12th & 13th June 2017
The Ibis Budget Motel was not a bad place to stay. Small rooms, just enough space, but clean and functional. Ken, the receptionist, was very helpful and cheery. He surprised us with telling us breakfast was included. It was pretty good breakie too. It got us moving, which was good, as we carried our crap out to the bikes, it was a gorgeous sunny day, and we even felt a bit warm. It felt like it would be a good day.
Today, we wanted to cruise the most coastal road, which looked like it would be nice and scenic. The A49, took us through Central Coast, which encompasses several large lakes, right next to the ocean. The road was on a narrow stretch of land between the two, and the most annoying bit, was we couldn’t actually see either stretch of water. It was also pretty busy with traffic. Got to expect that on the last day of a long weekend.
A big four lane highway, which turned into the A43, and took us past Lake Macquarie and skirted us around Newcastle, which has grown to be a major city these days. As we headed further north, the weather was changing. We were catching up to some rain, and evidence of heavy showers all over the road. We also found ourselves on the fast paced and boring A1. We stopped for a coffee and a sandwich at a roadside rest area, then carried on. At Bulahdelah, we stopped for fuel, and to assess our options. The chance of rain was increasing, and we’re not keen for it. Finally we got off the busy motorway and onto a nice windy road to take us to Forster. The Lakes Way, winds through the Myall Forest, and past some pretty big and beautiful lakes. There’d been some heavy rain here, and we were just behind it. We got a couple of pictures, spotted a couple of cyclists, and encouraged them on, before getting to Forster/Tuncurry (one of those two named towns split by a river) and finding somewhere to stay dry tonight.
An entrepreneur with a food van in a prime spot to make easy money. Unfortunately for them, we had remade coffees.
The Lakes Way is a really nice road through the forest and lakes. Worth a visit. Good camping too if it’s not raining.
The Great Lakes Big4 had a cabin with cooking facilities, and that was good for us. We settled in just before it started to rain. There is a large weather system north of us, right in our path, expected flooding and heavy rain. Bugger, bugger, bugger! So we’ll change our plans. Head inland and try to go around the heavy rain and any possible flooding. It rained heavily over night, and was still raining lightly when it was almost time to leave. The patch of weather was heading north west, so we decided to carry on with the plan to head west and try to get around it. It pretty much started raining on us straight away, and after about 20kms, we pulled over at a rest stop, and parked under a small shelter. The rain was getting heavier, and it was not good riding.
We were thinking it might be just as easy to go back to Forster. This is very unpleasant. VERY Unpleasant!
After a coffee, and a break in the rain, we got going again. We had a 50plus kilometre run on the A1, before heading to Wauchope, to then get on the infamous (for motorcyclists) Oxley Highway. About 10 kays from our turn off, the rain was too intense, and vision was poor, so we decided to pull off and find shelter. We found Bago road, through the Bago Forest, and as we rode along this rough and quiet road, the rain eased. It was a pretty good ride, even in the wet. Taking it very easy, we came out in Wauchope, and onto the Oxley. An old farm ute pulled out right in front of Will, totally not seeing anything, and proceeded to drive at 50 kays an hour, for about 20kms. Uh, it was wet, and we needed to get through this quicker. At Long Flat, the old coot pulled over, and we pushed on into the heavier rain. About now, my intercom started beeping in crazy patterns, and I lost Will. The rain became super heavy, and I could feel it stinging me through my many layers, which were by now, soaked. This is shit! My boots are full of water, my gloves are dribbling water, and now my crutch is getting wet! Twisty, winding soaking wet roads, in the pissing rain! Funtimes! We spotted a sign for a resort. Hey? Out here, up on the mountain, in amongst the farms? Worth a try. Our ESP was working, and we pulled off to discuss things. A few rapid nods, had us rolling down the 2km driveway, to what looked like a deserted, run down old spooky farm. Oh dear, soaked and murdered, never to be seen again! Is that our fate?
I sent Will into be murdered, while I waited to escape on my wet and dripping bike. As it turned out, this was a working farm, with a motel, and managed by a group of foreign and Aussie backpackers. They host two Day motorbike off-road and control courses, 4WD tours and car groups. They are quiet right now, like we are the only ones here. So we got a spa room, dinner with the staff, and had a really enjoyable night, not getting chopped into pieces, and chatting with some really interesting people. The spa was brilliant, and we recovered nicely soaking in that.
After getting soaked, and having such a hard day before, we were a bit excited to see some blue sky amongst the clouds.
Waking up to the view of the clouds wafting over the hills, was pretty nice, and seeing the glimpses of sunshine, trying to bust through was encouraging. We loaded our bikes, before dressing ourselves in our almost, but not quite, dry riding clothes, and still soggy boots and gloves, and chugged off. It looked like more rain might hit us, but we were blessed with a cool, rainless ride, along the awesome Oxley Highway, which really did live up to it’s reputation. Beautiful winding roads, lush, green forest, and magnificent valley views. You just have to be ready for oncoming vehicles cutting corners, and surprising you on e wrong side of the road. Will had one particularly close call, with a work ute, coming around with two wheels over the double white line, and missing Will by less than a foot. Lucky Will was going really slow and could manoeuvre out of the way. Dickhead!
It was interesting climbing up through the Cottan-Bimbam national park, where you get to almost 1300 meters above sea level.
Beautiful roads, with some very iffy driving skills from the oncoming traffic.
This was a super close call. Lucky Will was expecting something and could take evasive action, and was also taking it easy.
We had a couple of stops to shake the tension out, and to check out the waterfalls, before reaching Walcha, and having some lunch. Riding out of this area, we were quite surprised at how high we had gotten. We rode across the farming plains, and then we’d turn a corner and be faced with signs telling trucks and buses to use low gears, Steep Descents. Then we’d go down and down, onto another plain, only to do the same thing. This carried on, all the way to Tamworth. It really is The Great Dividing Range. A beautiful and amazing part of this country.
Aspley Falls was a nice spot, right on the highway. It is at about 1100mtrs.
A really interesting gorge, and the river actually flows underneath the huge land slip.
Moonbi lookout was really nice overlooking the Tamworth region. Look at that sunshine!
Now we are in Tamworth, the home of country music, and drying everything out properly, and enjoying the sun and warmth. Luckily, as well as experiencing a very wet winter, they are also having an unusually warm one. Perfect for me, 20 and above is how I like it. Might even be able to bust out the old tent again.