Bundaberg

Day 363, Sunday 19 August 2018.

We rode from Kingaroy to Bundaberg today, getting a long way from anywhere by taking a minor road to Durong South, then north to Mundubecca. This had the advantage over taking the main highway of being empty roads with no small towns to slow us down, and no speed traps. We did have one cop come past in the other direction, but he paid no attention to us.

We stopped briefly at a historic residence where a highland festival was in full fling, with hundreds of people even though it was at least 80 km from the nearest town. We had a boilup at a truck stop somewhere along this road (photo 1).

At Mundubbeca, one rider headed east, and the rest of us went north planning to have lunch at Eidsvold. There wasn’t a lot open there, so we had a muesli bar and swig of water, and continued on the road through Mount Perry towards Gin Gin. When we found Tunnel Road we discussed whether to follow it; as we had just washed the bikes we were reluctant to get them dirty on the gravel road. We went on to the other end of the road, which was sealed for the first bit. A few km of gravel later, we found the old railway tunnel we were looking for, and rode through it (photo 2). We didn’t see the colony of bats that live in it though.

At South Kolan, shortly before reaching Bundaberg, we were waved over by a cop. It was a license check and breath test, so we had nothing to worry about. The cop was professional but looked tough with his sidearm. I thought about asking him to pose for a Facebook photo, but decided this would be a bad idea!

At Bundaberg, we had booked a three-bedroom luxury apartment for the same price range we’d been paying for cramped motel rooms, so we celebrated by cooking a meal this evening. As I was walking to the supermarket, I was catcalled with a comment about my hair. It seems provincial Queensland hasn’t changed much in the last few decades!

Distance travelled: 431 km. Total distance so far: 47,839 km.

Emu Creek

Day 362, Saturday 18 August 2018.

From Warwick to Kingaroy today: a short day.

We took a minor road from Crows Nest to Blackbutt via the evocatively-named Emu Creek. It was a pretty road with some twisty bits, and about 9 km of easy gravel. Thanks to members of Austrom for suggesting it. We pulled off the road at one point to have a drink of water and a muesli bar (photo 1). Nothing came by while we were stopped and we could have been in the middle of nowhere.

We checked into our motel in the early afternoon, and washed our bikes as we need to return them clean on Monday. We’ll probably have to wash them again then but the job will be easier after the thorough clean today.

Two of us went for a ride along Bunya Mountains Road later in the day. It’s a steep, winding country road with some decent views, culminating at a walking track up Mount Kiangarow. I liked the views from the summit (photo 2), and I was amused by the prevalent grass trees with their flamboyant flower spikes (photo 3).

Distance travelled: 341 km. Total distance so far: 47,408 km.

Back to Queensland

Day 361, Friday 17 August 2018.

We rode from Tamworth to Warwick today, one via the New England Highway and the rest of us via Warialda and Texas. The roads were empty, and the latter route appeared free of speed traps.

On the way, we stopped at a rest area a bit south of Warialda for a boilup (see photo 1), and were amazed/terrified/impressed by the large and very aggressive ants in the vicinity!

Lunch in Texas just over the Queensland border. It’s a motorcycle-friendly town (see photo 2) but seems very isolated from other areas.

In our motel in Warwick, we handwashed our clothes, and spread them out on impromptu lines tied between our bikes (see photo 3).

Distance travelled: 415 km. Total distance so far: 47,067 km.

Tamworth

Day 360, Thursday 16 August 2018.

We rode from Bathurst up to Tamworth today on our way back to Queensland. We took Bylong Valley Way through a national park, then the New England Highway north from Muswellbrook. There was a spectacular opencast coal mining operation on the approach to Muswellbrook. All enjoyable riding apart from the first part of the NE Highway, which pointed directly into the sun, and went through many small towns with low speed limits.

Distance travelled: 500 km. Total distance so far: 46,652 km.

Parkes radio telescope

Day 359, Wednesday 15 August 2018.

Today was a “rest” day, so we each did whatever we wanted. The other three visited art galleries and museums around Barhurst, and the rider who hadn’t done the Mount Panorama track the previous day did it today.

I decided to ride to see the Parkes Radio Telescope. I’ve previously see the installations at Green Bank and Arecibo, and didn’t want to miss the opportunity to see this one.

It was a cold morning, so I wore extra clothes on the bike. After passing through Orange, it had warmed up so I looked for a rest area so I could take the surplus layers off. I daw a sign for the Borenore Karst conservation area with picnic tables and toilets, so I followed the sign down a rough gravel road to the picnic area. A large sign there gave directions for walks, with one very short walk to a cave which sounded interesting. I had left my torch at the motel but thought I could get a little way in by the light of my phone. The cave was spectacular, with two passages off the entrance part which met up again, and then another entrance beyond where the passages met up. I could see an entrance at all times. Very satisfying!

I approached the radio telescope from the east on small country and gravel roads. The radio telescope was visible from several km away and huge up close. The visitor centre was more geared towards school trips but still interesting, and there was a good cafe.

I came back to Bathurst via Canowindra so I didn’t ride any road twice on this loop.

Distance travelled: 378 km. Total distance so far: 46,152 km.

The Putty Road

Day 358, Tuesday 14 August 2018.

While we all rode the same way today, one rider went ahead to meet a relative at Kurrajong.

Before leaving Singleton, we visited the giant sundial (first photo). It seemed to be running about an hour fast, which I don’t think is caused by daylight saving time!

We rode down the Putty Road, a most enjoyable experience. We stopped at the Grey Gum Cafe in the middle for a decent morning tea, and chatted to a friendly rider on a Ninja 1400.

After joining our companion at Kurrajong, we did a decent bush walk in the Blue Mountains with a great view (second photo), then took a nice country road to Lithgow for lunch, then a rather boring highway to Bathurst.

We’re going to spend a couple of nights in Bathurst with a “rest” day in which we do our own thing. In my case I’ll go exploring on the bike.

Distance travelled: 336 km. Total distance so far: 45,774 km.

Thunderbolt Way

Day 357, Monday 13 August 2018.

Waited until 9 am for the day to warm up today. I rode by myself to the Ansley Falls about 20 km away. The falls had no water at all but the gorge was well worth the ride (see photo). I would have liked to spend more time exploring the area but didn’t want to hold the others up.

We left Walcha about 10 am by which time it was 6 degrees, and I wore extra clothing which made it tolerable with the lower wind levels. Unfortunately it didn’t warm up further and by the end of the first hour’s riding I was feeling distinctly chilly. We stopped at Carson’s Pioneer Lookout near Mares Run for a boil up which warmed us up a bit. After that the road started descending from the New England plateau to the lowlands, and the temperature rose with each descent. By the time we reached 200 m altitude (from an initial 1300 m) we were overheating in all our gear and had to pull over and remove the excess. The temperature briefly hit mid 20s before settling down around 20 degrees, which was very comfortable. The overnight low is forecast to be 4.

The Thunderbolt Way was quite spectacular during its descent from the plateau, but wasn’t particularly interesting for the rest of its length. We had lunch in Gloucester, then took country roads to Singleton which went through more interesting countryside and were more variable.

Distance travelled: 325 km. Total distance so far: 45,438 km.

Waterfall Way

Day 356, Sunday 12 August 2018.

We rode along the Waterfall Way to Armidale, then down the first part of Thunderbolt Way to Walcha. I love the interesting names Aussies give these highways. We saw Ebor Falls which were impressive, and Wollomombi Falls which had negligible water but very spectacular scenery. In between we took a 15 km unsealed road to Point Lookout where the views went forever and we joked about being able to make out Taranaki in the distance. Unfortunately my cellphone camera can’t do justice to these scenes.

Once we got up onto the New England plateau, above 1000 metres altitude, the winds became strong and the temperature dropped to 6-7 degrees. I wasn’t expecting these daytime temperatures and felt very cold. At Point Lookout we were above 1500 metres, but I think it was not quite as cold, but perhaps that was because I was walking more.

D

istance travelled: 260 km. Total distance so far: 45,113 km

Bellingen

Day 355, Saturday 11 August 2018.

We came from Grafton south to Bellingen, taking a nice country road to Carumba with a stop for morning tea at Glenreagh, where I ate a bobcat pie for the first time in my life. It was nice; they must have skinned the cat before putting it in the pie! (actually bobcat refers not to roadkill but is an acronym for the ingredients: bacon, beef, cheese and tomato, or something similar).

From Carumba we took a very twisty road west through a forest. It turned to a decent gravel road. Good riding. As we approached Dorrigo we stopped at Dangar Falls for an improvised lunch and boilup.

We took the Waterfall Highway to Bellingen, and that was well surfaced sealed twisty road with great views but unfortunately nowhere to stop to photograph the scenery!

Bellingen is a tourist trap. We would have done better going elsewhere. We’re staying in the youth hostel which is okay but not value for money compared to previous motels and pubs.

Unfortunately one of our riders left a jacket behind at Grafton, and had to go back to collect it, a three-hour round trip.

Photos of a canoer on the Clarence River at Grafton, and the Dangar Falls.

Distance travelled: 157 km. Total distance so far: 44,853 km.

Old Grafton Road

Day 354, Friday 10 August 2018.

We came back from Glen Innes to Grafton today via the Old Grafton Road, which is a very twisty and scenic road running along a river valley (which has tributaries of the Clarence). About 80 km of it is gravel but it’s in good condition, apart from some corrugations near the start. We brought sandwiches for lunch as there are no shops on Old Grafton Road, and ate them at a roadside rest area at Dalmorton.

Distance travelled: 181 km. Total distance so far: 44,696 km.