March 23, 2012 GMT
Getting Started Day 1

Day 1 Brisbane to Grafton.
KM 377.7 BEAR RIDES - 113, 7, 24

(Bear Rides are the ride numbers from The Australian Motorcycle Atlas)

I looked out the window and the weather was fine. This was a good thing as today was the first day of a three month motorcycle trip around Australia. I had been planning this for the best part of a year. A solo jaunt around the big island on my trusty (hopefully) Beemer. The bike is a 07 1200GS with 84k on the clock so its had a bit of use. The trip will add 20k at least so by the time I get back it should have done 100K plus.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

The plan (if you can call it that) is to head south and all things being equal I should arrive back at my starting point Brisbane in about 3 months. For those of you who are familiar with the 'Australia Motorcycle Atlas' by Peter Thoeming otherwise known as the 'Bear' (never been sure why actually as he looks like a perfectly normal human being) I will follow a lot of those rides he has so faithfully documented. Thanks Peter !

Anyway back to this morning. Living in the northern parts of Brisbane I really could not have asked for a better road to follow for the first hour or so. I headed straight up through Mt Glorious which just happens to be nirvana for local motorcyclists. It also happens to be the site of a lot of motorcycle wreckage but hey let's not talk about those sorts of things ... not today of all days ! The local bikers haunt the ' Miala Cafe' had just a couple of bikes outside, probably because it was 9:00am on a Monday morning and most motorcycling blokes and gals would be fronting up to the week at work - sympathies all round I think to myself perhaps just a little too smugly !

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

I rode over Mt Glorious and headed south down past Waivanhoe damn which is Brisbanes main water supply and then through the little township of Fernvale before taking a right through some back roads to avoid Ipswich. I was heading for the Lions road so at least my plan for the day stretched that far. Through Amberly skirting the airforce base and down the Cunnignham highway to Boonah where just for the heck of it I stopped and had a coffee. This was kind of a goodbye stop as Boonah was really the last of the one day ride destinations that I frequented in this direction. I would not be back in this area for at least three months !

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

From Boonah there is a nice little road through to Rathdowny (route 93 for those of you with a map handy) from where you hang a right down the Lions Rd. The weather looked fine at the start but the grey turning black clouds in the hills started to look a little threatening. Out came the wet weather riding suit a quick struggle getting the damn thing on and then back on the bike. Sure enough the storm clouds miraculously disappeared ! If you ever need flood relief just ask a motorcyclist to suit up in his rain gear !

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

The rain relief however was only temporary as the weather set in and I had 50kms in the wet. The Lions road is a nice run over the mountains and is tight and steep in places and slippery in the wet ... great fun !

The road turns onto the Summerland Way highway and runs south down to the NSW town of Grafton. This a a good stretch of road with little or no traffic so I sat back and enjoyed the last 200 km's or so as the rain had gone - excellent.

This is all easy riding and I expect the rest of NSW down through Victoria to be similar. Good camping grounds and pubs and plenty of coffee stops. The real fun will start as I head further west but hey the next couple of weeks is full of great motorcycle roads so no problems with this. I arrived in Grafton and called it quits for the day, mostly because I lost an hour when I went over the Queensland NSW border on the Lions Road. I pondered this and figured I would loose another hour or two as I headed west through two time zones .... big country Australia !

I put the tent up in a rather luxurious looking camping ground. Made use of a nice swimming pool and generally made myself at home so I can recommend this camping ground if you ever want to throw a tent up in Grafton NSW. ( http://www.thegatewayvillage.com.au ) Settling in for the night I had that nice feeling of knowing that tomorrow and for the next few months all I would do is get up and ride.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

Posted by Graeme Andrew at 03:22 AM GMT
Day 2 - Embarrasing !

Day 2. Grafton to Port Macquarie

KM 311
BEAR RIDES 120, 36

Ok, lets gets this over with. Today something embarrasing happened. I ran out of gas. There, I said it and you can all have a good laugh. Its the first and last time for me that I can guarantee.

I rose reasonably early after the first night in the tent. I reckoned the body would take a couple of nights to get used to the move from comfortable mattress to a tent !

I had to now consider where I was going ride today. (You can see my forward planning is very detailed) I wanted to ride the Oxley Highway so had to figure how to fit it in. The Oxley is an infamous motorcycle road and I reckoned I had better make the effort. So Port Macquarie became my destination as this was at the start of the Oxley heading west.


I decided to take a less direct route and headed down through Nymbodia and Dorrigo. Breakfast was at Nymobodia about 37 clicks from Grafton. What a spot - I recommend the Coachmans Inn pub which does a top breakfast in a beaut setting overlooking the Nymbodia river.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

Back on the bike and over the National Park road which is a a good one and then a left turn at Tringham and down into Dorrigo. The road down into Dorrigo is a beaut with lots of steep twists and turns.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

After Dorrigo it was a main highway cruise down to the coastal town of Port Macquarie. Not a lot of interesting things to say about this stretch except that this is where I had my embarrasing moment. I was into Port Macquarie when the bike starting missing and backfiring. This woke me up after a bit and looking down at the read out on the dash the number of km's left to empty was saying '10'. I was pretty close to a service station so I literally pushed it into the forecourt. Jeez ... not sure what I was thinking, it must have been that boring bit of highway. Anyway I put 20+ litres into the tank and made a mental note to avoid this later in the trip. Especially out west in the more remote spots - the top half of the tank only !

A guy who had watched me come in came over and had a chat. With a slight grin on his face he explained that I would have to fill up at least once more to get around the rest of OZ. Thanks for the heads up mate !

I stopped for the night at Lighthouse beach and put the tent up. This is a beautiful spot and after a quick meal and beer at the local I went for a long walk down the beach. The sunset was beautiful and a great end to the day - well almost. That night it poured with rain for most the night so the tent got a good work out !

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

Posted by Graeme Andrew at 08:27 AM GMT
Day 3 Port Macquarie to Gloucester

Day 3 Port Macquarie to Gloucester

KM's 323

BEAR RIDES 30, 35

The bike after ahhh .. 'running low on gas' yesterday was still sounding bad ... still backfiring and running rough - a bit like a Ducati !

The camping ground owner gave me the number for the local BMW dealer so I gave them a call. The guys at Rock Motorcycles in Port Macquarie were very helpful and looked at it straight away for me. It all checked out ok so I just decided to ride it and see what happens. After a quick thrash to the start of the Oxley it was running fine again. Can't say enough about Rock Motorcycles, they didn't charge anything for the check over and even replaced the headlight bulb that had blown yesterday.

Ok it's official the Oxley Highway is without doubt the best motorcycle road I have ridden in Australia - so far. From Port Macquarie I headed straight up the Oxley and it was sheer happiness for 100k's and more. It was full of beautifully sealed corners and perfect cambers. Even my fully laden Beemer wanted to have a crack so we did .... Great fun. Stopped at the Gingers Creek Cafe about 70kms along the highway which is infamous for motorcycles and chatted to a few of the locals for a while. They all had big smiles and I know why !

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

The scenery along the Oxley Highway is beautiful and well worth a couple of stops to admire. It was noticeably colder as the altitude was a bit higher than the coast but the weather gods were being kind today and treated me with an almost perfect day.


Next stop was Walcha for a top up and then left and south again down the less travelled Thunderbolt Way and into Gloucester for the night. The Thunderbolt way was very quiet with little or no traffic so I settled back and enjoyed the remoteness and scenery.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012


From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

I stopped at the Gloucester Holiday Park camping ground which I can definitely recommend. Very clean facilities and lots of room for campers to spread out. It's one of those special rural camping grounds that are relaxing and pleasant places to stay. Cost of a tent site was just $10.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

While I was booking in the sound of another motorbike pulling up behind me got my interest. It was a DR650 loaded up to the hilt so I figured it was time to say gidday. The rider was Jan from Holland who just happened to be doing three months around Australia in the opposite direction to me. We considered this for a bit and figured that we would meet again somewhere and agreed it would be good to discuss this in more depth over a few beers.


Jan had come from Perth and had been on the road for a month and was a real character. We exchanged email addresses had a good meal at the pub and shook hands the next morning " see you up west somewhere mate in about a month" was my departing comment.

Posted by Graeme Andrew at 08:50 AM GMT
Day 4 Gloucester to the Putty Rd Grey Gum Cafe

Day 4 Gloucester to Putty Rd Grey Gum Cafe
KM 220
BEAR RIDES 18, 31

I left Gloucester quite late as today was a reasonably short ride - just 220 km's south to the Putty Road. I was staying with friends in Sydney on the Friday so had planned a stop somewhere along the way.

The 'Putty' is a particularly well known road for Sydney motorcyclists as it is a comfortable one day ride and it is a combination of great corners and straights over about 120 km's. Today was a Friday so there was very little traffic around but on weekends there are literally hundreds of bikes on the road.

The first destination was Singleton as this is at the start of Putty Rd. Heading south I turned right to cut through Dungog and some nice quiet country roads all the way to Singleton. I stopped to refuel as there are no petrol stations until Cola. At the start of the Putty is a great little pub at Bulga called the 'Cockfighter Creek Tavern'. With a name like that you just have to stop and investigate, which I did and I can say the beer tastes just fine !

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

Riding the Putty Rd was excellent. No traffic but be careful there are some tight sections and not a lot of room to spare with rock walls on one side and cliffs on the other. I would say if you are heading to Sydney definitely try this road.

I stopped after about 70 km's at a place called 'The Grey Gum Cafe'. This cafe is all about motorcyclists and has been open about 12 months. They have even built a concrete strip specially for the bikes to park up on. It's a beautiful spot sitting on many acres of gum trees and open grassy areas. They allow bikers to camp there for free and have showers available for a few dollars.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

It was after 4pm when I got there so I decided to do just that and put up the tent under some trees a couple of hundred meters from the cafe. The kangaroos came out of the bush close to the cafe not long after (a good reason to be off the bike by the way) as the cafe owners feed them.

By 8:30 it was dark and I was in the tent. The bush was alive with noise, possums, roos, sugar gliders, owls and other things I probably didn't want to know about right at that moment.

Posted by Graeme Andrew at 08:55 AM GMT
March 25, 2012 GMT
Day 5 - Putty Rd into Sydney

Day 5 Port Putty Rd Grey Gum Cafe to Sydney
KM 220
BEAR RIDES 32, 31

After camping over night at the Grey Gum Cafe and an excellent breakfast at the cafe there was another 60km's of Putty Rd remaining heading south towards Sydney. I was staying with friends in Sydney that night so had a few hours to spare.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

I decided to take a look at Wisemans Ferry which is another popular spot for Sydney motorcyclists. If you are heading south on the Putty take the turn off left to Sackville. This runs through some nice country side and then onto the first of two barges that take you across the Hawkesbury River. The ferry services are free so you just roll on and roll off.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

The road then runs directly to Wisemans Ferry where the second barge is which connects to roads heading west. Just before the township its worth stopping at the lookout overlooking the Hawkesbury River. The road down from there into Wisemans Ferry is short and steep so watch out, there are a couple of sharp hairpin corners waiting for the unwary.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012


There is a decent pub in the township and a good coffee shop further down on the same side. It was a nice ride and I had a relaxing afternoon before preparing myself for the ride into Sydney.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

The ride into Sydney was a nightmare. I don't know Sydney very well and trying to get through Friday afternoon rush hour traffic was character building to say the least. I came back from Wisemans Ferry through Glenorie and then Hornsby and finally arrived at Bevan and Jan's in Wahroonga. A few wines and the woes of the traffic were well and truly forgotten. Thanks Bevan !

Posted by Graeme Andrew at 12:44 PM GMT
Day 7 Sydney to Queanbeyan - Cars off the road !

Day 7 Sydney to Queanbeyan. Sunday 18th March
KM 430
BEAR RIDES 16, 28,

I headed out of Sydney on the Sunday after a day with Bevan, Jan and their three boys, Richard, Edward and William. Saturday was wet so the stop was well planned and I really enjoyed spending some time with all of them. Thanks guys most appreciated !

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

I took the Bells Line of roads out of Sydney through Richmond to Lithgow. This runs through the Blue Mountains and some of the scenery was spectacular. Unfortunately the weather was wet so the roads were slippery. A car ran off the road directly in front of me just before Lithgow so it was a good reminder to be careful. (the driver of the car and her daughter were fine although a little shocked I expect)

From Lithgow I headed down to Goulburn via Oberon and Hampton. These are basic back roads which looked to have been flood damaged so were pretty rough. No problems for the Beemer but a group of guys on Harleys I met going the other way who did not seem to agree !

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

I was going to stop in Goulburn but I had been watching the weather forecasts in the Snowy Mountains which showed good weather Monday and Tuesday so I decided to keep going to Queanbeyan which is just past Australias capital Canberra. I jumped on the Federal Highway and headed south. I don't normally like these sorts of roads but I have to admit it was not that bad. The view out over Lake George was nice in the late afternoon.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

The temperature did drop however and it looked like rain so I gabbed a motel for the evening. Not a bad day and I was ready to have a crack at the snowy mountains over the next couple of days.

The first week had gone well ... No disasters yet and the rain gods had seemed to have forgotten me completely meaning almost perfect weather for a whole week.

Posted by Graeme Andrew at 01:04 PM GMT
Day 7 Queanbyan to Corryong. Monday 19th March

KM 323
BEAR RIDES 15, 53

I have just set up the tent in an idyllic little camping ground called Colac Colac Caravan Park after a beautiful days riding through the mountains. The weather has been superb and is predicted to remain the same tomorrow for the ride out of the mountains and down to the coast east of Melbourne.

From Queanbyan I headed down to Cooma, where you turn west across the Alpine national park through Jyndabyne, Threadbo, Khancoban and Corryong.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

It's all steep alpine roads and rises to an altitude of about 1700 meters according to my Garmin GPS. There is a park entry fee heading into Threadbo of $6 if you are going to stop but I headed straight through as it was not the Ski season and the village itself was empty.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

There are some good camping spots along this route one in particular called Tom Groggin. If you are from overseas and want to see Kangaroos this is the place. I pulled up there and a pack of them arrived almost immediately.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

Stopped at Colac Colac Caravan Park for the night which is about 6 kms past the town of Corryong. Definitely recommend this camping ground if you are tenting.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

This was a top days ride and if the weather is good mark it on your map ... you wont be dissapointed. :-)

Posted by Graeme Andrew at 01:20 PM GMT
Day 8 Corryong to Bairnsdale. Tuesday 20th March

KM 255
BEAR RIDES 47, 53

I left the camping ground around 8:00 am this morning and rode through the beautiful Murray Valley. It was a cold morning as the sky had been clear and there was lots of fog and mist around the hills. Stopped at Tallangatta for some breakfast and topped up with petrol.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

From Tallangatta I headed down south to Mt Beauty. The road was good and the weather once again was fine. Not sure why the weather gods are playing ball at the moment ... Perhaps they have something special waiting for me in a few days ! From Mt Beauty I turned right and climbed up over the hills towards Bright and what is called the 'The Great Alpine Road'.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012


The Great Alpine Road runs from Bright in the south down to the Victorian town of Bairnsdale which sits on the edge of Lake King and two other 'Lakes' (Lake Wellington and Lake Victoria if you are curious). Not sure on the definition of a 'Lake' (always thought they were not part of the ocean) but these ones are filled by the sea at the aptly named town of Lakes Entrance. All very confusing for a simple motorcyclist !

The state of Victoria seems to have a thing about 'Great Roads'. To the west of Melbourne is the 'Great Ocean Road' and now I am riding the 'Great Alpine Road' - I think I will start calling them GOR & GAR from now on.

Hmmm .. too much time to think about things. I stopped at the little town of Harrietville which sits at the bottom of the mountains for lunch. Its a nice enough spot and a good rest spot for what follows. What follows is over 100 km's of motorcycling madness winding over well sealed roads through spectacular alpine scenery. There were quite a few bikes on the road even though it was a week day and I can understand why. The bike loves this sort of road with lots of low down torque making things easy for a quick climb to Mt Hoffam.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

Omeo is the next stop after the mountains however the Great Alpine Road keeps on going and follows a gorge by the Tambo river for 30 odd km's which is all good road with very little traffic.

I finally stopped in Bairnsdale on the coast for the night after another good days ride.

Posted by Graeme Andrew at 01:34 PM GMT
Police and a bad Day 9. Bairnsdale to Melbourne. Wednesday 21st March

KM 282
BEAR RIDES - sadly none !

What a shitty day ! The stuff I wrote in the earlier entries about the weather gods treating me well came back to haunt me today.

I awoke this morning undecided about what to do. I had intended to head south west around the coast and take in some of the scenery by the Tasman sea. However the weather forecast was not good with wild southerlies and rain forecast.

So instead I opted for plan B, a quick trip to Melbourne and on to the Tasmanian ferry and Tasmania for 5 days.

I had checked the weather and it looked much better in Tasmania. What I didn't consider was how fast that weather front was moving and how flat and exposed the road was to the town of Sale. I have ridden bikes for a long time but I don't think I can remember feeling quite as battered and dumped on as I did today.

Leaving Bairnsdale the wind picked up and was gusting 60 - 100kms an hour with driving rain. The gusts were coming from every direction meaning I wasn't quite sure whether I would have a head on with oncoming traffic or be blowen off my side of the road . The latter was my preference so I favoured the left as I rode along at a 45 degree angle one moment and the opposite 45 degree angle the next. It must have looked hilarious from behind but from behind my visor I can tell you I was not laughing. The road was wet and I was effectively doing some pretty hard cornering going in a straight line !

Just to add to my misery a police patrolcar stopped me about 5kms out of the town of Sale and advised me not to go any further as it was too dangerous for motorcycles. Ha ... sure tell me something I didn't know. I agreed it was dangerous and carried on.

I had a booking on the 7:00 pm sailing of the ferry so I battled on till closer to Melbourne where the weather finally cleared. I stopped on the M1 highway about 50 km's from Melbourne and took a well earned break and let the nerves return to normal.

The rest of the ride in to Melbourne was fine (only 50kmh winds and light rain) except my GPS inexplicably turned me off the highway and through the central city so the last few km's were spent in rush hour traffic avoiding the city's tram tracks and trams. I have to admit having not being to Melbourne for a long time I had forgotten how it looked around the city. Cafes, old buildings, trams and leafy streets.

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

Anyway after a long day I am now on the ferry to Tasmania where the weather looks better, ha now theres a joke !

From Around Australia by Motorcycle 2012

PS. Turns out the GPS's route really wasn't that inexplicable. I had in the peferences menu 'Avoid Toll Roads' set to 'Yes'.

Posted by Graeme Andrew at 01:50 PM GMT
 
 

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