The weather forecast looked clear for the morning, so I decided upon a loop down across the border into New South Wales via Natural Bridge, Tyalgum, Uki to Kyogle. Then heading back home via Woodenbong and the Mt Lindesay Highway. All up about 350 kilometres and quite do-able in the time I had between school drop off and pick up.
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So, I suited up. The new AlpineStars jacket fitted well and felt like it might withstand a slide down the road well. Not that I was planning on testing out it's crash worthiness. I threw the digital SLR in the backpack and as an afterthought, threw in my rain jacket because the ride was going to cover some rain forest riding.
About one kilometre from home as I crested a hill and looked to the south I could see dark, grey clouds hovering along the coast. As I entered the motorway, headed south, the whole of the eastern sky was dark and foreboding. Never trust a weatherman! A quick recalculation was in order to avoid getting drenched. Inland the sky looked much kinder, so I quickly decided to reverse the loop and go anti-clockwise.
It is always a bit of a bore getting to Beaudesert with quite a bit of traffic using this road and very little opportunity to pass safely. But once past Beaudesert, the road opens out and the traffic dries up. This section of the Mt Lindesay Highway is characterised by long straights with quirky, bumpy tight bends. Sometime over a rise. It is as if the old horse trail was simply sealed at some point with no consideration for the speed of modern (anything after 1925) vehicles. Yes, it certainly gets you attention!
Passing the Mt Barney turnoff the road starts to get a bit more interesting. Before you know it you are winding your way up the hillside to pass Mt Lindesay, via many 30-40km/h bends. To be consistent with the rest of the road so far, these are unpredictably bumpy as well! Best to keep something in reserve through this section. Mt Lindesay itself is the core of a long eroded volcano and the Queensland/New South Wales border actually runs right over the top of it!
From this point to the border crossing are many many tight bumpy corners. Great fun as long as there are no trucks coming the other way. At the actual border there is a cattle grid and the old tick inspector's hut. Cameras have now replaced the inspectors and there are two of these located just inside the New South Wales side of the border.
This next few kilometres of the Mt Lindesay highway are the reason you ride this road. Smooooth, constant radius corners that flow one into the next and very little traffic. It is pure heaven.
All too soon the road opens out again and I was turning left toward Kyogle via the Summerland Way.
The Summerland Way is a funny little piece of road. The top end near where the above photo was taken used to be narrow, twisty and very bumpy but over the years has had some work done to it. Now I find it to be a very underrated bit of blacktop as it winds it's way down a valley through farmland, with views back to Mt Lindesay, it is very picturesque.
Fairly soon I was rolling into the little timber milling hamlet of Grevillea and it was time to stop, stretch the legs and grab a bite to eat. Not much timber gets milled here anymore. Not for quite a while I would say, looking at the old timber sheds.
The bloke behind the counter of the general store is a typically friendly country bloke and is on for a chat, but I need to eat and drink to clear my fuzzy head. Too much work lately.
The selection of food is pretty limited, but I am feeling much better just a few minutes after scarfing this rubbish for morning tea!
The weather ahead has been looking a bit grim and I am contemplating cutting my loop short and returning via the Lions Rd to the Mt Lindesay Highway. I suit up and am about to head off southward when I notice that I have done 160 kilometres so far. How far can I get on a tank? Hmmm. Not sure as I have really only done one run on the bike and have no idea of it's actual fuel consumption. So, back past the bowser and I throw $10 of fuel in for good measure. This meagre 6 litres fills the tank, so now I have a range of 26km per litre to work from!
Just a few short kilometres down the road at Old Grevillia (I thought the new one was old!) I can see the cloud on the ground down the valley and the rain is starting to dot my visor. I am just short of the turn off up the valley along the Lions Rd but if I continue I am going to get a very wet backside and more importantly, camera. I reluctantly turn around and start northbound up the highway.....oh well....I have been waiting for about 15 years to ride the Lions Rd so another 6 months won't hurt.
Retracing my steps I find the road is wet in places. Heavy showers have passed through, but missed my passage thankfully. I am soon back at those last few kilometres from the border and blast into the twisties. I soon come up on a slow moving caravan and in years gone by would have wished a pox on these road snails. But today I just turn around, go back to the beginning and start again. Ahh the benefits of age and mellowing! An uninterrupted flow ensues until the border crossing looms into view again. A quick photo stop and it is time to head for home and school pick up.
I only have to do about 100 of those 124km.
My actual ride route looks like this now. About the same number of kilometres was ridden, just as an out and back rather than a more balanced loop.
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The Tyalgum coffee shop will have to wait until another time.
Oh, and the jacket worked as advertised. Got to be happy with that!
P.S. Here is a link to this ride as seen by the man from Motorcycling Paradise .