The heat of far north Queensland had been getting me down so about 6.00pm one evening I decided screw it, I’m going for a ride.
4.30am in Townsville and it’s still stinking hot. I load up the bike then have to go and change my clothes which are wet through with perspiration. Clearing town I stop to get fuel and a coffee at first light. I’m so excited to be back motorcycle touring I can barely stand still.
The last motorcycle tour I did was in Japan 2021. Since then a lot of water has passed under the bridge. My recent PET scan was mostly ok… I have been working hard since my chemotherapy to recover my strength. I have a few dirt roads I want to ride, but I’ll just see how I go not booking more than 1 night in advance as I am not sure I’m ready for a big tour yet.
Aussie’s love the big ‘thing’ roadside attractions. Bowen has the big mango. Box ticked 🙂
I stopped in Mackay to buy some warm weather gloves. I thought my superb Rough and Road summer gloves had made it to Australia but alas they were in the boxes stolen by Australia post. Not confident about the Dryrider brand pair I got but looked the best of a poor selection at AMX Superstore.
I nearly ran out of fuel forgetting I am not on my FJR1300 with its 500km range. I arrived St Lawrence with brain fade and discover just 250ml of fuel was left in tank. Stupid.
I decided to ride to Rockhampton which is about 700km and too far. There is nothing much except boring highway until you reach Brisbane so the temptation is to really push the mileage out.
If you have read any of my Japan motorcycle tours you will know I used to jest about the vending machine coffee tins. Well now they are here in Australia but at 5 times the price. Trivia – the original Boss Coffee guy has a pipe, but guess that was removed for here.
I am staying at the Heritage hotel tonight. I like staying in old pubs and they are cheaper than motels.
On a motorcycle tour I always bring febreze. End of ride day apply liberally to inside your helmet, jacket, rider pants, boots and any Buffs you are using to keep everything fresh.
Nothing really to report on day 2 except my carplay unit would not power up, the cradle power connection is a flawed design and bumpy roads killed it. I made it to friends house in Brisbane for beers.
Another thing I always carry is a power bank. This novelty design looks like a cassette tape but packs 10,000mAh. Lends a lot of flexibility to how and when I charge items. (Aliexpress)
A late night leads into a late start next day. I revisit some old stomping grounds. Tallebudgera valley, Currumbin Valley almost seem like new roads to me. Then lunch at the Uki pub which I have never seen since it burnt down. I miss the old place, new one is crazy busy, took 45 minutes to get lunch which was then poor quality food.
I lost lot’s of time today and feeling shattered after two high mileage days I decided to skip riding the border ranges road (Tweed Ranges scenic drive) and go directly to my mates place at Alstonville.
Was great to revisit this region which I previously used to ride on any fine Sunday. Maybe I will move down here for awhile in future as the Northern Rivers shire is one of my favourite parts of Australia.
It appeared like I would get wet the next day but I rode clear by Grafton where I took the Old Glen Innes road, a route I have been waiting to have a suitable bike to ride.
This may upset some ADV folk but I just found the road bumpy as hell and bit boring.
There is no services but I carried some refreshments and this spot was a nice rest from the corrugations and potholes.
I did enjoy the sealed ascent from the valley back to the Gwydir highway with interesting granite rock features, but honestly the Gwydir is better, especially with the excellent Raspberry lookout.
I love the New England highlands this time of year. The sky is impossibly clear filled with cool autumn air and the trees are in colour.
At a former favourite in this region. The Great Central hotel, Glen Innes.
Big sky country. Overlooking Bingara. Much greener out this way that I have seen previously.
Nice ride out to Narrabri via Killarney Gap road – which as the name implies is a small mountain range but none of my photos there are worth publishing. Instead here is some more big sky country.
I have no navigation and no phone signal being with vodafone so I navigate the old school way, stop and ask directions at the gas station. Soon I find my way riding towards the target of this ride – Mt Kaputa.
The road out to the base is sealed and rather nice flowing curves. Then you have a few kilometres of teeth jarring corrugations on the dirt section that shook my mirror loose followed by a upper one lane sealed road.
Mt Kaputa exceeded my expectations. It was worth the wait of a few years since seeing it on Google maps and getting here. At 1510m it is quite high for Australia too.
Tonight’s pub in Narrabri has simple rooms but they are ensuite with covered parking.
I would have liked to continue directly south from here but this ride is the first test of all my new motorcycle riding gear and some of it is not working for me.
The Shark City Cruiser helmet has pressure points on my head thanks to a poorly designed inner foam shell. It’s starting to really bother me and can get painful by days end.
Dryrider Stealth warm weather gloves I got when starting this ride have literally started to fall apart after a few days. Their quality is just woeful and they were not a cheap! Review coming once I see how Dryrider respond (update – AMX superstore, the chain owned by Repco that I purchased them from replaced the gloves with same at their Townsville store. I have no intention to ever wear the replacements)
I don’t want to buy another pair of Aussie brand gloves typically found in rural bike shops on this tour. I will order a good pair online when back home and do the rest of the ride with my Rough and Road mid season Gore-tex gloves.
The bamboo socks a mate recommended are like sponges and will not dry overnight or even two nights hanging up but I got some tradie socks from Coles and Woolworths which will do the job until I get home.
On the plus side my new Gaerne G-Air GTX boots are going well. My new Merlin jacket is superb and my new Resurgence Gear cargos are mostly OK… reviews of both after this ride.
Painted silo tours are bringing in a tourist dollar to some towns of late. It’s a great initiative I think. This one is in Gunnedah.
Quiet viewpoint above the town of Quirindi called “Who’d A Thought It Lookout” was a spot I took time to lube the chain. Miss having a shaft drive (and electric screen and cruise control haha).
Quirindi has painted silos too but their artwork is not to my taste however the bakery has this neat art space where I enjoyed a rest.
I am riding the sealed western section of the road to Barrington Tops (Hunter Road). It is both scenic and nice curves.
The gravel ascent from the west climbs sharply. The surface is in good condition. There are some nice views behind you which I did photograph but feel my images do not do the scenery justice. At the top is a gate, then a high plateau with excellent gravel road but it is all heavily wooded with no views.
Thunderbolts other lookout. This outlaw sure had some great spots. I visited his superb lookout at Torrington previously and this one whilst not as grand was still an enjoyable interlude and chance to warm up on the walk there as it is very cold up here.
Cobark lookout is much lower but only 500m or so before you rejoin the sealed road. From Gloucester you can ride to this viewpoint on any style of motorcycle and the road through the valley to here is superb.
Wonderful afternoon ride down to Gloucester from Cobark.
It’s ‘Snitzy’ night at the Roundabout Inn Gloucester. Best pub meal I have had this ride. Biker friendly too.
Fog in the Hollow, Good day to Follow. Alberta farmers saying I learnt from a fellow rider. Nice morning leaving Gloucester even if my image doesn’t really capture it.
Bucket loads of potholes on the Bucketts Way to Wingham but then I wished for road of that quality as I made my way to Ellenborough falls on rough gravel with SUV’s showering me in dust. I’ve ridden moto-x and can ride any type of dirt not feeling too challenged but I frankly didn’t find it very enjoyable today. If I was sideways bouncing my old KX two stroker off the rev limiter around every corner that would be different but I don’t think this ‘ADV’ riding will be long term thing for me.
Photo actually is straight, difficult viewpoint angle at the falls. 2nd highest drop in southern hemisphere. One kilometre of steps to the valley is a hard no from me but I could blur water with just a phone camera.
You know where I am now. Rated Australia’s best motorcycle road. The hotmix ascent on the eastern side is great, the endless corners you cannot see through (due to cuttings) to Gingers Creek I like less but I’m not complaining.
From Gingers west I think is the best section. Still if I lived closer I would be riding this road all the time of course!
Decent flow at the Aspley falls. The weather turned very cold this afternoon. It was showing 10 degrees when I turned into Walcha and spitting a few drops of rain.
It clouded over dark almost soon as I arrived making photography challenging, a shame as the trees were in autumn colours.
Seeing this old painted signage made me think of a moto blogger I have followed for years Fuzzy Galore who has a collection on her blog. (btw; her blog can be difficult to access outside of USA without a VPN for reasons nobody can work out)
My digs tonight is the Top Pub Uralla. First time I stayed here so long ago it was $25 a night, FF to my Aussie tour previous to this one it was $50 a night and now in 2023 it is $80 a night.
My mate in Alstonville gives me a heads up – lots of rain coming. And it is bit cold here for riding in that. I want to warn some riders I follow on social media currently touring the region but figure they know what they are doing so just focus on getting myself out of here.
It pours all night but clears in the morning so I skip breakfast and immediately ride north via inland roads. I skirt showers until I cross the border and see the next one will catch me.
Sitting out some rain over lunch at Texas before I push on to Toowoomba in the afternoon.
I’m staying in a real dive of a hotel tonight. I check out the next door shops. I am propositioned to go play the slot machines with a woman on the street shortly after this but unfortunately she is overweight and unattractive. Toowoomba, my kind of town ha-ha 😀
Big push north today to Rockhampton via the inland to avoid rain. This silo art is at a locality called Three Moon. Never seen anyone post this before as most of the grain silos are down south.
The minor inland roads to Rockhampton are way better choice than the Bruce highway which is endless roadworks and potential speed traps. I could easy cruise at “some speed” as Jeremy Clarkson put it on the back roads and never saw a cop all day, that really adds up to some time saved at the end of a 650km day and the roads are more curves and more scenic to boot.
I detour a little to visit old rail stuff today being an ex railway guy. I won’t bore you with all the details but the old Mount Morgan station has a very interesting history and great display of items that I think anyone would find worth the stop.
I am in a little motel out of downtown to assist an early getaway for the final day push home but there is no traffic at 7.00am next day to speak of.
And so I am back to the cane fields of north Queensland. A successful first tour since I fell ill with cancer and hopefully the first of many more to appear on the blog.
You don’t need a big bike or special bike or even a plan – just go. Do things sooner rather than later.