Wild Roads 2012 Report
The White Rabbit reports on fun in them thar hills:
The eleventh running of Wild Roads & Cheap Pubs is done and dusted – dusted being appropriate considering the fine weather and over 100 Ks of dirt roads involved. 2150 Ks, five days (four riding, one fishing), no real prangs, it was one of those runs where things just fell into place. Twelve like-minded guys out for a bit of hard riding on wild and interesting roads. And we must have been like-minded, ‘coz at all stops along the way it was always less than a minute between first and last man in – the exception being 60 Ks to Gundi where the dust spread us out a bit.
After ten years we’d had around forty days of hard riding in the territory twixt Dubbo and SE Queensland. Each year it gets harder and harder to find new roads to explore, simply because we’ve been on them all. So the plan this year was to use much the same route as last year but go the other-way-round.
Day 1 was Dubbo to Tenterfield – 740Ks at a moving average of 109. To set the mood, I like to start out via the Old Mendooran Road - there’s a section of dirt just after the Talbragar River and I find once their bikes are dirty the guys are inclined to loosen up a bit. Council had a truck and a sign at the Talbragar crossing – “Roadworks Ahead”. Despite the early hour they had managed to run a grader over the first few Ks to loosen the surface up for whatever they had in mind. Loosen - it was like riding on marbles! We were still on this stuff when Dave squawks on the radio “Hey, a deer just jumped outta the bushes and almost nailed the bike in front of me!”
`The stretch from Merrygoen via Neilrex to Coolah was as good as always – they’ve even done bits of the road up. We picked up Col and Grant at Mullaley, then turned left onto a little known road that took us up to Bogabri where a welcome cup of coffee was waiting for us. A shortish section of highway then turn onto a rather nice backroad for the last twenty odd Ks into Narrabri and a splash of fuel.
Narrabri-Bingara is everything you could ever want in 110 Ks of bike road. You simply gotta do it yourself to appreciate it. Mountain passes, fast straights, lotsa sweepers, very little traffic and it’s all sealed – with just the odd little surprise along the way to keep you on your mettle.
Lunch at the pub in Bingara then plenty of open running through Warialda, Coolatai and Ashford to meet up with Dunny and Allan up near Bonshaw. We had intended to explore a road via Glenlyon Lake, but the sun was getting low and Dunny had been warned off Glenlyon by a local park ranger, so we stuck to the main road instead. About 20 Ks from Tenterfield there’s a turn to the right onto a nice little backroad that avoids the highway and radar camera to the north of town. We made it to Fawlty Towers just as the sun slipped under the horizon.
Day 2 would take us from Tenterfield to South West Rocks, but first we had to wait for the frost to burn off. Overnight I had been taking the piss outta Redders and Kev; Redders for the number of roos he claims to see on the road – mainly ones heading for Kev who seems to be some sort of roo-magnet. Won’t do that again – as we came out of the 60 zone I had to slow for a little wallaby hopping across the road; then another couple a few seconds later; around the next corner a big buck roo; then more wallabies and roos at irregular intervals. But I’d been really looking forward to this stretch of road. We’d done it last year in the rain and I was looking forward to trying it in the dry. So I figured “Stuff the roos, let them get outta the way and just ride the road for what it’s worth”.
And it really is a nice bit of road – apparently it’s the NSW extension of Queensland’s Mt Lindsay Highway. But a highway it ain’t – there’s a couple of sections of sandy gravel which last year gave surprising traction when wet; but this year in the dry the traction just wasn’t there so we were 20 to 30 Kph slower. Anyway there’s occasions when you just gotta grin and bear the dirty or highway bits ‘coz that’s what joins the good bike roads together.
The guys were all grins as we pulled into Legume, swapping tales about near misses with the roos along the way. Moldy actually rode over the top of one; and some else ran over a tail.
At Legume we turn right and followed some genuine Wild Roads to Urbenville for coffee , Tabulam for fuel, and Grafton for lunch. Then the charge via Nymboida and Clouds Creek to Dorrigo – good sport that! Down the mountain and join the Sunday afternoon tourist traffic for the crawl to Bellingen. But there’s a curious backroad from Bellingen that gets us away from the traffic for the run to Nambucca and the dreaded Pacific Highway.
This section of highway is the only sealed road between Nambucca and Port Macquarie – there is no alternative route; so mums taking the kids to school, bikes, cars, buses and trucks, all have to share the same piece of road with spaced out B-Double pilots trying to keep up their thousand Ks a day quota. Diabolical madness – someone should take those idiots from RTA out and shoot them. It all got too much for JOK who pulled into a layby to put on a jumper only to discover a copper in a camera car sitting in the layby on the other side of the highway. JOK gave him a gobfull and told him to get a real job.
After 50 Ks we peeled off onto a tourist road and followed the Macleay River to SW Rocks where we would have two nights in the “beach house” owned by the skipper of the fishing boat that would keep us amused for Day 3.
Day 4 took us up The Ox and down Port Stephens Cutting to Nundle. Only 400 Ks so we had plenty of time coffee stops and an extended lunch break. A few of the lads went back and doubled up on their favourites parts of the Oxley Highway. Personally I prefer the road from Walcha to Niangala – there’s more variation, less traffic, and it’s the sort of road where they plonked a bitumen seal over the top of whatever happened to be there at the time. There’s no engineering or earthworks to give you a clue which way the road goes over the next crest.
Our digs were at DAG Station, 14 Ks south of Nundle. Interesting and biker friendly spot this; if you can get a mixed group of 20 to 90 folks you could have a lot of fun here. Check it out on Google.
Day 5 would get us from the DAG back to Dubbo, but first we had to negotiate 50Ks of dirt to find the 10 Ks of bitch into Gundi. If you don’t mind a bit of dust on your pride and joy you should do this one day – up and over a mountain range or two then follows the upper reaches of some unknown river for a while. Ed and Paul had big GS chookies along, and Redders had been ringing the neck of his wife’s TDM for the whole trip; they had a ball on this leg. I was contemplating the fact that being bunny in front meant I wasn’t riding in dust when suddenly there was a noise like a chaff-cutter and Ed went flashing past leaving me in a cloud of dust. In no time at all he was miles in front leaving interesting snail-trails in his wake.
Coffee in Gundi, fuel in Scone, then backroads to Sandy Hollow and we were on the Bylong Valley Way for the charge to home - reality beckoned. A few dirt sections and some challenging Wild Roads had reduced our moving average to 92 overall, but it was all good fun. We do it again next year.
The White Rabbit