's happened to your lights?"
*click*switch*click*
"You've got high-beam, but no low-beam...."

Bugger - it appears that Christos bike has fallen foul of the dreaded Strom-starter-switch-burnout issue.......

For those not familiar, the low-beam lights on the V-Strom are always on, except when the starter switch is pressed. The V-Strom starter switch has two sets of contacts - so when the switch is pressed it cuts the lights and diverts power to the starter. There is a regular issue with the starter switch contacts burning out, first affecting the lights and if left ending up with the bike not starting......not good.

As it's close, we head off to Glenrowan - the site of the last stand of the Kelly gang - teased by glimpses of blue sky peeking over the pine-covered ridges to the north....

The short version of the Kelly gang story:

The Kelly gang were bushrangers that ran wild in norther Victoria until 1880. The gang attempted to de-rail a police train at Glenrowan, the gang were to close with and finish of the surviving police using armoured suits. The plan went awry when the police were warned and a siege developed at the Glenrowan Inn, Ned Kelly managed to escape to warn the gangs friends and then in a defining moment returned to the Inn for the rest of the gang. Ned was captured and later sentenced to death, the hotel was burnt to the ground by the police.

The site of Neds capture:



All that remained of the hotel after the siege was the sign:


This is where the police fired on the Inn - the small post marks where a pistol was found only 30 years ago after being lost for 100 years:


We had breakfast at one of the local cafes and discussed our plans. Given the possibility of issues with Christos bike we decided to stick closer to major centres and see if we could get it fixed.

Our new plan was to head towards Canberra, Sydney and up the east coast rather than taking inland roads.

First stop, just up the road was Wangaratta(an IBEM town):


If you're travelling by bike, the Hume highway is he very definition of "slabbing it", and today with the drizzling rain and associated cold just made it worse....

We stopped for a stretch under a overpass........Christo trying to figure out what lives up a pipe, note the discarded syringe, charming place:


Further up the road is Holbrook - and a submarine....

Holbrook used to be known as Germantown until 1915 when it was renamed Holbrook after the commander of the British submarine B11 - so now you know why an inland NSW town is home to HMAS Otway and a submarine museum:

Happy snaps:




Note that when a bike has a top box it's easier to hide wheelie bins behind it:


Back on the road again we stop outside Gundagai for a break and more happy snaps with the dog on the tuckerbox:



More slab to a truck-stop at Yass and we arrange to stop over with some friends at Bowral and hopefully do something about Christos lights in the morning - luckily we arrived just on dusk so the lights didn't become an issue.
 

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Day 7 - 27 Feb 2012

The next morning we wake up at the Hattons and start looking over the bikes.

I do a quick bit of chain adjustment, while Christo starts disassembling his right switchblock. One of the neighbours comes over and offers Christo some "Contact Sol" spray to see if it would help without the need to tear apart the switch itself.

A bit of fiddling, work the switch a few times, a couple of goes of the starter, Christo is just about to give up when he notices a mark on the wall in front of him. At the height of his headlights.....it worked!! Hooray - the problem seems to have ben a couple of dirty contacts! (There's a website for that - so I've heard....from a friends......well acquaintences....ummm....the pictures keep poppping up on the interwebz and I have no idea how my credit card was used dearest......OUCH!)

Hayley took us for a tour of Tony's workshop. Tony has been a motorcycle mechanic and racer for many years and still works on bikes and with racing teams.

A few MZs:







One of the Honda TT500s he's working on:


They've been to a few race meetings over the years:


One of the workshop areas:


Some pistons:


Eventually we hit the road, but it wasn't long before I discovered I had a passenger - a spider about the size of my hand. I tried to get him out, but he scampered through a hole in the fairing - as far as I know he's still somewhere behind my instrument cluster:


Down through Shoalhaven to Kangaroo Valley:


This is a nice, windy road with great scenic views as it drops back down to sea level - but I was just happy not to be on the Hume!

And across Hampden bridge:


Stopped at the Friendly Inn for a couple of drinks:


And noticed this little gem out the front(The Famous James):

(the owner still rides it occasionally and isn't selling - for some reason the offer of intimate body parts doesn't sway him)

Nowra is close by and we decided to visit the Fleet Air Arm Museum at HMAS Albatross.

They could tell we were coming:


Since I was here some years ago the museum has gone from purely volunteer and donation based to being run by the Navy's own history unit and given a budget. Many of the exhibits have been restored and are better displayed.

Only have photos of some of the displays below - we had limited time and my camera isn't the best. There are a large number of cased displays and many more aircraft.

Sopwith Pup with some of the covering removed:


Firefly:



Gannet:

(note the contra-rotating propellers - it's actually a twin-engine aircraft and one engine/prop can be turned off for added endurance)

Sea Venom:



Skyhawk:


DC3 set up for sub-hunting:


Iriquois:


Grumman Tracker:


Winjeel:


On the road again, we had to look for somewhere to stay(we made a very late start) and thought it would be nice to stay somewhere by the beach......

And it started raining again. We'd only just pulled off into Gerringong before Craig pulls over and offers a coffee at his place around the corner! Craig had just had a job interview that day and thought we looked like we needed a bit of time out of the downpour that was developing so took us home for a cup of tea, we found out he has a *very* understanding wife who didn't seem to mind about two strange motorbikes in the garage and two strange blokes sipping tea in the dining room while she tries to settle the kids down after swimming.....Craig - she's a keeper! I have to admit that I was a bit stunned by the hospitality for a while and got my triceratopses mixed up with my T-Rexes for while - I had never thought of either of them driving a scorpion tank - maybe it was the thought of all the legs on a scorpion that had me confused? I hope the young bloke forgives me. Pass the karma around, people!

After a while. the rain abated, so we adjourned to the garage and talked a while about longer rides and how to make them easier - some bikes have a 200km range, but if you're in a comfortable riding position and you stop every hour or so to stetch, see the sights and rehydrate all that really limits you is to plan your fuel stops, and if you decide not to go much further, it's still riding more and seeing more in different places than your average weekend rider. Actually I still haven't explored all of the roads within 200km of home yet and I'm starting to regard highways/A-roads as "cheating".......I better work on that....

Eventually we left with idea of a short day (distance wise) and a cabin by the beach - but the first couple we tried had a minimum stay of two nights, the next shut it's reception at 7pm (so with daylight saving it's still not dark and the idea seems slightly barking stupid with extra ludicruos on top).

Unfortunately, we had also noticed that Christos lights had failed again........bugger........so we were limited to daylight riding and major towns again.

While we weren't planning on riding at night(particularly if camping), the lights problem meant that we couldn't really "push the edge" of the daylight window - in some cases being able to decide to ride after dusk to get somewhere can open up a lot of possibilities, not having this opportunity robs us of up to 2 hours of "discretionary travel" per day.

We gave up, headed north to Kiama and managed to get a cabin in a massive caravan park there. Next challenge was dinner - how hard is it to get a couple of burgers in a seaside holiday town?

....

That was rhetorical - about the only place still open did fish and chips(no burgers) and was just about to close.......for greens and other non-fried vegetable matter it had to be a bucket of coleslaw from the late night Woolies up the road....

And that was it for day 7 - the kindness of strangers and the desolation of off-season holiday-season towns on the NSW south coast.
 

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LOVE the shots of those MZ's, mate.
Especially that 150 Trophy.:hurray:
Wouldn't look at 'em when they were the latest around '70, would kill for one now.

Nice, original blue colour, too.(or close enough, anyway).

This is turning into a mega-yarn :thumbup:
 

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Day 8 - 28 Feb 2012

The day started pretty promising, even if we had the lighting problem over our heads we were in a good area to see about getting the bike looked at and could look forward to the run up the coast through the Royal National Park. We'd also done some laundry the night before, so were ready for a few more days out and about without smelling too bad.

Caravan parks in this area obviously see a lot of activity during the high season - the places we had stopped at the previous day were massive and so was this one (couple of hundred cabins and more camping/van sites). Must be busy during the high season!

Bikes sneaking out from behind the cabin:


The beach:



Then we read the weather report - Kiama was expected to have 300mm(about a foot) of rain some time that afternoon.......and it was already cloudy.......time to get going.

First stop Woolies to get some new batteries for the SPOT trackers - mine was flashing a warning and Christos had given up a day or two ago. Once some new quality lithium batteries were installed, both units worked fine.

Next stop - the Kiama blowhole.

Every few years a group of tourists will climb over the fence and get washed off the rocks:

The blowhole is spectacular in even a moderate swell and absolutely amazing when the sea is rough - but today the ocean was glassy smooth, and all we had to look at was a hole in the rocks:



And a lighthouse:



Next we track north along the coast and refuel at Dapto - but couldn't find any signs to get a photo next to for Aunty Jacks' "Woolongong Song" (like I've been everywhere man" except "I've been to woolongong, woolongong, woolongong, woolongong,.......I've been everywhere includiiiing....Datpto!"). "There's no welcomes in Dapto mate", I'm told....

Ah well - manage to get a couple of hash browns at Maccas and.....24 hour ticket parking?


IBEM piccie for Woolongong:


Now we get serious - skip the Princes Highway and head along Lawrence Hargeave Drive along the coast.

In this area the coastline takes the form of an escarpment rising straight out of the sea with small towns along the waters edge.

The first payoff comes between Scarborough and Coalcliff where the road runs out over the water on the Sea Cliff bridge - sheer cliffs off to the left, nothing but ocean to the right. This spot has been popular for car ads since the road was opened.

Further north is Stanwell Park where Lawrence Hargrave conducted his heavier than air flight experiments - Lawrence Hargrave was featured on the old paper $20 note and is regarded as a pioneer in aviation.

From Stanwell park back to the Sea Cliff bridge:


And out to sea were at least six bulk carriers waiting for their turn at Port Kembla steelworks(fewer than I remember a few years ago).

Another stop a little further up the road where we meet an British rider on a rented Harley heading for the Alpine regions - gave him a few ideas on roads to try, where the weather was, a spare map and we headed on into the Royal National Park.


The Royal National Park was arguably the first national park in the world (Yellowstone, USA was set aside earlier, but gazetted later).

No photos of this road again, but the surface was good, corners not too tight or technical and the forest closes in and blocks the sky above. I'd be careful through here after rain or if the moss was allowed to build up on some of the corners......

All too soon, we turned off and headed inland to Heathcote and into Sydney traffic...ugh. By using a couple of back roads and a more circuitious route than was probably neccessary we ended up in Penrith where Christo looked into getting his lights fixed up.

After about 20 minutes, I know my SPOT tracker is working as I get a text message asking "Are you having lunch?"

Next door:


Workshop:


Bikes on display:


Inside:


Just what a couple of "nasty biker types" need on a hot day - Paddle Pops!!


Not sure what the blue frame will become, but it looks interesting; Spyder guts look complicated:


Used the toilet wile waiting - signs on the back of the door:


Good news, finally! Turns out that the problem with the lights was a burnt out contact in the bottom part of the cable, not the end with the switch! By cutting out the affected wire and adding it's own connector the problem is fixed and we're on our way again!

Stopped in Windsor for a drink at an old pub:


Then continued on through the sandstone and forest to Wisemans Ferry.

It was getting pretty close to time to set up for the night - while I was keen to head over the ferry to Dahrug National park and camp, there was more cloud closing in and rain predicted.

Just a little way off the main road is a ski park with a couple of cabins for rent...... Where else would you get a cabin, deck, BBQ and bar fridge for less than $100? Not exactly 5-star, but still pretty good!


Back to Wisemans Ferry to find the only place still open was the general store - everything from bait, fuel, small groceries to car batteries - and the pub. Christo managed to come up with an appetising pasta(pasta, bacon, cream) washed down with a couple of beers for dinner in the time it took me to lube the bike chains!


And that's it for day 8.
 

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Day 9 - 29 Feb 2012 - Wisemans Ferry, Old Convict Road, Port Maquarie

We woke to a misty morning with an overcast sky. Yesterday we were right on the northern edge of the weather pattern that had chased us up the coast, now it looked like it had caught up with us....again.

Between our cabin and the river was a line of caravans on permenant sites, obviously used as a getaway for avid water-skiers - they didn't want to miss a minute and the V8 engines in their boats started at about 7am.

I was slightly annoyed as I'd lost my thongs(flip-flops/jandals/shower-shoes/etc for foreigners) on the road between Windsor and Wisemans Ferry yesterday, obviously the occy strap holding them on had either snapped or worked it's way loose. So I decided to take a few calming photos of the place, green grass, misty mountainsides...the usual.

Here's the cabin, the mountainside and Christo packing his bike:


And here's another shot in portrait format with the mountainside, trees, cabins and Christo around lounging under a tree trying to look cool:


......except......he didn't quite sound cool........and wasn't in a hurry to stand up........hmmmmm.....

After I took the first photo Christo had decided to get out of the way and ended up on the ground.....

He's barely managed to get up the ramp to one of the lounge chairs on the deck beside the cabin....

"Did you throw something at me or see anything hit me?"
"errr....nooo...."
"Felt like I'd been corked with a tennis ball - felt something go pop in my leg......"

This doesn't sound good.....

"Arrrrgh, bugger" and he leaps out of the lounge......
"????"

He's been puzzled by what's happened as he's got a pain in his calf, problems putting weight on that leg and a stinging/tingling sensation around his bum.....he's a nurse, and knows all his nerves, bones, muscles and tendons....what he didn't know was that when he hit the ground he had fallen into a green ant nest.......

The 2" wide compression bandage in my first aid kit helps a little but won't do a proper job, so we get a 6" bandage from the chemist "in town". At least now he can sort of walk and reckons he can ride.....if he can figure out how to get on the bike without putting too much weight on his left leg......

To add further insult, while I was gone he tried to do a bit more packing...and managed to pull the bike over on himself......luckily without damage to himself or the bike.

This day is not starting well.

We chat to the owner of the ski park as we finish packing up and learn that they're now on flood alert due to the amount of water hitting the Hawkesbury catchment and expecting the caravans closer to the water to get flooded - time to get out while we can!

Waiting for the ferry:


And on the ferry(we were the only ones on this trip):




The ferry operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week - as scenic as it is I reckon it'd be a miserable job at midnight in mid winter......

Our next stop was just up the road at Mill Creek Campground in Dahrug National Park - Browni and I came here a few times when we were living in Sydney and spend the night listening to the wombats.


Now they have bio-toilets, gas barbies and fancy fireplaces as well as the wombats and scrub turkeys......going to have to come back here.

Back on the road again - but not for long!!!

What's left of a tree after we cleared it off the road:


The bit that we can't figure out is how did the blue ute that passed us at warp speed and would only have been seconds ahead of us get past it?

Spencer General store:

Another one of these small shops that sell everything from groceries and takeaway to beer and fishing supplies - nice people too!

Now we're heading north on the Great North Road - back up over the hills, again,. lots of forest and sandstone outcroppings and the road is getting getting twisty!

Soon after the aptly named "Lemming Corner"(a 15kph corner with plenty of yellow paint left by crash investigators), Christo stops, says something about "photo op", turns around and heads back - I figure he'll come back around the corner and I'll take a few photos.....

So I wait....have a chat to a council worker who's slashing grass...and wait......and nearly miss him:


(tried for a funky action sequence - still not used to that app on my phone)

He'd gone back to one of the convict-built culverts, waited for me and given up - but we're told there's a better one up the road.

More misadventure - we go past the culvert, but in the process of turning around Christo has to stop for a car, puts his foot down in the middle of a drain, landing hard on that leg again and barely avoiding dropping the bike! That can't help.

While Christo recovers a bit, I go back and get some happy snaps:



Murrays Run culvert - built in 1830(old for Australia) without mortar by convicts in chains supervised by a "harsh" overseer.

Just down the road is Laguna:

(I like wombats)

A bit of a stretch at Wollombi - home of Dr Jurds Jungle Juice, which I have variously heard described as an excellent fortified port and as a most effective paint stripper:


Visitors have left their mark on the furniture:




Now it's end of fun time and time to get somewhere, so it's back to the Pacific Highway and make for Port Macquarie for the night.

While we were taking a break at a rest stop we noted a government appointed photographer plying his trade:



We stopped in Kew to phone ahead and make sure that reception at the caravan park in Port would be open when we got there. One of the things that you often forget about bypasses is that there used to be small towns all the way along the highway that start to disappear. Kew is one of those towns - about half of the shops are shut and the place is pretty dead. This used to be part of the Pacific Highway:


Gotta wonder about a servo with that amount of No-Doze on display though.......

We get into Port, check in, chat to another Strom owner, unpack and barely make it to Subway(the only place still open) before it closed at 8pm!

Given the travails of today, tomorrow can only get better.....
 

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Excellent report mate - looking forward to the return journey.

If I'd known about the Festival earlier I'd loved to have joined you, hopefully it will be run again next year. Would have been great to have caught up with Guzzioverland again too.

Pete.
Guzzioverland, just sent me a message on FB, to say they'd be passing through SE Queensland on their way back to Sydney, we may be able to organise a catch up yet.


Loving the report Sean! Almost just like being there! Hahahaha!
 

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FANTASTIC..!!!

It'd be great to see them again. Keep me posted please Christo, either PM or open forum...

Great yarn Sean, a bloody big effort from you both just to go to the movies..


Pete.
 

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Day 10 - 1 Mar 2012 - oxley, waterfall and home again

Yesterday once we approached Port Macquarie the sky just seemed to clear to an amazing clear blue, only overshadowed by the problems we were having, today it initially appeared that the problems had caught up and settled upon us again.....

But we soon realised that it was just morning sea mist and that it would clear in it's own time:


I went for a walk along the breakwall and photographed some of the artwork(calling it graffiti would be crude) left on the rocks:






Sporting victory, happy families and a memorial all within inches of each other:


True love - I hope year 2 was just as good:


We've decided that with Christos leg the way it is and the increasing scrutiny(ie questioning text messages) from our families, it would be a good idea to head home. But there's no need to hurry is there?

There's good news with the leg too - having been elevated overnight it hurts less, and the swelling means that it's tight in his boot so providing more support.

We head off to a servo, check tyre pressures, oil levels, get some supplies and ready ourselves for a big day ahead.

While at the servo we spot an older BMW - apparently he's a regular commuter:


Then up the Oxley........

....I've been waiting for this.......

Christo told me on the way south that caravans and trucks only really go down the Oxley....but we found a caravan that didn't. Bugger. Passed him and then watched him pass us again as we stopped for happy snaps at Long Flat:


....then passed him again in one of the rare passing opportunities......then stopped for roadworks......


...it's all good - in the 30 minutes we were there we talk to the couple with the caravan, meet a yammie sports rider doing a quick circuit and take ourselves to the head of the queue.

A few photos...



The guy in charge of the traffic lights was good enough to give us a countdown "five minutes guys!" to get helmets and gloves back on.........

This is important:


And off we go!

Pretty soon theres a 4wd up my clacker and I let him pass(obviously a local) so I can do this at my own pace......

I'm not full on in the twisties and tend to prefer a more relaxed pace but this road is......interesting......

I stop on one of the straighter sections for a photo and realise that I've lost about 20 minutes of my life in a maelstrom of throttle, braking, clutch and a continuously twisted and banking ribbon of flawless bitumen:


A truck passes me while I take the photo and I follow it until we get out of the hills and forest onto the plateau....I easily overhaul it.....and meet up with Christo at a rest stop at the bottom of the hills......

"A bit out of our comfort zone are we?"

Now I'm sure I said something like "didjaseethatcorneritwasnearlysidewayswithabeautifulcambertotheleftanditwasjustarushgoingintoitwithjustthrottleandyoucomeouttothenextcornerdoasmalldabofrearbrakeand.....", but he assures me it came out as a glassy-eyed "dibedyaebebebeggrrrubblugneeerummummmummmbleeerrrr"........

So I had a bit of a drink from my ready supply of water....and we watch that truck pass us a couple of minutes later.....oh dear.....

Magic.

We spend a bit of time chatting to an older couple taking their Trumpy to a vintage bike restoration meet at Taree and make our way to Walcha and a pie for lunch.....

In Walcha I take a bit more time to photograph the public artwork that I had noticed the last time we were through:



Even the bank had carved poles outside and there were many more pieces scattered throughout the main street:



We fuel up near Armidale airport, it's cold and I'm nearly surprised that we don't get blown sideways by the strong gusts....

Now we head back towards the range on the Grafton road, I'm still buzzed with the Oxley, so it's just one corner after another until we turn into Wollolombi for a coffee and a break....There's not much here, but the cafe/store/post office seems to be the centre of the community, unless there's an event on at the hall....we relax in the shade near the rural fire maps in the breezeway and head of to Dorrigo....


It's pretty hot today!

Now the road gets interesting again following the ridgelines and skipping around the hilltops......


I stop for a photo so I can say "I've been to Dorrigo" and head into town to meet Christo.....

Dorrigo (IBEM):


While we were sitting there enjoying an iced tea on the side of the road, one of the locals wanders out of one of a fine local establishment and makes idle converstion to while away the day, attempted to transfer some livestock and then proceeded to bestow a rather public display of endearment upon us as we regretfully make our excuses as the day was wearing on.

That's the polite version - basically a rather inebriated female with a rather unkempt appearance stumbled out of a pub, babbled something about liking motorbikes as she had a Yamaha guitar that she enjoyed, hugged us (luckily Christo spotted one of the lice as it landed) then started yelling about how we weren't real bikers and flashing her chest at us as we decided we had other places to go.

Well - that was polite too....there's better, more appropriate, descriptions that are best not used on public forums - buy me a few beers sometime and I might be able to describe it, it's not like the beer would help me forget, but it would take the edge off the memory.

That pretty well took the shine off the trip down Waterfall Way and I was really not at my best......

We stopped at a lookout halfway down so we could calm down a bit.

Bikes in front of Waterfalls:


That's nearly it for the photos, folks - except for some attempted arty stuff at the end, we didn't really stop at many places worth photographing with enough light for my camera.

We made another longer stop on the south side of Coffs Harbour to stretch, and committed to getting home tonight.

To avoid the roadworks between Coffs and Graften we used the back road through Nana Glen and Glenreagh, stopping only so Christo could take a shot of the giant Pokemon at the Yellow Dog pub.

We were in that fanciful dusk time now where the last bright rays of the sun can look like headlights on a side road and the spots where daylight creeps around the mountains closer to the horizon make you wonder if headlights are needed at all. No wildlife, even though I was expecting it.

By the time we reached Grafton and fuelled up, it was properly dark.

From now on we arrange to stop for stretches and a break about every 45 minutes to an hour - it has been a long day....

Just after Grafton I pass Christo in a passing lane and flick the LEDs on - the extra light helps, but as time goes on I'm able to use them less and less due to the cavalcade of trucks coming the opposite way.

One of our first stops was New Italy - we appear to have missed tea and coffee as the driver reviver has shut. We still don't know if the flickering arc light is deliberate to discourage camping or just broken......but it was an wierd experience for it to suddenly snap on to reveal a small village of Juicy campervans all setting up for the night or cooking dinner and just as suddenly snap off plunging the whole scene into darkness apart from the continual display of truck lights on the highway.

I discovered that my camera has a really slow shutter if I leave the flash off, so at this stop and another location further up the coast I attempt a few arty shots of trucks whizzing past(combination of slow shutter and movement):





The Ballina bypass is amazing - the town has just disappeared and I still haven't really noticed it from the heights of the flyover that keeps us off the local roads, this cuts about 30 minutes off of the trip.

We cross into Queensland and stop at Mudgeeraba and have a couple of coffees at the 24 hour Maccas - Christo thought it only appropriate to finish off with a latte....

I sense a wierd feeling of loss, making that final turn off the road to home, and realising that the trip is just about finished and we won't be doing it again tomorrow.

I'm trying to come up with something a bit more clever as I re-read this as it all seems a bit anti-climactic, but that's how it was I guess....

Looking forward to the next trip though!

I hope you've enjoyed reading this trip report and can forgive me the occasional spealing and grammatical what I done wrong and lack of quality illustrations - I've got a few ideas to try to tackle that in future, but the best way to get the real feel of the journey is to do it yourself - so get out and ride!

Cheers!
 

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Thanks for the comments guys and thanks Christo for the suggestion and offer to let me tag along on his holiday!

This has been one of the great posts,go ride around the world :thumbup:
Nah - that's been done, a saw a movie about it a little while ago, did I tell you I went to the movies?.... :mrgreen:

Cheers!
 

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Thanks for coming along Sean, and thanks for taking the time to document, what has been about the best trip I've been on!

Christo.
 
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