March 25, 2012 GMT
Day 7 Queanbyan to Corryong. Monday 19th March
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
Day 7 Sydney to Queanbeyan - Cars off the road !
Day 7 Sydney to Queanbeyan. Sunday 18th March
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 !
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 !
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.
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
March 23, 2012 GMT
Day 4 Gloucester to the Putty Rd Grey Gum Cafe
Day 4 Gloucester to Putty Rd Grey Gum Cafe
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 !
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.
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
Day 3 Port Macquarie to Gloucester
Day 3 Port Macquarie to Gloucester
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 !
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.
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.
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
Day 2 - Embarrasing !
Day 2. Grafton to Port Macquarie
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.
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.
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 !
Posted by Graeme Andrew at 08:27 AM
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.
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 !
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 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 !
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.
Posted by Graeme Andrew at 03:22 AM