Tuesday, 4 October 2016

Ceduna to Bathurst

Riding towards Horrocks Pass,  Flinders Range
We escaped Ceduna between the showers and stayed dry all the way to Port Augusta. The following day we rode onwards and eastwards, through the mist, over Horrocks Pass, towards Broken Hill. In Peterborough we found a gem of a cafe, setup in the old cinema, and decked out with movie memorabilia. High on the stage were statutes of The Blues Brothers in action, it was a captivating place and the hot chocolate was great too.

Nice lunch stop
We were in time to score the last campsite in the town caravan park at Broken Hill and then we settled in for a few days to enjoy the Pro Hart gallery and the historic township nestled at the foothills of a slag heap.  They say that you don’t know how good your tent is until it rains. Our little tent took 50mm on the chin so we’ve given her 10/10. From Broken Hill we took the bikes on a run to Silverton, once a township supporting a thriving silver mine, now the home of a collection of visual artists and a great outback pub.

Historic lift bridge, Darling River, Wilcannia
We are calling this year’s outback ride “The ride of rivers and birds,” as the swollen rivers and creeks have made us more aware of Australia’s intricate river systems, and the morning bird calls have been magical. I was quite taken with the town of  Wilcannia on The Darling River, once NSW’s third busiest port, now a collection of historic buildings attract folks to the town.

The Darling rises
It’s on nearly every Aussies list to visit the Back O’Burke at least once in a lifetime.  An old timer told us that the Darling River was rising at 1cm per hour and we confirmed this by taking a flood water measurement over twenty four hours. He also explained how a town can become a victim of a flooding river when the town is in drought and hasn’t seen any rain in years.

Singing my original tunes in an outback pub.
The opal fields at Lightening Ridge have the charm and character to draw you in and make you want to stay a while, and we always enjoy riding Devil and Dwarf down the main street of an unfamiliar town. When we pulled up at the Grawin Club in the Scrub, a local dude wandered over to checkout Dwarfie (R1200GS). We exchanged pleasantries and it turned out that Laury D was an old muso and guitar maker from Tamworth, he had retired to the opal fields ten years ago. Laury asked “If I can find you a guitar in 60 seconds will you play me a song?” I felt so at home in this outback pub that without hesitation I picked up the fancy, newly strung, acoustic guitar and sang a collection of my Australiana songs to a very appreciative audience.   I had so much fun I could imagine holing up in Lightening Ridge for a couple of weeks and playing a few sessions.

On this ride we’ve been keeping a keen eye on the  path of the storms and floods in the south of the country as riding in fine weather is our top priority. To escape the next bout of inclement weather, we rode north from Lightening Ridge into Queensland and enjoyed a three day ride to Mudgee via Goondiwindi and  Gunnedah. Only a biker would ride a thousand kilometers to make five hundred.

Hebel Hotel, another amazing  outback pub
It seems there is nothing simpler, and more enjoyable, than riding all day, cooking dinner, sleeping soundly in our little tent, only to be back on the road by 8am to do it all again. Twice we encountered water over the road between Hebel and Birranbandi. Steve crossed first, taking the centre of the road in the blind hope that any pot holes wouldn’t be deep enough to grab the front end and bring the big GS to her knees; the second crossing was quite long and deep at 0.2m.

From Gunnedah we took a selection of scenic backroads to Mudgee ready for our final assault  on Bathurst for the V8 Supercar Bathurst 1000. The poor state of the roads in NSW is alarming. One warning sign proclaimed that the road was “deformed.” Potholes and patched up potholes are the norm in this neck of the woods and you need  to keep an eye out for things that can trip you up. We’re always on the lookout for stock, wildlife and locals running wide on the bends, but yesterday’s tree across the road took us by surprise; still that’s riding and we wouldn’t have it any other way.

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