Touring with Gibbo
Extended Tour # 9
This run had been planned for some time... in fact ever since the February's AGM. Rocket was the RC this time and I have to say did a hell of a lot of planning to make this work for members... quite a bit of which just didn't happen, but that's life on the road, one has to be flexible.
I had just returned from Cooktown on the Victory (yes I have an understanding wife) and decided to take the Vulcan 900. You have the share the love and it has heated handgrips. In a word they are brilliant in cold weather, which is what it seemed we were facing. Bill, who was my ride buddy to Cooktown, decided he needed to go home to Vic. straight into Covid lockdown. Sometimes you zig when ya shuda zagged.
The basic plot was to ride to Wellington (Wello) and do some wineries and have a good 'butchers hook' around the area. I have been in the area before, with Parks and Forbes etc., as are set out in other tours here.
The plot was a group from the north (four of us) would meet with the 2 punters from the south (Sydney) at Wello... and do our thing on bikes. The weather forecast well, wasn't the best, but well we do what we have to do. The Sydney boys road up on the day, well they were supposed to, but Dave slacked off and came a day later... Truly... priorities!
Day 1: June 2nd Squeakygate Retreat to Currabubula (460kms)
The Gwyder is the only way up the ranges atm, due to road works on the Armidale Road, so I met the lads from the north Roothy, Wiffo and Kog at Glen Innes for lunch. Dam if we did not arrive within 5 mins of each other, all whingeing about the bloody road works on the way. For me there were 10 lots between my digs and Glen.... bloody frustrating, all due to the recent floods, it's just how it is... Apparently, recently some drongo decided to stop and take pics, half way through the road works, rather than just keep going, on the 'green light' and almost got cleaned up by the next lot of traffic coming from the other direction, and now each set of road works has to have a pilot vehicle... common sense sometimes just ain't that common. Likely caravan owner I suspect.
We had a hearty lunch at The Local in Glen... good spot with good grub...it's a bit 'hipster' for me, but that's fine... all else is good.
Off we rode south down the Newie, a road that we know like the back of our hands, skirting Tamworthless via Nemingha, turn left at the pub onto the Nundle Road, right at the first roundabout, left on the Newie and then right on Burgmanns Road. It may be worth filling the tank, there is however fuel in Werris Creek and Coolah. Its a short trip from Tamworth to our digs at the Curra Pub, Currabubula, though heading due west into the setting sun was not that delightful. Note to self, never ride west toward sundown!
Despite the fact I had booked the rooms in The Curra Pub 3 weeks before the date and had confirmed that morning only 1 of the upstairs rooms has been made up and 3 of us would have to venture across to the house the pub own across the road. Truly there is no excuse for this sort of poor management. I due the short straw and got the pub room. On the positive side the dinner was excellent... well done cook.
Day 2: June 3rd Currabubula to Wellington (280kms)
The weather forecast for this day was, in a word, crap... and BOM got it spot on. We all (except Kog) had our wet weather clobber on, Roothy being resplendent in lime green attire (be seen be safe, sure was) all dressed for the 'occasion', except Kog, who has no nerve endings to speak of.
It was cold and drizzling as we left Currabubula, which is OK, it sort of improved at Werris Creek for breaky at Cafe on Single (good spot) and then as we rode more it just got worse. As usual, we took the road less travelled, passing Premer, left onto the 'Black Stump Hwy., and then the dogleg before Dunedo and down the Castlereagh to Gulgong for lunch. Well between Werris Creek and Premer, there are lots of floodways, I was leading. I had past knowledge of having got into a spot of bother on a previous tour with water in floodways, so I took them all very carefully, none had water, until a dip that did not say floodway which I took at touring speeds and yes it did have water, bastard... beautiful, so much for dry socks. The section down the Castlereagh, well it pissed down, I mean seriously pissed down. Next to zero visibility and OMG, challenging. We road into Gulgong and were welcomed at the Prince of Wales Pub. I have to take my hat off to the guys there... thanks, you were awesome. The bar staff just put a sign next to us saying 'the floor is wet and slippery'... and yes it was and so were we, and the staff got another wood heater going for us to dry out nearby... bloody marvellous.
Now my mate Kog does not wear wet weather gear as I said, he says he doesn't need it and he does not get cold... Bullshit! He was wet through, and unless he had just started practising some new of dance style, I would say he was shivering... big time. For me the very expensive Held riding outfit was warm and dry, pity I couldn't see a bloody thing on the road. After a great lunch we headed off to Wello, yeah more rain which had just about stopped by the time we squelched into our digs. Rocket (RC) had booked us into the Mandalay Motel for the duration of our stay in Wello and I have to say Sandy and Adele (managers) looked after us brilliantly. Most of us left the heaters on all night trying to dry out, well everything. Rocket had booked us into one of the local pubs for dinner, The Cow and Calf, I kid you not... so someone spent $2.50 on consultancy fees to dream that up... not that it mattered the grub was fine and the beer cold... and a thousand beers later....
Day 3: June 4th Wellington to spots about and back (120kms)
After breaky at Arthur's View Cafe (OK), we set off to Bunnamagoo Estate Wines. Rocket had booked us into another winery, but we didn't make the time. I really don't get it.. Australia has a glut of wines and some wineries make small groups book in, and they have a a tasting fee as well... madness! I have been to a few thousand wineries over the years and its takes a fair bit to impress me, especially when the cellar door prices are batshit crazy... and this did not in anyway change my view. Some of the lads liked it, and bought plonk. Kog ate nuts and drank water. No wine passed his lips, 0.0 officer for Kog.
We ventured back to Gulgong to frequent the Prince of Wales Pub again, since they had been so good to us on the previous day. We also met up the 'Stan' an old mate of ours who most of us had not seen since UNEMCC days at Uni some 42 years previous. And... Dave finally made an appearance on his Indian Springfield... just a tiny bit late.
Off we rode to the Cellar by Gilbert, in Mudgee, well actually not...there is a cheese shop at the side of the winery, that's what we were looking for, and the staff at the Cellar we not at all keen on us. In fact, they closed the doors so we could not re-enter after visiting the cheese shop... and us mostly respectable retired gentleman and all. I don't understand that frown your have on your face young lady. Was it something we said? The cheese shop is awesome and yup most of us bought some. If you love your cheeses, go there. My fav is the smoked cheddar... seriously yum.
Back in Wello, Dave and I decided since it was particularly cold, rum may be just the ticket. I convinced him (and he did argue) that the way to go was Captain Morgan's Dark Spiced Rum... needless to say the bottle didn't last long that night. Many had not tasted this particular medicine previously... and are now addicted. Makes total sense to me.
That night we dined at the Wellington Soldier's Memorial Club... i.e, the local 'Rissol'. Food was fine and the beer cold.
Day 4: June 5th Wellington to spots about and back (220kms)
We headed off to Stuart Town and the famous Ironbark Hotel. Stuart Town used to be called Ironbark as in the 'Man from Ironbark', unfortunately we were too early for lemonades to be had, so we rode on to Yeoval, nice back roads and good to fair surface, and The Royal Hotel, then onto Dubbo for lunch. It would appear that all of Dubbo is experiencing road works... I mean everywhere. Avoid it until that's all done... OMG bloody dreadful. We lunched at PK's Bakery (meh) and back to Wello.
It was a really nice day in the saddle, and there was some sun, nice roads and good riding. On arrival back at the motel we were befriended by lady. Now this has happened before on rides, but it was all a bit odd. She gave us alcohol (what could she have in mind) which we all tasted... serious rocket fuel which I still have safely stored away (no I have not drunk any here) to take on the next run. I think I will keep the bottle labelled Moonshine for the next AGM, or perhaps if I can only get 91 fuel, I could put it in the tank as an additive. Thanks anyway for your generosity. The bottles are in safe hands.
Day 5: June 6th Wellington to Glen Innes. (520kms)
We had an early and bloody freezing start. We had a fair way to go and we were not sure how the weather would pan out. I had 9 layers on, yeah I counted them, Kog had 3. Thank God for heated handgrips.. Love 'em. It turned out to be a good plan and it was seriously cold. In fact we woke up to a heavy frost all over the bikes. Breaky at The Coolah Bakery (been there before and it's a good spot... their Pepper Pie is to die for) and ride back the way we came to Glen, well except for Roothy (leading) missing the right turn onto Burgmanns Road (well its not that well signed) and we visited Tamworthless, kewl... not!
Then up the Newie stopping for lunch at the Bendemeer Hotel. Now we know the Bende quite well having had two previous AGM's there. It's under new ownership and they are doing a fine job. We may go back there for another AGM yet. Then off to Glen, where I had booked digs at the Great Central Hotel. Oddly, it is closed between 3 and 5pm on a Sunday, so we parked our bikes undercover and walked across the road to the Imperial Hotel and had several lemonades round a roaring fire to warm the cockles.
Back we went to our digs (now open). I have had a bit of a good and bad relationship with the Great Central Hotel. Glen is cold in winter, this is not a mystery to anyone. Why a publican would think that it was OK not to have a heater in a room is beyond me. The other lads had one and I did not, not happy Jan! After some pointed discussion, one was found, a room with said heater that is... and you cannot beat a lecy blankey... The Great Central is generally OK to good... I still have mixed feelings about it, but the food was good and now I had a warm room.
Day 6: June 7th Glen Innes to Squeakygate Retreat. (222kms)
It turned out not to be as cold as BOM predicted, a good thing, and the ride down the mountain was nice, but wet and slippery. My rear tyre on the Vulcan was just about stuffed and I knew all about that especially around the roadwork areas. Next item of business, new Marathon. I got 19,000kms out of this one, so I can't complain. It was good to get down the ranges to warm weather again and back to good ol' Squeakygate Retreat... So where next... Urunga in early September and I am the RC this time... What could possibly go wrong!
The Curra Pub
Excitement... A train approaches outside the Curra Pub.
One wet and very dirty Vulcan after lots of roadwork and tons of rain.
The famous Ironbark Hotel at Stuart Town.
Yup that's cold, and so will be my arse when I sit on it.
Bunnamagoo Estate Winery.. very posh and good service, but nothing special about the plonk.
A friendly gesture to our mate in lockdown, Bill. He just 'loves' Aldi. Think of the savings.
The 'green machine'. Safety first!