Biking in Australia, November 2007

Three weeks and 6400 km in Queensland

(and a bit of New South Wales)

 

2 Nov: leave Brisbane at 4 pm with my two mates (Brett & Dave) and we drive on the freeway to Nareng, then to Murwillumbah. Spent my first night in an Aussie hotel (the Imperial). Only 134 km including freeway but a great ride.

3 Nov: Kyogle, Lions Rd, Queen Mary Falls, Legume, Tenterfield. Spent the night at an isolated cabin in the mountains with two friends of Brett and Dave who have a weekend farm there. 412 km.

4 Nov: rode with Brett & Dave via Warwick, Gatton and Murphy's Creek to Toowoomba. They set off to return to Brisbane and I struck off on my own, to Yarraman. 369 km.

5 Nov: A3 to Biloela then Dawson Highway to Rolleston. Did 631 km, the longest day of my trip. Stayed at the Rolleston Hotel (not that there's any choice!) where I had the best steak and chips of my life. 631 km.

6 Nov: A7 to Charters Towers. 605 km.

7 Nov: Morning ride to Undara National Park: 381 km in 4h 20 min - lots of roadworks! Afternoon visiting the Park (lava tubes).

8 Nov: Ravenshoe, Millaa Millaa, Innisfail, Gordonvale, Atherton, Kuranda. Met up with Colin and Dick, also mates of Brett and Dave's, and Dave flew up from Brisbane. 407 km.

9 Nov: Lakeland, Laura, Lakefield National Park. On the unsealed road to Laura the top case on my hired BWM 1200GS fell off; for the rest of the trip I had it secured (?) with bungees. From Laura to Old Laura, the road was deep in bulldust; Colin and I fell off (nice soft landing though). Wilderness camping at Old Laura with a bull and two wild pigs. 305 km.

10 Nov: Lakeland, Cooktown, Lion's Den pub. Camped at the pub - we all needed a shower, not to mention beers (six in my case, but I was just keeping up with Col). 200 km.

11 Nov: Bloomfield Track to Cape Tribulation (what an appropriate name). I'd rather have had a lighter bike and off-road tyres but, what the hell, we all made it. Had a good lunch in Cape Trib to celebrate. 174 km.

12 Nov: quick sprint down to Cairns, farewells all round, continued on my own to Tully. 292 km.

13 Nov: Bruce Highway to Townsville, with side trips to Jourama Falls and Paluma. 272 km.

14 Nov: Bruce Highway to Mackay, with side trip to Airlie Beach and Shoot Harbour. 448 km.

15 Nov: Bruce to Rockhampton, then Leichhart Highway to Mount Morgan and Banana. The hairpins going up to Mt Morgan are in dreadful condition, badly corrugated. Otherwise it would be a good biking road. 488 km.

16 Nov: Miles, Chinchilla, Durong, Tingoora. Stayed with Brett and Dave at Brett's family's farm. It rained for about the first time in 5 years. They christened me "Paul the rainbringer". I may write to congratulate that nice Mr Rudd on his election win, modestly point out my contribution, and suggest that he pays me a retainer to live in Australia. 500 km.

17 Nov: rest day on the farm. Brett names one of his calves after me (not sure if it was a compliment or an insult). Brett's brother-in-law shows me his family tree and it turns out his ancestors came from Liestal in Switzerland, about 15 km from where I live now. Small world.

18 Nov: Brett has worked out a great route for me, and although the rain continues, I still have a good time. It goes via Murgon, Gympie, the Kin Kin road, Cooran, Anamooor and Kandanga. At Kandanga, it's raining so hard that I can't be bothered to stop and look at the map. As a result I discover the Kandanga Creek Road, which I follow for about 20 km before I realize my mistake, but it's a great road and there is no traffic at all (probably because the road doesn't go anywhere). Finally I get to Kenilworth, Maleny and Kilcoy, where the sun comes out. Unpack the bike at the motel, then a quick sprint up to Jimna and back, a fantastic biking road. (It's sealed to Jimna, then continues unsealed back to Murgon - that would be a good trip.) 457 km.

19 Nov: Neurum, Mount Mee, Sanford, Mount Glorious, circuit via Esk, Mt Glorious again, Mt Nebo. From Mt Nebo the road follows a side ridge of the Great Dividing Range and, all of a sudden, Brisbane appears in the distance with the Pacific Ocean in the background. A good ending to the trip. 310 km.

Total for trip: 6405 km.

A few thoughts in conclusion. This trip gave me the opportunity to compare the regular R1200GS that I hired in Australia with my own R1200GS Adventure. I love my own bike, but I can't understand why the regular 1200GS is so popular. The seat is narrower and far less comfortable on long trips. The panniers are difficult to mount on the bike and the left-hand pannier is so shallow (because of the exhaust pipe) as to be virtually useless. Also, unlike the 1150GS panniers, there are no internal retaining straps to keep the luggage in place, so, if you open the pannier while it's attached to the bike, the contents fall out. Although the bike hire company had fitted an extra metal plate to the top box, so that it could be fixed more firmly to the luggage rack, it nonetheless fell off on a stretch of rough road. The GS Adventure panniers, top box and luggage rack (made by Touratech) are tougher, of much better quality, and offer far more space for luggage; in fact, despite the "GS" (Gelände-Straße) tag, the regular GS panniers and top box are totally unsuitable for mixed on- and off-road touring.