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December 2017 Club News

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The Ride Around Oz Part 2 - continued from October

...Paronella Park; it was build in the 1930ís by Jose Paronella, a Spanish immigrant. He built facilities including a tennis court, a ball room and a cinema inspired by Spanish castles, to provide entertainment for the public. We didnít go in but had a look around it and walked along the rope bridge and had a look at the Mena creek falls.

The next morning we had a quiet morning waiting for the rain to stop, it absolutely bucketed down. Luckily it cleared up and we rode to Josephine Falls, a beautiful waterfall and to the Boulders where we had camped 15 years ago. This is a great part of traveling through Queensland, we havenít been here since our trip around Australia (2002-2003) in an 1962 Volkswagen (split-screen) Kombi.

After three nights in Innisfail we headed a bit further south and had a look at different places we had been in 2002. We rode through Tully, Cardwell and Ingham to Townsville.

Back in 2002 we really liked Townsville and were thinking of moving there if the weather hadnít been so warm/hot in summer. When we got closer we saw how much it has changed, there was a ring road and so much traffic!

In 2002 the population of Townsville was 137,500 and now nearly 188,000. It is still a beautiful city with amazing lookouts and the Strand (the main beach) is great for everyone. Walking and cycle tracks, kids areas and an amazing view across the ocean towards Magnetic Island. The views and walks from Castle Hill are absolutely beautiful. In the afternoon we rode through the Strand and were excited to see a exhibition of recycled materials.

The people had made a big effort and all the creations looked awesome. We treated ourselves to a real ice-cream, it was soooo good!

We kept an eye on the weather because it looked like there was rain coming. The caravan park in Townsville didnít have a very good camperís kitchen so we decided to head back inland to Charters Towers where we knew the caravan park had a huge kitchen and also a fire pit.

Pineapple honesty box.
We took the Hervey Range development road with some nice curves and views down to the valley below. The lovely people at the caravan park in Charters Towers were happy to see us back and they were even more happy because we brought the rain forecast with us. They hadnít had any rain for the last 10 weeks and were a bit desperate. We still had one fine day before the rain came down. There were a lot of nice people to chat to so thatís what we did most of the day.

Monday was all sunny again and we were going to meet our New Zealand friends down the road. We put up camp early at Belyando crossing and caught up with Dave and Gail who we met in 2010 when we traveled half-way around Australia.

We decided to meet again in a couple of days near Eungella national park where the platypuses live. The riding went well and Ronnie and I had our lunch in a lovely town called Clermont. We met a couple from the Netherlands who were traveling with their three young children. They absolutely loved what they had seen so far. We exchanged some information and kept going towards Mackay. On the way a bee stung me under my knee and after removing the sting that was still sitting in my jeans I took a antihistamine to lessen the itching and swelling.

We decided to book a motel room in Moranbah, a mining town west of Mackay. My leg was pretty swollen the next day but it was fine to ride the bike. It was only a short day to Broken River in Eungella national park where we met Dave and Gail again. We walked to the bridge and were very excited to see two platypuses swimming right underneath us.

It was so nice to watch these cute animals, just Google platypus and you can read what amazing animals they are. That night we had a nice fire in the fire pit and chatted to other campers. We had a great mix of people there from France, New Zealand, the Gold Coast, Slovakia and the Czech Republic. Very interesting to hear all their stories.

The next morning we said goodbye to our friends and rode to Minari where we found a very nice caravan park, very quiet and central. We based ourselves here for four nights and had a look at Airlie Beach, Mackay, Sarina, Cape Hillsborough national park and enjoyed the beautiful sunny and warm weather. At night it gets pretty chilly here but a hot shower before hopping in the tent and the hot water bottle will keep me warm.

Tomorrow we will head a bit further south where we will find new places to explore. Our next stop after Mirani was Clairview, a small town right on the beach. I was very excited to see the sunrise the next morning, the first one on the east coast and it was beautiful.

We then went to Yeppoon where we stayed for two nights at the big family tourist park. There was a bus full of French teenagers who were on summer camp. A shame most of them didnít know English and we donít know French so communication didnít go too well. They were pretty loud so there were lots of complaints from all the grey nomads who come up here every year and the next evening it was much quieter.

We had a look at Emu Park with its impressive ANZAC memorial and the Singing Ship. The wind whistles through the bars and the cables and makes a very calming sound, a beautiful monument. Would be very noisy I think if they would built one for Albany coast.

The next day we rode to Mt Morgan where we camped for three nights. A young couple have taken over the caravan park quite a few years ago and have done a great job. Itís pretty busy through the winter months, they have happy hour every day and provide often nibbles or make pizzas or bruschetta for the campers.

Also on arrival you get four fresh eggs from their chickens, the caravan park has got a great country feel to it, definitely worth going back there. On the Saturday there were mud races in a town a bit further up, no one could tell us what mud racing was all about so we went to have a look. Well, that was something different. Two cars race against each other through the mud, it was so funny to watch and we had a good laugh.

Enjoying a small fire at a rest area in outback Queensland.
We havenít had many free rest areas since we have been away but found a really nice one on top of a big hill with views down to the valley below and we had a little campfire. The colours at sunset and sunrise were beautiful. It was great riding down the hill the next morning and we had to climb and descend a few times more.

We didnít have to go far the next day because we wanted to camp in a small town called Biggenden where we would base ourselves for two nights so we could drive to Maryborough and Hervey Bay. We were about 200 meters from the caravan park when I wanted to change into 3rd gear but nothing happened, it was stuck in 2nd gear and it didnít want to go up or down.

Broken gearbox spring.
At the caravan park I told Ronnie what happened and he said straight away thatís the same problem Guy had last year. Guy, a club member had his BMW stuck in gear too when we were in South Australia on our old bike holiday. One of our other members said we had to turn the bike upside down and then you can change the gear lever into another gear. Back then we had a tractor that we could use to tip the bike upside down and before we realised Guyís bike was stuck into 5th gear! He rode all the way from Victor Harbor to Perth, now thatís what I call determination. We werenít going to do that with our bike though and Ronnie was straight away on the phone with the RAC (road side assistance) and they sent a mechanic out who had a look and said there was no way he could get that fixed in 24 hours.

You can either have the bike trucked all the way home or to a workshop or to another designated spot you want it to go. We were going to our friends here in Currumbin Valley anyway and asked them if it was okay to send the bike there. That wasnít a problem with all involved and the next morning at 9 am the truck came to bring it 400 km further south. We recommend RAC to anyone now who travels, it is really worth it. We put a lot of stuff we didnít need in a bag to go with the truck and packed everything else on the Moto Guzzi.

We rode to the Glass House mountains and based ourselves in Landsborough so we could ride every single mountain road, absolutely beautiful. Weíre often the only people camping in a tent and we have most of the time the campers kitchen to ourselves. Some of them are so good, this one had a telly and we watched movies every night and made pizza in the oven. We had heard of Rickís Garage from our friends from New Zealand and went there for lunch one day, really tasty. We also caught up with Wim who lives in Brisbane, we know him through windsurfing at Coronation Beach. So he drove over to meet us for coffee. Thatís one of the best parts of this trip, catching up with friends along the way.

Koala spotting in Esk.
We left to go a bit more inland, we donít like the busy roads but prefer the quiet country roads. We found a great caravan park in Esk where we stayed for two nights, it got pretty cold. The first morning we had frost on the seat of the bike but during the day it was a beautiful 22 degrees. We went for a long walk to look for koalas. In the 18 years I have lived in Australia I have never seen a koala in the wild. I have been looking up the trees while riding on the back of Ronnieís bike but havenít seen any. We were nearly back at the park and suddenly I saw two hairy ears. So cute, a mummy koala with a baby. We watched them for ages and took heaps of photos, I was so very excited and happy.

We walked back and saw the wild life rescue with another koala, she was injured and they were taking her home. We told the caretaker at the caravan park about our koala spotting and he told us there is one living in the trees in the caravan park! We looked and yes, we spotted him/her too. Four koalas in half an hour.
Esk is pretty cold at night so the hot water bottle ready and a fire in the fireplace in the awesome campers kitchen they have there.

The last couple of nights we camped at the showgrounds in Boonah and Canungra, they only charge $22 per site/ per night which is pretty good. The most we have paid on this trip was $42 in Port Hedland and the cheapest was $16 at Coronation Beach north of Geraldton.

When we got to Canungra we were just going to have a look at the tourist bureau. We turned into the street where the info centre was and suddenly I spotted our neighbours Nikolai and Jane with their two girls! That was just so funny, we thought they were back home already after their trip to Cairns and they thought we were much further south already.

We got our picnic lunches ready and caught up in the park, itís a small world. The next day we went to Tamborine mountain where we had lunch in the Dutch Bite Cafe; bitterballen and patat. Yummo! We rode also up to Green Mountains in Lamington national park. A very steep road going up there but with beautiful views and a tree top walk. On the way back I felt nearly sick from all the twists and turns in the 30 or so kilometers of windy road. But worth going there.

Bikers Diner.
And now we are in Currumbin Valley. We took the most amazing roads to get here, itís very hilly and the roads are very twisty. Itís great that our friends are happy to have us here. It is so nice to not have to crawl out of the tent but to sleep in a bed in a bedroom with a shower and toilet right near it. So Ronnie is busy getting the bike fixed up, we might need some special tools and parts but hopefully it will be ready to go in a couple of days. Today we caught up with friends in Tweed Heads that we hadnít seen for 15 years. It was great seeing them again.

We had a lovely week at our friends Pete and Susy in Currumbin Valley. We slept in a very comfortable bed in a bedroom and we only had open the door and there was a bathroom. No crawling out of the tent on hands and knees for a week and we could just switch the kettle and toaster on and we were treated to the best meals you can imagine! Thanks again for your hospitality Pete and Susy.

Our week in Currumbin Valley was spend ordering parts, walking, exploring, catching up with friends we hadnít seen for years, walking along the beach, shopping, fixing and servicing both bikes, going for test rides, packing our gear back on two bikes and enjoying the peace and quiet. While waiting for the parts for my bike to arrive and dropping off both of the Guzzi wheels to get new tyres fitted, we went to the blood-bank in Robina (Gold Coast). The people were very happy to take our blood and we felt good doing something good. So if you are not afraid of needles, you have no health issues and you want to do something rewarding, go and see your local blood-bank. They are very happy to see you.

On Friday morning we said our goodbyes and headed back inland, it was good to be on the bike again. We had a nice stay at Canungra before we went to Currumbin Valley so we based ourselves at the showgrounds in Canungra for another two nights as we hadnít seen and ridden all the roads in the area yet. We had a look at the St Bernards Hotel in Mount Tamborine where real St Bernard dogs have a very happy life, we rode up and down mountains with beautiful views back onto more mountains or onto the sky line of the Gold Coast. Pretty amazing scenery with stunning and huge houses build onto and into hills.

There are so many small towns in the area and so much to see. In some towns we would explore and I would window-shop while Ronnie chatted to people who came to inspect our bikes. This doesnít happen as much here as it does at home in Western Australia, the people here keep more to themselves, we find. We were amazed at how many people ended up camping at the showgrounds, it happened last week too when we were there.

Custom bike and rider.
Apparently people come here from the Gold Coast to camp for the weekend, escaping the busy and hectic life over there. Two enormous fifth-wheelers pulled up and out came the Webber BBQís, fire pits, big tables, chairs, posh nibbles, beers and real wine glasses. The music was turned up loud and all evening the whole show ground had to listen to their music. The grey nomads camping next to them didnít look impressed.

On Sunday we packed up all our gear, another sunny day. A few weeks back Ronnie read club member Paulís story from his and his wife Kateís trip around Australia in 2008. We complained about the few days of rain we had on the trip, well after reading their story we shouldnít complain anymore. We have been very lucky with the weather. The few days we did have rain we were in a caravan park with a big campersí kitchen and all the facilities. The temperature has been really nice too. Some cool mornings with a bit of frost but during the day always sunny since we left Charters Towers.

We got to Kyogle on Sunday afternoon and have camped at the showgrounds here for four nights for $10 a night. The roads from Canungra to Kyogle were great and very quiet. We rode into the next state: New South Wales and took lots of photographs near Mt Lindesay, itís a shame it is so hazy, they are doing a lot of back burning but it was still beautiful.

In the last few days weíve ridden to Nimbin, Byron Bay, Lismore and Casino with all the towns in between and every day we walk to the local shops to get our supplies for the day. In the last 3 days we have had $6 dinners, and they were good dinners too; meat, vegetables, soup, curries... you can live pretty cheap if you want to and still eat healthy.

After we left Kyogle we rode to Glen Innes. Along the way I must have kicked something with my boot. My foot/shoe got all cold and I looked down to see petrol coming out of the carburetor. I stopped, turned the fuel taps off and hopped on the bike. I thought Ronnie would soon see I was not behind him anymore. He had a lovely time riding the nice road with all the bends and corners. I think I waited for 15 minutes before I could hear him come back. A quick fix and off we went again, he made sure I went up front this time.

How to advertise your cafe - Moo Moo Cafe, northern NSW!
We had a look at the Riderís Rest in Tabulam, a biker-friendly camp spot with other accommodation. Bob, the owner told us it was for sale but he took the time to show us around. A very nice spot with loads of memorabilia but it was only early in the morning so we thanked him and kept riding towards Glen Innes where we booked a motel as the forecast told us it was going to be -5 degrees C that night. No way we are sleeping in a tent in those temperatures.

There was a fish and chips place across the road so dinner was sorted too. The next morning we saw the grass was all white so it had been pretty cold at night.

We took our time to get ready as it was still way too crisp to hop on the bikes. Continental breakfast was included so I enjoyed eating some cereal for a change. For 5 months I have had toast for breakfast as Ronnie doesnít eat anything else and space is limited so I just eat that too.

After strapping everything back on the bikes we had a look at the Standing Stones just out of Glen Innes. The Stones acknowledge the contribution to Australian culture made by people from the Celtic nations like Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

We took the road from Glen Innes to Grafton, the Gwydir Hwy and enjoyed the beautiful scenery through Gibraltar Range national park. We stopped at Raspberry lookout to have our cuppa and started chatting to a couple. They were from Grafton and the guy was into bikes too especially Moto Guzziís. Lots of talking about bikes followed and we asked them about the caravan park where we were planning on staying. They told us not to go there as it was pretty dodgy.

The guy was a member of the classic car club in Grafton and told us there was a car show on this weekend and camping was available at the showgrounds where the show was held. We thanked them and found a nice spot at the show for $10, showers and toilets where there and a food stall. Very nice cars were lined up, lots of 50ís stuff. Looking at the cars gave Ronnie heaps of time to think so maybe one day we end up traveling around Australia in a 1950 Dodge with old caravan.

That night there was a guy who gave us the best entertainment with his singing and all the people dressed up in rock and roll clothes were busy dancing to the music. It was a great evening, very happy and relaxed.
Lots of people arrived early again the next morning for the second day of the show and we had another wander around after packing our gear. We didnít go far that day just to the other end of town to set up our tent at the caravan park where we stayed for two nights. We did a day trip to Yamba and watched the whales breach out of the water while we had our picnic lunch.

Dorringo Steam Railway and Museum.
Our stop the next day was Bellingen. Before we got there we had a look at the Dorrigo Steam Railway and Museum which is not open yet. Heaps and heaps of trains and locomotives are parked in a big paddock for years but the museum is still not operating. You can only have a look at all the trains from a distance. Still very impressive. We zigzagged our way down and are taking all the mountain roads, Ronnie loves all the bends and windy roads but Iím so sick of it sometimes. Canít wait for the straight roads back home in Western Australia ha ha.

Tamworth.We camped at the showgrounds that night which was great, we walked to town and had a look around and got some supplies for dinner.

The next day we took more windy roads to Wauchope, not far from Port Macqaurie and set up our tent for two nights for only $10 a night. We had a look at Port Macquarie where we watched more whales and enjoyed a ride along the beaches and beautiful coastline.

The weather is pretty hot during the day, way too warm for this time of year and they havenít had rain here in such a long time which is good for us of course.

We ended up in Gloucester, took the freeway to get there which was lovely. Straight and smooth and open. It got super-hot on the Saturday and we didnít even start the bikes, way too warm and so very windy. We didnít do much at all, just some washing, reading and walking to town a couple of times. On Sunday we had lunch at Julie and Harryís. Ronnie and Julie worked together in Sydney years ago. We hadnít seen each other for 15 years so it was great to catch up.

Since we have been on the east coast I have wanted to do the Thunderbolts Way, I just really liked the name and wanted to know what it was like. I think it has been my favourite road on this whole trip, Yes, there were bends and corners but also long straights where I could enjoy the views. It went through farm land, bush and had lookouts over the valleys down below. A must do if youíre on a motorbike or in a car or maybe on a push bike.

That night we camped at Lake Glenbawn, not far from Scone, very quiet, loads of kangaroos and on the way there I spotted an echidna. Our last night before we headed to the north of Sydney was spend camping behind the Wollombi pub. Wollombi is a lovely little historic town north of Sydney where we had a wander around at sunset and a beer in the pub.

Antoinet leaving the Berowra Waters ferry.
We didnít have to go far the next day, we were heading for Berowra to stay with dear friends with a stop at the Pie In The Sky cafe at Cowan to meet our friend Dave. The Pie In The Sky cafe is very popular with cyclists and motorbike riders and when people saw we had Western Australian number plates we had lots to talk about. We met 92 year old Jack who still rides motorbikes and is one of  the happiest people you have ever met.
Pie in the Aussie Sky.

So now we are in beautiful Berowra with our friends, weíre getting spoiled. Beautiful food, a bed, shower, washing machine, coffee, cake and everything else you can thing of. We took the train to the city yesterday and had a great time catching up with old colleagues of Ronnie, a girl from Ronnieís hometown and we just enjoyed what ever this beautiful city has to offer; yummy food, coffee, a drink, the Harbour Bridge and the Opera House.

We had another couple of nice days in Berowra, in the far north of Sydney. Ronnie went sailing on the Sydney Harbour with his old boss Sjirk, his son Eric and grandson Oliver. They had a great time catching up and enjoying looking at Sydney from the water. I went with our good friends Dick and Dia to Berowra waters for fish and chips.

Itís a stunning area, we walked along a short bush track to enjoy the views down to Berowra Waters. The next day we hopped in the car and drove down to Wollongong to visit Ian (Ronnieís old workmate and Dick and Diaís son) Ian and his wife have got three beautiful children and it was very nice to catch up over a barbeque and afterwards we went to the park so the kids could have a play. We also had a look at our old house in Bellambi. Nothing much had changed except for the big three-car garage at the back. We used to have an old little wooden shed, it was very low and Ronnie had to take the tyres off our Splitscreen Kombi so we could roll it into the small shed.

The mango and macadamia trees were still in the back yard, how I wish to have mango trees at our place now. Back then the fruit was just falling onto the ground, it was producing so much and I didnít have a clue back then about preserving. Now I would have made chutneys and jams galore. Anyway, it was great driving through our old neighbourhood after so long to have a look what has changed.

Sailing under the Sydney Harbour Bridge.
Monday was a public holiday and we went to Bondi to meet up with Ronnieís old boss Sjirk and nearly all of his family and we also met up with Dick and Diaís other son and partner. The beach was busy with lots of tourists and locals and we sat down on the grass catching up with everyone. It was so windy though and the wind was very cold, fish and chips paper and napkins went flying everywhere and bins were overflowing so we were busy collecting as much as we could to dispose it properly.

I think Bondi beach can do with some more rubbish bins! The next day we took it easy and enjoyed coffee, freshly baked cake in the morning and the rest of the day was spend packing up the bikes because we were heading off again the next day. That evening the four of us went to the Chinese restaurant to have some more nice food.

At about 10 the next morning we were ready to go and said our goodbyes to Dick and Dia. It had been a lovely week, they always make us feel very welcome and itís very nice to stay with them.

We rode down to Berowra Waters ferry, Ronnie hadnít been there yet and really enjoyed with windy road down. The ferry dropped us off on the other side and we had a great day of riding around Sydney. As soon as we were back up onto the escarpment the land turned into farmland. Big properties with big houses and lots of horses.

We rode through Windsor, Richmond, along the Bells Line road. Itís an alternative crossing of the Blue Mountains and I enjoyed every minute of it. We didnít want to ride through Sydney and this was a great alternative. We had our picnic lunch in Lithgow in a park, itís still amazing to see that nearly every town in Australia has got parks with toilets. This park was beautiful with trees and gardens and war memorials.

We kept on going and stopped in Oberon for the night. The Bathurst races were on that weekend so lots of people stay in Oberon and drive the 40 km to the races. We walked through the town that afternoon and enjoyed daylight saving. We didnít have to cook and eat in the dark! So nice, hopefully one day it will happen in Western Australia. We would absolutely love it! The next day was another beautiful and sunny one after a misty start. We left a bit later because the tent was all wet from the dew.
Travelling on around Oz.

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