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Motorcycle Paradise

Down Under Tour. Part Two – Gunpowder and Trains

My motorcycle tour in Australia continues as I ride south into the state of Victoria after a very cold and wet day previously. You can read part one via this link where I rode through central New South Wales on some lesser travelled roads for motorcycles that turned out to be very interesting. Yesterday I fortunately had the foresight to remove my winter liners from the panniers. I needed them this morning in the 10 degree temperature and noted the panniers were wet inside from the rain which would not have been a good start. I did a bit of no plan riding this morning in the area between Beechworth and King Valley while my ageing Garmin Nuvi 760 refused to work. This is an area that the Australian outlaw and folk hero Ned Kelly used to frequent.

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Down Under Tour Part Two first appeared on Motorcycle Paradise blog December 2016

50,000 Irish 'rebels' were exiled as convicts to Australia. Their mistrust of British authority came with them, along with their vehement independence as Catholics. This may have contributed to the famous showdown between Ned Kelly and the police at Glenrowan in 1880. Ned Kelly grew up with tales of outlaws like Ben Hall. At a young age he decided this was his calling and hooked up as an apprentice to the bushranger Harry Power. The Kelly gang later came to be and the police tried to capture them at Stringybark creek but a shoot out left three officers dead. The bounty on the gang afterwards was raised to a staggering £8000, millions in those days. After further bank robberies and another shootout Ned had his last stand at Glenrowan where I rode this morning. Knowing they could be killed the gang made steel armour however despite this the gang members Joe Byrne, Steve Hart and Dan Kelly were shot dead. The hotel the gang had been held up in was set ablaze and Ned marched on police shooting but was brought to the ground by shots to his legs that lacked armour. He was hung 1880 in Melbourne goal. That is his actual armour below.

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The roads were damp but the weather appeared to be clearing as I rode along the King Valley to Whitfield and started the climb on the ranges towards Mansfield. I detoured via some tall gums trees to visit the Powers lookout. This was the hideout of Harry Power the man who showed Ned Kelly the ropes. From here he certainly had a great view down the valley.

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I chatted with a guy who was attending an off road training course. He was on a Ducati Multistrada and I later passed the rest of the group in the mud on 1200 GS’s. I spent a couple of years riding off-road/moto-x and I do not want to even imagine using those huge bikes off road. I had a two stoke moto-x bike and even things like this baby GS 650 weighs twice as much as it did.

The weather above looks great but 15 minutes up the range it all turned to shite. The temperature plunged to 7 degrees and light drizzle rain. This is a great road but I only have one brief photo pre the miserable conditions.

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The weather cleared arriving in Mansfield and I stopped for a coffee when a rider of a R1200RT gives me a big wave. Turns out there was a BMW owners meeting held somewhere and many were returning to Melbourne today. The conversation started with the term ‘one of us’. I kept ‘mum’ on owning a Yamaha and nodded in agreement to talk of the superiority of the spinning propeller brand so I could extract some weather info from the Melbourne based riders. If I was going further west it was going to be very wet. Further more the local opinion was tomorrow would also be wet there and best I try avoid. So that made the call for visiting more Victorian gold rush towns easy. I bid farewell to the BMW club members and rode south towards the Yarra valley to see if I could dodge the rain.

Very cold, but dry ride to Healesville. Around 10 degrees on a naked bike with no wind protection is only just bearable at highway speed with the icy wind chill factor. Wet roads through all the Yarra ranges and even colder, but on the good side it was not actually raining and slower pace meant less wind chill. Riding here would be great when dry and warm but being close to Melbourne might also attract the wanna be racers and police. Some of the road was still posted 100kph which surprised me and the rest mostly 80kph which is still generous for Australia where the government has brainwashed the masses into believing speed is the cause of all accidents, tooth decay and unwanted pregnancies.

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Lots of great roads. I would have stayed another day but the forecast was more cold days and showers. I encountered the same last time I was touring Victoria but fortunately was better equipped this ride. Being used to the north where it was already topping 36 degrees I had wondered if I was wasting my suitcase space packing winter gear in Japan but I can never forget how I froze last time in Victoria and wow it sure paid off.  

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Just realised I broke my no motorcycle in photo rule three times in a row there. Sorry about that.

After the Yarra nice riding all the way south in forest before opening up to high dairy pastures with dry roads dropping down off the high plains. The Metzeler Tourance tyres were better than I expected on the wet roads, really just the wet leaf and bark scattered on the road that had the bike moving about. It was cold however and I glad to get off the road and into a hot shower.

Down Under D6   A motorcycle ride in Beechworth  Victoria 

A cold and gloomy start next day with a heap of rain on the radar to the west. Made the right call to not go that way but perhaps I could have simply ridden the Great Alpine Road (GAR) yesterday. I had decided before leaving Japan to not ride either the Great Ocean Road or the GAR on this ride. My reasoning being with the incredible ocean and alpine roads I have been riding in Japan I should look to ride other routes. However if you are an Aussie then please put both these high up in your ride list as both are a little unique for Australia and you will enjoy very much.

I recently assisted on the planning of a ride in Australia for some executives of the Aldi company from Germany. Initially I made routes with all the favourite roads aussie riders love. Then later I thought, wait a minute. People from Germany have some of the best mountain roads in the world at their door step and can hop skip down to some of the best coastal roads in the world in Croatia and Italy. What they might enjoy more is the things unique to Australia. The western roads I took in part one of this tour would have been a better slice of Australiana, especially with the history of the gold rush and outlaws even though it is not a route many Aussies would likely recommend. Well fortunately the trip turned out to be a success so I am glad but now as a visitor to my own country on this tour I can better see what I would suggest in future.

11 degrees and spitting rain, no option but put the rain cover on the bag and carry on. Ran into a bit of heavier rain and for awhile I thought this is looking grim, but the radar had show it was mostly clear to the east and indeed I rode out of it by Cowwarr as I zig zagged east to avoid the highway.

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Hanging out with my new friend in Cowwarr.

The town reminded me of Mooball in northern NSW and has similar theme with many of these tin cows all over the place.

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I had a fantastic bowl of steaming hot Pho in Bairnsdale, I never expected to see a Vietnamese café there and immediately turned around even though it was a little early for lunch. Then much further east I detoured via Buchan and it is quite a nice ride over to Orbost via there rather than the highway. I fueled up the bike and myself at Orbost before one of the highlight roads on this trip north from here to Bombola. 

Good looking hotel in Orbost, and I had a new friend waiting for any leftovers.

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And then there was this Smile

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I took some photos and video with the GoPro of this road but it doesn’t do it justice. All the photos I have seen of this road are in the same basket because it is very hard to capture these kind of roads that are endless curves and tree lined. A drone would actually be great for this because you could go up high and get a shot of the road winding its way through the forest. Perhaps I may get one in the future when they become smaller and more affordable. Let me just say it is superb. A little mixed surface that sports bikes might notice but the G650 can smooth out any road surface yet manage to maintain composure when pushing on. Again the handling of this bike impressed me. Almost limitless confidence on this machine. I cannot get my head around how it corners so well. On a road I do not know just flick it in any entry speed, any angle. If it had the engine derestricted and better tyres then I dare say a capable rider could play games with sport bikes and be laughing like a madman inside their helmet. On the other hand this road would not have suited my FJR very well which once again had me pondering what to do about that bike which is now parked for 5 months of winter. 

The dirt (at time of writing) was well graded and easy riding. I was averaging 80kph and was back on tar before I realised I had even left it.

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Very isolated (and cold) place to live up here on the high plains but it was beautiful even if my photo falls short at capturing that.

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Hello I must be going, as Phil Collins said. Leaving Victoria back to warmer New South Wales.

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Magnificent countryside up here. Worth turning around as I did to stop and take it all in awhile.

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Bombola turned out to be a really interesting town. As I mentioned in part one towns that have photos of their history displayed are so nice to explore and look back at how it once was and Bombola has a number of store fronts with interesting photo archives on display.

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If I was living here I would want to buy this.

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My tour guide who accompanied me on some of my walk.

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But 7.00 pm and the only light on in town is the R.S.L. Good thing was - special for members, meals just $5. Bad thing was -  my R.S.L card was in the Philippines (long story) but dinner was just $10 for non members anyway which was the best value I experienced on the entire tour with meals averaging $20 (meal only without any drinks). Australia is a very expensive country compared to Japan although try telling someone that and they all but call you a liar. I stayed at the Globe hotel and the bar was closed by 8.30pm… Country life is probably a little quiet for me but I could adjust I guess if my tour guide cat came to keep me company.

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Todays route 428km.

Down Under D7   A motorcycle ride in Warragul  Victoria

Bombala has to be the most biker friendly town in Australia. Free map of the best roads, annual bike show, affordable pub accommodation and meals from $5 at the R.S.L. You could do a lot worse than base yourself here for a few days.

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With little more than a cursory look around I kept finding interesting things in Bombala. The former rail station and now open museum transported me back in time. I started work quite young in a station not dissimilar to this. Brisbane had been in a bubble up to the  80’s. Incredibly it’s rail system then still ran with kerosene lamp signals and tracks were controlled directly by station staff. Old wooden carriages were still in use and services were up to two hours apart. It was upon reflection a wonderful time to be in that industry in a place like that. You got to ‘play trains’ with the real thing and knew your passengers by name who might join you for a cuppa and a chat, no rush to get anything done. It’s all gone now. Brisbane discarded almost all it’s heritage as it tried to find a way forward rapidly in the late 80’s. 

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Fantastic ride leaving Bombala. The temperature doubled from 11 to 22 degrees as I came down from the high plains to the coast via Mt Darragh and Mt Myrtle to Candelo. Not easy to photograph these roads as I mentioned, below is along the way but in not indicative of the fun that I had riding this morning.

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Myrtle mountain lookout above. A large wallaby was nearby there when I arrived but hopped away just as I was about to take a photo.

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Gunpowder Sold Here. That’s what is written above the door on this historic building (if you look closely). I try to be in no hurry these days riding otherwise can sail straight on by so much. But I need to slow it down even more I think. Really master the slow ride no plan thing that so few people achieve.

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Nice ride along the Sapphire coast road north and excellent lunch at ‘Guys Place’ Bermagui.

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A little more good riding then no choice but the highway north to Batemans bay where I stopped for a coffee having always bypassed what is nice seaside town.

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I don’t have any photos of the Kings Highway that followed this. The Gopro did not record. I think what happens is getting it out from my jacket pocket I bumped the small switch on the rear that takes it into menu mode then pressing the record button cycles the menu perhaps. This was first outing with it and hard to see what is going on when riding a road like this with the many twists and turns. I was going to stop but had a madman in a four wheel drive out front acting as ‘blocker’ driving well over the conservative speed limit so a chance for me to sit a little way back from him and enjoy it too. My Best Australian Motorcycle Roads section of this blog has some images of this road but much has been resealed since then and it is a great ride albeit probably a magnet for revenue raising.

I stopped to do a walking tour around Braidwood. Gold was discovered here in 1851 and within 3 months 15,000 people arrived and kicked off land development in the surrounding districts. With gold came the outlaws and Braidwood became the wildest town in Australia with a number of gangs roaming the area and robbing gold delivery stage coaches and banks.

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Thomas and John Clarke were brothers from the Braidwood district. Their Irish father unable to support his family on the small land available encouraged them bend the rules to try make ends meet. The Clarke gang known as the Jerrabat Gully Rakers, became experts at cattle duffing and horse theft and moved up to armed robberies roaming from Yass to Goulburn. Braidwood was such a wild town then it became the subject of Australia's first Royal Commission in 1867, inquiring into the state of crime and the activities of police officers, following allegations that bushrangers were being allowed to operate freely within the district for years. In 1866, under the Felon's Apprehension Act, the Clarke brothers were declared outlaws for reasons of 'robbery, violence and murder'. In 1867, four 'special' constables, bounty hunters, went to capture the bushrangers but were found shot dead near Jinden Station. The reward on the brothers was then a staggering £5000 second only to the Kelly’s. They were caught following a shootout in April 1867 and hanged together at Darlinghurst Goal.

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Reluctantly I left Braidwood only seeing a small part, I had the bike for a certain time and had a rough plan for the trip back from now so had to be moving on. More big skies and high plains. Crazy good luck to see the country green like this.

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I detoured for a quick look at Tarago and spent a few moments pondering did I want to return and live in Australia again. Of course it is my home land so I miss it. Interesting to once again be able to understand what everyone around you is saying after living in my own little blissful bubble in Japan. I feel I have to apply more rules to my life here, partly because Australia is a nanny state, but also because in mono cultural Japan foreigners are not expected to understand everything nor conform to Japanese society. That freedom would be very hard to lose. The stickling point however is the money. Australia’s cost of living is twice that of Japan. And housing is in a huge artificially inflated bubble. I can enjoy a better quality of life and make retirement money go twice as far outside Australia but it’s not that straight forward. Well sitting here today won’t solve anything so better get the wheels turning again.

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I made it to Goulburn late afternoon, another town that was popular with bushrangers such as the Clarke brothers, Ben Halls Gang and John Williams, alias Duce, member of the ‘Blue Cap’s’ gang. After days of riding in cool high plains this afternoon saw me return to 30 degree heat which was a bit of a shock to the system. I spotting a sign for a lookout entering town so I immediately flicked the indicator on and went for a look despite starting to cook in my gore-tex. So glad I did to, the Rocky Hill war memorial and lookout is superb.

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The museum was closed unfortunately, but just walking the grounds outside was fascinating with items like German Howitzers from WW1 captured by Australian forces, and the below memorial made by the community of Wervik-Geluwe in Belgium in honour of a Goulburn local William Thomas Leggert who died just two months into the war helping to defend their village and is regarded by the people of the small town as a heroic figure. I tried to add an extra dimension when photographing this and sparing a thought for that young lad.

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And above a concrete block from the POW camp in Singapore. Pretty much the last thing I imagined I would find sitting here on top of a hill in Goulburn.

The town of Goulburn is full of historic buildings in two time periods, and a huge rail museum but it was also closed today. Another place that I needed an additional day to explore properly. 

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Check out the fire station! I ran out of daylight having seen just a small portion of this interesting town.

Todays route 415km.

Down Under D8b   A motorcycle ride in Bombala  NSW

Excellent weather on day nine leaving Goulburn, cool but not cold just nice for riding. First up I got to ride the Tableland way. An easy ride north to the historic village of Taralga that being off any main route has remained mostly unchanged. The basalt and sandstone buildings date back to the late 1800’s.

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You ride up high along the top of a ridge for some of the Tableland way route with deep canyons to either side that I could not capture in a photo but it is very scenic. There is a point where you plunge down into one of these canyons then soar back up the other side at a very steep angle which I thought I had on the GoPro but again did not record however that sort of road the photo tends to be of a road cutting which is meaningless. Its a terrific ride with lots of sweeping curves that I enjoyed very much.

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I stopped for a coffee in Oberon just because I felt in no rush. Nice town. House in the main street from around 1900. Oberon was named from Shakespeare’s A Midsummer Nights Dream and was originally a wild heavy timbered area that made it a popular place for bushrangers to hide out. Ben Hall’s gang held up the Assistant Commissioner in 1863 and then held him hostage for a ransom of £500. His wife rode 40km into Bathurst to raise the money.

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From Oberon I was riding via Tarana and found myself on some very scenic back roads that seem to be a tourist road called Grand Circular route.

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I stopped to have a look at this old church just because the way it sat there on a rise seemed interesting to me.

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What a peaceful place.

A quick walk around the ‘town that built Sydney’, Portland NSW which supplied most of the concrete for Sydney in old days. It almost became a ghost town then a local artist painted some murals of old advertisements and now the entire town is covered in nostalgic murals.

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I am just about to start riding the Bylong Valley way but first I stopped at another lookout point and what a incredible sight lay before my eyes. The Capertee valley.

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This is a place I had no idea was along this route. I would actually like to see this in the dry as I suspect it might take on some of the look of Monument valley in the USA, perhaps at sunset. Very hard to get the scale of this into a photo.

I stopped along the Bylong Valley way at Kandos for lunch.

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Then I went to Rylstone which has a main street filled with historic buildings so I did a ride up and down with the GoPro which yet again did not record, and indeed the rest of the afternoon on the incredibly scenic Bylong Valley the GoPro recorded just once so I did not capture the ride through the canyon. I did stop at a small cutting to take some photos but the Lumix LX100 has focusing as good as it’s colour reproduction – woeful - so I got great photos of the trees but not the valley beyond. Majority of photos on this tour come from a iPhone which rivals my camera. Here is photo borrowed from the official Bylong valley way web site to at least give you an idea of what you riding along in.

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That’s the road above pictured. You can see in the background the what was in the distance in my lookout photo so you ride from there right through this incredible world heritage listed valley. For me today’s riding was easily the best of the tour. Below the token effort from this road on board.

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From here I took the Golden Highway south riding along the eastern edge of this region was still mighty scenic.

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Tonight I am in Singleton. Mining town. Lot’s of money spent on overpriced HSV/FPV sports cars. I used to be involved with these guys below once upon a time.

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Old concrete highway mile marker in front of the war memorial. Shouted myself some very nice wine and cheese tonight then thought this is slightly extravagant for a week day night so balanced that with a takeaway kebab for dinner Smile 

Todays route 470km.

Down Under D9   A motorcycle ride in Goulburn  NSW

Another beautiful morning on day ten. Nice easy riding on minor roads the next morning over to Dungog.

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Dungog is another nice small historic town. The Royal hotel has character.

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Dungog was a somewhat lawless town in the early 1800’s. Residents pushed for a military outpost and construction of a barracks around 1835 successfully kept bushrangers over the Gloucester Tops range and out of the area. 

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Not sure I agree with the governments well meaning sign. On country roads the area in between where cars tyres scrub the tar clean can have debris, especially on corners with silt and small stones washed across when it rains.

Nice back roads to Stroud. Bit boring to Gloucester. With time on my hands my mind comes up with all sorts of ideas…

I stopped. I looked, but can’t laze around here all day.

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View from a bridge – Kim Wilde 1982 ♫ – Ride a motorcycle out here and banish those negative thoughts.

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In a New York South Wales state of mind. Barrington Tops, Gloucester, NSW, Australia.

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Bucketts way next, nice road but the speed limit has been needlessly lowered from when I used to ride this previously and it is the sort of road you need to be 100kph. 

More coffee and a relaxing lunch at Bent on Food, Wingham NSW – best food of the tour - do try.

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Next I tried something different. I had often wondered what the roads were like from Wingham to Long Flat. The section of Pacific highway that runs parallel from Taree to Wauhope is dead boring heavily policed. If you have a big vehicle then can sit below the speed limit on highways but I find Australians very anal in trying not drive even 1kph less than the posted limit which leads to some rather aggressive actions especially on multi lane highways. I pulled over many times on this trip to wave cars past (much to their huge surprise)  so they didn’t spoil my vibe and have me watching and adjusting my speed every second.

The Comboyne road north is sealed for a portion then becomes gravel. Scenic farms and Jacaranda trees to Killabakh. The gravel was somewhat loose as of writing which was not so much of an issue on straight sections but it climbs over a small mountain with numerous tight corners and all you can do there on a road bias motorbike is slow down. Nice view right out to the ocean.

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Before the village of Comboyne you rejoin the tar and then this road all the way to the Oxley highway is fantastic. You have some high dairy scenery then plunge down a mountain to ride a terrific sweeping road. (there is also another way via Bulga rd. with similar gravel but takes you close to scenic Ellenborough falls). If you ride via Kew and Lorne road rather than the dirt and via Lansdowne you have a excellent riding route from or to the east side of the Oxley. Unfortunately I have no photos of the best bit, the Gopro again did not record and I was enjoying it so much I did not stop.

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That sign was right today, HOT!, it was scorching hot down from the mountains this far north, 34 degrees but heat reflected off the road was higher again. I had a cool beverage and then wore myself out riding the hundreds of corners on the Oxley highway to Gingers café where it was noticeably cooler for a coffee break.

Some petition at the café to save the Oxley. Seems they are going to lower speed limits there too. Unfortunately nothing will alter things once signed off.

The Oxley highway has plenty of ride information posted online these days so I did not feel so bad only getting one photo from the GroPro today on the western open high plains section. I think it may be a faulty SD card. I will buy a new high quality one but shame all the times I was using it nothing was being recorded.

The Oxley remains one of the top rides in Australia or anywhere. Some roads have lots of corners all squashed together so you spend all your time on mid change of direction rather than enjoying a radius and hang time. The tail of the dragon I am reliably told is like that and super overrated. Other roads are very photogenic, like Stelvio, which I can personally vouch is lousy to ride being just lots of u-turns connected by straights and overrated. The Oxley however is a true riders delight. Not only does it have a huge number of corners but they come at you in every sort of radius, spaced out to be well defined. The road is maintained to near perfect condition by people who themselves ride it and is low traffic not a popular route for cars, campers or trucks. I have it in the Best Australian Motorcycle Roads section of this blog as well if you want further info along with all the roads on this tour. (although much there needs updating)

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I turned on to the middle of Thunderbolts Way from Walcha to Uralla. The route is named after the Bushranger and the southern section from Walcha is a good motorcycle ride but I never realised the upper half goes all the way to Inverell. In Uralla the tourist office was open and I got a walking map town guide and did a portion of that until the museum which I found still open so I visited and chatted to the lovely curator about Captain Thunderbolt and the towns history awhile.

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Thunderbolt (Fred Ward) was known as the Gentleman Bushranger, rumored to be polite and not rob the poor or kill anyone. He started life working as a farm hand and had great horsemanship skills. He then got involved in horse and cattle theft and ended up sentenced to 10 years at Cockatoo Island goal, which sits in Sydney harbour. He was granted a ticket of leave after four years but breached this and wound up back there to later execute a successful escape of the island. He robbed his way for six years across northern New South Wales until tracked and shot near Uralla. 

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There is a statue and plaque in the main street of Captain Thunderbolt. Wonder if he ever thought he would achieve this sort of recognition all those years ago? And in Uralla cemetery lies his grave. This would be a fitting conclusion to my exploration of Australia’s somewhat forgotten wild frontier period which I enjoyed immensely on this tour.

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Staying at the Top Pub Uralla tonight. it has good rooms and food right in the heart of town. Back to my low calorie fish and chips, eating in their lovely courtyard. Nice end to another great day. 

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Todays route 442km.

Down Under D10B   A motorcycle ride in Singleton  NSW

I set off on day eleven to visit an out of the way spot, Dangars falls. There is more than a dozen significant waterfalls in this region called New England. I have previously visited a few of them on three or four days rides but never went to the ones on gravel roads. Grand open countryside riding out to the falls. The air so clear can see the moon very easy in the sky (much more than the camera can capture) Makes you feel rather insignificant.

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Hard to capture the scale of the falls but it is quite a high drop.

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An unexpected bonus along to the way to the falls was seeing the Gostwyck church, something I had read in tourist brochures and by chance was going past.

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On the way back towards Armidale I came across this war memorial for fallen local lads built on the corner of a large pastoral property. A few of the many that did not return home.

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On the road towards Ebor I stopped to look at another different waterfall. Bakers Falls. I’d guess 99% of people sail straight past the turn off for this lookout. It is about 1km of gravel to a nice view of the same gorge/fault line that runs for a distance here in the tablelands and which many streams in the area drop into. Again hard to capture the scale. It is much bigger than this photo suggests. Hurry up and get those cheap drones on the market – you need to take the photo from out there looking back.

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Seen lots of these guys on the roads down south. Less up here where it is so hot.

After here I went to revisit Point Lookout. This is rated one of the best mountain view points in the country. Already you are elevated travelling on the New England Tablelands high plains then you climb to a high point of 1563m. On a clear day the views are endless but today there was some fires burning in the forest to the north creating some haze yet still it was a grand vista impossible for me to reproduce here.

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I did not stop at Ebor falls this time, trying to do things little different, which is why at the turn off to Dorrigo I decided to go that way instead of via Nymboida as I planned at the start of the day.

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The ride from there to Dorrigo on the Waterfall way is a roller coaster road that dips and turns with wonderful views, I had forgotten just how good this road is for a rider, in many ways I prefer this to the Oxley. Of course I had the GoPro out but again nothing was recorded. I had lost the slow travel vibe from yesterday for some reason riding on instead of stopping to take in the views (and a photo).

After a simple lunch in Dorrigo I went via Coramba road/East Dorrigo way to Coramba. This road initially follows the old railway line, parts of which can still be seen and is a nice ride which includes another nice waterfall with confusingly the same name as this morning, Dangar falls. (see the people swimming behind the falls?)

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Then there is some gravel and for the first time this tour I found it a bit hard going. The road is very tight twisty and the surface was very loose like riding on marbles on some corners.I was very glad to get back onto the tar at Ulong. The road from Ulong on is simply sensational. Perfectly surveyed corners and excellent surface for 21 km. Last time here it had lesser quality tar but now it is a fantastic ride. (below is older road near top of range)

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The heat coming down from the tablelands was like being wrapped in a electric blanket. I really needed summer gear but nothing I could do except remember to take on board fluids which I did at Coramba.

Hey BMW, besides a fuel gauge how about a decent mudguard.

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The Oraca way then to Grafton. It rides ok I guess but like the lower section of the Summerland way I find this is one of those roads that seems to drag on. Stinking hot in Grafton as per every time I have been there. Lovely town but seems to be in a heat bowl. I was glad to get next to the river north and feel some cooling air. I was going to do some exploring around Tullymore but decided to ride on to Ballina and get off the road for the day.

A good thing to have on any ride is Febreeze (or similar deodoriser). End of day I first wipe down my gear with a wet micro fibre cleaning cloth. The above type dirt washed off by standing under tap before hotel (benefit of Gore-Tex gear and boots) I wet a hand towel under tap and wipe down inside jacket sleeves and pant legs then I spray both plus boots plus helmet liberally with Febreeze and hang pants and jacket up on wall to air.

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Todays route 470km

day 11

Met up with my mate who I used to ride with often before at Alstonville. Aboard his faithful MT-01 with its mountainous torque on his favourite local roads I had the G650 redline light on almost constantly trying to follow. So nice to ride some of the roads I used to wander around again on a clear beautiful morning. Eltham, Rock Valley, Wadeville to Uki (now all resealed and magic) then back into the cane fields to the Tweed river and Tumbulgum hotel for my last aussie pub meal (and the best burger of the tour). Really made me question should I have left this place I like so much. No time for a photo until the pub, I did have the GoPro running but nothing.

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I got one photo from the GoPro as I departed the area for Brisbane, the cane being harvested now with the distinctive Mt Warning in the distance.

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Back in Brisbane I took a walk downtown. Enjoyed all the public space the city has. This is something that doesn’t exist in Tokyo, there is next to no public space nor anywhere to sit down.

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I went to the war memorial with the eternal flame to the fallen. I had walked past this most every day when working nearby and today was the first time I felt the significance of it.

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To end the day I watched the sun set reflected in the glass towers from the riverside and regretting not doing this when living in the city for years previously. My focus was all wrong. Trying to scale inside one of those towers rather than escape it.

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Todays route – something under 300km.

Downunder D12   A motorcycle ride in Ballina  NSW 

I had intended to do more riding and contact some friends who follow the blog but personal matters took over. I used the bike to spend some time at my grandmothers grave then it was time to return it. So what can I say about the G650.

It is surprisingly good in some ways. Road holding is incredible, cornering on any type of tar the aussie roads could throw at it was never anything less than 100% confident and sure footed. No doubt push it enough and you will exceed the chassis and suspension but if trying to go that fast on public roads then you are riding beyond The Pace which is pointless. The Tourance tyres worked perfectly on this bike, never needed any more grip and I ran these to the very edge on some corners. If it was derestricted I’d say the 50hp and full torque would be enough for me. That probably would fix the fueling problems I had on the highway too and deliver the 400km range that is claimed rather than 100km less I was getting. Would be cheap riding then on those Tourance tyres and 400km range from small tank. But servicing a BMW, at least in Brisbane is obscenely expensive. I’d just do it myself, 650 thumper is not rocket science but otherwise you would want to look into that aspect. 

There is some cost cutting with no fuel gauge, mudguard, cheap feel switch gear and a cheap seat padding. It really needs a 6 speed modern gear box, the bag of bolts 5 was a weak point. One of the mufflers is a dummy. Perhaps this hides a catalytic convertor but why have all that weight up high. However all that said I ended up liking the G650. Unlike the other adventure bikes that have taken too many steroids and are ridiculously huge, this is the right size. Not only does that mean it is easy to handle on dirt it is also light and nimble in the corners and you can do a tight slow U turn with your eyes closed. I missed having cruise control and a screen and more leg room, the last two can be added and then with handguards you’d have yourself a pretty versatile machine.

I personally would want cruise control on any bike I considered in Australia. Big country with lots of highway miles. Something like the Triumph Tiger 800 that comes with cruise would be on my short list if returning downunder. Fitted with luggage and bar risers and large screen I could (and would) ride around the entire country. So Triumph if you want to lend me one for just such a trip then feel free to contact me Smile

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Lastly a quick four minute video from some of the GoPro footage. I bought the camera entirely for still photos while riding with no intention to use the video but will see how I go. I was recording in 4K much of the ride then realised this mode had no video stabilization and was also pointless since I would post it on YouTube in 1080 anyway. Early days with this but big step up in image quality from the Polaroid cube. 

Note – movement is grossly exaggerated in this footage as happens with action cams, not riding even 1/2 as quick as this would suggest.

I left Australia it was 33 degrees and landed Tokyo 3 degrees. Not sure how the guys in thongs, shorts and singlet's I saw boarding got on Open-mouthed smile. Until next time that’s all, thanks for visiting and joining me on this journey.

Part one can be read here.

GPS files are available on Ride with GPS, user name Warren.

Extra photos will randomly appear on Motorcycle Paradise Instagram when I get around to it.

20 comments

  1. Hi. Wanted to check out the routes on Ride with GPS, but not having any luck using their search to find your profile. Could you provide a link directly to your profile or routes? Thanks.

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    1. Hi Greg, here is a link to day one route, from there you should be able to locate the others.
      https://ridewithgps.com/routes/15164969

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    2. Thanks! Much appreciated. Great blog by the way.

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  2. You certainly do have a thing for trains don't you Warren. Some familiar country in those photos. I thoroughly enjoyed you video edit at the end too. Some of the roads in it I know and others looked familiar but couldn't pick them. Would be nice if you had the road name for each scene. If I'm using the gopro I now stop, make sure it is actually filming and then get going again, I know its a pain but to many times I had no footage at all just like you.

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    1. Thanks Steve. 33 years associated with the rail industry is hard to shake. I might edit the video and add the roads. I was thinking to do that but the GoPro editor crashed more than a dozen times which drove me batty. They really need a 'I'm recording' led light on the GoPro but this also was a good reminder for me to just stop as composition is so important.

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  3. Hi Warren , Enjoyed reading your blog again, some roads I'd been on and now more on the to do list. Seems like you had a massive lifestyle change a few years back.
    Was wondering what career you left in Oz and what you do now in Japan?
    Cheers

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    1. Hi Andrew, yes I quit my career which was computer design and simulation of railway capacity, signalling, train performance - that sort of thing. I'm just drifting in Japan for now. I might end up doing some English teaching...

      I want to use this time in my life now while I have some small remains of my youthful confidence to do the stuff I had always thought about rather than wait till retirement and never do it, as happens to so many, and with which comes such regret.

      Some things I may have already left too late. I wanted to ride around the world but in my mind it now seems too much to try solo. Yet when younger I flew with no plan to London on then scary Aeroflot and bought a ex postie van and drove with no map or insurance camping across Europe for months and thought nothing of it.

      Friends ahead of me in life are already hanging up helmets so time now must in some ways be a last golden window of opportunity. (of course I could also be totally wrong :) )

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  4. Hi Warren. Another great post and thank you for reminding us to play tourist in our own country. We tend to get caught up in just "getting there" and forget to take in the places along the way. I will be driving (I have to tow a xamper trailer for a family holiday) down to Forbes from Brisbane next week and your trip has inspired me to take the time and have a look along some of the lesser travelled roads.
    That memorial to lost soldiers - two of them were in the 33rd Battalion - my grandfather's brother was in the 33rd and was also killed in July 1917 on the morning that the huge mines were detonated under the German lines at Messines. I wonder if they knew each other....? So sad really. From the granduer of that personal memorial you can feel the family's pain.

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    1. Yes I used to get caught up with covering ground and miss many things, I seemed programmed to do that, rush to work, rush to supermarket and rush when travelling on holiday, get back to work, and repeat ...

      On the back roads every village no matter how small I found a memorial with names of the young guys lost. Town after town the names on the plaques, I never before had any sense the scale of the loss Australia went through back then. This trip has inspired me also to do more in my own country, I might shelve a trip to the USA I thinking about and do some more at home. regards, Warren.

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  5. Good luck with it , it's a bold move which plenty of people ( including me ) wish they could make but can't pull the trigger for various reasons.-
    Your thoughts combined with the ride details in your blog make for a great read so that will have to do for now.
    Cheers

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    1. Thanks Andrew. That song "I've done all the dumb things" could sum up my life so this might be another dumb path I turn down or something I look back on in 10 years and say so glad I did that then. Time will tell. regards Warren.

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  6. Another great post Warren. And thank you again for sharing all of the wonderful photos and the history of the areas. I really enjoy reading it all.

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    1. Thanks Brandy, hope your bike shopping goes well.

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  7. Hi Warren, another thoroughly enjoyable read and, as always, the photos are excellent. I'm familiar with the Vic roads that you travelled and of course the Bonang road to Bombala. As others have siad, it's great to see another's vision of the countryside and style of life. Other than housing, I had no idea that Aust is so expensive compared with Japan. I'm amazed that you can live in Japan which is so culturally different from all things Australian. Unfortunately I get homesick after about 6 weeks out of Australia, even when I'm having a great time - it drives my wife nuts!.Thanks for taking the time and effort to blog your trip. Ride Safe. Jules.

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    1. Thanks Jules. I think I get a hump stage with any travel I do. On extended travel I usually hit a wall of doubts mixed with home sickness. Sometimes that has engulfed me to the point I cancelled the rest of my plans even on major trips. It can be really powerful.

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  8. Great post Warren. As always some great photos. Love the building photos. I didn't notice the Fire Station in Goulburn when I was there but it is a pretty unique is place - an amazing range of historical architecture that thankfully is still there. One of the great things about riding around in rural Australia is you get brushed with history. Hope you had more fun going up the East Dorrigo Way on the BMW than I did on my Honda. I lived to tell the tale but I am really sure not sure why I let Gavin and Lucas let me talk me into that one! Actually the first bit of that ride up until the gravel is a bit of a gem. Capertee Valley has got to be one of Australia's best kept secrets - I had no idea of it's existence until I happened to be pull up one day at probably the very same lookout you did and see it - amazing place. The Bylong Valley Way is also a very pretty ride. I hope it stays that way. I had to stop at a boom gate for what felt like a real 10 minutes while this never ending coal train went past. I noticed when going through this area that there seemed to be a lot of community based opposition to further coal mining in this area. Thanks for the tips - fabric freshener and cruise control. The new bike came with a cruise control unit but it is not fitted yet. Think I'll heed your recomendation and get it fitted before I head south in late January (?)

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    1. Thanks Richard, is that a cruise control system or throttle lock? I tried unsuccessfully a few throttle lock and wrist rest devices. I suppose not having cruise made me stop more on the tour there which was a blessing.

      Yes the road after Ulong is not the best. If I had my old two stroke moto-x bike with knobbies then could have had fun time sliding it into and out of every corner but with the G650 weighing about 200kg fueled and on road bias tyres (and a rental) I was not willing to try slide it about.

      Going to be super hot late January!

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  9. Excellent reports, Warren. Thanks. Some great roads in there, many of which I've ridden.

    Thanks for the links to the maps, too.

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