Australia - East Coast - South bound
December 19, 2006
Final score: 9 days, 3268 km’s, 2 x Speeding fines, 1 x Dropped bike, 1 x Deep sand incident, some really really really amazing riding and some pretty boring freeway
Wake up about 5ish on account of the heat and light in the tent and get up for a swim. Seaweed seems to have overtaken the beach overnight and so don’t really fancy it in the end and settle for a shower. Pack up the bike and walk into town to get a large hangover relieving breakfast. Take the back roads south heading for Brisbane. Take a tourist drive which sounds nice and turns out the be the one I went on before which was a waste of time. Doh! Get back on the freeway and head towards Byron Bay. Pretty boring freeway riding but just want to get back to Byron for the night.
Arrive at Byron and not surprisingly have trouble finding a room since it’s Saturday night and it’s a popular place to be. Try all the places out of the guide book and everything I pass but to no avail. Decide to ride out of town and see if I can find a place not too far away. Chance upon a motel about 15 mins walk out of town and luckily get the last room. Take it easy for a few hours and then walk into town for some dinner. Eat at a place called Mongers which sells gourmet fish and chips. Fantastic meal of Tuna steak and tempura veggies. Thinking London needs a few of these…Always fancied a restaurant…
Head over to The Rails again and drank with some locals. Met two backpackers from Switzerland, Renaldo and something begging with O…but after a few beers…can’t remember…, and continue drinking with them until the place goes quiet. Move down the road to a bar/club and continue the party. Meet two English backpackers Lauren and Emma, end up partying until early hours.
Loved Byron Bay. Will have to come back for longer in the future.
Get back to my hotel room at 8.30am just in time for shower and power nap before riding the 400k to Armidale.
Take a route recommended by a biker I met on the way North. Lots of waterfalls and good road for biking. Not as good as he’d made it out to be, but then he probably hasn’t done the Great Ocean Road! Still pretty good riding all the same and much better than the freeway.
Stop at a waterfall for some photo’s and take a power nap on a picnic bench.
About 20k’s out from Arimadale I’m cruising along about 120km/h down a hill when a police car comes into view. Shit! Slow down but have no idea what the speed limit is on this road. Keep riding and praying that he’s gonna keep going and not turn around. Not to be. He turns around and follows me for a while before pulling me over. I guess they follow you for a while in case you try to peg it so they can have some sport. He takes my license and spends a long time in his patrol car. I’m starting to think he’s found out about my other misdemeanor and is getting the hand cuffs ready. He finally comes back and hands me a $231 fine. No mention of previous convictions. He finds it all very funny. Strangely I’m not amused.
Seriously consider not bothering to pay either fine, but expect either: 1) Will be arrested at the airport if I ever return to Australia. 2) Rental company will probably just charge my credit card with the fines and an additional “Admin” fee.
Find a cheap place to stay in Armidale, which turns out to be half motel half student accommodation. I’m glad I didn’t go to uni there! What a place.
Wander into town to get some food, only to find the town deserted, guess Sunday’s are pretty quite around here. Suspect that it’s pretty quiet no matter what day of the week. Only two places open are Fried Chicken or Chinese. Opt for Chinese which is not bad, good dim sum. Waitress gives me a strange look when I ask for Chop Sticks, guessing they don’t get too much call for them around here.
Take an early night. I needed it!
Take a look at the map and realise that there isn’t a lot between here and Sydney. Decide to try and make it all the way and take a day trip to the Blue Mountains tomorrow.
Really try very hard for the first hour to stick within the speed limit. Get so bored it’s dangerous because I’m not even concentrating on the road. End up reverting back to riding at a decent speed before I pass out with boredom.
Ride through lots of small towns and nice national parks. Roads are good although the road surface is atrocious at times, especially on bends! Get some great riding up and down the hills of the national parks and scrap the GS’s pegs on a few corners.
About 200k out of Sydney I head for Wollemi National Park because it looks like good riding country only to divert when I see signs for the Hunter Valley where they make lots of wine.
Hunter is nice and mean to stop and buy some wine but get the “I’ll just stop at the next one” syndrome until I run out of Vineyards, which are called Winery’s here…is that even a word? Can’t be bothered to turn around since I’ve got lots of k’s to do and it’s getting late.
Take a diversion because I want to postpone getting back onto the freeway as long as possible. My map’s too big a scale to mark things like ferries and so ride past the road I need and into the hills. Turn back about 15k later when the road disappears. Surprised to find that the ferry across the river is free and even more surprised to find it’s still working at 7.30pm. Meet a nice chap in a car who insists that I follow him until there are signs for Sydney. Which I’m more than happy to do just to get home at a reasonable hour. Roads are getting pretty congested and the speed limit is also very low. Most of it 60km/h yawn!
Get back to Craig and Caitlin’s house in the dark doing a total of 690ish km’s! Originally thought that Ewan and Charlie had it pretty easy on their round the world trip, but these guys did the same 600 odd k’s a day for 3 months and on some roads a lot worse than this…gotta give them some respect for that.
Leave for the Blue Mountains around 11 without the panniers and cruise along the road the guide book recommended. Potentially pretty good riding and it is for a while, but most of the roads have the boring 60km/h speed limit and I don’t feel like getting another ticket.
Get some good views of the blue haze covering the mountains along the way and stop in Mt Victoria for Sushi lunch.
It’s getting late so decide to take the freeway home as have to return the bike by 5.
Arrive at the rental place at 4.45 and hand over the keys. Bikes looking pretty dirty and the chap doesn’t seem to notice the new scratches on engine block so don’t mention it and draw his attention to some other things which I didn’t do.
Signed the papers and walked out the door, so guess I got away with that one.
The end…of the biking…
Overall it’s been a fantastic part of the trip. Met some great people, road some amazing roads and saw some beautiful scenery. I have to say I am pretty relieved to drop the bike off though, will be nice to not have to worry about speeding tickets and bike theft for the rest of the trip.