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Sydney to Stanthorpe

Discussion in 'Roads, Touring, Journeys, and Travel' started by Toecutter, Jul 3, 2006.

  1. Various Ulysses Club Branches have a Rally on every few weeks somewhere in Australia. This is the story of getting to one of them......

    Four of us left early Friday morning 30th June for the Christmas in July Rally put on by the Stanthorpe (QLD) Ulyssians. Our little traveling group was made up of a mix of bikes with a Kawasaki ZRX1200, a Yamaha XJ900 Diversion, a Honda VFR800 and my Aprilia Caponord on its first trip away.

    We left Sydney's Northern Beaches in the pre-dawn darkness and made our way to our first stop for an early morning coffee at Freeman’s Waterhole, just off the F3 Expressway. This was an easy 100 kms ride from home and gets us away from Sydney’s crawling peak hour traffic but as I got off the bike at Freeman’s I smelt something burning. This is not a good sign, so I look around the engine but can’t see anything out of the ordinary, except for some bird feathers behind my bike.

    I don’t remember hitting a bird but something was getting cooked somewhere under the exhaust. On checking around the back of the bike, I find what is left of my goose down filled sleeping bag, now nicely barbequed. I had thought that I had strapped it on to the bike rack good and tight but it must have moved along the way and what was left of it was now hanging off the back of the rack, just above and behind the high mount exhaust pipes (now I know why they sell a rack extender - something else to make).

    After coffee, and throwing away the now charred sleeping bag in the dumpster, we made our way to Bucketts Way, a fairly deserted road on weekdays which we pretty much had to ourselves. It is slowly getting upgraded and some sections are still patches on patches but the main thing is that we are well on our way and traffic will be a thing of the past for the next few days.

    Morning tea (coffee and great rock cakes at the bakery) and fuel at Gloucester, then it’s up Thunderbolts Way. This was my first time “up” Thunderbolts and it didn’t disappoint with plenty of corners that ranged from tight to sweeping.

    Once up the steep middle section, I left the other guys and took the turn off to Nowendoc and headed for some dirt. I mean, why buy a Caponord and not ride on dirt roads. It is about 60kms to Walcha from the turn off with 35kms of dirt. This is an excellent beginner’s dirt road with plenty of turns, but also some long stretches to open her up. There were lots of small stones so I had to keep focused as the back let loose a few times.

    The Capo went really well. My back tyre was a bit worn and did not have an excess of tread, so I took it fairly easy and had no real issues. Back on the tar and the first of many cattle blockades. The tarred section was another hidden treasure and again no traffic the whole length of it.

    After meeting up with the others at Walcha, it's on to Uralla where the others continued along Thunderbolts to Bundarra and our first night stay at Inverell, while I head off to Armidale to go sleeping bag shopping.

    Soon after getting a great deal on a new sub-zero bag, I got to test out my rain gear and the Capo’s wet weather handling as the skies opened up and we got some pretty heavy rain. From Armidale, I headed up to refuel at Guyra, and then took the road to Inverell via Tingha. By this time, the rain had slowed to a drizzle. Even so, the big semis were spraying up what seemed like tonnes of water.

    Despite the rain, the Tingha road is another great run; with the light traffic all moving quickly.

    At Inverell, we settled into our over night accommodation. I’m the only one camping as the other 3 riders had booked into a warm comfy motel.

    After fighting off the local duck population for a grassy campsite, it’s up with the tent, out with the new sleeping bag and then off to the Bowling Club for a great meal, a few drinks and some time to watch the footy on the club’s big screen TV. The new sleeping bag worked well and was warm despite the tent being covered in ice in the morning.

    Saturday morning’s breakfast was at Maccas and we are soon off to Stanthorpe, a leisurely 240km morning trip. The first stretch of road, from Inverell, through Ashford to the Bruxner Highway was really easy riding with almost no other cars. The road just rolls along and is a real pleasure to ride. Mind you, the wind chill factor was really testing my winter gloves. I wonder if they make electric grips for the Caponord?

    After turning east on the Bruxner, we headed towards Mingoola, described as a “locality” on the map. This means that it is a signpost on the side of the road. No township, no houses, just a signpost.

    The next part of the trip was my highlight. Leaving the Bruxner at Mingoola, we crossed into Qld and crossed over nine or ten causeways – unfortunately, none of them had any water running through them so I couldn’t test out the Capo’s water fording capability, but I was glad of the big super soft suspension that handled not only the causeways, but also 15kms of super narrow section of tarred road that wound its way through a few farms and paddocks. At best, it was only nine feet wide ! Talk about proverbial “country lane”.

    Despite, this short narrow section, this road (Shearers Way) from the border to Stanthorpe is one road that I can highly recommend to those who enjoy every road surface imaginable – all sealed, but different varieties of repair and then finishing off into Stanthorpe with a good surface with dozens of fast sweepers.

    The Ulysses’ get together was a great event with around 250 terrific people all living up to our Club's motto and behaving disgracefully.

    After a breakfast with fellow Ulyssians and saying “farewell” till we next meet up, it was time to head home. While the trip up from Sydney was a lot of fun, Monday morning work commitments meant that the trip home was going to be a long all day ride straight down the New England Highway, then Thunderbolts and Buckets Way, just in time to join the Sunday afternoon peak hour crawl back into Sydney.

    All up, around 1,600kms over the 3 days, with plenty of variety in the roads and the conditons to make this a really enjoyable trip away. All the bikes went well, absolutely rapt in the Caponord, with no major dramas, except the barbequed sleeping bag and a front mudguard that committed suicide along Thunderbolts.

    Pics here
  2. The Ullies club huh?

    Showing ya age there son. :LOL:

    Glad to see the Capo went well, now can I pick bikes or can I pick bikes? :LOL:

    Camping in that area in the winter is hardcore mate, Glen Innes claims to be the coldest town in NSW did you know?

    Great ride report old chap ( :LOL: )
  3. Thanks Jaq

    I'm still a Ulysses Junior Member!! Eight more years for Senior Membership :shock:

    Bike went fantastic, plenty of get up and go - yep, you picked a beauty for me :grin:

    Minus five sleeping bag, a few VB sleeping pills and no worries at all about the cold. But riding back through Glenn Innes yesterday morning was freeeezzzzing cold - despite new "winter" gloves the tips of my fingers felt lke they were gonna snap off :eek:
  4. A really great ride report, mate, but I'd have to say this quote:

    "I’m the only one camping as the other 3 riders had booked into a warm comfy motel."

    Shows that you are either brave, or just plain mad!!!

  5. It's like cagers saying, worst thing about motorbikes is that it must be terrible to ride in the rain - and we do it because we can and with the right gear, can still pretty much enjoy the ride.

    I'd planned my trip, had the right gear (but did have to replace some of it :wink: ), and was prepared to camp in freezing temperatures - anyone can stay in a motel :p

    It's all part of the adventure - house on your back and away you ride, off into another day and another thrill or three :cool:
  6. Very nice report, Alex, and I couldn't of said it better myself (re the camping out). It's all part of the adventure.....

    Cheers All....
  7. ...oh, and by the way, Jaq said that those paniers look great....
  8. Thanks for the effort put into that report. I'll have to try that ride myself.
    What a beauty, lucky about the bbq'd sleeping bag so you had to buy a new one. Didn't you say you'd had the other one since you were a school kid? It would have been sad to say g'bye to the (stinky) old friend.