Touring with Gibbo
Extended Tour # 8:
Central West NSW and the Ranges
The Rallyman Rally @ the Lunatic Hotel, 2018 was a hoot. Only about 200ish people there, as its the first time at this venue, but great! The band Sabotage blew us all away. Onya Kog, a great event. It was very civilised. The first time I have seen a baby at a motorcycle rally.
It does not take much to get my sorry arse on the road, so an invitation have a good look at the central west of NSW in September was hard to resist. They had some rain, but still in drought, and open spaces and an open road well away from the lunacy of the dam Pacific Hwy was way too much to resist. Being a gentleman non-desirous of either beating land speed records or long distance of the same, I decided to break the trip halfway-ish, both there and return.
Day 1: Ashby to Moonbi: (Approx. 350kms)
Anyone who has read any of my tours about New England will know I have a real love of the tablelands, despite the often cold (read freezing), not cool, conditions there. The ride up to Armidale on the Grafton-Armidale Road was one of those days riding where it was just magic. Clear sunny, warm conditions (even up the top at Ebor... I know... wtf!!). It was just the best time in the saddle. Had the stop in at Fusspots at Ebor for the obligatory coffee and chat with other bikers and onward to Moonbi on the New Enlgand Hwy. On the way between Ebor and Armidale I passed, eventually, a convoy of trucks, utes and God knows what, taking goods out west. Onya guys! The ride was almost without incident. I don't know about you, but in the last two years I have too many near misses with kangas... this time between the two Moonbi hills, missed him, or her, by that much. Had to have a cup of coffee at the Moonbi general store to settle the jaded nerves, then out to my mates place in the Moonbi foothills. Even here in New England and its foothills...dry as... not a blade of grace.
Day 2: Moonbi to Parkes (Approx. 450kms)
Another good day in the saddle. I went the road less traveled as per usual. So Moonbi -> Nemingah (just short of Tamworth, or Tamworthless as I call it) turn left onto the Nundle Rd. and right at the first roundabout, this will bring you through Calala on Calala Ln., on, turn left back onto the New England Hwy. and right past the huge Country Music complex onto Burgmanns Ln., left at the T intersection onto the Werris Creek Road. This avoids Tamworth entirely, which is about the best thing you can do. The best view of Tamworthless is in your revision mirror!
Continue to just before Werris Creek and turn right onto Gap Rd., just before the railway crossing and follow the signs to Premer. There are a cpl of doglegs and lots of rail crossings, slow down, some don't have gates, so be 'wheelie wheelie' careful.
Continue past Premer (don't turn left into Premer) and left onto the Black Stump Hwy. This takes you to Coolar. Not a bad place to fuel up with 98 as there is not much about. The top service station has it, but not the shell at the bottom of town. There a few place to eat. The bakery is not bad. Continue to the intersection of Black Stump and Golden Hwys. This is where the Black Stump meets the Golden Hwy, meets the Castlereagh Hwy. There a couple of options, but the best is probably to turn left onto the Castlereagh Hwy., riding south to Gulgong, turn left onto the Gooma Rd., through to Wellington. Gulgong is worth a stop and look... Sort of a lost in time town (quite deliberately for tourism). Henry Lawson lived In Gulgong briefly and it appeared as a montage with him on the original $10 bill.
Once in Wellington, find Bushrangers Creek Rd., and turn left onto Renshaw McGirr Way, which will take you into Parkes. The thing I like about these road away from the coast, is the surface is pretty good and there is NO TRAFFIC! Just do your thing, bike and road... No hassles at all.
Day 3: Parkes, Forbes and Surrounds: (approx. 250kms all up)
OK, tourists bits first:
The Parkes War Memorial is worth a look, both for the size of the memorial and the view you will get of the surrounding area. Just continue up Bushman's St. to the end. It's pretty dam impressive.
"The Dish"! Of course we everyone wants to see it, and yes I did. Head out the dreaded Newelle Hwy., turning right on, yeah you guessed it... 'Telescope Rd.', The Dish is about 25kms north of Parkes. The information centre is quite good, but you cannot get very close to the telescope, as it is a working station, and I was quite surprised how small it was. I was expected something a lot bigger, obviously due to the movie, but it's worth a look for sure.
Off to Cowra. The information centre is Cowra has an excellent 3D ongoing show about the Cowra Breakout. It really is worth a look and a ride out to the cemetery and location of what was the camp. There is little left now but you can still make some of it out. There were 4,000 axis POWS here, of them were Italians, even though what we hear about is the Japanese. Speaking of which, you must visit the Japanese Garden and Cultural Centre. It is excellent. The walk round the garden is pretty easy, even for someone in leathers. It's a great places to just chill!
Australia's World Peace Bell. This is located in Darling St. Normally, you find these in capital cities of the world, but the Australian one is here in Cowra. It was awarded to Cowra in 1992 because of Cowra's long standing contribution to world peace and international understanding.
Off to Forbes. It's about 90kms north west of Cowra along the Lachlan Valley Way. The thing about Forbes, is it reminds me of wealthy inland towns like Ballarat and Bendigo in Victoria. The wealth here is obvious from the quality of the old buildings. It's worth a ride round the streets just to check it out. The back to Parkes.
The thing about this trip was I was expecting to see nothing bur drought. What I saw was a 'green drought', which for us coastal folk means there was enough rain to germinate the deed, but not enough to get a crop. It will all be cut for fodder. Pretty dam heartbreaking.
The Return Journey:
Basically I retraced my steps but made different stops.
I can recommend the White Rose Cafe, in the main drag in Dunnedo, which is just off the three intersection I mentioned above. The Currabubula Pub is a ripper. This between Werris Creek and Tamworthless on the Werris Creek Rd.
All up a a great 5 day ride with no traffic and no stress... kewl!
The 3 ways outside Dunnedo
The Japanese Gardens
Cowra Peace Bell