Tag Archives: Motorbike touring

Motorcycle camping long weekend

Mum and Dad on their bikes

Mum and Dad on their bikes

We had a long weekend here in Queensland, so after half a day at the high ropes course, I met up with my parents for a few days motorbike camping. Mum and Dad recently bought new motorbikes, and this was their first time taking them out touring. It was nice to introduce them to one of my favourite activities and to have an excuse to go motorbike touring for the first time in almost a year.

My wheels

My wheels

We met at the Bearded Dragon down in Tamborine Village for a late lunch on Saturday afternoon. After huge meals we set off into the cold afternoon air for the short ride down country roads to Rathdowney and then onto Flanagan’s Reserve, near Mt Barney. With clouds rolling in ominously, we were expecting a wet camp but, fortunately, the rain never eventuated.

Camp at Flanagan's Reserve

Camp at Flanagan’s Reserve

Flanagan’s Reserve is 28 acres of bush camping. There are hot showers (20c/min) and toilets. The campsite is located along the upper reaches of the Logan River under the watchful eyes of Mt Barney and Mt Maroon. With plenty of trees for shade and steel drums to use as fire places, this site is beautiful all year round. You can just hang out at camp or drive up to nearby Yellow Pinch day use area to do some hiking around Mt Barney.

Morning walk near Mt Barney

Morning walk near Mt Barney

After a pleasant night around the campfire, I slept like a log. On Sunday morning I walked up the road for an hour, enjoying the country scenery. I thought about going for a run but decided to rest my body because I was sore after my 11km jog earlier in the week and a month off won’t do my body any harm.

Logan River at Flanagan's Reserve

Logan River at Flanagan’s Reserve

At the end of my walk I wandered through the campground to look at all the other campers’ set ups. While my parents and I had tiny little hiking tents, most other campers had huge arrangements: massive canvas tents, dome tents the size of small mansions and caravans that might make a Mac truck look small. I wonder whether the person who invented tents realised there would be such an array by the year 2013.

Riding up Mt Lindsay

Riding up Mt Lindsay

We started our ride on Sunday by heading south-west over Mt Lindsay. The roads were quiet and winding. As we crossed the mountain and state border at 1,195m we could see rain in all directions. The temperature plummeted and the roads got wet (though fortunately from rain that had already fallen earlier). Having only ridden less than 2,000km in total including their lessons and licence tests, the combination of wet and winding roads was a bit of a challenge for my parents. But they made it down into Woodenbong safely for a Tim Tam break.

Lunch at Killarney

Lunch at Killarney

From Woodenbong we rode north west back across the state border to Killarney. The Mount Lindsay Highway was a rough and rugged ride that took all our concentration to travel safely. I think we were all happy to see Shirl & Sandy’s takeaway shop in Killarney where we could escape the cold drizzle and buy some food. Shirl & Sandy’s is an unassuming little place but it was doing a roaring trade when we arrived. Six or seven car loads of men and their young sons were placing orders and eating. They were on “Secret Men’s Business”; a boy’s camping weekend. The food was honest and tasty, the service was friendly and the dining room was warm.

Back of the range

Back of the range

At Killarney we decided to head over to Goomburra and take our chances at one of the commercial camping grounds there rather than staying at the National Park. We are usually National Park people but with the cold weather and threatening skies, my parents decided that hot showers would be a lovely thing to have at the end of the day.

The only blue sky we saw all weekend

The only blue sky we saw all weekend

So we drove north behind the Great Dividing Range along quiet roads that gave us plenty of time to enjoy the views: mountains to our right and farmlands to our left.

Goomburra Valley Campground

Goomburra Valley Campground

None of us had ever been to Goomburra before. I don’t know why because we camp quite a bit and Goomburra is only 175km (110 miles) from home. After looking at the three commercial campgrounds in the Goomburra Valley, we decided to try our luck at the Goomburra Valley Campground. It was a long shot because all the campgrounds seemed to be quite full this long weekend. But they had a no-show, leaving space for us in a prime spot right next to the river.

Cute little fellow

Cute little fellow

There’s a shop about 500m from the campground so I went for a walk to buy cold drinks and chocolate to enjoy while we kicked back for the afternoon. Along the way, I came across a very cute little pony who couldn’t decide whether he was friendly or coy. He’d come up to let me pat him and then back off shyly. We played this game for a  little while before I continued on my way.

On my return, Mum, Dad and I sat around the campfire sharing cold soft drinks, chocolate and then, later, soup, dinner and French cheese.

The creek at Goomburra Valley Campground

The creek at Goomburra Valley Campground

I got up in the morning and took another one hour walk to explore the area. The creek next to the campground was pretty and would be a fun place for kids to play in summer.

Check out the horns on him

Check out the horns on him

Further up the road, I came across a herd of cattle, including a big bull with impressive horns. I couldn’t help but stay well away from him and keep an eye on him as I walked past. Sure, I know he won’t do anything. But those horns still demand respect.

Loving life

Loving life

After my walk, we had breakfast, packed our gear and hit the road for the ride home. In fine weather conditions, we would have stopped heaps to take photos but it didn’t take long before the rain started to fall. And it only grew heavier the closer to Brisbane we got. The first half of the ride was still nice though. We took the northern route back to Brisbane along the New England Highway and then the shortcut through to Gatton. Along the way we stopped at the Thies Memorial Park to make coffee and eat some simple snacks.

The ride home from Gatton got a bit miserable. The only highlight was the burgers we ate at the Ozie Fuels diner on the highway. They were not bad at all.

It was fantastic to play tour guide for my parents and I enjoyed their company for the weekend. I hope we have another chance to go motorbike touring.

Lamington weekend

Mountain views from Beechmont

After the Past Pupils’ Mass I rode my motorbike up to to Binna Burra in the Gold Coast Hinterland to support my friends at the Lamington Classic (and to hang out drinking cider). On my way up the mountain I stopped at Beechmont to find a geocache and enjoy the view of the mountains.

The Lamington Classic is an annual two-day trail running event that is as much race as mega social. On Saturday, runners run from O’Reilly’s to Binna Burra along the Border Track. It’s 21.8km of twisting single track through the rain forest. After spending the night at Binna Burra, they then run back to O’Reilly’s on Sunday morning.

My running friends were running the event so I went up to Binna Burra on Saturday night to hang out with them. We spent the night drinking and talking. I’m not a big drinker, having been a tea-totaller until two years ago. But I enjoyed my three ciders (4.0% alcohol so very light and sweet) while my friends probably drank more beer and wine than was sensible preparation for the second day of running. While I was disappointed not to be joining them out on the course, I had a blast making memories away from running with a group of people who are quickly becoming friends; not just running buddies.

From the Binna Burra Caves Track

I woke at 4:40am this morning and didn’t want to wake my friends, who weren’t due to get up until 6:30am. Instead of hanging around, I made the most of the early morning sun by setting off on the Binna Burra Caves Track. Unfortunately, it was too dark in the rainforest for my mobile phone camera to get good pictures so you’ll have to trust me that I had a great time enjoying mountain views, rainforest scenery and the sound of rainforest birds. The caves themselves were huge and imposing holes in the cliffs and made me feel slightly dizzy.

For the second time this week, I did some light running. I walked a 10 minute warm up then did a 1 minute run / 4 minute walk ratio for 6 repeats. My foot and leg felt good during the running phases but I’m not ready to do anything more strenuous yet.

It was still about 5:50am when I completed the Caves Circuit so I also walked the 1.2km Binna Burra Rainforest Walk. I chose that walk because there is a geocache along it (there was also one on the Caves Circuit). I enjoyed the peace and simplicity of the Rainforest Walk; a short stroll through the bush with nothing to carry and no navigation required. There was no one else out on the tracks except me, the pademellons (an Australian marsupial that is like a tiny kangaroo that gets around on all fours), and the birds.

Jacarandas on the way to O’Reilly’s

After my walk I had breakfast with my friends, helped them carry their gear down to the ute that was taking it all back to O’Reilly’s and saw them off on their run. I then rode my motorbike down the range, across and back up the other range to O’Reilly’s, which took over 1.5 hours. The scenery along the way was amazing and included farmland, mountains and rain forest roads.

Motorcycling through the trees

My friends all ran well today, backing up after yesterday’s epic with a quick run. After a few hours lazing around O’Reilly’s eating and chatting we all set off back down the mountain towards home. The roads up here in the mountains are fantastic for motorcycling (though they are narrow). For the first 10km of the descent I could almost reach out and touch the trees along the road. Then the road opened out and the views of the valleys were superb.

My wonderful weekend was topped off with a 2km walk with my partner after I got home.

Total:

  • 5km rainforest trail walk / run
  • 1.2km rainforest walk
  • 2km walk around my neighbourhood
  • 7 geocaches found.

 

Washpool motorcycle tour

A hot dry day on the open road

In Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance, Robert PM Pirsig writes:

You see things vacationing on a motorcycle in a way that is completely different from any other. In a car you’re always in a compartment, and because you’re used to it you don’t realise that through the car window everything you see is just more TV. You’re a passive observer and it is all moving by you boringly in a frame.

On a cycle the frame is gone. You’re completely in contact with it all. You’re in the scene, not just watching it anymore, and the sense of presence is overwhelming. That concrete whizzing by five inches below your foot is the real thing, the same stuff you walk on, it’s right there, so blurred you can’t focus on it, yet you can put your foot down and touch it anytime, and the whole thing, the whole experience, is never removed from immediate consciousness.

I couldn’t explain my love for motorcycle riding in words that capture it better than Pirsig’s. That’s probably why his book is one of my favourites.

Crossing the range around Mt Lindsay

This weekend I had to travel to Washpool National Park, 450km from my home. I was going there to volunteer as an aid station attendant at the Washpool World Heritage Trail run. But rather than just make the trip about transport, I decided to enjoy the journey.

Check out the horns on that cow

Horse country

Sheep country

Instead of racing down the Cunningham / New England Highway ‘inland route’ or the Pacific Highway ‘coastal route’, I took the less-traveled Mt Lindsay Highway to Washpool. It took me eight hours to cover the 450km because I kept stopping to find geocaches and take photos. Taking the scenic route made me slow down and focus on the journey, rather than the destination. It’s a good reminder to slow down in a world that is spinning too quickly.

Rest stop on the gravel

Sections of the Mt Lindsay Hwy are like riding on beach sand

Whoops!

The scenic route also led to a spot of adventure. The Mt Lindsay Highway still has about 30km of unsealed road. Goodness only knows why but for some reason no-one’s connected the northern and southern ends of the highway yet. While the northern end of the highway was perfect for road riding, the unsealed sections on the southern end were hard going because the sand was as deep as beach sand.

My GS500 doesn’t handle anywhere near as well on sand as my old CBF250 did. It’s got a higher centre of gravity and is heavier to hold up once it starts to flip on its side. I tried desperately to stay upright but lost concentration for a micro-second and lost control of the bike in the sand. I wasn’t hurt and the bike was fine, other than a few scratches. Fortunately, a farmer was driving by so he could help me lift my bike, rather than me having to unload it before I lifted it.

The Bluff on the New England Hwy

Late afternoon on the New England Hwy

Coming to the Gwydr Hwy

Lengthening shadows

It was late afternoon by the time I joined the New England Highway in Tenterfield. With 140km left to ride and the sun starting to sink into the western sky, I set my speedometre to 100kph and zoomed down the highway to Dundee where I took the shortcut south-east to join the Gwydr Highway back east into the mountains.

There’s something foolhardy about riding in the late afternoon and evening in Australia. Kangaroos and wallabies graze along the road at this time of day, posing a huge risk to a motorcyclist’s safety. While they might seem like cute animals, kangaroos and wallabies aren’t very bright. They will jump out on the road in front of passing vehicles rather than turning to hop away. They’re muscular animals and even a small wallaby can take a motorcycle out if it hits. But I find this time of day magical for riding because the colours are brighter and vibrant.

Washpool World Heritage Area from Raspberry Lookout

Washpool National Park is a World Heritage listed area. It’s a stunning series of mountains ranging averaging about 1,000m high. They include areas of rain forest, dry granite fields, clear flowing creeks and hanging swamps. It’s worth the long ride to travel there for a few days.

After the trail run event I rode home on Sunday night. I rode straight back up the Gwydr and New England Highways before turning east on the Cunningham Highway back to Brisbane. It was dark for much of my ride home and I had to contend with unlit highways (the word ‘highway’ in Australia does not mean the road is well-maintained, lit or signed), rain and a scary lightning storm. But it was worth it because the hardships are all part of motorcycle touring.

Map of trip

Map of trip

Julia Creek trip day 1

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We don’t manage to get away until almost 1pm. Mum’s got last minute prep to do and it takes time. It’s frustrating for us all but not worth getting upset about.

After we get underway we cruise out from Logan to Ipswich before turning north through the Brisbane Valley. It feels good to get out of the city and I feel myself start to unwind.

We stop at Wivenhoe Dam for lunch. It’s beautiful here sitting near the water. My bike is dwarfed by Mum’s awesome set up. She has a tent that folds out front her ute and everything you might need attached including fridge and freezer. It’s luxurious compared with my usual motorbike touring kit.

From Wivenhoe we continue through the valley out to the D’Aigular Hwy. We’re now surrounded by rolling pastures and grasses blowing in the breeze. The wind roars in my helmet making me wish I had remembered to buy earplugs.

We stop in a park next to a BP servo. Kids getting off a school bus are greeted by parents waiting in cars to pick them up. Houses here are acres apart; sonera kilometres from the road. Welcome to rural Australia.

At the park we decide to camp a Kingaroy. We were aiming for Boondooma Dam but won’t make it. Kingaroy is only 250km from home but will do.

I watch the clouds change to yellow abduction red as we enter cattle county. It keeps my mind occupied as the temperature drops and cold sets in. A quick stop in Nanango to change into my winter jacket fixes the cold.

Our campsite at Kingaroy is adequate. It’s a typical country campground. There’s trees, amenities and passing road noise. I’d rather a bush  camp but that will have to wait until tomorrow. Today was just about getting some kilometres under our belts.

We enjoy a good laugh at camp; my mum, grandmother and I. We’re tired tonight but ready to make some mileage tomorrow. And to explore a bit more.

(from my mobile so only limited editing and layout power)

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