It had been a while since I had visited my Godfather in Brisbane and with a few weeks off, I decided to take the bike on it's first, and my first, big ride. Brisbane and back allowing two days each way, with two days spent in Brisbane. My longest ride up to this point had been from Sydney to Canberra with the return trip two weeks later. With a brand new tank bag in place and a jury rigged double bag on the rear rack, I set forth with a plan of taking the freeway North out of Sydney to just North of Newcastle. About 30 k's past Newcastle I made a left off the freeway onto The Buckett's Way. This road is a narrow one lane each-way country highway with a million potholes that winds it's way Northwards through Stroud and Gloucester before becoming Thunderbolt's Way. Bucketts' was good fun with moderate twists and just a little traffic. On occasion I was required to test my swerving skills as I noticed a large pothole late due to the dappled sun coming through the roadside trees. I also found out that if a Kookaburra flies across the road in front of you and impacts with the hard plastic knuckles of your glove while firmly wrapped around the throttle, it won't be flying away anytime soon. Not exactly a claim to fame I would have liked - "I punched a flying Kookaburra to death". Little did I know that Karma would get me for this one. Upon arriving at Gloucester, a short break and refuel was required before attempting the 140km winding leg to Walcha and then inland. The best way to describe Thunderbolt's Way is like the Old Pacific Highway, but twice as long, almost twice the speed limit and 1/10th the police presence. I was in heaven. The road winds through river valleys and includes spectacular panoramas and gorgeous one-lane river bridges. [img:568:426:eaeabcac24]http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/IMG_0019.jpg[/img:eaeabcac24] The road surface was generally good, there was little non-bike traffic and there was some significant bike traffic. Which was conforting given the remoteness and the fact that I was riding on my own. Every single rider waved or nodded upon passing and the entire ride along the Thunderbolt made me feel like this road was just for bikes. It had all the good things we look for in a road with almost none of the bad things. The Nowandoc store is 1km off the main road and is a good halfway stop between Gloucester and Walcha for a drink and a stretch. [img:568:426:eaeabcac24]http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/IMG_0029.jpg[/img:eaeabcac24] Following this wonderful experience, I continued on through Walcha and rejoined the New England Speed Camera array at Uralla before stopping at Armidale for the night. Felt weird turning up to a Motel with a bike instead of a car.The chicken parmigana at "The Wick" on the north side of town comes highly recommended. Next day, continued along the New England northwards making a point of signalling mobile Police presence to oncoming riders as it was plentiful and in highway patrol mode. I think most of them recognised the patting the top of my helmet symbol(geez, I hope I was using the right signal!). Passed through Glen Innes and at Tenterfield made a right onto the Bruxner Highway towards Casino so that I could take a back way into Brisbane. The Bruxnor is a quiet, well maintained highway that runs through some signifant twists for about 40km out of Tenterfield making it another good fun road. Just after the town of Tabulan, I stopped at a rest area at a road junction heading North. Here the ghost of the unfortunate Kookaburra got some payback. I had rested my helmet on my seat and walked about 10m away to a bench where I placed my lunch. I thought better of leaving my helmet on the seat as the wind was gusty and threatened to send it Earthwards. In the 10 seconds it took to walk to the bike, place the helmet over a mirror and turn around, A crow had descended from a nearby tree and absconded with my lunch! This was more annoying than it would have been normally as it meant another stop if I wanted to avoid starving. Shortly thereafter, I headed north up the southern end of Mt Lindesay Highway towards Woodenbong. Varying from 2 to 1.5 lanes wide, no lines marked in many places, limited signage and varied traffic including some small trucks, this road was challenging and fun. The section through State Forest was absolutely gorgeous and one of the most picturesque roads I have ever seen. There was significant road work in the state forest which made for slow going on the loose gravel and mud. Out of the state forest it was mainly gently winding country roads which was great for getting up some speed. [img:568:426:eaeabcac24]http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/IMG_0031.jpg[/img:eaeabcac24] Immediately out of Woodenbong, the road ascends back into state forest for some extended very-twisty bits. Unfortunately, due to some recent rain and a 20kph caravan in front of me, it was a long slow trek through what under different circumstances would have been a phenomenal section for cornering. This road took me into the back of Brisbane via Beaudesert meaning I had a final 20km suburban traffic section after a long days ride - wasn't the best thing to finish off with. While in Brisbane, I tried the Mt Nebo road - what an outstanding road. As good as Old Pacific Highway road-wise but unfortunately with the same problems with lots of traffic. The new section of road with an almost complete layer of large loose gravel was pretty dangerous and I even got hit in the helmet by a rock from my own front wheel! Stopped at Fernvale on the way back which for those in Sydney is the equivalent of the Road Warriors on the OPH. Highly recommend doing this road if you get a chance. For the return journey I planned on going the boring way and sticking to the Pacific Highway most of the way, more in an effort to save time. If you want to know where our road money is going then drive the Pacific Highway. It was great to see so many major road works but it did make the trip a little excruciating with the regular changing and reduced speed limits. The first divert I made was from Grafton. I turned off into town, took the minor road south out of town and picked up the alternate route to Coffs Harbour via Glenreagh. This was a nice change. The road is 100kph, one lane each way with minimal traffic and is generally good quality sweeping turns. You can maintain 100kph the whole way and have a really good time on the sweepers. This brings you into the back of Coffs Harbour and only costs you about 10km extra. Following this, I stayed on the Highway until Port Macquarie where I turned off and followed the coast road to my family's old holiday spot at North Haven near Laurieton where I stayed the night at a motel on the banks of the Camden Haven river. This allowed me a late afternoon at the beach with a sunset to die for and a morning walk along the breakwater to the beach. I stopped off at the North Brother Mountain lookout as I departed Laurieton for a photo opportunity. A nice way to start the day in preparation for the chaos of the F1 from Newcastle in Sydney and 30kms of Sydney traffic. [img:568:426:eaeabcac24]http://i38.photobucket.com/albums/e121/gegvasco/IMG_0035.jpg[/img:eaeabcac24] One thing I learnt is that while ear plugs are a must for country riding, they can divorce you from your bike. Unbeknownst to me, the cooling fan on my bike had shit itself somewhere during the arrival into Sydney but I couldn't hear the high pitched whine coming from the fan due to the earplugs. The first I knew of it was when at a set of lights I felt a rumbling through the throttle grip. I looked down to see the temperature already above normal and climbing. I had 15kms to go in heavy traffic with lots of time at traffic lights so it was going to be a stuggle. In the end I limped home by turning the bike off as soon as I pulled up and starting it up again as soon as the lights went green. I was relying on the battery to get me home. All in all it was a great trip and I highly recommend getting off the beaten track. Thunderbolt's is an absolutely must do if you are in the area. Doing it on a CBR600 wasn't the best option but I knew that before I left. 600km in a day was the limit for me as by that stage almost everything was hurting.