Friday, July 20, 2018

Mirror Image

I was looking through some of my photos that I'd taken on our recent trip to Tasmania and was comparing the 2003 trip that my brother and I took 15 years earlier and found a few similarities between some of the photo's I took on both trips. One of these photos was deliberate but the others were just pure coincidence.

Starting with some photos on the Tasman Highway down Tassie's east coast we decided to stop for a couple of photos over the coast. Must have caught my eye 15 years later  as I stopped again almost in the exact same spot.





Next was a Photo taken at the scenic lookout over Scottsdale on the Tasman Highway again.



Next up was our visit to Mt Wellington over looking Hobart. This one was a deliberate pic that I stopped to take. Not exactly the same but close enough.



Next pic was out the window of the pub we stayed at in Queenstown. I notice a few of the building are a bit different but mostly the place hasn't changed at all in 15 years.



Monday, July 2, 2018

Waterfall Way Ride

"My vision was blurred badly, I couldn't see the road ahead, it was awash with a white haze. I raised a hand and wiped the back of my gloved finger across my visor to clear it. Some of the snow came off but it looked like it was also on the inside of my visor. What the hell am I doing here, this is insane!"


A weekend ride with the boys had been organized for a mid winter trip up the north coast and inland NSW ranges to ride some of the roads we infrequently visit. Both Rick and my brother were also going to be riding down from Brisbane to ride with us and we'd all meet somewhere in the middle.

Putty Road Rest Stop

Checking the weather for the weekend it was looking great with no rain predicted but with cool mornings it was looking like a perfect winters ride. Our route out of Sydney was up the Putty Rd to Singleton where we picked up our group captain Doug with Craig and Troy. With full tanks we made our way across from Singleton where we picked up another of Stu's mates en route to Gloucester for a spot of lunch. The roadies cafe is so slow it took an hour for coffee and cake for 8 of us and it wasn't that busy, will look elsewhere next time we are here.


From Gloucester we made our way up the buckets way through Wyndham and Taree and then the long boring slab work of the Pacific Highway to Macksville avoiding some of NSW finest constabulary.

Overnighting in Macksville we stayed at the Nambucca Hotel, which has pretty standard fare pub rooms for $50. Pulling up at the pub Dave was sitting out the front relaxing having a drink. We made straight for the off street parking and then inside for some refreshments. I was expecting to see Rick here but he wasn't. Interesting enough Rick was late and when we called to see where he was he had run out of fuel 20kms west of Dorrigo on his way down. Lucky he managed to hitch a ride into Dorrigo for fuel and back again. Did he cop some shit stirring when he arrived, later we moved around to the Star hotel around the corner which had fantastic meals and a band on and we over indulged ourselves until calling it a day at around midnight. Urgh this is going to hurt......


I was right, my head was pounding in the morning and after a hearty bacon and egg roll we were rolling out along the Highway again on our way to Dorrigo along the famous Waterfall Way. It was a barmy 16°C and I was looking forward to riding this road but was a little disappointed that there was quite a bit of slow moving traffic on the road and to be perfectly honest thought that the road was over with way too quickly. When will I ever learn not to drink so much on the first night? I blame Bushpig....and my brother.

Newell Falls - Waterfall Way

Don't get me wrong the road surface was good with 15kms of twisty mountain road. It just seemed far too short and it wasn't long before we popped out in Dorrigo. Dorrigo is a quiet little country town situated at the top of the mountain range. I'd like to come back here to do a bit more looking around one day.

Views from the Mountain

Dorrigo Hotel
Leaving Dorrigo to the west heading towards Ebor along waterfall way this road was like a big long roller coaster ride over the hills. This bit was a lot of fun and seemed to go on forever unlike the first twisty section with a bit of spirited riding along here. Lots of views of rolling hills and at one point you could see ocean and mountain ranges all in the same view. Beautiful scenery up here for sure. The higher up the ranges we climbed it started to get colder and was hovering around 10°C which was starting to get a bit cold for my liking. My feet were numb with the cold and my right hand was getting quite cold.

Lads on Waterfall Way

Ebor Turn off
We turned off and headed through Ebor and onto Armidale. The temperature didn't get above 10°C again for the rest of the day and we arrived in Uralla by 1pm. It was cold and the wind was blowing in hard from the south with up to 50kmh gusts. With weather like this is must be snowing down south to be this cold in the middle of the day. I was cold and hung over, not such a great recipe for a ride and I wasn't feeling the love. The BoM said it was 10°C but feels like 5°C with the wind chill.

Three of the guys called it then and there and stayed at the hotel for the rest of the day to get out of the cold. The others wanted to ride down to the Oxley Highway to do one of the best roads in this country. I was undecided but thought I'd ride into Walcha about 30 minutes away and then see from there what I wanted to do. It would be a 3.5hr round trip with few stops and would be getting colder by 5pm when it gets dark up here.

The ride was cold and I still wasn't feeling that spectacular. So four of us stopped in Walcha for lunch by the warm fire place to thaw out whilst Stu and the two Dave's headed down the mountain. I'm sure they will have a blast and my bro took some great footage on his gopro.

We ended up talking to a couple of bike riders at the cafe that told us about a newly tarred bit of road that runs out through Kentucky and drops you out on the New England Highway 10kms before Uralla. We gave this road a try and had to avoid two herds of stupid cattle that decided they'd like to run down the road in front of us.

Geoff also decided that his MT10 was going to be a stunt bike by jumping it out of a culvert at speed. In his defense the dip wasn't sign posted and you couldn't see it until right on top of it. Lets just say that I flew out of the seat of the R1 at about $1.30 but I don't think Geoff would be able to wear those underpants again....

We made a quick dash down to Bendameer Pub where we were able to get out of the cold for half an hour before making our way back to Uralla for the night. It was so good to get out of my leathers and into a hot shower. By then it was back to the bar around 4:30pm and the boys arrived back from the Oxley not long after. They looked a little tired and cold and in need of a beer or three.

Lads at Bendameer Pub


The next morning and we bid goodbye to Rick, Doug, Craig and my brother as they headed north towards warmer climates. Checking the BoM it was 3°C in Uralla and said it felt like -4.1°C. Great, just great. I put an extra t-shirt on this morning under my leathers, so I had a thermal and 2 T Shirts but in these temps I was still cold. A winter jacket might be the ticket I think, but I do so little winter riding.....

We debated going down the Oxley where it would have gotten warmer as we went down the range but mostly everyone wanted to take the fastest route down to Walcha and the thunderbolts way to Gloucester. I didn't really want to ride the Pacific Hwy after the Oxley so decided to stay with the group.
Fuel in Walcha

After fueling up in Walcha we made our way down thunderbolts way. About 15kms out it started to lightly sleet. I check the temp gauge and it had been 5 then went down to 4 then 3 and 2 before coming over a hill and I could see in the distance on the next hill rain or what looked like rain. I stopped to put on my wet weather gear  as the others continued on into the distance except Jason who stopped with me. I didn't want to be cold and wet. As I was putting them on it was starting to sleet on us. A few minutes later we were underway. The rain suit was doing a great job keeping the wind out and I felt a little warmer.

About 5 minutes down the road the sleet turned into snow. I was thinking of stopping for a photo as this was very unusual for us. Not much longer the temp had dropped to 0°C it was freezing cold and the wind was blowing hard, visibility dropped to about 100m at best and the whole road was covered with snow and our speed dropped to about 60-70kmh.
Looking left and right all I could see was white. Everything was covered except a small dam.

My vision was blurred badly, I couldn't see the road ahead, it was awash with a white haze. I raised a hand and wiped the back of my gloved finger across my visor to clear it. Some of the snow came off but it looked like it was also on the inside of my visor. What the hell am I doing here, this is insane

Snow started swirling up into my face, it was coming in through my open chin vent so I quickly closed it but not before snow had stuck to the inside of my visor. The one saving grace to this situation was that I decided to put in my pin lock visor for this trip and must say thank god as at least my visor didn't fog up at all. Not once.

Looking in my mirror all I could see was white with a single solitary black line carved through it from my rear tyre and Jason's headlight following.

I couldn't but help thinking that the Oxley Hwy now looked like a great choice but it was too late. Must just press on and hope to get out of this snow. This is fucking insane riding through the snow, WTF? I was constantly waving a finger across my visor like a windscreen wiper to remove the snow.

I couldn't see any other bike tyre marks in the snow in front which probably means the guys missed all of this snow by mear minutes. In hindsight a photo would have been great but there was no way I was stopping for one now. I just wanted to get out of there as soon as I could.

After about 15-20 minutes we finally got out of the snow and back to sweet black top tar and I couldn't have been happier, the temp came up and we got to the lookout where the guys were waiting for us. They only hit a little snow blowing in crossways that instantly melted as it hit the ground and so maintained a good pace of 100+kmh. We missed that window.

Barrington Tops Lookout

Snow over the ranges at Barrington Tops
Dropping down out of the hills we came into Gloucester for a spot of lunch, we avoided the Roadies cafe this time and had lunch elsewhere, lunch came out in 5 minutes with coffees and was fantastic I might add, we then headed back along Buckets Way to Dungog and onto Singleton. Dungog is still a cesspit of pot holes and patch work. Obviously Dungog council has no civic pride at all, the main street of town is a shit hole of epic proportions.

We also lost 2 more of the group here as they peeled off for home towards Newcastle as we then pressed on into Singleton for fuel and then the trip back down the Putty Rd and home. The trip down the Putty was good as it was almost empty today and no plod at all. Cheers boys thanks for the fun times and as always excellent to ride again with you bro, even though I ditched you on the Oxley. For me Waterfall Way is way over-rated, not long enough and too much traffic. If I was to do this ride again I'd skip Waterfall Way and just do the Oxley Highway as its a much better ride. You can read about my brothers ride down from Brisbane here.

Map Reference - missing the Bendameer loop