Tuesday, August 18, 2009

First words from the Frontier

from 16/8/2009

ODO 79 893

I'm lying in my tent, at some outrageously young hour, absolutely buggered and contented. I can't yet claim to have heart-rending stories to relate, but it still feels like the end of a very big week.

My first impression has been that being on the road is hard. Gruelling even - simply being without a support net, needing to scrape by in a manner entirely novel. And I'm only three nights in! Already, though, rather than getting tired of the simplicity of this life, I am getting used to it. I think over the next week or two things will get much easier, as I get used to it all.

You're probably wanting some specifics.

Thursday afternoon - quite late - I left Sydney to stay at my Nan's place on the Central Coast. It was really good to catch up with her again - with my move it might be the last time for a fair while. The trip up was relatively uneventful, largely because it was getting too dark to try anything adventurous. The SV, though, seemed to handle quite well all geared up.

Friday I set out on the first real leg of the journey. I had meant to take the freeway up the coast, but when the road I was on headed towards Maitland instead I offered no objection. And as many a traveller would know, if you're heading North from Maitland, Dungog should be your next destination. From there onto Buckett's; I was eventually tempted by a detour with 'tops' written on it twice. I didn't end up doing much climbing, but I found enough dirt to rechristen the bike (and cake my chain).

Passing through Wingham (opting the more direct route towards Port Mac) I figured I may as well take the back road to Wauchope. And once on it, I felt inclined to take a side-track or two - and by 'side' I mean 'goat'. I can happily report that all my luggage holds firm through all terrain, and that the SV is once again as dirty as it has been for the last three years.

For others http://tiny.cc/dpHTO

Continuing the 'holiday' theme, I opted to head straight to Port instead of up the Golden Road itself. I needed to source both internet and a place to pitch - as well, preferably, as actually pitching the tent while light remained. I ended up in a caravan park, so all quite civilised (I showered and all!), and have newly elected Maccas my favourite haunt for free wifi when the MotoGP is on.

Yesterday - Saturday - I actually did the unthinkeable, and opted to leave the Oxley Highway to keep its own company. I had intended instead to push on and make it to Byron for Saturday night. Since I'm on holiday... the backroads loop from Kempsey got the nod, and I was rewarded with some good riding and stunning countryside. I then took a detour through Bellingen, and had lunch in the park with the local high school band performing for the jazz festival that weekend - unfortunately about the only gig that was free, and at any rate I needed to get going. Up Waterfall way (with a surprisingly clear run considering all the traffic in town), onto Tyringham and North to Grafton - this would have to be one of my favourite sections of Australia to ride through. Very engaging, beautiful, challenging (and tiring).

Mainly photos from out the back of Kempsey http://tiny.cc/zKsCq

As I got to Grafton it was getting on, and the first line of questioning turned up good results - is there a Maccas? With wireless? Open late? The second saw me heading back south, to find a clearing in the state forrest to set up camp - it is perfectly legal, at appears, to camp anywhere anytime in state forests. National Parks are typically paid, and in designated areas (often well equipped on the flipside). And as many of you will have discovered, caravan parks are the only remaining legal option, and the price one pays for a small square of grass makes it usually a last resort.

A backroad into the nearest SF saw me at the gates of the Grafton Motorcycle Club dirt track, and lo and behold there was a gathering. It seemed a tad strange at first, so I naturally enquired. It turned out that they were preparing the track for the next day's racing. One thing led to another, and next thing I knew my tent was up in the paddock and my name was on the officials' list.

It pays, it seems to ask questions.

Today was spent doing little beyond watching bikes (from the best vantage point on the track - crash corner), fostering my August tan, generally helping out and being fed for my troubles. This is an order of magnitude more than simple 'win-win'. Flagging, it turns out, is more tiring than you would expect, and by sundown I had little enthusiasm for venturing out to find a screening of the GP. Or, for that matter, doing anything to upset the leftovers I had the pleasure of scoffing.

A day with SGMCC

Which leads me back to the beginning- typing in my tent. In a second I will get up to brush my teeth - maybe boil the billy for good measure - and knap out for a good night's kip, ready to continue my adventure to wherever tomorrow takes me.


1 comment:

Hamish said...

Brilliant post, great pics.

You've really got me looking forward to reading about the trip as well. And jealous as hell.

Jill's looking uber-sexy in the green and with all the gear strapped on. I like big butts, I cannot lie.