GRANITE BELT & NORTHERN NSW TRIP
Dec 04 (Ross & Robyn)
How sweet it was to fire up our bikes on Friday morning 23rd and to head off on our loosely planned holiday. First stop was Laidley for a look at the town and a browse through the antique shops. Nice little place it was. Pub looks good too. Had a look through the pretty little Anglican church which is the first one built in stucco in Australia. Very sweet.
Then on to Rosewood for a look, fuel, and then a quick run down the back road towards the Rosevale pub (which housed our famous Christmas Break-up). Back on the highway heading South to Cunningham’s Gap. Fortunately spotted the regulation highway patrol on the lower slopes of Cunningham’s Gap which gave us confidence to open the taps and enjoy the climb the way it was meant to be…..quick!
Closer to Warwick we detoured to Freestone for a country blast until low fuel meant heading to Warwick and our booked accommodation (Jackie Howe Motel). Warwick is quite a town with rather a large shopping mecca, no doubt to service all the surrounding small towns in the Granite Belt. Luckily we had taken the precaution of booking for Christmas lunch at the local Chinese restaurant. It was booked solid and nearly everything else was closed. We spent Christmas morning doing a run to Allora and exploring a few more back roads through the farming areas. Loved the blue sky, the open country and vision across miles of rolling hills and plains. Not much traffic either which left us to concentrate on just enjoying the ride. The Ballabio was stretching its legs, still being run in, but was a dream to ride on the windy country lanes. Couldn’t catch Ross’s Centauro – funny thing that!
Next day the weather got cooler as we headed down to NSW through Killarney. We stopped at Queen Mary Falls and had a walk to the bottom of the ravine and back. Beautiful country. Also had a Devonshire Tea at the Café there and it was yummy. The Falls would be a good run out of Brisy to “do lunch”. From there we sort of followed our noses (wheels) and headed down the back tracks towards Stanthorpe. We did about 40klms of dirt. Was an easy run and this is a nice way to head down to the Ruptured Budgie Rally. We crossed the border and rode into Tenterfield about mid afternoon. Stopped at this groovy little café for a late lunch, called “Destination Feel Good”. It was exactly that. Sort of a bit hip and alternative, selling all sorts of hip and alternative things but the food and coffee was good. Was a lot of fun. Then we decided to do the run to Glen Innes. The roads in Northern NSW are great to bike through – windy and scenic. We planned on spending a few days at Glen Innes – a revisit for Ross as he grew up there. I loved the town, it was like a little bit of England. Lovely old character buildings and heaps of big shade trees. We went out each day and explored somewhere – Emmaville the old mining town that has an absolutely brilliant mining museum and Red Range where there is hardly a soul. Funny thing though, when we hit town all these cars seemed to start driving round and we seemed to find one at every corner…..so much traffic, a whole six cars!!
We had a ball exploring Glen Innes, its history and beautiful landscapes and catching up with some very old firm family friends of Ross’s. The weather was actually cold – thank God we’d packed a warm something! We just about lived in it. Riding out some mornings was as cold as a Brisbane winter – and this was mid December?
From Glen Innes we did a day run down through Inverell and then on to Armidale. Another wonderful city. It seems to be quite an academic place, has a bit of a “learned air” about it. We stayed there in Smith House, a huge old rambling place; a former teachers boarding college or something. It was a real experience and excellent value. Huge room and brekky for $50 double. Do keep it in mind if you head to Armidale.
Next day we went up the country again to Glen Innes and then across towards Grafton. We spent some interesting time at the Gibralter Range National Park where Ross once worked, camped in these tin huts in the bush. He then wanted to show me Mulligan’s Hut, a very old timber cutters cottage. Well, that was a curly one….we did 8klms of pretty rugged bush track to get in to it. I used to be a dirt bike rider but I just didn’t think the big 1100 would take so kindly to the gravel/ruts/off camber skittish corners/etc. She just ate it up. Felt like REAL adventurers! From there we headed towards Grafton and again Ross took a detour!! This time down another narrow dirt range track into the bowels of the rainforest. We parked the bikes, changed into walking gear and headed back up the mountain for a 6 klm hike to revisit some massive old cedar trees he had once come across in his work. It was worth the walk. The bush was magic and the trees, a rare species, quite spectacular. Then it was back the 6klms to our bikes and snaking our way back up the dirt range. Shadows were lengthening when we got to Grafton. We were only a stones throw away from our last stop – a fuel station – when I kissed the bitumen. Pulled up mighty quick last minute at a roundabout (evasive action here) the Ballabio stopped dead in its tracks but I kept going. Hit the kerb good and hard and still thank my decision to trade my cruising jacket in for a body armour variety. It saved the day – and some shoulder and rib bones!! Ended up very sore but able to ride. We stayed the night at the Crown Hotel on the river and it was fabulous. A grand old lady with big wide verandahs and again a very reasonable price.
On New Year’s Eve we headed out, again exploring as many out of the way places as we could. Really enjoyed the country back up towards Murwullimbah. Had lots of fun with a stop in Nimbin….what a grassy joint that is!!! Maybe we looked like compatriots in our leather gear but they certainly thought we must have talked their language…..Talk about Shangri-La, we found it.
Lovely trip back from there to Nerang. It was closer to Qld that we started to strike a fair bit of traffic again. It actually felt strange to be meshed in with cars on the freeway run home. And the Centauro and the Ballabio – wouldn’t go on anything else!!! They loved it as much as we did.