Australia Day 5: Pancakes on the Rocks with a Bike on it’s side

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Today I think we overslept a bit, I think it was like 6 or so when woke up to the sound of those crazy loud birds again, and maybe one loan person snoring :).  I’ve never seen…more like heard so many birds in my whole life.  The closest thing I’ve seen is when I was little the Canadian Geese use to migrate through our town.  Even that doesn’t even hold a candle to the huge flocks of different types of birds in Australia.  There are millions of them!

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Kookaburra making all it’s racket!

Camryn and I quietly take down the tent and pack everything up, but were a little concerned about starting our bikes so early.  We decided to be good neighbors and  walk the bikes out of our campsite and down the road about 100 yards or so before we start them up.  I hate it when neighbors aren’t considerate of others when in the great outdoors.  It’s not like we all have thick walls…

There’s no one on the road this early, so we were able to make our way down to the ferry quickly.  We needed to head back across the river, and we just make it before the ferry pushes off, they were closing the gates already but we’re nice and opened them back up for us.  It was just us and a loan bicycle rider on the boat this time.

We have to head back through the town of Wisemans Ferry, and I believe Camryn is starting to stress out a bit, because she knows that she will have to go back up the steep hairpin turn that she came down the day before. Unfortunately she let her nerves get to her and almost stalls out going up the hill.  I think it was a combination of being extremely tired, cold, and the anticipation overcoming a difficult obstacle, but mostly tired and cold.  Luckily she didn’t loose it, we had the whole road to ourselves and she was able to take her time and focus.  I am proud of her, being on a bike in the first place is new to her…a 1200 is a heavy  bike but she didn’t letting it intimidate her (most of the time).  Every time she gets on and rides she gets better and better.

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Today we will finally hit Sydney before turning north for the remainder of the trip.  Our first stop is breakfast!

One of Camryn’s clients told her about a breakfast pace in Sydney that we should try called Pancakes on the Rocks.  I’m not sure how she knew about it since she had never been to Australia, but it had something to do with a radio show and a random prank call.  Either way it sounded good to me, I love pancakes!

Getting into Sydney was pretty easy and Breakfast was AWESOME, I’m glad we stopped.  Thank you Camryn’s client!  Getting out of Sydney was another story.  Sydney was in the middle of a month long event called Sydney in Lights, there were several street closing and detours.  All the streets and traffic was supposed to completely shut down after a certain time of day.  There were multi-level, and  dead-end streets. Did I mention the GPS we ordered never showed up…we were on our own for navigation. (the REVER app saved our bacon).

I ended up taking Camryn down, a small side street, causing us to make a sharp U-turn on an incline, which resulted in hearing loud scream in my headset.  I turned to see Camryn rolling down the hill without her bike, which is on it’s side at the top of the hill…OK may not a huge hill but still a hill.  I thought she was warming up, but maybe today is not going to be her day 🙂

I was glad to see that she was ok, and her little spill gave us a good excuse to stop and try to collect ourselves before moving on to our next destination.  We were thinking of staying to see some of the lights tonight but it had been a stressful day dealing with all the traffic and city roads, so we decided to head out.

We stopped in the town of Gosford along the way to stock up on some groceries.  We aren’t going to be close to any restaurants or stores tonight.  Camryn is tired and just wants to get to the campground.  I don’t blame her, I feel the same way. We got to the campsite while the sun was still up, but by the time we set up the tent and made a cup of coffee it was dark.

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We were the only people in the whole campsite.

Next time, we are headed up to Diamond Head Beach where we get to camp next to the water with a bunch of Kangaroos. So make sure to come back!

Australia Day 3 & 4…Rest, a little Shopping…and a Horse Auction?

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It’s day three, our rest day (yeah… right),  and time to head to the grocery store.  This is something we planned to do on day one, and then again on day two.  However, I have neglected our need for food and water long enough, and Camryn is about to kill me, so we are off to Tamworth NSW.

Tamworth is a city in the New England region of New South Wales, Australia. Straddling the Peel River, right in the middle of Horse Country.  

Tamworth is home to Australia’s largest Country Music Festival…Typically the event is 10 days long, has more than 2oo performers, and draws over 200k visitors…we just missed it!

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Tamworth is also the location of one of the only camping stores in the last 654 miles or 1211 kilometers, and was where we needed to go in order to find fuel for our Jet-Boil….did I also mention food?

As we arrived in Tamworth, Camryn noticed a convention center with a rather large number of horse trailers, I was going ride right by but oh no…we had to stop!  Horses and I don’t get along to well, but that is a story for another day.  It turned out to be a cutting horse auction, It was pretty cool to see the different styles  hats, boots and riding.  We were so mesmerized by one rider we forgot too film it…and she was the best one, we named her gumby legs.   We did however, get some footage you will see in the clip below, we also got a few interested looks, since everyone was in their fancy  western wear and we’re walking around with moto boots and helmets.

Here are some of the highlights from Day 3…

Day four was a short travel day, we started out early because our body clocks haven’t adjusted yet.  It was cold, so we layered up and headed out to our next camp site at Mill Creek.

It is now the 12th of June, and come to find out its the Queen’s birthday.  This being a national holiday, all the back country roads and twisty mountain passes are filled with a diverse group of motorcyclists, weekend racers, as café hoppers making their holiday rounds. When I say rounds, I do mean rounds.  There are cafe’s that line Putty Road on the north end of Yengo National Park.  I can’t remember how many kilometers there were between them, but it couldn’t have been more than 10-20 kms at the most.  We saw the same bikers over and over again…I don’t know how much coffee one person can drink!

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Photo by John Keogh

The Grey Gum was a great place to eat.  We met some interesting people there, with plenty of two-wheeled stories to share.  So, after an hour passes, and with a smile on my face, trying to ignore the telepathic stink-eye from Camryn, trying to let me know that its time to shut-up and get back on the bike.  “WE GOT THINGS TO SEE, AND PLACES TO BE”.

After leaving the Grey Gum, we got back onto Putty Rd. heading south.  Soon I began to realize why this road was so popular with bikers.  Dense scenic forests segmented by rocky cliff walls and more than it’s fair share of banked turns and hill climbs, my favorite!  I can see Camryn is falling further and further behind me (not her favorite), as I can’t help myself…gradually gaining speed leaning the bike deeper into the turns, yelling over the intercom, “WE GOT FUN BITS UP AHEAD, WOOHOO!”  to which she replies “awesome” I know she really doesn’t mean it.  (she is new to this whole bike thing, I’m just happy she’s trying)

Some time later we came to our first ferry crossing, on the Hawkesbury River and greeted by a opossum sized rat.

Anyway, here’s day 4.

Australia

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For our 21st Wedding anniversary Camryn and I wanted to do something special. We love to travel, but rarely have the means or the time to do so. One day Camryn stumbled upon a set of tickets to Australia for $500.00 round trip/person, and that pretty much sealed the deal on what we were going to do.

The tickets are from a website called http://www.cheapflightnow.com. At first I was in total disbelief. While thinking to myself, “there is no way these tickets are legit.” Camryn proceeds to book them. Turns out, they were very real.

Planning

We first started thinking about what we wanted to do. Sitting in a hotel room for two weeks was certainly out of the question. After all, what is the point of visiting another country if all you do is stay in one location the whole time, where your biggest adventure is deciding where to eat that night. We wanted to get out and explore!

What better way to experience and be connected with the environment that you’re in, than on the back of a motorcycle.

Being both owners and huge fans of BMW, we opted for the 1200 GS. It’s tough, reliable, and has got plenty of power to lug my fat butt and all my gear around OZ.
We found a company online, called BikeRoundOZ. They weren’t the only ones to pop up on google, but after reading over all the companies, they seemed to be the best organized and equipped. Later on, they would become much more valuable resource than I expected.

With the flights and the bikes booked, I started building an Itinerary. Camryn and I compiled a list of places that we wanted to see along the way, plotted them on the map, and pretty soon a route started to appear. The folks at Bikeround OZ had some great advise on what roads to take.

Route

From Brisbane we will ride inland through Mount Barney National Park, following the Great Dividing Range down to our first camp in Glen Innes.

On day 2 we ride further south through Hanging Rock State Forest and into Murrurundi for two nights at an AirBNB.

Then to Mill Creek Camp, riding through Yengo National Park, just outside Sydney, where we hope to stop at Pancakes on the Rocks, for breakfast the next morning.

From Sydney we head north, following with coast line to campsites at Mungo Brush, Diamond Head Beach for two nights, Trial Bay Gaol, through Waterfall Way to Diggers Camp, and turning inland for a bit, we will arrive in Cutters camp for a night.

For the last leg of the trip, we ride up to Cleveland, just outside of Brisbane, where we will load our bikes onto a ferry and travel across the bay to Stradbroke Island where we will be staying at the Stradie Beach house at Point Lookout for our last two nights.

Then, sadly, head back into Brisbane, return the bikes, pack our junk and head home.

Here is a bit of what went down, from the planing all the way up to our first day on the road.

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IMG_0170It had just started raining on us when we arrived in Glen Innes so it was a mad dash to get our tent set up and our clothes out of the rain…other than that, our first night on the road we stayed warm and dry in our little tent.

At around 4 in the morning Camryn shot straight out of her sleeping bag “What the heck is that?”  it was a noise that we’d never heard before, and couldn’t identify.  We laid there for several minutes listening and trying to see what it may have been in the dark, then it would stop…a few minutes later it started again…It’s an impossible sound to describe but I’ll give it a go.  It sounded like monkeys in the trees laughing, but then there was this other sound that was like a 1980’s video game mixed with something I imagine my computer would sound like while imploding.  It ended up being a Kookaburra, Yellow Crested Cockatoos, and  few Magpies.  You can hear them at the beginning of the video below.

We were supposed to find a grocery store on our way to Glen Innes yesterday but because we ran so late we weren’t able to stock up on food or water…so as you might imagine our first thought was how are we going to make our coffee??  Oh Crap!  Luckily, Australia doesn’t have a shortage on cafés

After breaking down camp and loading up the bikes, then getting charged an additional $5.00, because I lost the shower room key, that I later found (in the pocket that I checked a hundred times) we hit the road again.

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Since we’re still traveling down the Great Dividing Range the scenery stayed pretty much the same as our first day, but still, pretty awesome.  It was a mixture of wide open plains, farm land, rocky hills, and dense forests.

We stopped for a quick break in the town of Walcha, where we (out of shear luck) stumbled upon a custom motorcycle/coffee shop across the street from were we parked.  The shop was called “Tinker”, and it had some of the most creative and unique bikes that I had ever seen.  We got the full tour, threw back another couple of flat white coffees, and quickly got back on the road.  I don’t know why we were in such a hurry.  Camryn and I have a tendency to fall into a “run and gun mentality” when traveling , we get so excited that we try and see everything at once.  Trying not to miss anything in the short time we are here, we probably ended up missing a lot.  Australia is huge.

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Through the rolling hills of Niangala and an endless number of Sheep and cattle ranches later we arrive in Murrurundi, NSW.   We’re staying at an AirBNB tonight known as Gillian’s Garden Studio.  The pictures online were amazing, but didn’t do the place justice.  It was a perfect little studio cabin that sat on top a hill overlooking the valley. The interior was beautiful, cozy, and comfortable. Gillian met us in the driveway as we rolled up, showed us where we could park the bikes and gave us the grand tour.  She had made jam and fresh bread with tea and coffee, and made us feel right at home.  I definitely recommend staying here.

Restoring our 1973 Airstream Sovereign Land Yacht Trailer

About 11 years ago my great Aunt gave Ben and I their 1973 Airstream for our family to use.  Now before you get all excited, the thing had been sitting out on a remote part of their ranch in Wyoming and then finally their barn for the last 35-40 years.  Don’t get me wrong I’m not one to say no thanks to such a wonderful gift.  It has, however taken us quite a bit of time to save up the money to make it usable.  Our journey to a (usable) Airstream is about to begin….or so we hope.  Here are a few,”before” pics…only the outside right now…

Here you can see the Airstream behind Wes.  This was taken in White Sands, NM. on our way back to Phoenix last summer

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You can see the outside closer up in the pic below…just some slight discoloration…but the inside we totally gutted to keep the insects and small vermin in TN where they belonged.

Here you can’t see but the inside is totally empty except for my bike!

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So over the last few months we have been diligently looking at blogs, going to RV Restoration places and even to an Airstream dealer right here in Phoenix.  There are so many things to consider and so many, many, many decisions to make.

So far no decisions have been made. We are still in the gathering information stage.  Check out the Airstream board on Pinterest.

Today I discovered Gone With the Wynns blog.  They are full time RV’rs with lots of information to share in a very fun and entertaining way.  They also have a YouTube channel…I binge watched all their episodes today!!  Thank you!

So if you know of any blogs we can read, experience you can share we would love to hear what you have to say.  We need all the help we can get.

Day 6 Summer Trip 2014

June 24, 2014

Odometer: 3521 Miles

Crossett, AR. to Spring Hill, TN.

Today was a longer trip but it was easy riding.  The majority of ride today was on the Natchez Trace Parkway.  There were no trucks and very few cars.  Not only that, but there were trees that lined the Parkway so it cut down on the wind!

After 6 full days or riding, and a total now of a whopping 3521 miles on my bike, I am starting to feel much more confident that I’m not going to kill myself!  This trip has been a great confidence booster for me, and I’m really starting to enjoy my time on the bike.   I also think Ben is starting to relax a little and watch what he’s doing rather than watching me all the time.:)

Spring Hill was the end of my journey on the bike for now, for the rest of our trip I will be hauling an Airstream trailer.  Next year we want to tackle all the National Parks in Utah and finish up in Yellowstone.  We’ll keep you posted!

Day 5 Summer Trip 2014

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