Getting back in the saddle

Well, after an absence of some six months from blogging, it seems that our handful of followers are looking for more.  We thank them for their dedication and positive comments.  Perhaps a short road trip to get the writing juices flowing again?

Anne has diligently packed the motorbike panniers over the last few days and we are ready for our first road trip in 2022. Little steps and with Easter approaching, we want to be back before the bulk of the holiday makers are out and about. Coffee at Boonah over Cunningham’s Gap and into the Granite Belt as the area is called, known for its fruit, national parks and wine.  Yes, we produce wine in Queensland.  It’s not all beaches and palm trees.

Boy that looks good. Suttons Juice Factory at Thulimbah.

As we approach Stanthorpe  I am struck by the golden colour of the leaves of the deciduous trees. For some reason I always think of April as the start of Autumn but it is in fact March I am reliably informed.   Without such trees around us in Manly, I am always about a month out on the seasons’ change each year.

Autumnal Tints near Stanthorpe.

Day 2: My iPhone’s weather app shows cloudy skies all morning but no rain. This is confirmed by the bureau of meteorology’s radar map but unfortunately this is in conflict with the sound of rain on the roof of the mostly waterproof tent. So much for relying on technology. I had used the weather forecasts before we left to determine what we brought with us, and rain gear was noticeably absent!   Jeans are not that waterproof but it is what we have.

Water has entered the tent overnight, puddles Anne calls them, but from my side of the tent just wet patches.  It is all in the perspective. Seems the waterproofing has not significantly improved since the last trip.  This is why from time to time, equipment needs replacing, but I, Anthony, do not like to throw anything out that has given good service which is why we still have tents going back to 1975!  I have been reliably informed on this trip that this tent will not be making the next motorcycle trip in Queensland. A replacement needs to be sought and this tent retired and donated as “dry weather only” tent for kids.

Camping near Storm King Dam near Stanthorpe.

Up and off to Stanthorpe in light rain heading for the Commercial Cafe, which we hear does great coffee, to meet up with a lovely couple we met the day before at a petrol/gas station where their young son got to sit on both our motorcycles. We really enjoy meeting locals and get their perspective on life and living. Breakfast at a non-gluten free establishment, in spite of their best efforts, does not treat me kindly later in the day. I will need to be more careful in future.

Stanthorpe Fire Station mural.
Another Stanthorpe Mural, go see them all.

A clearing sky tempts us to ride the 36 kilometres to Girraween National Park, a place we have loved to visit during our time in Queensland but have not been to for a dozen years or more. A brief rain shower tests our resolve and our jeans’ lack of waterproofing, but we push on and are able to hike partway up the Pyramid, a famous rock formation in the park. It is really good to be out in the country again.

On top of the world at Pyramid Rock, Giraween.
The water is flowing in Girraween National Park.

While having dinner, a cup of soup and a biscuit back at the campsite, we meet a group of families from Brisbane who were all originally from Kerala in India but only met when they moved to Australia. They invited us to join them for dinner with a range of mouthwatering curries on offer, but I realised I had to decline because of Coeliac Disease. What future culinary delights will I be denied?  Oh well, life goes on with nice dried biscuits. 

Our third day is still grey but with the promise of sunshine further west: we are headed for Texas, a small town of 900 people on the banks of the Dumaresq river which also forms the border between Queensland and New South Wales. Anne proposes we go via the Bruxner Highway so south we go, crossing a state border for the first time on our motorbikes in more than two years without fear of quarantine rules being suddenly changed.

The Bruxner highway from Tenterfield to Texas was a joy to ride: undulations, twists and turns great views and little traffic. Stopping at a river crossing, we enjoy a leisurely break on the banks of the Dumaresq river, which had been in flood only days earlier as evidenced by damage to trees and bushes along the riverbank.

On the banks of the Dumaresq River
Please hold onto the handrail while crossing the bridge.
Texas, a small part of Queensland.

The Texas Railway Museum is our third night’s camping spot. Located just  outside Texas Queensland, not the US TX, a band of intrepid volunteers are working to restore part of what was a 54km branch line to  sleeper by sleeper.

We get to meet Dave, a railway museum volunteer, who comes to check on us  after a concerned resident seeing a couple of dangerous looking bikers just ride up to the station and setup camp calls him! We explain that we are expecting Robert and Kelvin to turn up for the week end.  Dave shows us around the facilities and it is impressive what they have achieved. Worth a visit if you are in the area.

Looking West in Texas on the rail line to Inglewood.
Station Camping in Texas
Intrepid Volunteers Robert and Kelvin, not me, at the Texas Railway museum.
The name says it all.

At Millmerran, we stop for coffee and I am finding that most Gluten free pastries I have eaten so far seem to be a combination of concrete for strength and cardboard for taste. I need to loose my taste memory of tasty flakey pastry.  I am starting to think that gluten free pastry will not form part of my ongoing food consumption. Anyone found an edible version?

Our direct route to our overnight destination of Dalby is closed due to the effects of the recent flooding locals inform us. The damage to bridges and other infrastructure will take some time to repair. 

The Bunya Mountains is the last stop on this little adventure. The mountains rise from the surrounding plain and are visible from Dalby some 50km away.  Crossing the farmland and floodplain crossings as we travel north, the mountains always seem far away. We enjoy seeing deep blue skies finally.  As we start to climb, farmland gives way to scattered temperate forest, then, suddenly it seems, we are enveloped by massive bunya and hoop pines touching above our heads as we enter the real forest. The area was heavily logged.  We are just too late for the Bunya nut season and can only see the remnants on the forest floor, however not a bad thing since the nuts are the size of small pineapples – being hit by one could be very painful.  

While we are still camping, there is a fine restaurant and even finer whiskey/whisky bar with a large section of Scottish and other work. The hearty meal and accompanying drinks are balanced by a couple of brisk walks exploring parts of this unique landscape. 

Last night in the leaky tent in the Bunya Mountains campsite
Fungi in Bunya Mountains National Park.
Bunya pines standing tall
Local wildlife in Bunya Mountains National Park.
Anne sampling the Whisky from the wrong side of the bar.

Back via the Exchange Hotel in Kilkoy, a favourite stop of ours on northern motorcycle loops from Brisbane, for a steak lunch and then after six days and 1158km, we are safely back in Manly.

The only dirt section on the entire trip

While many of our blog entries are from far flung places, for us anyway, there is much to be seen locally everywhere, So while we are all looking at testing our travel wings, why not start with a local trip first?

– Anthony

PS. Storm has a new front (fully round) wheel and has passed the MOT. Ready for the road later this year.