Australia - East Coast - North bound
December 14, 2006
So. After 3.5 days, 1700 km’s, 1 x $350 speeding fine, 1 x dropped bike, stuck in sand, some really really amazing riding and some pretty boring freeway (hence the fine), I’m finally at the most northern point of my trip. Hervey Bay right next to Fraser Island.
Set out from Sydney pretty late in the day on Monday and headed over the harbour bridge and up the Pacific Highway. Take in a nice ride through a national park just north of the city on the old pacific highway. Decide to get some distance done and get back to the free way. Heading for Seal Rocks, recommended by Craig’s friend Suze.
Rode for most of the day nipping off the highway for “Tourist Drives” which are pretty good in NSW. Pass a nice view and head down the hill to turn around. Take the junction slow since I’m still getting used to all the weight and manage to stall the bike whilst pulling out. Tried to catch it but too heavy and positioned in the wrong way so it goes down. Oops! Had to flag down a friendly local to help pick the beast up again. Few dings and scratches on the engine block but nothing too serious. The view was rubbish when I finally got back to look.
Head on over towards seal rocks. Just as it’s starting to get dark the road disappears and turns into loose gravel. Not the best surface for motorbikes! Especially in the dark. Was also running rather low on fuel, just another minor problem… Stand around for a few minutes pondering the situation. Decide to screw it and ride on, can’t be that far and this is an adventure after all. Get to seal rocks after a few k’s of hills and dodgy bends to find that I had in fact confused it with the next nights stop and there was only camping. Which would have been fine, except I had decided to leave Craig’s tent with him because it was too big. Ride back out feeling more confident now that I’ve taken my sun glasses off and can see the road ;)
Ride on through the forest in the dark towards what I’m hoping is a large enough town to have a late opening petrol station. All the time thinking about the rather frequent use of Kangaroo signs and lack of bull bars on motorbikes. End up staying in a motel in a small town called Forster-Tuncurry with not alot going on, so early night.
Heading for Byron Bay today. Mostly freeway riding since I want to get there and it’s a long ride. Take a few tourist drives but mostly freeway. The 1200GS comes into it’s own. This thing can just EAT road like nothing. The only problem is the ridiculously low speed limit. I mean you can’t get far in a country this size at 100km/h can you? Keep roughly within the limit. Give or take 50km/h or so…
Stop for a stretch and bump into Joff, an English guy riding a PENNY FARTHING around the world! Crazy. Stop and chat to him and another chap and his family for a while. Seems like a nice guy and would have loved to have camped there with him for the night but still have lots of road to ride. I’m sure he’s got a few stories to tell. Check him out at http://www.pennyfarthingworldtour.com/
Stop in K-Mart to buy a tent. Typically the smallest they have is 3 man and the same size as the one I left in Sydney. Sigh.
Arrive into Byron bay just before dust and head to the lighthouse for the sun set. Bump into a Swiss couple also on a similar bike doing north to south. Spent some time chatting to a French backpacker on a bench overlooking the beach. Find out the best place to stay and a good place for night life. The place that Suze and the backpacker had recommend was full as was every other hostel in town. End up in a cheap hotel above a bar.
Head on down to The Rails for some beers and live music. This place is cool. It’s got the same vibe as Haight & Ashbury in San Francisco expanded into a town on the beach. Spend the evening drinking with a guy from Melbourne and sample some of the local pies.
Love this place, think I will try and come back on the way back down.
Get up late with a hangover and head on down to the beach for a swim and a little sun. Take a while to dry off in the sun and then grab some brekkie. Feeling much better. Ride out towards Nightcap National Park, the guide book has a great picture in it so find out what it’s all about. Turns into the BEST ride so far. I actually got to ride into the rain forest on a dirt track, amazing. Rode into the national park and leave the bike to hike to nearby Protesters Falls (On account of the logging protests in the 70’s). Walking in the rain forest is something else. The scales everything works on is just mind blowing. There’s these massive tree’s at one end and tiny ants crawling up them at the other. It’s just a magical place that I really can’t understand why anyone would want chop it down.
Spent pretty much the whole day on that detour, but it was definitely worth it. Finally got back to the freeway to make some progress after the best day on the bike yet. Just out of this world.
Arrive around sunset at Surfers Paradise, without actually checking the guide book. OMG. Get me out of this place. Las Vegas on Sea. Rode down the strip and got the hell out. Fine if you’re with a few mates on a drinking binge, but the idea of the trip is to get away from this crap.
Head on up past Brisbane riding for Bribie Island determined to camp. Turns out that it’s a national park with beautiful remote camping and you need a permit and a 4WD blah blah. It’s past dark so decide to give it a try anyway. Ewan MacGregor rode one of these around the world, I’m sure I can ride one down a couple of k’s of dirt track…in the dark.
Well it’s turns out old Ewan had a few advantages. Off road tyres being the first and most important and off road training being the second. Rode for about 1km along very deep sand in the tracks of previous 4WD’s. Get stuck a couple of times and then get really stuck. both wheels deep in sand, I got off and bike it just stayed standing. Wish I’d taken a picture, but have to say it was the last thing on my mind. The engines also getting very hot and so is the back tyre on account of all the wheel spinning. Decide maybe it’s best to turn around, it’s along walk back to town and it’s pitch black out here, no idea where my torch is. With a massive effort I manage to get the bike out of the hole it’s dug itself into and back onto just semi deep sand. Turning it around was another massive feet. Can’t get off, cos it’ll now fall over. Don’t have alot of traction with my feet or the wheels. Do it in the end, just pure determination rather than anything else. Now on the way back, I follow some advise from the guy in the Asses Ears, give it some speed! So now I’m flying, well moving alot faster than I was before down the sand track. Well it worked, because I didn’t get stuck and only nearly fell off a few thousand times. Reached the end of the track totally buzzing with a massive smile on my face. Pretty lucky I turned back too, as I sipped some water from the camel back it ran dry.
Miss the one motel on the island…somehow, maybe I just imagined in on the way through or sometimes they turn their signs off when they go to bed. Getting increasingly concerned because I’m now off the freeway looking for a motel and there doesn’t seem to be one. Finally find one about 10.30pm and settled in with a beer.
Left the motel and took a nice Tourist drive, which aren’t as good now I’m in Queensland for some reason, just stupid routes. One took me off the road and around in a circle just to see a golf course! End’s up being a complete loop back to before the motel. Spent most of the morning on that and it wasn’t that good riding either!
Anyway, got on the freeway and opened it up to get to Fraser for an afternoon swim. Friendly policeman hiding under a bridge thought that my 145km/h wasn’t to his liking. Since it was a 110km/h limit. Don’t see a problem there myself. Ended up $350 lighter for the privilege, expect he’ll be getting a Christmas bonus.
Got to Fraser and found a nice camp site on the beach and booked a day tour of Fraser for tomorrow.
Bought some beers from the drive through bottle shop and sat on the beach in the dark and watched the stars.