“My mother’s taking the girls to Sydney tomorrow so you’ll be home by yourself” Mrs Wombattle said. After a moment’s thought I said with a wry smile, “No I won’t.” I didn’t have to explain what I meant.
A quick ride plan thrown together with the intention of trying to find some sunshine through the sheets of rain that had been peppering most of Australia for the past week. Hopping on a motorcycle and heading north seemed a good idea, because even if I got wet it would still be warm. I hadn’t been to Queensland yet this year either.
I stuck everything I needed on to STEN (my Super Tenere), the GPS, the SPOT, the UHF, the Etrex and the tank bag. I was travelling light today so I also took everything off the motorcycle I wouldn’t need. A touch late I got a start docket at 3.10am at Wallsend.
There were a couple of showers about on the Hunter Expressway which soon turned to rain becoming my constant companion for the first 250k’s or so. There was lightning and thunder adding drama to the night too. It was good to be back on STEN, it had spent more time in the shed than it deserved last year while I was focussed on other things, including other motorcycles. It was also great to have the Baja Designs ONX Light Bar and SII’s blasting through the darkness, I wish they made such a simple light bar for every motorcycle.
The sun came up on the way to Mendooran and after turning the corner towards Gilgandra I stopped briefly to refill from the jerrys grateful that while the roads were wet the rain had let up. The jerry stops are very efficient now, the helmet stays on and you don’t have to waste time paying for the fuel and getting receipts.
Having to fill back up here however was pretty hopeless fuel economy for the first leg but it was good enough to see me through to my first planned fuel stop and docket at Walgett (585k’s) at 9.07am. I continued north to Gulargambone, I always enjoy passing the courrugated iron galahs so I grabbed a shot in town.
I continued north on the Castlereagh Highway, passed the Lightning Ridge turnoff and headed for the Queensland border which is just before Hebel. I hadn’t ridden a motorcycle north of Lightning Ride on this road before and while this type of landscape isn’t for everyone I was just loving it! Here’s the border crossing, note the blue patches of sky, they weren’t going to last.
Riding though Hebel I added it to my “must stop next time” list and after turning east there it became apparent I was following some quite heavy showers. However it was warm enough though to unzip the vents on the KLIM Latitude suit to cool down a bit. My next stop for a docket only was Dirranbandi. They have Uncle Toby’s Yoghurt Top Muesli bars on special at the moment at the Food Works, $1.21 off RRP!! In case you are passing by.
Dirranbandi is apparently the Land of the Croaking Frog. There was plenty of mud and water about but I didn’t hear any croaking while I was there.
I wasn’t sure how much of the Dirranbandi – Thallon Road was tarred and I’m not normally too worried about gravel but the soaking road and very muddy shoulders/tabledains were causing me some concern as I approached this scene…
Fortunately I rode through the heaviest of these showers before I hit the gravel. I didn’t bother zipping up, it was actually nice to get wet in the warmth… it reminded me of my childhood. I was pretty happy when I found some decent looking gravel road, looking forward to testing my adventure riding course gained skills, but sadly it only lasted for about 500m. The roadworkers have been very busy.
A lefty at Thallon and my next planned stop was for a quick pic was at the Nindigully Pub. I’ve ridden past it a couple of times before but never stopped. It was closed.
My ride plan was to get my second full fuel load at Goondiwindi but the fuel economy had improved substantially on this leg so I grabbed a quick iced coffee and a photo there and I was back on the motorcycle heading south “toute de suite”.
Even though this was a day bimble and I wasn’t pushed for time opportunities to save a few minutes, adjust plans and be more efficient en route are constantly on my mind. If I was able to get to Narrabri on the fuel I had in the tank I could save a whole stop! I had planned a 97kph OA for the ride and was close to it all the way. Looming though was the dastardly New England Hwy between Willow Tree and the Hunter Expressway where 97 isn’t achievable and I was sure to lose some. Back to the ride.
Heading south through Moree and towards Narrabri it got a bit hot. The thermometer on the bike showed 39 degrees at one point but hovered between 37 and 38 for most of that leg. I’d left the clouds behind but would have appreciated some shade. I did make it to Narrabri on fumes and topped up the tank and one of the two jerrys ensuring I had enough to get home and shedding a couple of minutes refilling a jerry I wouldn’t need. So with more time saved and if I could make it all the way home without stopping I had a chance at hitting my time.
Heading towards the Breeza plains the temp dropped a little and the riding conditions were perfect. I wasn’t tempted to pick the pace up, it’s nice when you don’t have to grab the brakes when you see the HWP tucked in behind other oncoming vehicles. I always nod and wave.
The plan was to stop at Scone but there looked like half a chance I’d make the 395kms from Narrabri to the finish without stopping. I didn’t need a corner or a 600k docket and there was water left in the Camelback, so I pushed on.
I held my planned OA until Aberdeen where I watched it fall away through Muswellbrook and Singleton. I managed to pick most of it back up in the 110kph run along the Hunter Expressway. TigerBill was waiting at the servo at Lambton to say g’day. It’s always nice to finish a ride with a familiar face to greet you and engage in a quick debrief. A quick celebratory Cherry Ripe Twin Pack, as you do, and a docket at 20:28 at dusk. Ten minutes later than expected/planned. I haven’t missed by that much for a while! Thanks for turning up Bill!
So the ride by the Etrex was 1660kms with a moving average of 104kph and an overall average of 96.2. At the time I pulled into the servo at the finish my total stopped time for the ride was 1hr16m which I’m pretty happy about. 10 minutes less stopped time than my usual day ride. The whole ride, 17hrs 10m. A pretty good start to the year.
Here’s the route