Sunday, April 6, 2014

Australian Honda ST Owners Club (OzSTOC) National Rally 2014 - Part 1

After a year's worth of planning the event, and equally as long looking forward to getting to it, the time had eventually come to pack and prepare the Pan ST1300 for it.

This included oil and filter change (by the way, I run a diesel oil in her), air filter clean out and re-oil (K&N), and setting up the normal tool box I carry in the pannier for touring.

Much of the pre-touring fun for me is working out the route, places to stay at night, and must-see places to stop in at on the way there and back. I was to meet my long time friend Growly along the way and share the fun for a few thousand clicks. He was bringing his Oz-Trike and trailer this time.

The setting for this year's National Rally was Ballarat in Victoria - famous in Australia's history for the Battle of the Eureka Stockade, and site of a great Gold Rush in the 1850s.

But I was still two thousand kilometres from there, and had 4 days to meander my way down, appreciating more and more of this beautiful country on the way.

The weather was fine as I left home, and headed down the freeway to clear Brisbane fairly quickly. My destination for the night was a lovely little rest area along the beautiful Waterfall Way, near Belligen.

View Larger Map

The ACTUAL route is slightly different to the above, but I'm not sure how to include all the waypoints.

Anyway - after the freeway, it got nice in the countryside of South East Queensland as I made my way through the  beautiful Numinbah Valley, Natural Bridge and Lower Beechmont to Murwillimbah.This is some really amazing countryside with AWESOME views...

You can see Mt Warning's peculiar shape in the background. I am headed that way soon.

Pic of author Lovin' it!

I made my way through Murwillimbah, and set a course for Nimbin, an 'alternative living' little borough where there are rastafarians, hemp products, natural remedies and therapies - get the picture?

More great countryside here...

The above pic is Mt Warning again. All this on a day when I am normally at work! Ha!

Anyway - more motoring through Lismore to Casino and my first stop for fuel and a bite to eat. Saw these couple of likely lads roll up.... Streak (white ST13 Pan) and Shiney (Blue ST13).

After salutations etc, I left for the next section of my ride.

Between Casino and Grafton, lies one of my all time favourite areas to ride - Pringles way to the town of Lawrence, and then Lawrence to Grafton along the banks of the mighty Clarence River. Unfortunately, I seem to have lost all my video footage of this ride!     The micro SD card in my Contour Roam cam locked up when I was trying to copy off the movies, and now asks me to format the unformatted card - giving no access to the files!  I am giving it to some professional data recovery mob shortly, and will edit this ride report accordingly if it works.

Here are some pics of that wonderful spot....

In this last pic - the butress roots of this magnificent Moreton Bay Fig have been chainsawed to avert encroachment onto the road lane.

After Grafton, I was lucky enough (again) to have the road to myself. A lovely open, flowing stretch of tarmac that unfolded wonderfully over the surrounding countryside - sometimes under the canopy of Aussie Eucalypt gum trees, sometimes past open fields and pastures, so I was able to 'tour' how the Pan European ST1300 was designed to. *wink*

Much to my surprise, a little dot appeared on the horizon behind me, and began growing, and growing... Strewth! Someone was in a hurry! "You beauty!" I thought. "They'll flush out any 'wallet problems' I might encounter for this stretch." The road is called Armidale Road (south of Grafton).

I soon turned left onto Tyringham Road and started the climb up the Great Dividing Range once again to the magnificent pastures and townships along the Waterfall Way.

Here are some pics...

I am continuously amazed how (in 1 riding day) this country can change from semi-arid and arid, barren, dry farmland and open plains, to magnificent 'jigsaw puzzle' quality mountainous outcrops, and 'British' like meadows - lush and green.

I had arrived at my digs for the night after stopping in Bellingen for a few groceries for dinner.

I set up camp, and started cooking....

I was a little scared of spiders dropping from the tree at night and waking up with one on my face - so I set the tent out in the open! Good night.

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