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The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
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Cormanus Offline
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Queensland, Australia
Posts: 10,724
Joined: Dec 2013
Post: #1
The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
Prologue

Rain pelted onto my helmet and visor. It was hard to see where I was going. The sky was nearly black. The trees in the Royal National Park south of Sydney crowded the road, making it even darker and more ominous. Leaf litter and debris was everywhere.

Even though I’d not been riding long, water was starting to creep into places it had no right to be and the tide in my boots was rising.

“How on earth did I get myself into this mess?” I wondered.


Chapter 1
In which Cormanus joins a new riding buddy and heads to Bulga where they join with an old riding buddy

13 March 2017: Brisbane to Tamworth (601.5 kms)*
*Mileage is according to the CB’s odometer and does not align with Google’s estimate.


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Day 1: Link to Map

I took one photo all day, and that was first thing in the morning on the ride south to meet Tezza at the Yamanto Shopping Centre. It’s a photo of what I suspected would be ominous weather ahead.
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It was. By the time I pulled up next to Tezza in the car park it was spitting vigorously. By the time I had my wets on, it was pouring down.

It continued to do that on and off most of the way to Tamworth. We had occasional patches of dry and maybe the odd glimpse of the sun; but basically it rained. It’s a good road, though, and we made good time. Eventually we found a bed in the Tamworth Hotel. The rooms were overpriced, crappy and smelled of paint as the accommodation was being renovated. But the beer was cold and the food was good.


14 March 2017: Tamworth to Sydney (444 kms)
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Day 2: Link to Map

It was a better looking morning, although a dirty great black cloud to the west and a less than optimistic forecast meant we decided on wet weather pants so we’d be half ready if the rain caught up with us. We got moving as there was no breakfast to be had at the hotel and we thought to put in 50 kms or so before refuelling both ourselves and the bikes at Wallabadah.

Arriving in Wallabadah, we passed a couple of cafés and I thought we were in trouble as the town fell away and there was no sign of the promised petrol station. But it soon appeared on the right and we stopped to refuel. A cheerful young woman made us a cup of tea and a toasted sandwich each and we wolfed them down before continuing to Bulga.
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Two CBs at Wallabadah

The weather still didn’t look brilliant, but we stayed dry all the way to Bulga.

I’ve not ridden on the New England Highway south of Tamworth before. It’s pretty enough and does the job of getting you there, but, as part of the joy of motorcycle riding for me are roads less travelled, it would not be my first choice. But it’s better than the main coast road.
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Tezza

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Some New England Highway views

Bulga, as I recall, is little more than a service station, and we arrived there to find Pterodactyl waiting. Unlike us, he had enjoyed a very soggy trip north to meet us: he told us he’d been hailed on twice and made much of the trip in pouring rain.

The young lady in the service station—much less cheerful than her predecessor at Wallabadah—took the money we offered for fuel and water and we made our way onto the Putty Road.
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Heading towards the Putty Road

The Putty Road, an alternative ride north from Sydney, is loved by motorcyclists for a stretch known as the 10 mile. The sign warns of a winding road for 16 kms which is—you guessed it—10 miles. And a splendid 16 kilometre stretch of winding road it is too. Pretty, well made and well surfaced, it’s a rider’s delight. I’ve ridden it south to north a couple of times before, but never the other way.

It’s also Pterodactyl’s home patch and he quickly vanished into the distance with Tezza and I maintaining a more relaxed pace astern. It is, I think, a more agreeable ride north to south, but, hey, it’s good either way.
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Chasing Tezza along the Putty Road

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I passed a milestone on the way

We stopped at the Grey Gum International Café where I had a cup of coffee and an excellent home-made sausage roll and, courtesy of an uncommon mobile signal we looked at the ominous weather swirling about us.

After lunch we dressed up in full wet weather regalia and set out after a Russian-sounding gent on a near new BMW sport machine
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Getting ready to ride

As we approached north Sydney Tezza left us to circle the city on his way further south. He was off to visit his sister and we were to collect him on the way past on Friday. At around that point the rain set in; our preparation being rewarded by a solid and sustained downpour that lasted until we arrived at Pterodactyl’s place. I gathered from Tezza later that he was similarly poured upon all the way to his destination.

One pucker moment: at about 100 kph, I met a tar snake in the middle of my lane. It was running the same way as me and was very wet. The back tyre didn’t like it at all and gave a little flick. The bike wobbled. I started to think “Oh, sh …”, but by then everything was OK again.

I confirmed for myself that my boots are not up to the wet. They were soon full of water.


Chapter 2
In which Cormanus and Pterodactyl make a new friend

15 March 2017: Sydney

As Pterodactyl and I stood in the arrivals hall at Sydney’s international airport, it dawned on us that neither of us had the faintest idea what Inhouse Bob looked like. Nor had either of us taken the sensible step of wearing a CB1100 rally or forum t-shirt. Brilliant!

Inhouse Bob, on the other hand, was much better prepared and emerged from immigration wearing a t-shirt bearing his design for the 2016 CB1100 Rally.

We took him to the bike shop where he was to pick up his rental, all the while thinking it was a courageous thing to pick up a bike that you then had to ride on the wrong side of the road when you had just spent at least 15 hours cooped up in an aerial sardine tin. But Bob’s a brave bloke, and he did it. Luckily, as it turned out, his accommodation was just on the other side of the road and he could travel to it quickly and via back streets.

His rental bike, by the way, was a BMW F700 which the turkey at the rental shop positioned rather trickily for Bob to mount. He was outsmarted though: Bob insisted on a lesson on boarding in tight circumstances, then got aboard and away without mishap.

We left him at his digs to unpack and rest. We would collect him later for a quick drive around a small part of Sydney and one of Mrs Pterodactyl’s splendid dinners.

16 March 2017: Riding on the left (261.6 kms)
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Day 4: Link to Map

As arranged the night before, Pterodactyl and I arrived at Inhouse Bob’s accommodation to take him on a bit of a familiarisation ride. We planned to go across the Sydney Harbour Bridge and then on a favourite local ride north to Wiseman’s Ferry.
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Getting ready to ride at Inhouse Bob’s

The weather was not looking brilliant, although we expected only light showers. Nevertheless, Pterodactyl and I donned our wets while Bob decided to stick with his water resistant riding gear.

It was an uneventful ride across the bridge and for some of the way north out of the city. Pterodactyl and I sandwiched Inhouse Bob between us while he got the hang of being on the wrong side of the road. At some point I realised one of his panniers had come loose at the top and was about to fall off the bike. I had to overtake him and then pull over to get him to stop while we refastened it.

It was about that time that the rain set in. It pelted down and, for ten or fifteen minutes at least, was downright unpleasant to ride in. Eventually, just as we got to a lookout before Wiseman’s Ferry, it cleared. I took this rather watery photo.
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The rain held off while we wound our way down the final hill and the sun came out while we had a coffee (or a Coke in Inhouse Bob’s case). Other similarly soggy riders arrived while we enjoyed the sun. Similarly, it held off while we crossed the Hawkesbury River on the punt.
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The poor shot of Inhouse Bob and Pterodactyl on the Wiseman’s Ferry was it for the photographic department this day. Rain consigned anything that resembled a camera to a very dry place

And it held off until we were settled into our ride along the side of the river whereupon it treated us to another drenching.

Of course it stopped at the Pie in the Sky café where we stopped for a bite to eat and stayed away until after we’d eaten and ridden a little further down the road to refuel. To be honest, I can’t now recall whether it rained again that afternoon, but I’d be kind of surprised if it didn’t. I do know we had gear all over Pterodactyl’s garage drying before the next morning’s adventure.
(This post was last modified: 04-10-2017 08:50 PM by Cormanus.)
04-10-2017 08:47 PM
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Ridem32 Offline
Road Warrior

Mississippi
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Post: #2
The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
Very nice write up


Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk
04-10-2017 09:28 PM
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Cormanus Offline
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Queensland, Australia
Posts: 10,724
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Post: #3
RE: The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
Chapter 3
In which Inhouse Bob, Pterodactyl and Cormanus venture south, make a new acquaintance, enjoy tea, scones and cream and another rider joins the team

17 March 2017: Sydney to Targo (369.5 kms)
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Day 5: Link to Map

Early the next morning we were off again to meet Inhouse Bob. Nothing was left to chance and we left Pterodactyl’s house fully armoured against the rain. Inhouse Bob was similarly prepared when we arrived.

We set off in overcast, but not too appalling conditions and made our way out of Sydney. Our planned ride had to be changed as an inlet in the Royal National Park was closed by flooding, but we had an alternative that would at least allow us to see the southern part of the park. By the time we got to Waterfall, where we entered the park, it was raining again and we dodged the leaf litter and debris as we made our way along what would otherwise have been a most agreeable ride.

At Stanwell Tops we stopped to show Bob the view …
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Photo courtesy of Pterodactyl

… before making our way down the hill to ride along the Seacliff Bridge. There are some photos of that bridge towards the end of [url= http://cb1100forum.com/forum/showthread....pid=163755 - pid163755] this post[/url] but, even though there was much less rain at sea level, my camera was deeply buried.

A quick ride up a hill from which we were going to see nothing, and it was down to sea level again to refuel and meet with aussie59 and his wife. Prudently, they did not arrive on aussie59’s CB, although it would have been good to get a photo of this low-mileage machine. We had to make do with photos of aussie59 and his wife in the dry of the Figtree branch of Macdonalds.
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aussie59, Inhouse Bob, Cormanus, Pterodactyl
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Inhouse Bob, Mrs aussie59, Cormanus, Pterodactyl

The obvious lesson from the morning’s ride was that height and rain intensity were directly proportional. Macquarie Pass—a splendid and beautiful ride from near to Figtree to Robertson—was closed due to flooding, another omen that climbing the range again was not a good plan.

But, unencumbered as I was by reflection on the morning or contemplation of the omens, I led the team up through the Jamberoo Valley to Robertson. It was raining properly at Robertson with reduced visibility and a certain relentlessness. We soldiered on and turned down into Kangaroo Valley, a new road for me and an otherwise pretty and entertaining ride. The nearer we go to the bottom, the more the rain eased and the final leg of the ride to Bomaderry was mostly dry.

Following Tezza’s excellent instructions, we found his sister’s house and were greeted by Sue and Lou with a cup of tea, scones, jam, cream and an inspection of Lou’s car restoration business. Thank you Sue and Lou. It was a welcome respite.

We were also greeted by a limping Tezza. Gravel, rain and weight had conspired to land a heavy weight on his leg. It’s his story to tell.

From Bomaderry we were four on the ride to Tarago. It didn’t rain, but there are no photos as we weren’t game to take off our wet weather gear and my camera was buried somewhere in my luggage.

There’s this photo as we arrived at the Loaded Dog Hotel where we spent the night, warm, fed and lubricated.
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End of Day 1 at the Loaded Dog, Tarago

The Loaded Dog is named for a short story by Australian writer Henry Lawson, which can be read here.

18 March 2017Tarago to Cooma (420 kms)
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Day 6: Link to Map

Inhouse Bob started the day with an introduction to Vegemite. He ate but a smear. Wise man.
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The first part of the day’s ride took us to Canberra, Australia’s capital, where we rode a lap of the Parliament before heading out again and on to Braidwood. Of course, on the way to Braidwood, it started to rain again.
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Tezza bought something from a place called Bob Moto and claimed a sticker for Inhouse Bob’s bike
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On the road to Canberra
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Approaching the Parliament which is built into a hill

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And now, the moment we’ve all been expecting: wets on. No more photos!

At Braidwood we stopped for a cup of coffee and food for some. If I lived in Braidwood, I’d have to go there at least once each day. Over coffee, Pterodactyl explained that the ride around Canberra had not been quite what he hoped as a bit of his audio set up malfunctioned and he couldn’t hear his GPS. We were also derailed, as it were, by road closures which meant at least one view point I wanted to take in was inaccessible.

We also refuelled and set off with Pterodactyl in the lead in search of a back road that would take us to Cooma where we were to meet noroomtomove.

Knowing Pterodactyl had ridden the route before I didn’t worry when he sailed past a sign pointing to Cooma. I’d already forgotten about the malfunction in the GPS set up.

We made our way down what could be a lovely road if it weren’t pouring with rain until we came almost to Araluen where Pterodactyl pulled over beside an intersection. He confessed he’d missed the turn off. GPS and Google were consulted and we realised the road to our right would take us to Captains Flat, on the road we wanted to take. I set off in the lead past the ominously named Catholic Cemetery Road and Church of England Cemetery Road—apparently the sectarian divide near Araluen is profound.

The road was not good and before too long I saw that the bitumen was going to give way to gravel which looked rather too greasy for my taste. I pulled over for a team conference and Pterodactyl sailed past. Shrugging my shoulders metaphorically (maybe literally too; I can no longer be sure), I set off after him with Inhouse Bob then Tezza bringing up the rear.

The road was greasy and it began to climb. At one point, negotiating a rut, I slowed down too much and had to stop. As I started off again the bike started to fall away underneath me. The adrenalin rush allowed me to haul it back up and save myself being muddy as well as wet, and I was grateful to Inhouse Bob who insouciantly parked the BMW and gave me a push. In the light of later events, I suspect Inhouse Bob was actually enjoying this bit.

Further on, I started to turn into a corner and saw Pterodactyl standing in the road pointing up the hill. I stopped and gradually it dawned on me that he was standing and his CB was lying on its side pointing down the hill. There was a large tree across the road.

And still the rain fell.

I should have paused, dug out the camera and taken photos. But I didn’t. It seemed a bit heartless. Pterodactyl and I righted his bike with some difficulty and it became apparent he’d sustained a minor injury. He stopped for the tree, tried to turn the bike, got his foot caught in a rut and the bike went over on it. The foot-peg dug into his ankle, which he thought he had twisted to boot and he was in some pain. But he could walk and ride the bike.

The CB, by the way, was fine. It had been a very gentle put down and, other than a coat of mud on the Staintune and other right-hand extremities, it was in perfect working order.

Which, as it happened, was just as well as the likelihood of any traffic where we were was approaching zero.

It was no at anti-climactic riding back down the hill. It was a relief to get off the mud and on to the gravel. By the time Inhouse Bob, Pterodactyl and I made it to the bottom, Tezza was in conversation with a bloke in an ancient Land Rover who was telling him that just past Araluen was more dirt.

So back we went to Braidwood where we stopped for another coffee before retracing our steps almost to Canberra to find the less interesting route to Cooma.

Noroomtomove was waiting for us and we abandoned our plan to ride to Jindabyne for the night and found two rooms in the Alpine Hotel. We put Pterodactyl in the single room and it began to dawn on me that things were not good when he turned down a beer in favour of lying with his foot up the wall and his ankle wrapped in ice.

Even though it was the first time four Australian CB1100’s from the forum had been in the same place at the same time, I was too tired even to think about a photo.
(This post was last modified: 04-11-2017 01:32 AM by Cormanus.)
04-11-2017 01:25 AM
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EmptySea Offline
Been There

Chicagoland, USA
Posts: 4,402
Joined: Jun 2013
Post: #4
RE: The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
And I thought my "ARKansas" report was water soaked. The beer does taste better at the end of a rainy day in the saddle, though.

Great report, as always.

MTC


2013 CB1100 non-abs
2013 CB1100 abs
04-11-2017 06:02 AM
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The ferret Offline
Forum Moderator

Ohio
Posts: 18,791
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Post: #5
RE: The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
WOW... what an adventure especially the last part of your last post. Have you checked on Ptero? Is he alright? Dirt bikes these are not, unless it's flat and dry.

I like how you call rain gear "wets" and the ferry a "punt".

Great job on the "on the fly" riding pics btw

.
2014 DLX and 2006 ST 1300
"a good chunk of life's problems can be solved by going for a ride"...Guth ..... "daily" ...Ferret
(This post was last modified: 04-11-2017 07:21 AM by The ferret.)
04-11-2017 06:41 AM
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redbirds Offline
Been There

Patterson, GA, USA
Posts: 3,714
Joined: Jan 2014
Post: #6
RE: The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
What a ride and story George. Wish I could have been there, rain and all.Thumbs Up

Philippians 4:8 (NIV)
Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things.
04-11-2017 07:17 AM
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Cormanus Offline
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Queensland, Australia
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RE: The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
Chapter 4
In which the sun comes out and, in an Australian first, four CB1100s belonging to members of the CB1100 Forum, take to the highways together

19 March 2017: Cooma to Mitta Mitta (500 kms)

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Day X: Link to Map

The forecast was good, although looking out the window provided little comfort as the sky was overcast and the road wet.

Making Tezza look positively sprightly, Pterodactyl was now limping badly. He was not going to seek medical attention and attempts to persuade him were roundly rebuffed. So, after an excellent breakfast at the Lott Food Store, we headed towards Jindabyne and the pass through the Snowy Mountains.
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The weather as we left Cooma looked foreboding behind us …


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… but ever so slightly more promising ahead

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By Jindabyne, there was a faint promise of sun in the distance …

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… and it looked more promising still as we made our way along the road above the snowline

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It still didn’t look too marvellous behind us

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By the time I got off the bike at Dead Horse Gap, things were considerably brighter

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I must have been so overwhelmed by the sun that it didn’t occur to me to line the CBs up for the first shot of four of them together

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Soon we were on our way through the bush on the southern side of Dead Horse Gap

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It’s a glorious ride down the hill to the south of the gap and we all enjoyed it I think. Particularly the sun and the chance to warm up a bit at the same time as we rode.

At a place called Geehi Flats we stopped beside a river to stretch, take a break and take some photos. One of us hypnotised Inhouse Bob so he’d forget he ever saw sun in Australia.
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After the photo shoot, we rode along interesting roads …
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… with views of the mountains …
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… and occasional pauses for roadworks.
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We paused at Khancoban for fuel and water and then pressed on towards Cabramurra.
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For some reason the photos pretty much dry up here. I suspect it was cold and I had changed gloves. My thicker pair make operating the camera difficult. Or the battery may have gone flat from the excitement of being used.

We did stop for a breather and a photo opportunity at the Tumut Pond Reservoir, part of the Snowy Mountains Hydro-electric scheme.
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Then it was on to Tumburumba, through Munderoo, Jingelic, Bungil and Tallangatta East to Mitta Mitta where we parked our bikes out of the weather on the veranda of the pub and Inhouse Bob went for a run to meet some of the locals.

Chapter 5:
In which the team splits up briefly and encounters a convy of middle-aged and older cars

20 March 2017: Mitta Mitta to Omeo (270 kms)

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Day 8: Link to Map

Much to my surprise, it was another glorious morning. The forecast restored my sense of normality with promises of showers here and there later.

Pterodactyl was in considerable pain and decided with a bit of persuasion that he should talk to a doctor about it. The nearest doctor was in Omeo which was on our planned route, so we agreed to ride part of the way with him, execute part of the rest of the day’s plan and meet him at Omeo for the evening.

Then fate took a hand. As I filled my tank at the Mitta Mitta General Store, I noticed the pump was struggling. Noroomtomove failed completely to get the pump to work and did not have enough fuel to get to Omeo. He decided to ride back to Eskdale. Pterodactyl said he would wait in Mitta Mitta for noroomtomove and then ride to Omeo with him.

Thus it came to pass that Inhouse Bob, Tezza and I set off down the Omeo Highway. It is probably my favourite road in Australia. It’s pretty, the surface is good, the curves range from sweepers to tight, it climbs up above the snow line, much of it is beside a river, it goes for more than 100 kms and there isn’t much traffic. Bliss.
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The Omeo Highway

The bulk of my working life was with Government so I think I can fairly claim to have some insight into the mind of the regulator. Every now and again, though, they manage to confound me. An example is the Omeo Highway. It’s incredibly well signposted—partly because it passes into and out of the snowline, but also, I assume, because of the number of motorcyclists who have come to an unpleasant end on it. To be fair, probably a good few car drivers too.

From the Mitta Pub to the turn off to the Bogong High Plains Road, where we left the Omeo Highway, is 67.4 kms. Most of it can legitimately be called winding road and, as I recall, there is a sign telling drivers it’s windy for more than 100 kms to Omeo. Many corners have speed advisory signs.

But then, as you lift the bike coming out of one corner and prepare to drop it into the next, a sign flashes by telling you the next 3 kms will be winding road. After 3 kms, there’s another sign telling you the next 3 kms will be winding road. After another 3 kms, there’s yet another sign advising of 3 kms of winding road.

I’m sure you get the idea.

Why, for heaven’s sake? You’re riding on it. It’s obvious it’s winding road. There was a sign at the beginning that warned you it would twist and turn for 100 kms and so far that’s proved right. Yet, for some reason, the modern human is assumed to have an attention span of 3 kms and has to be reminded of the bleeding obvious that often. Either that or some idiot painted way too many “3 kms winding road signs and some other idiot decided the Omeo Highway was a good place to hide them.

After the said 67.4 kms, Tezza, Inhouse Bob and I turned off onto the Bognong High Plains Road. This was new territory for me as the only other time I’ve tried to ride it, a large gate blocked entry.

The surface is not so good, but it’s very pretty as it climbs up into the snow line to alpine heath and the ski resort of Falls Creek where we stopped for coffee. The highlights were many and included a snake and two large truck loads of concrete road dividers.
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The regulators could have used some of the surplus 3 kms winding road signs here but mercifully didn’t

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The dam creating the Rocky Valley Storage at Falls Creek

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Falls Creek. It was largely deserted and the weather was not looking at all promising

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After coffee we set off down the other side of the mountain, heading for Mount Beauty. Seems funny to me to go downhill to a town called Mount Beauty, but we did.

It’s a great road too, made better this day by the fact that the weather improved all the way down.
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As we rode into Mount Beauty, I received a text from noroomtomove telling me he was in Mount Beauty. Sure enough, I rode around the corner and there he was waiting in the service station. Pterodactyl had persuaded him to give chase and he had missed us in Fall’s Creek. At about the same time I had a text from Pterodactyl telling me he was moving on to Bairnsdale for an X-ray. At least he had some lovely riding to get there.

Leaving Mount Beauty, we rode over the beautiful Tawonga Gap to the Great Alpine Road which would take us back to Omeo.
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Leaving Mount Beauty

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Great Alpine Road

A about this point it became clear that we were riding past a convoy of older cars on some sort of rally. I started taking photos and ended up taking lots of them because I could and because the convoy went on and on and on.
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All these cars were appearing against the backdrop of the Great Alpine Road which became more and more of a ride along a ridge. The signs on the posts to the left saying Keep right of posts were important. Heading to the left of them would have given one a deal of time to become intimately acquainted with the concept of gravity.
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Eventually we reached Hotham, another of Victoria’s main ski resorts. At about this point, the run of good weather came to an end and we were showered upon.
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The cars continued

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noroomtomove

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There’s something forlorn about a ski resort in autumn.

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Showering again

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From this lookout, and on a clear day, you can see Mount Kosciuszko, the highest mountain on the Australian Mainland. By US standards not at all high standing a mere 7,310 feet above sea level.

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Looking down to Omeo

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We stopped at Omeo for a cup of tea at the Golden Age Motel. There was no sign of Pterodactyl and I couldn’t raise him on the phone. It was getting late it was an hour and a half’s ride to Bairnsdale; and the likelihood of kangaroos leaping randomly on the road was increasing, so we decided to stop for the day. I was a bit tentative as I wanted to be sure Pterodactyl had made it in one piece before getting off the bike. It was not that I doubted his riding skills; rather, if circumstances had forced him to put his right foot down in a hurry, he was going to be in trouble.

Eventually I phoned the Bairnsdale hospital and they told me he’d been admitted. Shortly after that he rang and said he was still waiting to be seen, but had booked himself a room at the local saloon.

Satisfied that he was safe for the night, I had a beer. And then another. Then we ate and had a glass of red or two. And slept.

Chapter 6
In which the weather resumes its normal pattern, the boys get wet and the team is (briefly) reunited

21 March 2017: Omeo to Orbost (255.2 kms)
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Day 9: Link to Map

To no-one’s surprise, the day dawned overcast with rain threatened. The room tariff had included a cooked breakfast, so we all tucked in before a conference with Pterodactyl who was scheduled for further X-rays and a yak with the quack later in the morning. He expected to be in Bairnsdale for the day so we set about planning a ride that would get us there at day’s end.

We accepted noroomtomove’s suggestion of a leisurely ride to Marlo where the Snowy River makes its way into the sea.
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Leaving Omeo

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It’s a country road after all

On those days when you get to ride the 203 kilometres of the Omeo Highway from Mitta Mitta to Bruthen, there’s a bit near Omeo where you think the best is over. But it isn’t. As you make your way south through some nice countryside and sweeping corners, the road gently passes into riparian bushland and a bit more concentration is required. It’s a lovely finish to a great road and we were lucky to enjoy it on a dry day.
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At Bruthen we paused for fuel and coffee before making our way to Marlo via Buchan where there’s a wildlife park. Noroomtomove hoped we might see some native wildlife up close and personal, but it must all have heard us coming and checked out.
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Lulled into a false sense of security, Inhouse Bob abandoned his wet weather gear

There’s a pretty road from Buchan back to the main road at Orbost, although we did see a wallaby hop across in front of us and the surface left a little to be desired. I recall Tezza was less impressed with it that I was.

Just after we crossed the main road and started in to Marlo, it started to spit and we stopped to put on our wets. Just as well. Once again we rode through a serious downpour. However, by the time we reached the waterfront, it had stopped again.
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Noroomtomove led us to a car park near a jetty where fisherman come ashore. We saw this bloke cruising the waterway.
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There’s a fish-cleaning table on the jetty and Tezza, with considerable cunning, banged on it gently. The seal immediately surfaced under us looking expectantly upwards. It was not long before he was rewarded by a fisherman who fed him reasonable meal of the bits the fisherman didn’t want.

I’m not sure which law of the universe it is that says things only go really wrong when there’s an audience. There was a young lady in what Australians call a tinny: an aluminium dinghy, usually with outboard. She’d been out fishing and was trying to put the tinny on its trailer and, of course it got stuck.

After a while, it became clear she needed help, so risking life and limb, I climbed over the back of her ute to give her a hand. I felt a clown standing poised over the water wearing everything but my helmet and gloves. I was pretty sure I’d fall in.

Fortunately, I didn’t and, with her agreement, I backed the trailer a foot or so further into the water and the boat floated free. It increased the challenge of getting back out to the back of the ute and I was conscious of my colleagues with cameras poised in the hope I’d take a bath.

The boat came ashore and we adjourned to the local shop for lunch.

There was a woman taking a very long time to get served and a clearly irritated sales representative waiting to talk to the proprietor. He was even more irritated when he then had to wait for us as well.

A text exchange with Pterodactyl revealed he’d escaped Bairnsdale and ridden straight past us to inspect Cape Conran. He’d then ridden past us again on his way back to Bairnsdale. I managed to catch him at a service station not far from us and asked him to wait there for us as I could see little point in going back to Bairnsdale.

It goes without saying that the rain started again the minute we got back on the bikes and continued pretty much all the way to Newmeralla (where we found Pterodactyl) and Orbost where we checked into the Commonwealth Hotel for what was to be the final night we were all together.

After dinner, Inhouse Bob and I wandered into the bar to get another round of drinks. As we were being served a dishevelled looking chap carrying a few bags and bleeding a little from injuries to his face came into the bar and asked for a drink. The young barman refused him service because the hotel’s licence meant he was closed to outside customers. The man became belligerent and was run out of the place by the barman and the manager.

Most old fashioned Australian pubs have a balcony upstairs on to which the rooms open. The Commonwealth was no exception and we took our night caps up there. Over the road we could see our belligerent friend standing in a shop doorway. He was soon visited by the police, with whom he had a chat, and then another, younger man turned up. The older bloke took one look at him and bolted. There was a merry chase which ended when the police came back and took old mate away.

Other residents in the pub told us old mate was the town’s major ice dealer and could muster little sympathy for his plight. Orbost, like many Australian country towns, is apparently suffering from a decline in economic activity with a resulting increase in unemployment and the social consequences that go with it. The local ice dealer, while a pariah, is increasingly popular. This one, it appeared, had a problem or two. Long may they continue.

Chapter 7
In which the group contracts in size and everyone turns for home

22 March 2017: Orbost to Cooma (382 kms)

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Day 10: Link to Map

Tezza wanted to be home by the weekend and noroomtomove had to be back at work the following day, so we packed our rooms and said farewell to them as they set off in opposite directions. I was sorry the group had to break up; it had been great riding together and we’d managed a few laughs.

I was also worried about Pterodactyl. He was obviously in a good deal of pain, but I had as much chance of getting to go home and attend to his foot as hitting the moon with a stone. So he and I and Inhouse Bob trundled 15 metres along the street and stopped for breakfast and a confab about the day’s ride. The original plan had been to take the Bonang Highway north from Orbost, then loop down towards the coast before heading west again for a final night in the mountains. I was nervous about this because the Bonang had 1-13 miles of dirt, I wasn’t sure what condition it was in, and of course it was going to rain.

In the end we took the Bonang and rode the route we planned. We paused after breakfast to put on our wet weathers as the promised rain was falling, but it was gentle and soon eased up as we rode through the forest. It’s a ride I can’t wait to do again.

Unfortunately, the rain meant my camera was again tucked away and there are no photographs.

We stopped at delegate for Inhouse Bob to continue his inspection of Australia’s extensive public lavatory facilities and for me to refill my water bottle. For some reason I mentioned I’d done so.

“I hope it’s potable,” Inhouse Bob remarked as I took a swig.

“Of course,” I replied, looking nervously back at the tap where I’d filled it.

I discerned a sign near the tap and walked back to see that it read “Not suitable for drinking.”

After lunch at Bombala, I was able to use my on the ride down the hill to Pambula, another very pretty ride reminiscent of Kangaroo Valley.
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On the road between Bombala and Pambula

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Pambula

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From Pambula we rode north on the Princes Highway until we turned west through Candelo and up Browns Mountain. Another great ride although we were again peppered by rain after Candelo.
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In wets at a lookout on Browns Mountain

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Arriving in Cooma we confidently rode our bikes to the back of the Alpine Hotel where there is undercover parking. But the place was full. A convention of some sort. So we went next door to the even less salubrious Bunkhouse Motel from which we could at least limp back to the Alpine Hotel for beer and a dinner.

Noroomtomove reported he was safely home but drenched. Tezza reported being warm and dry at his sister’s place having also sustained a good drenching.

We had a hearty dinner during which I drank too much, became tired and emotional and, embarrassingly, let Petrodactyl wind me up like an old alarm clock. I went to bed grumpy.
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Inhouse Bob and Pterodactyl opted for the lamb shanks. Inhouse Bob, at least was rewarded with a bad case of indigestion

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It was not the steak that caused me grief on this occasion

23 March 2017: Cooma to Boorowa (339 kms)

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Day 11: Link to Map

We rolled down the street to get fuel and check our tyres. There’d been an odd clunk from the back of my bike the day before which I figured had been the chain so we visited the Cooma Bike Shop where some kind blokes lent me spanners large enough to get the rear axle nut undone and adjust the chain. It fixed the noise.

Pterodactyl was limping and in pain; Inhouse Bob was suffering indigestion and didn’t yet want to eat; and I was crapulous. We lit out for Adaminaby a small town famous for its big trout. I’ve talked about Australia’s fascination with Big Things here.

Of course it was again pouring with rain by the time I’d finished tightening the chain so, in our familiar armour we set off. It turned out to be a shower and it was soon pleasant if overcast before another shower hit us. And repeat.

At Adaminaby we took the obligatory photo of the Big Trout before adjourning across the road to the eponymous café
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I can’t remember what Inhouse Bob ordered to eat. He had his usual coke to drink while Pterodactyl and I had eggs and bacon with coffee. The proprietor, Constantine, was obviously of Greek extraction and Pterodactyl asked him for some fetta on the side. He told us there wasn’t any and then explained that the good burghers of Adaminaby weren’t impressed by fetta when he’s first arrived so he now stuck to a simpler repertoire more acceptable to the locals.

We chatted about motorcycles while we ate. Constantine was a rider and had owned a few bikes in his time, the latest being a BMW. He was also clearly starved of company.

Not much happens in Adaminaby so Pterodactyl made use of the ladies’ section of the public toilets as it wasn’t as far to walk as the mens’. Needless to say, a car pulled up and two women climbed out and headed for the bathroom. I suggested they wait a moment, which they did. After they’d finished we were all chatting. They asked about the café and the quality of the coffee. We said it was fine and they set off across the road. As they walked away, Pterodactyl said “Ask him for some fetta.”

We rode on across a pretty alpine landscape. After a few kilometres it was new to me. A great road with agreeable alpine scenery, good sweeping corners then and interesting descent to Talbingo.

We refuelled at the Dog on the Tuckerbox, checked out the statue and headed up Australia’s main intercity road in the rain. Again. Poor Bob.

Just after Harden, the rain set in with such a vengeance that visibility was extremely limited. It was still pouring down when we got to Boorowa and stopped for a cup of tea. According to my plan, we had at least another 2 hours riding ahead of us in uncertain conditions. The Boorowa pub is an OK place, so I called a halt to proceedings and with unspoken relief watched the rain continue to pelt down while we spread our wet gear all over the upstairs balcony.

The only other photograph I took that day confirms officially that Inhouse Bob has achieved the status of legend.
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24 March 2017; Boorowa to Sydney (523 kms)

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Day 12: Link to Map

It may stretch credibility, but the day dawned bright and sunny. Not all my gear was dry, but it didn’t seem to matter.

We had breakfast while Inhouse Bob talked happily to the hotel’s only other guest who had a son living in Texas.

The day’s plan to ride north up the Bylong Valley and back to Sydney along the Putty Road had effectively been trashed from the moment I’d decided we’d stop in Boorowa, but I made the decision knowing there was a pleasant ride from there to Sydney. Inhouse Bob had expressed interest in seeing a Blue Mountains escarpment; Pterodactyl knew of one which, by riding a modest 30 kms of dirt in and then back out again was worth a look.
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It felt good to be riding in sunshine again

By the time we got our filthy bikes to Crookwell and refuelled the weather had returned to normal and we put our wet weather gear on once more. My recollection is that the rain came and went and was inconsequential compared to the downpour we’d suffered the day before.
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At Crookwell

Pterodactyl led us along a favourite ride into the Abercrombie River Valley and up the other side. Shortly afterwards we turned off to the Kanangra Walls Lookout. Two things happened on the dirt road on the way in: Inhouse Bob discovered the real joys of the BMW with its adjustable suspension and versatile tyres and vanished into the distance; and I became concerned my blasé belief that we would have enough fuel in the CBs to get into Kanangra and then back to Oberon may have been foolhardy.

I didn’t enjoy the dirt much: it rained a bit and sections were quite slippery on the CB.
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Dirty CBs at Kanangra. Photo courtesy of Pterodactyl

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The Cormanus CB in its natural state

Leaving an infirm Pterodactyl to rest his ankle, Inhouse Bob and I took a 10 minute walk in mild drizzle to inspect the Kanangra Walls.
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I think Inhouse Bob really enjoyed his rode out on the dirt on a bike that was built for the purpose. I also think he probably had to wait quite a long time for me to get there. I was being careful on the dirt, but was also aware of the return of a clunking noise which I assumed had to do with the chain. When I arrived at the end of the dirt, I rode around a bit for the others to see if they could hear anything. Pterodactyl heard nothing; Inhouse Bob thought he heard something. But we could see nothing wrong, so we kept going.

We made it to Oberon without running out of fuel and enjoyed a late but hearty lunch in a local café. I remember having a hamburger with the lot—beef patty, cheese, onion, fried egg, bacon, pineapple, beetroot, lettuce, tomato and barbeque sauce in a bun—and realising I was very hungry.

We left Oberon later than I’d expected, but the weather was clearer and we had a pretty enough final run through Torana and Lithgow to Bells Line of Road and back to Sydney.
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Between Torana and Lithgow

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Back in Sydney with the traffic—mercifully—heading in the opposite direction

We were all, I think, relieved to make it back to Pterodactyl’s place and one of Mrs Pterodactyl’s splendid meals. I recall falling into bed early and sleeping very well.
(This post was last modified: 04-11-2017 06:29 PM by Cormanus.)
04-11-2017 05:56 PM
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Cormanus Offline
Moderator

Queensland, Australia
Posts: 10,724
Joined: Dec 2013
Post: #8
RE: The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
Chapter 8
In which there is a cleansing; the Ride Down Under is declared officially completed; occurs and matters take a slightly surprising (but probably predictable) turn

25 March 2017: Around Sydney

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Day 13: Link to Map

I stumbled downstairs to find Pterodactyl dressed and hobbling around. It was clear Mrs Pterodactyl was not completely satisfied with his state of repair; nonetheless she went out to run some errands and to see whether she could find him a Moon Boot. He, meanwhile, forced his swollen foot back into his riding boot which continued to provide great support to his injured ankle.

We adjourned to the garage where there were three filthy bikes and, having placed a supervisory stool and foot rest for Pterodactyl I set about cleaning my bike. Supervisory stool? Foot rest? Be blowed to that. Pterodactyl was up and down like a Jack-in-a-box continuing to refuse to rest his clearly painful foot. He seemed to find it more entertaining to clean my chain.

Having cleaned my CB and checked and lubed the chain, I moved on to Inhouse Bob’s bike which had to be cleaned before being returned. It almost persuaded me to get rid of the CB in favour of a plastic fantastic. The whole cleaning business is a great deal less painful!

Shortly before I finished, Mrs Pterodactyl returned and even though I managed to have her husband on his stool looking like he’d been there all the time, she announced that he was off to the hospital to have his foot looked at. He offered surprisingly little resistance and I was left with a set of keys for a car and instructions to collect Inhouse Bob from the hotel should he call before they returned.

I got the worst of the grime off Pterodactyl’s CB and made it look kind of presentable again. Then Inhouse Bob rang and I set off to collect him. Of course people were digging up the middle of Sydney just to inconvenience me and I had to do laps of various blocks to find a way into his hotel, but I got there in the end and we made our way back to Chez Pterodactyl and, under instruction, helped ourselves to lunch.

Inhouse Bob had decided he was unlikely to ride the bike in Sydney over the weekend and that he’d like to take it back that afternoon given that the shop would be open briefly at 4 pm. He agreed that I would lead him there and he would climb on the back of my bike for the ride back. We also lashed his large suitcase to the rack. I should have taken a photo! Inhouse Bob, Cormanus and a large green suitcase doing duty as a top box.

He confessed after the event that it was the first time in his life he’d ridden pillion. Choosing to try it in a strange city where they drive on the wrong side of the road behind a bloke who didn’t know where he was or where he was going or how to get there in notoriously crappy traffic was an act of considerable courage.

The news late afternoon was that Pterdactyl required surgery on his foot to pin it in place while his torn tendons healed. That was to occur the following day and he would be staying in hospital until then.

The plan for the day had Inhouse Bob taking us out to dinner as a generous thank you gesture. Mrs Pterodactyl had booked a table at the Coogee Pavillion. But Bob and I went alone We were a bit early and stood for a while looking at the beach, the ocean and the many beautiful people. Appropriately, it drizzled lightly on us.

The Pavilion is a great barn of a place full of young, beautiful people. It had a great menu and we both had trout and a couple of beers.
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Trout for dinner. Bob had changed his T-shirt a couple of times between getting off the plane and now

Inhouse Bob had a Bombe Surprise for dessert and I had a glass of wine. We drank a toast to a great—if slightly damp—ride.
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Chapter 9
In which farewells are said and I ride home

26 March 2017: Sydney to Cessnock (205 kms)

The original plan had been that Pterodactyl and I would deliver Inhouse Bob to the airport and I would then start my ride home. Pterodactyl intended to join me for some of the trip and was still talking about it the previous day as he didn’t sit on his supervisory stool.

Mrs Pterodactyl had a long-standing arrangement to be away for the coming week and, after a stern talking to by their daughter agreed to go. My taking Bob to the airport would not really be feasible, so I decided to leave a day early and get some kilometres under my tyres.

I packed up and went to see Pterodactyl in hospital. He was already chafing at the bit, not sure when he would be operated on. The nature of his admission meant that other surgery would take priority.

We said our farewells. I went and had lunch with my eldest son and his partner, before heading back to Pterodactyl’s house, to load the bike and make my convoluted way back to Inhouse Bob’s hotel to say farewell.

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Day 14: Link to Map

It was a glorious day and, by the time I got to the other side of the harbour, I was missing my companions. It was odd looking in the mirror and not seeing the other bikes behind me. I was sorry, too, that it may well be a while before I get to ride again with Inhouse Bob. He was an excellent companion both on and off the road. A great bloke, and welcome Down Under any time.

As I say, it was a lovely afternoon and I made my way north on dry roads, past a number of landmarks from our first ride with Inhouse Bob.
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It was a bit late for a pie

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Bridge over the Hawkesbury

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Photo opportunity for someone

Somewhere at the lower left of the flare in the next picture one can discern the sign for Lemming Corner (oft written about by us Australians). Authorities, bored with scraping bikes and bikers off its surface, have spent lots of money ridding of it of the decreasing radius that provided all the fun. It’s still a splendid bit of road, although I prefer the longer, sweeping corners on the top of the hill to its south.
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At Wollembi I turned right onto the road for Cessnock which I’d not ridden before. Another excellent ride and worth another visit someday.
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Not far north of Wollembi I passed another milestone

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Wollembi to Cessnock

I stopped for fuel at Bellbird, essentially a southern suburb of Cessnock, and realised I was tired, so I started looking for a hotel. I chose the Hotel Cessnock for no reason other than it was there. It turned out to be a good choice. The owner gave me a garage to lock the bike in; the room was clean and even had a television; the bed was comfortable; a simple breakfast was included; the beer was cold and the menu was good. I had duck with poached pear and a glass of wine or two.
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I checked in with Pterodactyl’s daughter. He had not been operated on due to the number of other more pressing patients; she hoped he’d be done the following day.

27 March 2017: Cessnock to Brisbane (878.2 kms)

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Day 15: Link to Map

It was a good-looking morning. Of course. There was no longer any need to impress overseas visitors. I had a cup of tea and something to eat before making my way downstairs and loading the bike. Although it would be a long ride by my standards, I thought I might have a go at getting home that day, while remaining willing to stop early if I felt too tired.

Things got off to an irritating start: I realised I was riding into the sun; but it quickly got worse when, within about 10 minutes, I hit a section of gravel road, some of which was under repair. It was new base, just being graded and it was, without compare, the worst surface I’d ridden on in a trip that had thrown up a few. It was loose and slippery and I was very relieved indeed to get through it and back on to a firm surface without falling off.

Then, as I closed in on Maitland, the fog settled in. I wasn’t too worried, but after a while I realised it was insidious and slightly worse than the pouring rain of three days ago. Your visor slowly but certainly mists over and can fog up inside. You can’t ride nearly fast enough for the wind to blow the water off, and you get gradually wetter. It’s like putting a frog in cold water and bringing it to the boil.

By the time I reached Wollarobba the fog had blown away and I rode the final section to Dungog warming gradually and enjoying the sun.
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I stopped to change my gloves for a pair with a rubber membrane that allows me to wipe my visor and these chaps were curious.

I refuelled and took coffee in Gloucester before pressing on up Thunderbolts Way. It was Monday, there wasn’t much traffic and I made good time to Armidale where I again refuelled.
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Leaving Gloucester

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Gloucester to Armidale

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Evidence of bushfires on the road to Armidale

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Grazing country on the plateau of the Great Dividing Range

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Another milestone about 6 kms south of Walcha

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Walcha

The knocking sound that seemed to be emanating from the chain at low revs was back as I left Armidale. I stopped and pushed and pulled and tested the chain tension and could see nothing wring other than a mountain of dirt, so I kept going on a quick sweep across the plateau, before beginning the 100 km decent to Grafton. I’ve said enough about this road in the past and it was every bit as good this day as it’s ever been.

As I was getting ready to ride on after looking at the chain, three swiftly moving sports bikes went past. I caught glimpses of them occasionally, but they were travelling faster than me. But somewhere on the way down the hill to Grafton, I was following a car around a corner and saw three blokes pushing a sport bike out of a ditch at the apex of a sharp turn. I slowed to see if they needed help, but was quickly waved on.

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At Coutts Crossing I stopped to respond to nature’s call. I took this photo of the bike but didn’t notice the sign until days later when I uploaded the picture!

The sport bike boys rode past again—all three of them—so I assume little harm was done.

I refuelled at South Grafton, had a long, lazy cup of tea, took pity on a young man and bought a can of wonder goop for cleaning and waxing the bike without washing it. I also gave the chain a good dose of oil which I didn’t think it needed. Apparently it did. The knocking noise went away.

And then it was onto the highway—it does not rate as a slab for a good 130 kms north. It’s old and pretty enough and, although there’s lots of traffic, it moves well.

I’ve always really liked the northern rivers of New South Wales. They’re wide and slow moving and pretty as they wind their way through sugar cane fields. There are some pretty old bridges too, of the kind that use counterweights to lift a centre span. No doubt the endless reconstruction of the highway will soon render them redundant.
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Approaching this second bridge, you get to read a new sort of road sign in Australia. It warns you of an Average Speed Safety Camera.
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The gantry in this picture is fitted with the dreaded cameras which photograph your number plate as you pass. It is then photographed somewhere further along the road and a computer works out whether your average speed has been within the limit. If not, it’s demerit points and a fine.
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From a little south of Ballina to the Queensland border, the highway is now dual lane both ways. This modern-looking tunnel is a feature. Further north are two substantial bridges crossing over the road. They are covered in trees and bushes and were put there for wildlife in an attempt to reduce the amount of road kill. It was dark when I got to them so there are no photos.
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Another cup of tea at Chinderah and then it was back on the bike for the final 120 kms home. It had been a long day—about 11 hours and nearly 880 kms. I was pleased to be home. All up I’d ridden just under 5,500 kms in the 15 days I’d been away.

An exchange of texts during the day told me that Inhouse Bob’s departure from Sydney had been delayed by 5 hours—which must have been very frustrating for him. His message said two hours of it had been to change a light bulb! I was home well before he got as far as Dallas. Pterodactyl’s surgery had been delayed again and reports had him very frustrated.

The weather had not been kind, which was a great pity for Inhouse Bob who had come an awful long way to ride around in a rain proof suit. Notwithstanding the weather, I enjoyed nearly all the riding as well as the chance to ride with friends old and new. I also enjoyed seeing four CBs together in one place. Can’t match the US rally or our Taiwanese friends, but it was OK just the same.

Thanks for coming Inhouse Bob. Thanks to Tezza, noroomtomove and Pterodactyl for the support, advice and assistance leading up to the ride and along the way. And not to forget aussie59 who turned up to say g’day and aussieflyer who was prevented by work from joining us in Omeo.

I know from other posts that noroomtomove, Tezza and Inhouse Bob have been riding again. Me too. Pterodactyl as at the time of writing is mastering his crutches in good spirits. He’ll not be back on the bike for a number of weeks.

As always, it’s a treat to ride the CB1100. It just keeps on going. And it was a real joy to ride the final 100 or so kilometres in the dark. I’ve always like riding at night when there aren’t things that jump out at you; the glow of the CB’s instruments makes it a real pleasure.
(This post was last modified: 04-12-2017 12:28 AM by Cormanus.)
04-12-2017 12:26 AM
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noroomtomove Offline
Running Like a Top

Australia Victoria
Posts: 430
Joined: Dec 2014
Post: #9
RE: The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
Cormanus, fantastic pen work once again you have wonderfully captured the ride, thanks you for putting it all together.

A big thank you to Bob for flying across the pond and riding with us.

One day will post an addendum featuring a 314.5 km milestone moment, a tale about the carry of a can, my lips are sealed for now.

Cormanus, Pterodactyl, Tezza & Bob glad you rode to Mexico so I could join you.

Regards,
(This post was last modified: 04-12-2017 04:26 AM by noroomtomove.)
04-12-2017 03:59 AM
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Rocky Offline
Road Warrior

Nova Scotia, Canada
Posts: 2,025
Joined: Apr 2014
Post: #10
RE: The Cormanus Chronicles: March 2017
WOW, what a fantastic adventure!!
Thanks for posting all of that Thumbs Up Thumbs Up

Still rockin', rollin', and ridin' after all these years
'67 BSA 441 VR, '70 Triumph Tiger 100, '02 Honda CB900F, '06 Triumph T100 Bonneville, '14 Honda CB1100A
04-12-2017 04:34 AM
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