Trevor McLeod FJR1300
Peter Arday ST1300
Brian Agius ST1100
Ian Paterson GL1800
Sunday: We left Nicholls on a beautiful morning with 10 other bikes on the Club Ride to Grenfell. After lunch the four of us said farewelled the others and travelled the Mid Western and Newell Highways to West Wyalong. After spending a baffling and fruitless half-hour searching for someone to check us into the motel we had booked, we walked across the road to the Charles Sturt Motor Inn, where we were welcomed and even had undercover parking. We dined at the Services Club, where I also quadrupled my money on the pokies.
Old Bank Cafe, Lake Cargelligo
Monday: Trevor led us north-west to Lake Cargelligo, where we had a coffee stop at the Old Bank Café. Unfortunately, there had been two funerals in town the previous Friday and the mourners had eaten all the Ganmain pies so I had to settle for a ham and cheese croissant. This was obviously a setback but we decided to continue on the trip nonetheless. The countryside and crops looked superb as we rode via Euabalong to Mt Hope (now all sealed) for lunch at the Royal Hotel. The proprietor, who makes great burgers, had moved there only a month before with her three young children, boosting the population of Mt Hope from two to six. The kiddies had listed their favourite things on a whiteboard. Pig hunting was at the top.
Royal Hotel, Mt Hope
We then rode north on Kidman Way, which is untroubled by many bends, to Cobar. After checking in at the motel across the street from the one we were staying in (yes, that’s how it’s done in Cobar), Brian and I rode up to a lookout with a fantastic view down into a giant open cut mine and beyond it the town. Beyond that the scrub stretched far, wide and flat. We had a delicious 500g T-bone steak, vegies, chips and a schooner of beer for $20 at the Great Western Hotel.
Tuesday: Another beautiful morning. We headed west on the Barrier Highway through mixed scrub and grazing country that was surprisingly green. We saw no kangaroos, no emus and only a handful of feral goats, and with a 110 km/h speed limit the cruise control got a good workout. Trevor and I stopped for fuel at Emmdale Roadhouse and, unbelievably, they were out of pies so I had to have a sausage roll for morning tea. We also had a brief stop at Wilcannia for photos of the Darling River and a snack break at Little Topar Roadhouse before the last leg into Broken Hill, arriving at 2:30pm. We stayed at Jadan Cottages in Bismuth Street and cooked dinner on the backyard barbie.
Wednesday: We started walking into town (1km) but waved down a suburban bus. The driver, a Ulysses member, sold us all-day seniors tickets for $2.50 so at intervals during the day we did three bus trips and saw nearly all of Broken Hill. I had a local McLeod’s pie and pastie for lunch (they were okay but not up there with Ganmain or Finley pies) and we had a couple of beers in a pub where we got a Ulysses discount. There was a certain incident in Argent Street but on the whole we were fairly well behaved and even shopped for jewellery for our wives.
Palace Hotel and slag heap, Broken Hill
I rented “Wake In Fright” on DVD so we could learn a bit about the history, traditions and culture of Broken Hill. It must be the only town where a teenage checkout chick at Video Ezy knows how to spell Bismuth. I also rode up to the restaurant and miner’s memorial on top of the mullock heap that overlooks the town (the locals call it the slag heap). Highly recommended. After another BBQ back at Jadan Cottages (thanks, Brian!) we had coffee and dessert at a certain Scottish restaurant that was only five minutes walk away.
Thursday: Overcast, windy and 28C when we left Broken Hill but it cooled gradually as we rode south on the Silver City Highway to Wentworth for a pie and coffee. Thus far the winds had been mostly of the tail variety but as we headed east on Sturt Highway they became crosswinds and increased in strength. By the time we were on the Hay Plain, with not a tree to break the breeze, the crosswinds were gusting up to 90 km/h and the riding wasn’t that pleasant. We stayed at the excellent Saltbush Motor Inn in the main street of Hay. The other three were feeling weary but I walked to the Services Club for a couple of beers and a Chinese meal.
Friday: The bikes were covered in thick red dust after a brief mudstorm during the night but it was calm and sunny as we headed east after a beaut brekky at a coffee shop next-door to the motel. The Riverina was unbelievably green, with bright yellow canola crops in full flower. Our final lunch was at Bullocky Bill’s at the Dog on the Tuckerbox before the familiar last leg home.
We rode 2420km on the trip. The longest day, from Broken Hill to Hay, was 590km. The longest distance between fuel stops was about 260km (Lake Cargelligo to Cobar). The longest time between laughs when travelling with Peter Arday can be measured in microseconds.
Barrier Highway near Wilcannia
Darling River at Wilcannia
Brian keeping busy in Broken Hill
Crappy coffee at Broken Hill