The Gathering

It’s been awhile since I’ve got together with my people, my long distance riding community. And Nambucca Heads was where it all started for me,  it was the destination of my first 1,000km day. Here I found a community of like-minded people who enjoy the open road and doing big miles. Where a couple of days can see you anywhere in the country.

Our plan was symbolic, Canberra to Thurgoona, then Tottenham and Moree before finishing the ride in Nambucca Heads. All key FarRide locations including the first destinations for both Ed and I.  A ride to remember what was, to close that chapter, and to move on.

It all started so well … we got out the front door and on the bikes by 3am … and then the plan started to unravel.!

Around the corner to the atm for our start receipt and the machine wouldn’t give my card back … it then shuts down and spat out my card 10 minutes later. Well that was a fail.! Plan b – head to the servo and grab a receipt. Done, but now I’ve misplaced my start witness form – retrace our steps and it’s no where to be found. 

Bugger!

Forty five minutes and we haven’t even left Canberra, this is not a good start. Then as we roll out of Canberra the rain starts… and we were in the rain for the next couple of hours.  If only we left on time we would have skirted this whole rain front.

Finally the clouds parted, the fog lifted, and the sun came up.

As we turned north we were greeted with blue skys and a patchwork of yellow canola fields which looked amazing – hard not to stop and grab a photos. They are just mesmerising, however with so much water laying around I’m not sure how they are going to get machinery in to harvest a lot of the crops.

As part of this ride we are also seeking out steam trains to photograph as part of the Trails to Rails Grand Tour run by TeamStrange in the US as a world wide event. Essentially we need 25 points to be classified as a finisher –  one point for a stationary steam train, and five points for one that is operating.

So in the lead up to this ride we have been researching where all the old steam trains are located, and which ones we can photograph on this trip.

For a full list of steam trains I’ve visited, see this page.

Forbes, NSW
Parkes, NSW

From Parkes we turn west to Tottenham, only to make it as far Bogan Gate before being turned around by closed roads due to flood waters. After chatting locals, and consulting the map we back-tracked 40km to Parkes where we would need work up a new plan.

Over a pie a new plan was created. Tottenham and Moree are now out. We are going to keep off the highway and take the backroads to Wellington and then onto Armidale where we would take the Waterfall Way to the coast, and our destination.

But the weather gods had other plans. We got within spitting distance of Wellington where we were stopped by raging waters across the road. We certainly aren’t getting to Wellington this way.!

And there is Wellington just on the other side of this crossing

A local farmer kindly escorted us around the flooded river and we popped out on the highway 40km west of Wellington at Geurie.

Time for a new plan.!

Hitting the highway, we both reached the same conclusion … a quick conversion over Bluetooth and it was agreed – our documented ride was out the window, and the prudent thing now is to just burn up the highway … we certainly didn’t want to get stuck in flood waters on some backroad in the middle of the night.!

The ghostly steam trains at Dorrigo, NSW

The last 6 hours of the ride was under the cover of darkness, illuminated by my new led headlight globes and spotties – a topic for another day. With a few roos around the concentration levels were very high, but I forgot how much I love this road … even at night. We pulled into Urunga at 11:45pm having ridden 1,630km for the day.

Saturday was full. Full of old friends and new. Full of tales of trips taken and adventures planned. There may even have been talk of trains and locations … but that’s okay as we are doing this on bikes and journeying far and wide to seek out said trains. But most of all it was hanging out with those who share the same riding passion.

Bikes parked outside V-Wall hotel – Nambucca Heads, NSW
Photo credit – Karl
Ocean View Hotel – Urunga NSW

Then it was time to head off. For me, I’m heading north for a few more days riding… and find more trains.

4 thoughts on “The Gathering

  1. Bit of bad luck at the start of the ride there mate.
    That train at the Forbes Vintage Village is the Garratt. My brother and I watched them put down tracks up bathurst street and drive the train up the road and into the village. They pulled up the tracks from behind and placed it down in front and kept moving the train in small increments. We were only little kids on our pushbikes at the time.

    Like

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