2002 Ulysses AGM Mt Gambier Ride

After months of planning, the route had finally been decided. The route was designed to meet the preferences of as many members as possible both in road type, direction and timing. Unfortunately, this meant that a couple of members travelled separately but we all met up at Mt Gambier and enjoyed the fellowship that comes so naturally within the group.


The morning of Sunday 17th March looked like dawning brightly as I left home at 5:00 am heading for Gailes to meet Lionel, Peter, Larry and Annette. By 6:00am the sun was up, all bikes and riders fuelled and heading for Warwick. Bit of fog about and a quick lesson in why the weather report temperatures for Ipswich and Amberley are lower than the rest of Brisbane. A quick stop in Warwick to call Peter’s brother in Stanthorpe to arrange a meeting place and time, then on to Stanthorpe for our first fuel and coffee stop. Couple of riders heading north, strange, I thought everyone would be going south. Turns out they can came from Warwick and had forgotten some thing and was going back to get it. They were part of the Stanthorpe contingent.

Back on the road and destination Armidale for fuel and on to Uralla for lunch. Check the route sheet to confirm the next turn-off, bugger, forgot the route sheet, so much for all the planning. Larry and Lionel to the rescue, they bought theirs. Then came the first example of Goldwing map reading expertise with me completely misreading the location of the turn-off to Walcha. About 20klm down the road we stop and discover the error, the turn-off was actually in Uralla, probably about 100m from where we had lunch. Never mind, lunch was good. The Stanthorpe crew goes by. We decide to take the long way and go to Bendemeer then across to Walcha. Moving again and we pass the Stanthorpe crew stopped because someone has dropped something.

From Walcha, we turn left and travel through Gloucester to Nabiac. What a brilliant stretch of road, a couple of rough sections but then onto the new work and across the mountains on a combination of tight and sweeping curves with fantastic views. Must do it again. Into Gloucester and with a bit of help from a bicycle rider on where to get fuel, we went past it, and how to find Nabiac, and we’re back on the road. Great people, bicycle riders. This again rekindles the ribbing for Bevan every time we see a bicycle. Too late to make the Australian Motorcycle Museum now today as we role into Nabiac at 4:00pm. It’s obviously Beer O’clock and the pub is a welcome sight. Down a couple, find accommodation, get beer, (Larry doesn’t like the look of the Tooheys Old, but says it will do). Down a couple of beers then someone thinks of food. As the only one who had been drinking lights at the pub, I have to do another run to get the fish and chips. The carton runs out and we turn in satisfied with a great first day.


Monday dawns early, NSW time. A couple of hours at the museum and a decision that the New England Hwy and the run through Gloucester has satisfied the immediate need for corners, we decide to have a transport day to make time to give a an easier Thursday. This means not going down the Putty Road and using the freeway and skirting Sydney instead. A long hot run down the Hume and we roll into Cowra about 7:00pm. Long day so the thirst is up, another few beers are sunk that night.


Still NSW time and someone has switched off the sun’s warmth. A nice run down the Monaro Hwy ‘till we reach the Victorian border, then it is a brilliant run down out of the mountains into Cann River. Peter suggests unhooking the trailers and going back up to do it again. Smoko break, we talk to a few fellow Ulysses travellers, plenty about today, then westward. Hello, we must be in Victoria because it is starting to rain. Into wets and with drifting in and out of showers, that’s how we stay for the rest of the day. Again, in the interest of making up time we continue on to Phillip Island and stay the night at Cowes. The Island is gearing up for the Superbikes on the weekend, pity we can’t stay. May have to come back for the MotoGP in October though. Another good day and almost 1 day ahead of schedule.

One of the more interesting things is the rate of fuel consumption for Lionel and myself. We compare at each stop for interest sake, and the similarity is incredible. During the whole trip, there was only one stop with a significant difference between the two bikes. About 19 ltrs of fuel and about .45 ltr difference. For the bulk of the trip, the average difference was about .15 ltr with the difference often being less than .05ltr.


Still cool with the threat of rain but it turns out OK. We head for Sorrento with Peter’s weather forecast of 6m swells having us all worried as to conditions when crossing the ferry. As we can’t make the 11:00am ferry, we take a short last minute detour up to Arthur’s Seat to look out over Port Phillip bay. This is only a short ride but a steep climb with associated tight corners so is good fun, both up and down. On to Sorrento and line up for the ferry behind a couple more bikes, one of which is registered in Queensland. This turns out to be Terry (Zed) and Sharon, mates of Peter’s from the Stanthorpe group. Turns out the they have become frustrated with delays and decided to head off and catch up with us, not knowing that we were actually behind them. Luck is a strange thing isn’t it? The 6m swells do not eventuate although it is too windy to stay up on the top deck. The dolphins provide us with some entertainment but do not hang around for the whole journey.

Off the ferry and onto the Great Ocean Road. Peter leads us out and more ribbing as everyone makes sure I don’t get lost like last time. The GOR is as good as ever although the wind makes the sight seeing a little unpleasant. We start meeting motorcyclist heading east. Must be all the young ones on sports bikes heading for Philip Island. All the Old Farts are going the same way as us. Weather is pretty good for a lot of the way although there are a few showers to leave the road wet. About 3:00pm as we travel through a forest section with drizzling rain and slippery roads we come on an accident that has occurred only a couple of minutes earlier. The riders mate is still getting the bike of the road. Appeared to be a simple case of a rear end loose. The rider is lying on the side of the road but seems OK. We stay and direct traffic through the blind corner until the ambulance and Police have arrived and get the situation in hand. Lost time to make up so off we go and shortly come across a pile of gear and a rider appearing from over the bank. One of the sports bikes has overshot the corner and is lying about 5m down below road level. Rider claims it is OK and we will be able to push it out. He is politely told that he might push it out, we won’t. He seems OK so away we go to Peterborough, find a caravan park and a pub side by side. Sometimes the Gods smile on us. Sharon is telling us how much fun the day has been compared to their first few days and asks to stay with us. No problem. We enjoy a few ales and just sit down for our meal when who should arrive but Dave, XJ1300 Yamaha, and his two mates. Turns out Peter knows one of them. Talk about 6o of separation.


On to Mt Gambier, arriving before lunch and registering. Plenty of bikes already here, tents everywhere and a solid line of bikes arriving. Camp established, time to go and find Chris and Cheryl, Terry and Jim. All have arrived safely with their own stories to tell. Time is spent talking to others from far and wide, visiting the trade stall and arranging test rides. Thursday night was apparently a very sociable night so I’ve been told. Don’t remember very much other than Lionel headed off early and I had to stay to help Peter home later. Sharon is still going on about how good our little band is to ride with and how much fun she is having.


Spent socialising, washing, test riding and dreaming, generally browsing the trade stalls and watching the bikes still streaming in and the tent village growing by the hour. The new ST1300 looks good but is as wide as a Wing. There was also a new red Wing present. Dinner that night with more socialising.


Saturday sees us lining up for the parade, Bloody hell, I’ve never seen so many bikes lining up. Took at least ¾ hour just to get them out of the park. The PR team had done a wonderful job and I could not believe the welcome we received from the town. The ride finished at another sports field with entertainment and a market day atmosphere and stalls. Great ride. Finished the day off with the evening dinner and more socialising.


Time to pack up and join the ride to Portland. Lionel has to pack and take Mary to Adelaide. Arrangements are made to meet tomorrow at Stawell. Sharon is supposed to leave us and go to Adelaide also but decides she is enjoying it so much she will skip visiting the rellies and come home with us. There is some apprehension as a 100 klm ride with 2500 bikes could be a problem if there were a few Yahoos. No problem, well organised and managed, fantastic fun, would not have missed it. Again the response from the public was overwhelming with every farm track having waving people for the entire 100 klms and the hour it must have taken to get the bikes past. We were near the end and they were still waving. Following the festivities we take off for Hamilton.


Monday sees us with time to kill, as we only need to cover a couple of hundred klms while Lionel does 500. We spend the morning riding through the Grampians. Beautiful mountains and scenery probably should plan a few days here but there did not seen to be much interest in bush walking. Lionel arrives and we head to Bendigo for the night. Rain, down it comes and into the wets.


Tuesday does not dawn, Peter decides that we need an early start so it’s off before sun-up. Unfortunately we hit rain again before breakfast and that’s how it stays all day. In and out of rain and strong winds all day. The plan for today was to visit the Morris Winery at Rutherglen but the weather discourages us. Leaving Gundagai we cross a bridge and the wind tries to blow us across the centre line. Larry is overtaking a truck when he comes onto the bridge then gets the full force of the wind as he pulls in front of it. Bike and trailer immediately decide that they need an addition metre of the other lane. Scary stuff. We arrive in Cowra and the first caravan park takes one look at us and claims to be full. We find another and arrive between showers but get wet unloading. The port bottles get emptied that night.


Almost a repeat of Tuesday but the breaks between showers is greater. This is a great ride through country NSW and backroads. Well worth thinking about for Mudgee next year. As we leave Barraba, we run straight into a hailstorm. We immediately about face and back into town to park on the footpath under any available awning ‘till it passes. Great ride over the range and down through Inverell to Glen Innes in and out of rain. Raining in Glen Innes, the pubs can’t give us the mix of accommodation we want so being the last night, we elect to splash out on a motel. Turns out to be not much dearer than what cabins have been costing us. A mix-up over the eating arrangements sees the group split and eating in two different pubs but we get back together to have the drinks after dinner.


We are almost home and the group divides. Terry, Sharon and Peter head for Stanthorpe, Lionel, Larry and Annette and I head for Grafton over the mountains in the drizzle and fog. Great fun. In Grafton Lionel turns south for Coffs Harbour for Easter and we head north to Lismore. Again, great riding up the Summerland Way. We should come down here for an overnight ride. On through Nimbin and Murwillumbah to the BP at Ormeau for a late lunch, a last coffee, farewell and see if Lindsay is about.

Back on the bikes for the last time and head for Brisbane in the Queensland sun. That is ‘till we reach the Logan Motorway turn-off and it buckets down again just to let us know it still about. What a great 12 days. Great company, great bikes, great roads, great fellowship, great scenery, what more could you ask for.


Some overall thoughts and statistics.

The bike is a 1993 Honda GoldWing.

Kilometres Travelled 5416
Fuel used 333.04 litres
Fuel Consumption 16.26klm/ltr. Best performance was from Wellington to Coolah at 18.95 klm/ltr.