With Christmas Day over, the exchanging of Chinese-made gifts done and bellies full of Christmas cheer, it was time to head off on another solo adventure. Not a hard-core adventure ride, but more a get-out-and-about and away-from-the-lounge-chair trip with no maps or GPS. It would be a safe one to do solo, with more tar than I’d normally like.
But the DR650 and I would be happy anyway.
A common start point for me – and a lot of Goldie/Logan/Brisbane riders – is Beaudesert. This ride is no different.
Beaudesert, Rathdowney to White swamp, Llegume and into Killarney for a snack, then on to Maryland National park, my first overnight stop.
I came across a three nervous young fellas on chook chasers who first asked me what I was doing out there riding a big lump of bike like the DR. They said I needed to get out of there. I asked why.
“There’s a huge storm coming” they said, “and you’ve got 20 minutes to find shelter.”
With that they where off and left me to figure out my own survival plan – and quick.
A huge storm was looming and I couldn’t see any shelter. I had to make a snap decision on my personal safety. I pitched the tent in a small clearing and close to a high gate on the rabbit fence, then parked bike as close to the tent as possible. My thinking was that if a tree branch fell the high gate and bike would break the fall. Thus, if the lightning strike didn’t kill me I might survive the falling tree branches.
The storm arrived with strong winds, some rain and heaps of lightning and cracking thunder, all of which probably sounded worse because I was in a vulnerable location, on my own in the bush in a tent. It’s not something I’d recommend trying out just for a laugh.
The storm hung around for about four hours, keeping me on edge and not allowing much sleep.
I woke to blue skies.
A farmer in his ute spotted me and checked I was okay. He was a bit taken aback when I told him I’d camped the night in the storm.
After making my way through all the gates I arrived at The Summit, rode across to Pikedale, on to Texas and then Ashford (note: there is free camping on the river there). I headed out to the Kwiambal National Park and passed two road-bike riders taking it nice and steady on the gravel road in. I met up with Scott (BMW K1300) and Colee (Honda CBR650) at the campground where we shared bike stories over coffee and biscuits.
A swim in the river was cold and very refreshing, and as darkness fell the sky was clear and cloudless and the stars appeared super-bright. An occasional breeze made for a good night’s sleep.
I headed in to Inverell and stopped by of the DR temple (VSM) before riding on to Tingha and a burger at the Guyra truck stop. From there I headed down the Wards Mistake road with the intention of turning right and coming out on the Guyra Road via Aberfoyle, but I got distracted by the scenery and country backroads and just kept on riding. It was a very enjoyable dirt road to ride through farming country.
Okay. So I ended up in Glen Innes when I really wanted to be in Ebor for the night, so I hightailed it back down the highway to Guyra again, this time not taking a chance. I turned on to the Guyra road with the sun dropping behind my left shoulder and with heavy cloud cover up ahead. I wondered if I’d get to Ebor before roo o’clock and darkness fell.
With some relief I arrived at the free camping ground on the edge of town. I got my tent set up and a cuppa made before it got dark (this campground now has new flushing toilets and tank water, by the way).
Just as I was settling in for the night a sound familiar to me approached and parked near my tent. I stuck my head out to confirm the rattle of my Dorrigo relatives’ Tarago. They’d had got a tip off I was camping nearby.
We kept the rest of the campers awake with loud chatter and a few laughs over a cuppa and homemade sweets.
Now that was a memory to hold.
I woke to heavy cloud cover and a cool morning.
I made my way to Dorrigo via the Deervale Loop Road, a nice little diversion that brings you out on Waterfall Way about five kilometres short of Dorrigo.
Down the mountain range and into Bellingen I went, where I had breakfast with mum a surprise visit as she had no idea I was calling in.
Coffs Harbour via Gleniffer was next, and taking the Timboon/Gleniffer Road brought me out at Bonville then on to the Pacific Highway. From Coffs on to the Coramaba Road to Grafton then to casino via Lawrence and Whiporie and so into Casino.
Kyogle and the Toonumbar National Park were next, camping at the Iron Pot campground. It was a hot, sticky, humid night there and the cicadas nearly drive me mad.
After a cuppa I headed down to the creek to feed the eels and spot blue-claw yabbies with the torch.
Iron Pot was behind me early, which meant wallabies were out ducking and diving around me. Next a very fit-looking feral dog darted out of the bush and gave me a glance before bolting across the track and back into the bush. It’s becoming more and more common to see these feral beasts.
Back in Kyogle I had breaky and headed across the edge of the Border Ranges – the main through track was still closed – onto the Lions Road, and came across a sports bike that had run out of road. The rider was okay and the bike didn’t look to bad.
Taking a break at the lookout I met some Brisbane riders. Neil on a DRZ and I hit up a conversation when we realised we’d both been at the Tingha Congregation gathering. Details were exchanged for future rides.
I arrived home before the afternoon storms arrived and another solo adventure was safely completed – approximately 1400km.