At last, a report on the ride up to Warwick as well as a short summary of the return.
RIDE REPORT – ULYSSES NATIONAL RALLY IN WARWICK.
4-13 April 2022
Ride Leader: Mike Fittall (BMW S1000XR)
Other Riders: Steve Bailes (BMW RT1200), Pat Ryan (Triumph 1200)
Riders who went by other routes: Brian Lacey and Holly Fields; Bill Dusting and Jim Ferguson; John Cook; Greg Rees and Colin Ritchie; Julian Siuksta
Monday 4th. Melbourne to Bombala (540 kms)
Mike and Steve rode to Officer to meet Pat at 9am. After exchanging pleasantries we then took the freeway east from Pakenham, travelling in light drizzle most of the time. This prompted a coffee stop in Drouin, during which the heavy drizzle eased, but not enough to encourage us to do anything than make time and distance. So we continued on the Princes Highway to Rosedale for a quick stop. By this time we had picked up reports that the highway was closed between Orbost and Eden due to flooding and mudslips on the road. Plan A (night in Eden) was dumped, and Pat made a booking for the motel in Bombala. We continued on through Sale and to Bairnsdale in mostly sunny weather, noting the rivers along the way were full to capacity.
(Three fine bikes at Lakes Entrance)
After a lunch break, it was on to Orbost for fuel and coffee, as well as a quick chat to other riders. We then turned north from Orbost, up the bendy road to Bonang and Delegate in light drizzle again and in late afternoon light, which kept us alert ! The 10kms of wet unsealed road across the top gave Steve the chance to improve his skills on the RT, particularly with a loose and foggy visor to deal with! (he can now be rated as a qualified adventure-rider). We were happy to get a good run down from Delegate, getting into Bombala around dusk at 6pm.
Dinner in Bombala on a Monday night proved to be a real challenge, with everything (pub, club, others) closed for the night. So it was whatever met the need from the local IGA supermarket !
Tuesday 5th. Bombala to Oberon (450kms)
An early wakeup had us waiting at the IGA Supermarket at 8am, for a fine breakfast of bacon and egg roll washed down by coffee. We left at 8:30am in cold, foggy but sunny conditions. Once up and over the hills out of Bombala (and out of fog), we enjoyed the rolling sweeping high-country roads to Cooma. This was a fuel stop and a fortunate clean up of the bikes, courtesy of the car wash next door to the servo. And it is not true that the BMWs required warm soapy water for the wash (Pat !).
(How good is this – great roads, great weather !)
We enjoyed the good roads and sunny weather to Michelago, where we pulled off the main road into the excellent general store in town, for a coffee stop and photo opportunity courtesy of the staff.
(Three happy chappies soaking up the sun!)
We continued north, ducking around the back of Queanbeyan (local knowledge - Mikes brother lives there) and on to Bungendore for a quick stop – due to the ride leader missing a key turn out of town ! We had a lunch stop in Goulburn, right next to the Big Merino (missed photo op !) before taking the road north to Taralga, riding on good roads in green countryside. The next section involved the winding road down into the Abercrombie Gorge, where we stopped for a quick break and were totally astonished to see a B-double truck slowly descend into the gorge ! We could smell the overheated brakes and see the smoke haze as the driver continued up the way we had come ! Roadside signs seemed to suggest this was a regular route ! (and Julian on the big Victory was not impressed by the uphill 15 km/hr corner on the way out ). We finished the day arriving in Oberon about 4pm, staying in the Titania Motel, including Julian who had arrived separately. Dinner was at a local Chinese restaurant about 10 minutes walk from the motel.
(Good company, good food, good drinks)
Wednesday 6th (460kms)
Sergeant-Major Steve was up early (again) so we packed up and left at 7am, riding through heavy cold fog down out of the mountains into Lithgow for breakfast at a local bakery. We took the road north towards Mudgee, including a quick ride around the historic town of Kandos and on to Rhylstone. The roads and countryside in the area over the back of the Blue Mountains were very enjoyable. This was followed by a winding road down off the sandstone escarpment into the Bylong Valley road. What great scenery and a great road (occasionally a bit bumpy) leading towards the Hunter valley, sweeping along between rocky outcrops either side. The ride was made more memorable by following a petrol tanker maintaining about 105 kms/hr on the relatively narrow road – clearly a local, and an empty load (hopefully !). We stopped mid-ride in Bylong to find the recommended one-and-only café was permanently closed, so it was on into Muswellbrook for lunch. Thankfully we found an air-conditioned shopping centre and café – 27deg outside in full riding gear was a bit warm ! We then headed up the New England Highway, arriving in Tamworth about 3:30pm. We stayed in two motels, due to all motels being booked out ! – a combination of big police conference, horse event, rugby league competition, pre-Country Music bookings. The very helpful manager took pity on us due to heavy rain and drove us to the nearby Southgate Inn for a good bistro dinner. Even better, we got a courtesy bus ride back, complete with boisterous locals.
Thursday 7th (410kms)
Once again it was up early and away, about 6:30am. Although on loading the bikes we found Steve had a bag of kit (including medicines) stolen out of a pannier overnight, and Mike was missing a pair of sunglasses out of the tank bag – extremely disappointing ! [The manager subsequently contacted us to say the bag was found out near the bbq, so the return ride meant a change of route, to come back through Tamworth]. We set off up the highway in light drizzle, and pulled into the Alternate Root café in Uralla for an excellent breakfast. The interesting building was an old store that had been reconfigured, and featured impressive pressed-metal ceilings.
(Café in Uralla)
We continued up the New England Highway. By this stage we were truly sick of the NSW habit of posting “Road Works” signs about 2km in advance, and then “60 km/h” signs about 1 km out, before actually getting to the action ! – although often there wasn’t any !!
We pulled into the small town of Deepwater for a coffee stop at an eclectic café/gift shop/second hand store – complete with Cadillac armchairs !
A quick lunch stop was taken outside Stanthorpe before arriving at McNevins Warwick Motel about 2:30pm. After checking-in at the motel we rode the short distance to the Showgrounds and registered at the National Rally and had a look around.
ULYSSES NATIONAL RALLY
We got the courtesy bus down to the Showgrounds for the Meet and Greet, held outside between 6 and 9pm, partly under a small marquee. The cold drizzly conditions and long food queues limited the appeal of the event somewhat. But being resourceful people, Pat and I fortified ourselves (and a Ulyssian from northern NSW) by drinking a bottle of red wine while we waited for the pizza order!
Friday was a relaxing day - Lions Breakfast at the Showgrounds; Extended National Committee meeting attended by Pat and Mike (10-11am); walk uptown for coffee and lunch; walk back to the motel.
Dinner involved the bus to and from the The Sportsmen Club, another good meal.
The Grand Parade was held in the morning, after a quick breakfast put on by the local soccer club. A large variety of bikes took part as usual, with the ride including a sweep up and down the main street with plenty of people out for the spectacle.
After the parade we took a short ride out to Leslie Dam. This involved blindly following the sat nav along 5kms of (reasonable quality) unsealed road, before admitting the mistake and retracing the route – more ‘adventure riding’ for Steve on the RT, and u-turn practice for all of us.
The rest of Saturday was taken up by the Annual General Meeting from 1-3pm, and the Rally Dinner from 6-9pm. The dinner was moved from the outside marquee, to the inside exhibitors area due to the wet grounds outside. There was a strong representation by Melbourne Ulysses (12 of us in total) at the dinner.
THE RETURN RIDE
Sunday 10th to Wednesday 13th
The Melbourne group split up for the return ride, and went by various routes home. The three of us got away early again (6:30am) and stopped shortly in Stanthorpe for coffee. We followed the New England Highway back as far as Armidale, where Mike turned off to catch up with a cousin in town. Mike also caught up with friends on the Central Coast and in the Blue Mountains on Monday, then rode to Wagga Wagga via Bathurst and Cowra on Tuesday, to get home mid afternoon on Wednesday.
Pat and Steve travelled on back through Tamworth (picked up kit bag from the motel), and then on to Coonabarabran where they spent the night. They then decided to head a bit further than Wagga as earlier planned, and spent that night at Albury where they had dinner at the local Indian. Along the route they stopped at the Gunnedah Farming Museum, and wandered around there for an hour or so having a break and some history lessons.
In summary, this was a thoroughly enjoyable trip – great company on the ride, an interesting selection of roads and countryside, mostly good weather, and a good time at the National Rally.
Thanks to Pat and Steve who made it such a good trip.
Total Distance covered : 3845 kms