Touring with Gibbo:
Again, this was not my fault. The blame lies entirely with Bill, the VP of the UNEMCC, and the rest of us for thinking this would be a good idea. We were, without doubt, more than a little unlucky with the weather in mid May 2019, but, the ski season does start few weeks after the planed run, and this means snow and cold. So... yeah we were nuts. The plan was to spend three nights at the Buckely's Crossing Pub in Dalgety NSW on the southern highlands and ride for 2 days round the area... The plan was good but the weather was at best dreadful and freaking cold.
Day 1: Ashby to Moonbi: (Approx. 350kms)
See Extended Tour 8 for this section. I would add two details. Beware of two corners. There is a left hander about 8kms out of South Grafton which is not marked and should be. It's a 65km type at best and difficult. About 1/3 the way up the twisties there is a 45kms left hander which is just swiss cheese. It's a poorly repaired corner. You will know it when you see it. Treat with care.
Day 2: Moonbi to Sofala (Approx. 390kms)
I did 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., turn left back onto the New England Hwy. Continue to Willow Tree. I stopped for a late breaky at la chikky Cottage, in Willow Tree. Yeah I know not the first place you would expect to see me walk into, and it is for chicks... full of 'girly stuff', but Kirilee serves a decent coffee and toasted sambo. You may have trouble dragging your lady out of there.
Turn right onto the Willow Tree / Merriwa Road. This is a generally good road with little traffic. I just love riding out in the Liverpool Plains. Great roads, nice curves and no traffic... It's awesome. There is two sections that are being widened and and sealed now. All up this is about 5kms of roads in progress, i.e., dirt. A road worker told me that this would all be completed by July 2019, so then it will be black top all the way.
Turn right at Merriwa taking the Golden Hwy/B84 past Cassilis, turning left to take the Ulan Road to Mudge. Then take B55 Castlereagh Hwy to Ilford.
Alternatively, about 8kms west of Merriwa, turn left and take the Bylong Way to Rylstone and Kandos, then to Ilford.
Turn right at Ilford and take the Ilford/Sofala Road to Sofala.
I stayed at the Royal Hotel In Sofala, a very old pub with basic accommodation. It was $40 a night; you get what you pay for, including no power outlets to charge your phone in your room. There is little to eat at Sofala. The Cafe across the road the Painted Horse Cafe, closes at 3pm and is pretty expensive. The pub does not serve meals. If I did it again I would push onto Bathurst, but overall a great way south.
At Sofala, BOM looked awful for the rest of the run, and so quick texts and phone calls moved the destination from Dalgety to the 'warmer' Eden. That was a good decision. We were very concerned about black ice on corners.
Day 3: Sofala to Eden. (Approx. 670kms)
I started at sparrows, 6.45am dawn as the locals were forecasting snow at Wattle Flat and BOM was forecasting snow down to 1,100 m (Wattle Flat is 1,060m), but that was forecast for late morning. It started raining as a packed the bike... so an awesome start. Took it easy over the hills to Bathurst with just rain, kangas and renegade sheep to worry about. I then rode past Mt. Panorama, to Goulburn through Trunkey Creek and Crookwell. It was just plane freezing. The road itself is very good and would be a fun ride in summer. Goulburn was a bit warmer. The signs to the coast through Braidwood to Batemans Bay at Goulburn are pathetic... Ride across the road to the M31 a block, turn right and follow the railway line until you see the overpass, turn left and follow that road to Braidwood, then after Braidwood turn left on the Kingsway. Be careful on Kingsway down to Batemans Bay. This is the shortest road from Canberra to the coast... Need I say more... Beaurocrats! The last bit down to Bateman's Bay is tight and awesome but has significant speed restrictions... and it feels so much warmer on the coast. Be careful.
When you hit the Princes Hwy./A1, turn right. Its 200kms from there to Eden. It's slow with quite a lot of traffic and several towns. I would definitely not travel the Princes in holiday periods... It must be just dreadful. I made it to Eden by 3.30pm.
We had 8 members make it to our digs in Eden. The last two from the Castlemaine Vic arrived at 7.30pm in the very cold rain. A tough day in the saddle for all. Kog was 2 hrs behind me coming from the north. He did 800kms that day closely followed by the Castlemaine lads on 730kms.
Day 4: Eden to Bombala to Eden. (Approx. 200kms)
Given the huge day before we decided a short day in the saddle was the go. We decided to go to Bombala for lunch, some 75kms east of the original destination Dalgety, and yes it was bloody cold. We rode south and took the Princes Hwy. to Narrabarba, turning right taking the Imlay Rd. and Monaro Hwy/B23 to Bombala. It's a good road with lots 75kms curves. Beware of the tree litter, there can be quite a lot in some places.
After lunch at the pub, we took the Cattle Bay Rd. Back down to the Princes Hwy. This is a great road with some lovely tight corners. Just be a bit careful east of Mt. Darragh, the road can be wet and slippery. We turned right onto the A1, and shuffled back to Eden.
Day 5: Eden to Bermagui to Eden. (Approx. 250kms)
We decided to try to remain as warm as possible on the second day and stay on the coast taking the coast roads up to Bermagui, then back the A1 to Eden. We took the A1 north from Eden and then 20kms north turn right to take Arthur Kaine Drive to Merimbula, then continue north through Tura Beach along the Sapphire Coast Drive. Turn right at the T intersection to the Tarthra Road and left in Tarthra to take the Tathra-Bermagui Rd. This will take you all the way to Bermagui. The road is just a lovely short run north. In school holidays it will be crowded, but it was fine when we did it. Just a lovely piece of coastal road through national parks. We had lunch at the marina. Some of the boys decided prawn destruction was the go.
Continue north on the Wallaga Lake Rd, turn left onto the Cobargo Bermagui Rd. which will bring you to Cobargo and back on the A1. Turn left to head south back to Eden.
We stopped at the Bega Cheese factory on the way back. I have been to several really great cheese factories, but this is not one. I would not bother. The cheeses available for tasting were all cheddar and the ploughman's lunch some of the boys had, was pretty dam ordinary. Give it a miss. On the way back to our digs we stopped in at the wharf at Eden. Good spot and some really impressive vessels there.
Day 6: Heading Home: Eden to Karuah. (Approx. 780kms)
This was always going to be a big day in the saddle. Kog and I wanted to get back to northern NSW and not have a huge last day. All 6 of us left at daybreak, cold and clear skies until about Pambula and the fog set in, serious fog, only broken at times by riding out of the fog into massive sun glare. It was pretty tough riding until about Narooma. I am used to riding in fog, we get it all the time in the Clarence, but the Sydney boys were not happy campers. "I didn't have to worry about the skippies, because I could see any in the fog!" Yeah, I was leading and copped a spray from the boys when we stopped for breakfast. It was tough and yes visibility was shit, but I have been through worse. When you are in fog... you can either lift your visor and keep going slowly, or stop and wait for a couple of hours for it to clear. What esle can you do!
We continued north on the A1 through Nowra, round Wollongong picking up the M1. North of Wollongong take the Picton Road/B88 which will bring you out onto the Hume/M31. Turn right there and head to Sydney and take the M7 and then M2. Turn left onto Pennant Hills Road, yeah I know, it sucks, but it's only 8kms, then right onto the M1 motorway north. At the end of the M1 turn right to Hexham and and left across the bridge through to Raymond Terrace. Karuah is 30kms north of Raymond Terrace just off the Pacific Hwy/A1. The Big4 Caravan Park was recommended by one of the boys, but was unimpressive and expensive for what we got in the cabin. Reception staff do need to be trained to smile. They seem grumpy in every caravan park I have stayed in recently. The local RSL was excellent with good quality meals and beers at reasonable prices. They have a courtesy bus, which is handy. After a huge day in the saddle, I did not want to get on the Vulcan until the next day.
Day 7: Karuah to Ashby. (Approx. 475kms)
We had a good early start and kept going all morning. I arrived home at 1.30pm.
Overall, it was a great run. I did almost spot on 3,000kms. If we had done the run a week earlier when the weather was more agreeable, it would have been awesome. I have been to Dalgety a few times and the roads round there are great, as were most of the roads I traveled on on this run. There is no chance at all I would ride the Princes Hwy in any school holidays, it will be dreadful.
The club tries to do one big run a year and so far we have done just that. Next time, if its cold, I am heading north and not far from the warmth of the coast. Being refrigerated on two wheels is not my gig, even with excellent quality riding gear. Gettting to old for that.
I love riding the Liverpool Plains
The weather map. This is what we were facing... ouch!!
Bermagui Prawns being masacated. They didnt stand a chance.
The Bega Cheese factory sales room... unimpressive!
Eden Wharf... imprressive!
The 'usual suspects' of the UNEMCC at Eden wharf... unimpressive!
The new bike gear... Thank God, its warm!
Eden and the beach... Impressive if cold.