We have opted not to go north on the “coast highway” as it is rarely on the coast and we will head inland to the hills. We did have to first book it 129 km north on the M1 freeway (this after 30 minutes just getting to it from the city).
We took the exit here onto the B68 and rode 38 km to Maitland. The road surface is paved, but it is actually mostly patched pot holes. Then we turned off onto onto The Bucketts Way north to Gloucester.
This is a curvy road thru the hills and farmlands. There is almost no other vehicles. We stopped in Gloucester for a late lunch. This was the largest of the towns we went thru, but they are all quite well kept and look prosperous.
After lunch at 2 pm we had 214 km to go to Armidale ( the highest city in Oz). The road surface here is smooth and we saw about 4 other vehicles all the way there. We had a long day at it was after 5 so we opted for a small motel just at the edge of town. This place has lots of motels and unlike most places we have been there are very few no vacancy signs. This worked in our favor as we bargained and got a large discount. The rooms have a kitchenette and so we walked the 5 km round trip to the Coles supermarket to get dinner fixings. It must be James Bond week and the next in the series and the last Bond was on tonight (no better than the terrible one last night).
From Armidale we headed east on the B78 or Waterfall way. This again a perfect motorcycle road.
We took a small break at Ebor on the Guy Fawkes River to see the pretty nice Ebor falls.
We turned north just after this on the Armidale road thru Clouds Creek to Grafton. We stopped and had a great cafe lunch and decided what to do from here.
We had originally planned to go to the coast at Iluka.
Chris in Mona Vale had put us in contact with Peter and Kay Forwood (the world’s most traveled motorcycle)and we heard from them last night. They are away on a cruise this weekend Saturday until Tuesday. They live 100 km north of Brisbane, but will actually be just north of the city tomorrow for a family event and so can meet us for lunch there.
This means a 280 km ride in the morning from Iluka unless we go farther north. This is a good spot to decide to change the route and we will still go north on the B91 now further and all the way to Casino, where we will take the B62 thru Lismore to Byon Bay. These are all secondary roads with little traffic and will leave us with only 175 km to go tomorrow.
From about 30 km before Casino until Byron we saw numerous people pulled over by police. It is interesting unlike NZ people drive 5 km under the speed limit and now I see why. There is definitely a palpable police presence here.
Byron is a hip surf town with cool vibe. Our motel had direct beach access thru the back fence. We arrived with about 20 min to spare before sunset. We enjoyed a long walk down the beach where it was 21 degrees even after dark. The town is hopping there are numerous cool places to eat and live music and buskers on every block.
We left Byron Bay about 9 and did a side trip off the M1 into koala territory (no sightings) and then headed back to the freeway to make it to Numbah by noon for our lunch meeting with the Forwoods.
The Forwoods are super nice people and so humble. They rode their Harley to every nation on the globe including all the island nations. Their trip was epic was done before the cellphone/internet age. Their bike has been ridden in every country in the world including all the island nations.
They advised us on a route north to end at their house where we could camp in the yard as they will be away this weekend. We traveled thru Samford to Dayboro again on great riding road. Here we stopped at IGA for a slush and as we were getting ready to go a man in van pulled us and said “are you on HU?”. His neighbor had seen us parked and called hill to come down from Mt Mee “because you have to see these 2”. He is the Hepko Becker dealer here and a big HU fan. After our chat we continued up the hill to Mt Mee and then on to Woodford, Peachester, and Beerwah. We then had a short trip on the M1 to get to the Sunshine Coast and Maroochydore.
Here we will camp in the Forwood’s yard and we can use the public facilities at the river 50 m away. We then had a message from them that their cruise is cancelled as the last sailing this week there was a woman lost after jumping overboard.
We arrived to their yard and set up the tent up under the biggest tree for shade. We had stopped at the ALDI on the way and took our meal down to the river side for a picnic.
There are thousands of Lorikeets here and just at sunset (and sunrise) they go insane with squeaking and flying about. It is quite a sight and a racket. We tucked in for our urban camping for a quiet night other than the birds.
This morning we walked into the city center along the river for breakfast and then further along to where the river meets the sea at Cotton Tree. We stopped at the Woolworth on the way home and took our lunch across the footbridge near the house to the beach. It goes over to the island in the river. Here at low tide you have to walk a long way out on the sand bar for it to get deep enough to swim.
Late afternoon Kay and Peter arrived home and we had access to the laundry!!! Kay was kind to set us up in a spare room as well. Tonight we all walked into the town to a great Asian fusion place for dinner. In the morning we rode their bikes back to Cotton Tree for a swim in the ocean and so the guys could do some body surfing.
We then saddled up the bikes and rode just 15 km to across town to join a party in a park with some of their friends.
It is a hot day and in the afternoon it was the for a swim in the river to cool off. Kay made us a lovely turkey dinner.
We were up early to swim in the ocean again and then set off north.