(A Sidecar Eye View)
Last week Mick was reading a bike magazine and noticed an ad for a “Motorcycle Muster” at Gloucester. “We’re not doing anything this weekend, are we?” he asked, so we decided to head north. Another couple decided to come along for the ride as well.
Saturday dawned not only very frosty, but foggy as well. Yuck! There is nothing worse than having helmets and glasses fogging up. When the fog cleared it was the most glorious clear blue day.
We travelled through the Bylong Valley Way. This road links the beautiful Central Tablelands with the Hunter Valley. It has only been fully sealed for about eighteen months.
We then wound our way up through Dungog where you feel like you are on top of the world.
We had a nice break here and visited a beaut antique shop. Lots of lovelies, but too large to bring home on the bike.
And finally to Gloucester. We arrived at about 2.30pm and the bike event was just about all over. Oh well, not to worry. We didn’t so much as take one photo.
We found the caravan park, which is right in the middle of town, set up camp and went for a wander up and down the street window shopping. There was a rather nice looking craft and book shop, but it was closed, I might have to have a bit of a look next time we’re through this way (whenever that is).
The following morning there was a very light fog and best of all, no frost. It was quite a bit warmer than home.
After a leisurely breakfast we started heading back south. A nice stop at Denman for lunch, where everyone said we should have been there last week for the food and wine festival. We might have to put that on next year’s agenda.
Then it was back across the Bylong Valley Way. This time I took lots of photos from the sidecar.
A bit of background. During the Great Depression there was a work program created to build a railway through the valley. Nearly everything was completed except for laying the track - bridges, embankments and best of all, a tunnel. Then WWII started and the project was never completed.
Fast forward to the early 70s, when I was a little kid. We often travelled this road when heading north to visit family. The road was nearly all dirt back then. We would leave home really early and drive through the tunnel just as it was getting daylight. It was most important to turn on the headlights and sound the car horn in the tunnel. Great excitement for little kids. At the other end of the tunnel there was a rest area where we always stopped to have our packed breakfast. Mick’s family travelled through there fairly often as well.
Then in the 80’s they opened the Ulan Coal Mine and finished the Ulan Railway to service the mine. The road was then diverted up over the hill. It just wasn’t the same.
The valley is spectacular, starting at the north with vineyards and horse studs. Then there starts to be some craggy hills, and the road follows a lovely river. It was just the perfect day for riding, temperature in the low 20s, no wind, not a cloud in the sky.
There has always been lots of black Angus cattle in the valley, even before they became such a popular breed.
The valley is always so lush.
The craggy sandstone cliffs are stunning. If you know where to look there are caves with aboriginal art in them.
Then finally we climb up through this gap in the hills back to the Central Tablelands and Rylstone . Once Mick and I saw an elusive lyrebird up through here.
Wouldn’t this cliff look stunning with the morning sun on it.
Then into Rylstone with its lovely old sandstone buildings. By the way, there is a little craft shop in the two storey building. Rylstone is always a nice spot to stop. It is increasingly popular with motorcyclists now that the road is all sealed. The pub puts on a great counter lunch and there are several nice coffee shops. There is also a couple of antique shops and a great little op shop.
Beautiful Autumn colours coming out of Kandos.
Back up onto the Central Tablelands.
The shadows were getting quite a bit longer and there was a definite nip in the air as we got closer to home.
Down into our glorious O’Connell Valley.
The sun was just sinking over the horizon when we got home.