After months of planning, (that's probably stretching it a bit), the ride day had finally arrived. And what a time the planning had been. Trying to get members to respond with their accommodation requirements was a real problem. The members that really wanted the ride had to cancel at the last minute. How did I get to organise this ride anyway? I've been to Mitchell so many times it's not funny. It's just a petrol stop, sometimes, between the south-east corner of Queensland and either Barcaldine or Cloncurry, depending on where we were living at the time. I recall we overnighted there one time but that was one of those in late, camper up, cook tea, sleep and continue the drive the next morning. Never even knew about the spa.
A few years earlier, the group had done the ride to enjoy the artesian springs so this was an opportunity to do it again. I was just silly enough to volunteer to organise and lead. What's so special about artesian water I thought, I lived in Barcaldine and we smelt, drank, swam, showered etc with it for 12 years.
The 7:30am start time meant arrival at 7:00am so leave home at 6:00am so up at 5:00am . Glad I don't live as far away as some and have to start real early. Arriving at the BP Blacksoil, I note most are already here and having a coffee. As I fuel up, a different Goldwing arrives and it turns out to be Wayne and Lizzy, new members joining us for their first ride. Fred, a new wing rider, has also joined us for the ride for the first time. By 7:25am everyone has arrived, had coffee and completed all the other tasks that need doing before a 2 hour ride. Ride briefing over and we're on the road by 7:40am . A bit late but we have 18 members, 1 visitor and 11 Goldwings on their way. Harpers are driving out with their American visitor and will meet us in Mitchell.
We make Dalby for smoko and a refuel at 9:30am and are back on the road by 10:00am . By the time we get to Dulacca, the effects of the coffee are starting to be felt along with the effects of a road that suffers from all the usual black soil problems which result in plenty of whoop-de-doos which combined with the effects of the coffee take some of the pleasantness out of the ride. At least the day has turned out beautiful. Just the right temperature for a ride, blue skies and plenty of them, just right for Clint and Charleen to ride alongside each of the bikes taking the photographs to remember the ride by and for posting on the web site. A short stop outside the Dulacca CWA Hall and it's back on the road to Roma for fuel and lunch.
Like in Dalby, the group breaks to a number of service stations to refuel, regrouping at the BP for lunch. We strike a few problems with delays in getting lunch, I don't think they were prepared for a large group and the coffee machine was inoperative. Eventually, everyone is satisfied and back on the road again for the last hour to Mitchell arriving at 3:00pm . We get everyone checked into the two pubs and the motel, confirm arrangements for dinner and breakfast and head for the spa. By this time, Doug and Preeta had arrived and they headed to check out the spa with plans to try it out on Sunday morning.
Needless to say by the time we all entered the spa we more than outnumbered the other users. The spa consists of a hot pool fed by the artesian spring with a controlled flow to avoid the water getting too hot. The artesian water comes out of ground at a temperature of about 52 C. At a guess, spa temperature was around 32 C. The hot pool is supplemented by a cool pool with a recommendation that it is used regularly to avoid the body overheating. Now the cool pool was probably at about 25 C but when you first got in it from the hot pool, it felt like it was about 10 C. After an hour or so of soaking, most headed back to the Courthouse Hotel for a few drinks to wash away the day before the dinner. Again, in a small town, the number of us in the bar caused a few problems for the locals who are used to getting served a little quicker than the bar staff could handle with all of us.
After drinks it was over to the Mitchell Hotel for dinner. John had organised a great dinner for us and after rearranging the furniture, in our usual manner, we enjoyed the meal and the associated fellowship. After dinner, the juke-box was fired up and a few souls, led by Clint, addressed the pool table for a few games. In between shots, Clint fired up the air-guitar and provided the lead to the juke-box backing group. It had been a long day and numbers dwindled as everyone headed for bed. A few ports and confirming arrangements for breakfast ended the night.
Clint and Charleen left early Sunday morning, having to get back to collect Jack and Deane from the Brisbane Airport . These guys are a couple of American Goldwing visitors who have been touring the east coast, Tasmania and Central Australia and were now ready to fly back to the States. A hot breakfast, (breakfeast?), was prepared for all but unfortunately the dish of sausages and onion gravy did not get eaten. I doubt there was a problem, probably just the flavour of the sausages, but no one was going to take the chance. After breakfast we lined the bikes up outside the Historic Courthouse Hotel for a photo shoot, said goodbye to the publican and the Harpers and headed back to Roma to fuel for the ride home.
Fuelled up, we met at the Big Rig café for coffee and munchies and discussed options for the route back. Deciding to go via a different route we said goodbye to Fred who decided he would head up to Murgon and we headed south and then east towards the town of Condamine . This road, while narrower than the highway, was virtually traffic free and a lot smoother than the way we went out. A short rest break at Condamine for a drink and a bit of a look at some local history we were back on the road. Onwards and into Dalby for fuel, after 290 klms the 1500's were getting a bit low. A long lunch at McDonalds then it was back through Toowoomba to Goodna for goodbyes as everyone headed their separate ways.
It was a great weekend and seemed to be enjoyed by everyone. I don't even think we scared our new members away. Therese and I even made it home in time for our son's cricket presentations which was great. Well Val and Thommo, it was a great weekend, shame you missed it but I'm sure Val's birthday party was more important.
I have no doubt it won't be 7 years before we go again.