It was time to say goodbye to the rural stop over in Port Macquarie and time to hit the road once more. Can't get too comfortable!
Due to local talk about a 4wd and caravan having skidded and come to grief along the Oxley hwy due to the frost and snow, I decided that it was a little safer to take the coastal route at this time of year. Whether that was a good idea or not, I'm not sure, but after solid roadworks along a highway between Port macca and Coffs Harbour (2 hours worth), I'd had enough and was really wanting something worth while to break up the monotony....
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Enter the banana. The BIG banana! I don't know what was more amusing, the banana section that you could walk inside it, ir the soft toys "suction banana" hanging on the window.... the mind can sure run wild when bored! ESPECIALLY when they call this place the Big Banana Fun Park!
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I was a little dissapointed that they had taken all parks away from the front of the banana, so you couldn't park your bike in front of it to get a better idea of the scale of the big item - in this case, it may be that my head is very big, or the banana not as big
After so much boring straights I was after something more squiggly, and managed to get up Bruxner Park Road, towards the Sealy Lookout. I'd heard nice things about this view, so up I went. It wasn't long until the squiggles became very tight and all blind corners, snaking through banana plantations.
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Banana plantations were interrupted by some very rich people's lands overlooking the Coffs Harbour & beaches.
Lucky devils, what an amazing blue and aqua coloured sea!
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The descent from the lookout back through the roads of Orara State Forest were pretty special, and reminded me much of some areas in Victoria, minus the sub-zero temperatures! Like Viccie or the Royal Nat Park of Syd, the road condition itself was fine but here the road moss was prevalent as well as leaf debris on the road. So some caution still required. The prettiest thing was the small creeks were running. Usually this place is always under drought.
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Popping out from the lush rainforest of Coff's coast it was onwards to Longreach for an early lunch & obligatory stop to visit one of the best up-kept BIG items - The BIG dog/dingo. It looked in better condition than other BIG structures I've encountered, especially for such a little town.
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Here I finally realised that I was beginning to 'come home' into my turf. Because there was copious sun and I was having to strip off layers - 3 to be exact. Three jackets were off! By a couple of hours later and another fuel stop, another 2 came off as well. I love sun and 20 degree days!!
From Grafton through the "Slumberland" ... I mean.... Summerland Way .... to Casino I was having to invent all sorts of mind games to stay awake. This piece of 100km stretch of road has got to be one of the most boring, both physically and visually. I struggle to stay focused and I count down the kms till Casino.
By this stage, just like a puppy dog having smelt the scent trail of their fave toy, I was making headway closer to the QLD border and didn't bother to stop for a break in Casino. Decided that it would be best to skip Kyogle and go through Lismore and through The Channon for some visual stimulation. As well a bike vibrations.... caused by the very rough road surface - the bumps would keep me awake!
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(must be the day for phallic icons throughout my travels.... The Pinnacle rocks at The Channon)
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Through the The Channon, Nimbin and Kyogle road, the surfaces are shocking to the point where the creative locals have taken to highlight hotholes with some cute art. Sometimes it was quite elaborate with Dreamtime serpents and hopscotch checker patterns.
By this stage in the afternoon and progressively getting closer and closer to the state border, I remembered a well known cafe for bikers, hippies and hipsters alike in Mt Burrell called the Sphinx Rock Cafe, where the have the best dessert range (raw, gluten free, full fat, no fat, vegan, paleo, sugar-laden, hand made, home cooked, fresh) and the BEST chai lattes I've ever had, was open. As a deserved rest and treat, I woofed my brownie & chai so fast I didn't even have a chance to take a photo!
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The view from Sphinx Rock Cafe, Mt Burrell, NSW. Probably need a little bit of imagination to get the Sphinx relief from the mountain face, but its defense, it wasn't the best light to take the photo.
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Happy tapeworm in tummy and renewed sugar-fueled strength for the last push to the border, I saddled back on and rode towards one of my favourite roads - Zara Road near Murwillumbah, NSW. This road used to be 'unrestricted' but as I found out they had now put on an 80km/hr speed limit! noooooo! What a way to be a kill-joy
But I regress, this road is an absolute visual delight, in any light. The location, handling, and visual stimulation certainly helps keep any rider alert and amused. There are some corners that are fun for pure riding sake, and other corners that you come out of makes you take a longer look just to absorb the natural vistas.
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I'm glad I waited a couple of extra days to pass the wet weather, for I had to ride through a few over-topped causeways in the area. I would have hated to try these out when it was in full wet!
(Tomorrow part 2).