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It's a mystery destination ride. The only clue is "thread the needle" and we'll get there tomorrow, where-ever 'there' is.

Saturday 14 May 2011 (one hour west of the Gold Coast, QLD, Australia)
Crispy sunny morning as we roll out of Beaudesert at 8:30 and head south to Urbenville across the border, NSW, via Mt Lindsey Highway, a great bit of road with umpty-dozen corners. Five of us: one Suzuki DRZ 400, three Suzuki VStrom 650s, one BMW GS1200.

Morning chill is fading as we munch on morning tea opposite the Crown Hotel in Urbenville. Back in the saddle 10am to head south through Paddys Flat.



The old grassy campsite was washed away in recent floods. High water mark is about 10 metres above the normal level. A big gum tree hangs upside down, suspended at the top of another big tree. - photo by Dane

Glorious day by the time we roll into Tabulam to refuel and munch lunch.
12:30 and it's off toward Ewingar State Forest. Bit of wet clay gets one of the VStroms all excited, on Metzler (which-way-is-up) Tourances.





We come out of the rain forest and into pasture land.






Then we find a river blocking the way. We bring the bikes across one at a time. The rocks are the size of footballs and they're slippery. It's a team effort and we are very glad to get them all over safely without incident. - photo by Dane



On to Mann River looking beautiful as the sun sets and swans paddle across leaving long V's in the water. It's getting dark as we reach the campsite. On with the headlamps and search for firewood. The place has been picked clean by previous campers but we finally get together a pile of wood. Dave had made us all carry those Bunnings artificial logs, too. Steve whips out a couple home made fire starters (cotton balls with vaseline) and we soon have a roaring blaze warming the bones and drying the boots.

Full moon + starry sky + fire + (food & drink) / good friends = Excellent evening.

Sunday 15th
Wake early. The planets are supposed to be in alignment but I can't be buggered getting up to check. Finally forced up by bursting bladder - it's all foggy outside. Ice on the m'bike seat.


Dave in his cave.

I blow on the embers, revive the fire and warm my hands and feet. Sun comes up, fog clears and it warms to 4 degrees C.







Going to be another great day. Howard can't get his gas burner going. Empty already? No, just too cold for the butane. We warm the gas bottle in the fire and try again. Good flame now. Dave's butane/propane mix is fine.



Packed up and on our way at the crack of 9am heading out to the Gwydir Highway, towards Glenn Innes. We nearly miss the turn-off to Monterey Rd (no sign post). Dave leads on boldly along Camp Road and then, hooray, we find the Old Grafton Rd. Sharp left turn and we're on the final leg to our mystery destination to "thread the needle." About an hour later and there it is - the old convict tunnel, our needle.



We ride through beeping the horns and high fives out the other side with a pause for photos.





Our thoughts now turn to the near-empty fuel tanks. It's another 70kms to civilisation and BMW says it'll run out in 40kms. We ride fingers crossed and roll into town an hour later very very happy to have made it to the petrol station. The GS1200 has a 21 litre tank and takes 21.9 to fill it. Something wonky there. Suffice to say it was EMPTY.

We bid farewell to Howard who must race home up the highway to be back in time for a party.

We ride across town and order big burgers, "The Works". While we wait there's time to wash the gravel and dust out of our eyes, noses and ears etc. Finally the burgers are delivered, stacked up on the plate: meat patty, salad stuff, egg, cheese, pineapple and the all-important beetroot slapped between two buns, soon between the gums. Nom, nom. And now it's time to head homeward.



Through Lawrence, up the Summerland Way to Casino and Cawongla. It's dark as we head toward Murwillumbah and this is 'roo country - a little bit nervous but nothing hops in our way. Up and over Tomewin, good fun in the dark, then down the other side and there are the lights of the Gold Coast. Pull in at home. All safe and well. It's been a great ride.

NOTES:
The campsite is on the Mann River flats near cnr Coombadjh/Dandahra & Hermitage Rds (GPS Position: 152°29'39"E, 29°27'1"S, GMaps -29.450728,152.493044) . No toilet facilities - byo small spade & TP. No tap water and fire wood is scarce. Map HERE.
 

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What a great ride and report. We're just coming into our riding season here on the far side of the globe and just can't wait to get out thread some needles of our own!

Thanx for the pics and report!:thumbup:
 

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Discussion Starter #8 (Edited)
Looks like a bitchin ride mate. Whats that tunnel from? an old railway?
Known as the old convict tunnel though I've read it wasn't actually hand hewn by convicts - more like dynamite and contractors. They just needed to get through that rock to get the road through. More info and gps position etc HERE.

OneOff: we ended up with 2 tables! Dave and I took one each without knowing the other was bringing one. Actually it was very nice having two tables. Made it so easy to cook and spread things out.

We also had 2 x gas cookers + a meth stove, and 2 x coffee percs. We should coordinate next time so we carry less stuff.
 

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Great pics and report Steve.

I really must get out and do more bike camping [when the weather improves, bones don't do well on cold ground overnight these days].

Maybe I will do that run from her with the needle destination as part of the ride. :thumbup:
 
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