The life of a weather forecaster would be a relaxed one. No one’s quite sure how you come to your conclusions and even better, no one’s surprised when you get it wrong. It must make for one the most stress free work environments known to man. For some reason, even after 27 years of being disappointed I still take these predictions seriously, hence why I was caught in driving rain with no wet weather gear on a 600km trip up Australia’s east coast. Not only did I have no useful wet weather gear other than a small spray jacket, I hadn’t waterproofed anything in my bag. Nothing a garbage bag from a friendly café didn’t fix however.
Weather aside, there’s no point in having a motorbike if you don’t use it and some of the best riding roads in Australia lie between Canberra and Newcastle where I was heading. I knew where I had to go and when I had to get there, but other than that I hadn’t planned much. So after pointing my nose North, along with a friend on his GSXR1000 who joined me for a portion of the trip, I just had to make sure I was in Newcastle in two days time. Wrongly assuming that there is an element of truth to a weather forecast I planned to camp wherever I made it on the first night.
I hadn’t checked any of the road conditions before our departure from Canberra and lets just say a track tyre equipped GSXR’ was less than ideal as we travelled from Canberra to rural Nerriga over smatterings of dirt and mud riddled roadwork. It was at this point that the temperature plunged and the weather started to turn, and while I was thankful for my heated grips, I was ruing my decision not to pack anything that resembled being appropriate for the weather. Seeing the inclement looking clouds that lay ahead my mate understandably headed home at this point, leaving me to curse the weather and its forecasters alone. From this point on the rain would come in annoyingly short but heavy bursts. Raining just enough to soak my unprotected legs and then clear up just long enough for me to dry.
When I left Wollongong I was optimistic as I had managed to enjoy a well earned beer in what would almost have been considered sunshine. That elation was short lived and I only made it about 30 kilometres up the coast to a campsite in Coledale where I decided I’d had enough for the day. While I had definitely had enough of the weather, I hadn’t had enough of the coast road so I dumped my camping gear and headed up to a nearby lookout. It was here that I discovered that if I had held out for another 10 kilometres or so I would have cleared that annoying weather front that I had been following. At least I had a comfortable campsite (near a pub) and I could get going early the next morning where the roads were really set to get interesting.
Waking up while camping in Australia usually consists of fast coming to realisation that if you don’t rise from your slumber, the sun beating down on you will soon make what ever you’re sleeping in roughly the same temperature as molten lava. In my case the small swag that I was inhabiting had reached what felt like 40+ degrees by 7:30am so that was enough to get me up and ready for the day of riding that was to lie ahead. As soon as I turned out of the campsite that I had called home, I was treated with almost 50 kilometres of Australia’s best roads essentially all to myself.
There was a caveat to this motorcycling nirvana. A 60km/h speedlimit. I could barely believe my eyes when I saw the signpost, but as the public
brainwashing safety messages say, speed kills. So while my fun was ‘limited’ to ’60km/h’ I figured it would be fairly likely that Monday mornings in the Royal National Park would not be the most likely spot to find a member of New South Wales’ finest. Luckily I was right. The road through the National Park ranged from tight switchbacks, to flowing sweepers and the scenery was just as varied. One minute I was riding through dense rain forrest, with a stream to my side and merely kilometres up ahead you I was flanked by think scrub and huge sandstone boulders. The ridiculous speed limit really did take the shine off what was a thoroughly enjoyable stretch of road. I can only imaging how frustrating it would have been for the Lamborghini Gallardo I encountered, but maybe if you can afford a Lamborghini speeding tickets aren’t a big deal.
After the joys of a deserted twisting, undulating and flowing road the shock of being thrust into Sydney’s infamous traffic and urban sprawl is confronting. One minute you’re enjoying un-spoilt wilderness and the next you’re battling with Corollas for space. After crossing Sydney (south to north) I endured a small section of freeway to get to the Old Pacific Highway. Another famous motorcycle jaunt, ‘the old road’ as it’s called, is best sampled on a week day as its proximity to Sydney means that it can get a bit crowded on the weekends (much the same as the Royal National Park actually).
As bad as the previous day’s weather was, by day of riding through some of New South Wales’ best riding roads was made better by the weather. Warm enough to dry the road of any left over rain, but not too hot to cook me in my leather jacket and kevlar jeans. After two days of riding my F700GS was filthy but hadn’t missed a beat. I was however in need of a shower and a seat that wasn’t made by BMW. Even with the unexpected rain, two days riding a fantastic bike on sensational roads is more relaxing that work. Even if you are a weather forecaster.