Eastern Express

Vlad

Premier Member
#1
I had liked the look of this since I first saw it and so with time available a couple of Thursdays ago, I left Sydney around 9 am and headed for Warrnambool, a few hundred kay south west of Melbourne. I haven't traveled the Hume end to end for a long time and was pleasantly surprised at how good a road it is now, not exciting, but rapid transport. Hit Melbourne right in the middle of peak hr , I was expecting that, and had a slow run thru town and out to Geelong. 20 mins out of town and it was just me and the purple line on my GPS. 30 kay out of Warrnambool and the heavens opened with a vengeance and the order of the day was flash flooding and we did our share of aquaplaning into town. Made my hotel about 9 pm and grabbed some shuteye.
Pulled into the 24hr servo at 0145 and filled both tanks ,had a yarn to the young fella at the counter and got the paper work signed off and at 0159 grabbed a start docket and retraced my route back to Melbourne. No rain but the the fog was thick and stayed that way all the way back to Geelong. I spent some time going thru all the combinations of light I have now and settled on the bikes high beam and the spot lights I have just on top of the engine.
Easy run thru Melbourne this time and was soon onto the Hume heading north and back into the rain. About 30 mins out pulled into a very well appointed IBA motel complete with under cover parking and big benches and had a rest for half an hr. Back on the road in full daylight for the run to Thurgoona and pulled into the shell servo and filled both tanks.



Took the Olympic Hwy from here and headed for Wagga ,the first of the mandatory stops and grabbed a docket in town. Then up to Wyalong and on to the Newell heading for Parkes.



I had a choice here ,out thru Wello and then Dunnedoo, or continue onto Dubbo and I chose the latter ,figured the 110 zone to be the better option. Turned out not to be the case. The road was dug up in 3 places over the next 120 k and at one set, I lost more than 20 mins just sitting watching the clock count down. Arrived at Dubbo right on Schoolie peak hr and pulled in for my scheduled fuel stop. A chance encounter here had me divert from the ride plan, the traffic was so heavy I was keen to avoid it and took the road east from here about 20 k and then headed north. Easy running and quickly out of town but at least 40 k longer and I spent some time berating myself in my helmet for deviating from the plan. Lost roughly 30 mins.
It gets convoluted from Dunnedoo, you make a left for Coolah and then head cross country for Tamworth. Coolah just on full dark and decided I'd better organize some where to stay at Toowoomba. Seems there was a major sporting event in town this weekend and the place was booked out. 10 phone calls later ,with the help of a charming woman at one of the hotels,and I had somewhere to stay.
It goes Coolah ,Premer ,Werris Creek ,Tamworth and its the back blocks and its dark, pitch black except for your lights for a few hrs. Pulled into Tamworth and civilization again and stopped for the next mandatory docket. This wasn't a scheduled fuel stop but the day was getting on and I decided that I didn't want to stop again before Toowoomba and so fueled everything and headed out for the final 500 k for the day. The route takes you straight up the New England ,with all its little towns and speed zones, but all things being equal I really enjoyed this part of the ride, very little traffic and it was done in about six hrs. Cool though ,average temp 6 degrees C. I was happy to make Toowoomba at 0130 after nearly 23.5 hrs on the road, filled up the tanks ready for the morning ,got the mandatory docket ,found my hotel and had a few hrs sleep.

0420 saw me heading west across town ,its not small Toowoomba and takes quite some time to get away. Just as I reached the out skirts ,road works again, all the way to Dalby, some 50 k away ,even Dalby itself was dug up, and so was the road about 40 k the other side as well. Very time consuming. Sunrise finally brought the end of it all and I started to make good pace. Stopped about 40 k from Roma for something to eat and realized that my spot tracker wasn't operating, figured I must have forgot to cycle the power when I left Toowoomba. Roma was a mandatory stop and also a fuel stop and, with everything filled and a fresh supply of water ,I turned right and headed north.
Its about a thousand k to Townsville from here ,and roughly 875 k of it is in pretty much a straight line. Not boring country but straight none the less. There's not much out here but road trains and Landcruiser V8 diesels, the latter, for some reason always wants to be in front of you, and when they get there, they go nowhere. It started to annoy me after a while. I needed one fuel stop on this section and chose Clermont. Easy in and out and with the required stops complete, save the final one, just kept heading north.



Arrived at Charters Towers at 1730, just on dusk. I had been deliberating whether to go left or right at this point for several hrs and, stopped at the intersection ,had to make the call. The west route was open range cattle country in the dark ,but far less towns and traffic, the east route, heaps more towns but considerably less risk, in the moment I chose east. As it happens I rode the west route some days later and was gobsmacked at how many head of cattle were on the road, good decision.
The ride is a lot more interesting from here ,straight roads are a thing of the past and the adrenaline starts to pump. Just don't apex the corners to tight ,the road trains don't get out of the way. Made Townsville just after 1900 and pulled straight into the fuel distribution depot on the ring road. Ring road I here you say, Townsville is a BIG town and has its own ring road that circumnavigates it, along with road infrastructure that rivals anywhere you go. Truly impressive if your in the transport game. Called my hotel in Cooktown from here to make sure he was expecting me and took the ring road all the way across town at 100 k and dropped down onto the Bruce, heading north again.
The bloke at my hotel reckoned it was still 8 hrs to Cooktown from here and that was starting to concern me , I ran the numbers in my head and figured an hr to spare if nothing went wrong ,fingers crossed. On wards up the Bruce and after a while it seemed to me that every time I had to shut the lights down I was almost blind, so stopped to check it out, and sure enough one of the low beam lights were out. I angled the lower driving lights down somewhat and left them on. No doubt there were some irritated folk coming the other way, but at least I could see. Lost 10 mins at road works at Ingham, just sitting there like a Muppet at some petrol powered traffic signals, watching the clock count down. Finally out of there and heading for Innisfail and shortly before town the purple line makes a hard left. South Johnston road, I sat there for a few thinking to myself "surely not" and then I remembered Mick and LTP's ride report mentioned this place and made the turn. Cane fields and back blocks for the next 10 mins and then ,the Palmerston highway for Milaa Milaa. If you are ever in the area this is must ride stuff ,an absolute blast ,and my arrival time when down by 6 mins.
Out of Milaa Milaa I chose the road straight up the range, my calculations said that I had enough fuel to make Cooktown, just. So fuel would be nice. The road runs thru the range and its great riding ,up hill and down dale ,such a contrast from just a few hrs ago. Rounded a corner into the town of Malanda to be greeted by a servo with a 24hr Card pump. Perfect. Gassed up and on thru Atherton and then Mareeba, which is pretty much the last town before Cooktown, well the last one with anything open thats for sure. By now the entire front of the bike is covered in bug guts and I'd noticed that the lights were less ,so stopped at Mareeba to clean everything , wash my face ,and walk around for a bit.
Its midnight and there's about 250 k to go and I'm starting to see the end in sight. Screen and lights all clean and heading for Mt Molloy. This next section of road is notorious, cattle ,kangaroos and wild pigs are the flavour of the day and its a lottery what you'll get. So I took it easy, cruising at 90 k for the first 100 or so. The riding gods were smiling on me today however and with the exception of a couple sections with some cattle on the road, I had a great run and really enjoyed it. Almost before I realized rounded a corner to the sign "Welcome to Cooktown" and the job was nearly done. Mick had told me there was a 24 hr servo in Cooktown and so now all I had to do was find it. Several attempts later [ there are 4 petrol stations in town] I found it about 4 k out of town and I was done.
A very agreeable young bloke inside was happy to sign off the paper work and, he had on hand just about the best corned beef and pickle sanga that I've ever eaten. I said to him "you will make my day if you've got a beer back there". Sadly no.

3949 gps kilometers in 48 hrs 58 mins. That's an IBA 50CC East, pending certification






 

Fatman

Well-Known Member
#4
Glad you knocked this one over Vlad. It has some varying countryside to and the last 300km or so is sure to keep you on your toes, no time to rest until you are there, happy to read you didn't get too much wildlife in that last section to Cooktown. But what a ripper of a road.

I did the same as you at South Johnston Rd after all the main roads to this point I thought shite is this correct.. But it gets better as you get to the top of Pin Gin Hill as you found out.

Your description of bugs spattered on your bike along the roads behind Innisfail brought back memories to me, I remember up through to Atherton, I thought it was raining with the road looking wet and a stream of what I thought was rain from above showing in the Ericas, but it was hailing bugs!

Top report Vlad along with a top ride. Well done :)
 

Skidoo

Administrator
Premier Member
#14
Congratulations on a great certificate Scott. A fantastic ride and certainly not an easy 50C ride. It's taken a while but a few riders are enjoying the challenge now :)
 

BMWguy

IBA Member
#18
Vlad...
First of all - CONGRATULATIONS on your adventure and sounds as if you had a great time.
Secondly - love the motorcycle - looks really cool!
Third - the pictures are just awesome - I need to get down to you neck-o-the-woods sometime before I check out of this life.

Finally - Uhhhhh... do you always ride on the wrong side of the road?? :eek: Seems dangerous to me! LOL!! ;)

Mike - S. Illinois - USA