Sunday, February 24, 2013

Bruxner Highway

The Bruxner Highway is another one of Australia's great motorcycling roads. Located in far north eastern New South Wales it starts on the coast at Ballina and runs through several towns including Lismore, Casino, Tenterfield and all the way out to Goondiwindi. But the best part for us motorcyclists is where the road crosses the Great Dividing Range which is the section from Casino out to Tenterfield which is a 127km stretch.

There are many sweeping bends and fast straights as you start to slowly climb up the great dividing range from casino until you get to Tabulam. Once you cross the bridge at Tabulam this is where the real fun starts. There are many fast sweepers up and down hill until you hit the mountain section.

Tabulam Bridge

Not far from the small town of Tabulam just off the road is some bike friendly accommodation called Riders Rest. Its about 66 km's from Tenterfield and 61 km's from Casino. I have heard about this place from some other riders and they said it was a great place to stay. I have not stayed here however and cannot say what its like but would like to try it out one day. It's always good to see some rider friendly accommodation especially when you are up in this area on these roads. It reminds me of the Gingers Creek resort on the Oxley Highway which I have stayed at and highly recommend.

Not long after the little town of Drake the road starts to twist and turn its way up the mountain. There is a sign at the side of the road that indicates 34km of winding road. There are quite a few of these bends that are quite rough in the middle of the bend especially the left hand wheel track so be careful of that on left handers to stay out wide and not take a tight line.
Uphill bends to the right
45kmh bends

55kmh bends

35kmh Hairpins
After the tight bends have finished the road opens up again and flows through the hills here with fast sweepers up and down through the lush country side and over rolling hills. Kind of reminds me of the oxley highway, but I think the oxley is a bit better as the road seems to be in better condition and has quite a bit more of the twisty bits. Each to there own I guess.

Fast Sweepers

Rolling hills and beautiful country
Finally the road comes into the beautiful little town of Tenterfield. I loved the entrance into the town where they had planted tree's along either side of the road escorting you in through the tunnel of tree's. Magic stuff where ever you see it. This reminded me of the run into Bright in northern Victoria which is lined with trees into and out of town. In the Autumn you get the trees changing to all sorts of bright colours yellows, orange, red and green.

There you have it one of Australia's great riding roads well worth a ride through here if your in the area. I know I'll certainly be riding through here if I'm up this way again.

View Larger Map

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Water Marking your blog pictures

There has been a lot of talk around lately in the blogging community that I follow within the 2 wheeled world about people ripping off your pictures and using them on other websites and possibly for commercial purposes. Erik and Ms M have both been looking at water marking there pictures due to them having their snaps ripped off. Erik for the purposes of explaining I'm going to use your favourite photo, I hope you don't mind.

There is not much that you can do to protect your photos from being downloaded by other people so you will just have to live with it. But what you can do is put a water mark onto each photo. It won't stop people from stealing them but at least your web site or blog name is on the picture. If the text is near the edge they can just crop it off but that's extra work for them and most thieves just don't like working very hard do they?

How do you water mark your picture? This is fairly easily done if you have some photo editing software. I use Photoshop but you can use anything. There is some free software called paint.NET that can be downloaded used to edit your photos, its an up spec version of Microsoft paint. Everyone that has a google account can also use Picasa3 to edit your photos and watermark them as well.
I always make a copy of all the photos I use on my blog so then I can edit them. That way I have the original copy just in case.

Its pretty easy to get started its just a little time consuming is the only problem but I have complete control over the photo, text placement, text colour and any effects I want.

Creating your Water mark - In Photoshop

To watermark your image, first select the text button from the toolbar then secondly select the colour you want the text to appear in, in this case I'll make the watermark in Kawasaki colours.

Once you click on the colour button on the tool bar the colour palet will come up. From here you can either select the colour from the palet or use the ink dropper tool which is high lighted on the left hand tool bar and click on any part of the picture to grab that colour. The circled part of the fairing is what I picked as the colour which shows up as Red: 99, Blue: 6, Green: 212.


Once the colour is selected just highlight a section on the photo about the size you want the text to be and type in your text as per next picture.


From there you can move the text into any place you want, re size the text and even add effects to it like drop shadows etc. To add a drop shadow click on the fx button and then select the drop shadow from the menu and use the sliders to get the desired effect.

There you have it a quick easy way to put text over any of your picture where you have full control of the picture size when you save it, most of my pictures are around 3-4mb but when i save them with photoshop I can select the size of the image which is usually about 700kb to 1mb. Save your watermark so you can use it on every photo you want to use.

So here is the finished product.

The next 2 pictures are just variations on the same theme I have already made. One of them is a little harder to see the text than the other.

Oh and by the way Erik if you want the photos of your bike shoot me an email and I'll send them to you.

Creating your Water mark - In PICASA3

It's very simple to watermark your photos with Picasas3 although it doesn't have many options to allow you to create effects etc but you can still watermark all your photos. If I was using this I would also make a copy of all the pics you are using just in case something goes wrong and your original pictures are damaged or lost.

First open Picasa3 and select a photo you want from your library.

Then once you have selected the picture then select the text button.


From this page you can just type your text on the page and then use the buttons on the left to adjust the text colour, size, font then you can just drag the text into the position you want it in by clicking on the ring around the text. If you want to turn the text onto a different angle you can click on the circle part around the text and drag the little wheel until the text is in the position you want.

Now to make the text transparent just drag the slider up and down until you are happy with the level of transparency.

The disadvantage that I can see with Picasa3 is that unless your watermark is fairly simple in its design then you could spend ages doing every single picture with each individual setting. This isn't the case using photoshop as when you make your watermark text once and then you save it and just add it to each picture, quite simple really. With Picasa3 it looks like you need to make your water mark each time, a time consuming process which is not for me.

So there you have it 2 different ways to watermark your picture. If you use the free PAINT.NET program it is similar to Microsoft paint and also photoshop but with fewer features. Happy blogging.

Captains Blog Supplemental

I've also just discovered that Photoshop will also batch watermark all my photos, it just needs to be set up for vertical and horizontal pictures. It worked a treat tonight so that will save me a little more time on the next blog post. Its a little bit involved, but if someone wants to know then maybe I'll have to do another post. Cheers for the idea Bob.

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Christmas in February

It's been a long time coming seeing as it's the middle of February and all, I finally got to take my Christmas holidays horay. You see I worked through the Christmas and new year with only the measly public holidays to keep me sane. Couple that fact in with not being able to get out for a ride on the bike since before Christmas and one could almost be forgiven if I'd gone mad and went out on a rampage Ala Micheal Douglas in FALLING DOWN. Luckily it didn't come to that and I got to go on a 9 day holiday with the family up the north coast of NSW to a small place called skennars head which is just north of Ballina near lennox head.

The drive up the Pacific Highway was its usual crap fest of heavy traffic and road works. Its been 20 years or so since they promised to make it a dual lane highway all the way to Brisbane. There are still huge lengths of road that hasn't been fixed yet and are still single lane road from just above Port Macquarie to up to Ballina and there are huge amounts of road works happening from Coffs Harbour to Grafton and beyond. It was constant 60 and 80 construction zones, Pretty frustrating driving that's for sure. But give it five years and it will be a fantastically fast run up the coast, but for now its still pretty shit.

On the way up I thought that I'd turn off the main highway and drive up the old pacific hwy through the bulladelah bends. I'd remembered seeing this bit of road on the news years ago on every single public holiday weekend with a fatal accident. After driving on this piece of road I can see why. Its a very windy piece of road over a mountain pass and with lots of traffic and poor driving skills coupled in with such a long drive it was a recipe for disaster. Now there is no traffic on this section of road and it makes for an excellent piece of motorcycling tarmac. I'll have to come back and ride it so I can make a post about it.

Skennars Head is a small beach side community. I grew up in the country an know nothing about the sea, so to me beaches are just pretty things to look at and just messy things to play on from my point of view. I'm the type of person who would go out in the surf and get stuck in the first rip and drown, so its a bit of feet wetting and onlooking for me. Lots of people love the beach but not me. Give me rocky mountain scenery and huge valleys and vistas any day over the beach.

Lennox Head Beach

The kids on the other hand loved the beach and played both on the headland and in the surf. And when they couldn't play in the surf they played in the pool. Ah just wonderful to relax in one of those poolside chairs. Actually it was that relaxing I'd fallen asleep in one of them.


Its been awhile since I've taken a holiday and done absolutely nothing at all and enjoyed every minute of it. It was just so relaxing to do nothing. If only I had a bike here that I could ride.

One of the mornings we'd decided to check out this little cafe called Lilianas Cafe that was recommended to us from some of the locals. Apparently the cafe has been built in the old remains of the opossum creek public school which was built way back in 1911. It's a up market trendy little cafe that wouldn't be amiss in say down town Sydney even down to the genuine city prices. But what this has that any city cafe doesn't is a wonderful winding single lane road that comes down the hillside in lush green country to a perfect peace and quite. A magic spot for a coffee and morning tea. Just so tranquil.

I'm not sure how this place stays in business as its in the middle of nowhere and not on a major road so tourist wouldn't really be able to find it so it must be locals keeping it running. I hope for their sake that they stay open. Its hard in these small country communities.

Mrs Chiller wanted to visit some relatives in Brisbane on one of the days so I began scheming up ways of getting my hands on Flyboys R1 to check out some roads in Brisbane. Mt Nebo came to mind. Unfortunately I didn't have enough time to go in search of any good biking roads in the area, so Flyboy showed me a few of the roads in his local area one of these being West Mt Cotton road which has a couple kms of down hill twisties. After riding this section I was wondering why he was telling me that many Brisbane bikers have been killed on this section of road after I road down it and not before? Was that a wicked plot?? Ah well it wouldn't have been my broken bike. Heh heh. This was my first ride for the year.

We checked out some of Brisbane bike shops at springwood. There are 5 or 6 bike shops within walking distance of each other. I could have almost bought that brand new CBR1000 for $15,900 including on roads. How cheap was that? Well that's the same price I paid for my R1 13 years ago. That's a fantastic price. I had visions of me bringing home a new bike and then another vision of Mrs Chiller cutting off my nether regions with a blunt and rusty butter knife.

This R1 is underpowered with all this weight

On the trek home rather than come back down the Pacific Highway and its quagmire of roadworks we instead crossed over the great dividing range to Tenterfield which is a fantastic road(I'll make a separate post about that one I think) and down to Tamworth for the night. For those non Aussie readers Tamworth holds Australia's biggest country music festival every year in January. Its where they have the country music awards. I don't really like country music much it kinda grates with me, I think Metallica's 'Mama said' is about as country as I get.

Tamworth is also home to the huge golden guitar which is on the New England highway on the way out towards Sydney. There is also a motorcycle museum at Tamworth which I didn't get time to look at. I'll have to come back one day to check that out.

On the way back down towards Scone we could see the mountain range looming up ahead in the distance. There were clouds coming over the crests of the mountains and rolling down the hillside. It was fantastic to look at, and I tried to capture a few pictures but I think we were just a little to far away to capture it properly.

For the final leg of the trip we came down the Putty Rd into the back of Sydney through Windsor instead of driving the boring F3 freeway. We stopped in at the grey gums cafe for some lunch. I was surprised to see no bikes in the parking lot at all. Normally there would be some bikes here and especially so on weekends where its is packed out. It was over cast and some showers in the area so that's probably what kept them away. I must say they really do a great hamburger at this place. Now I just need to get out for a ride soon.