Riding the Newell Highway (A SS1600)

Martin Little

Premier Member
IBR Finisher
#1
The plan was simple for this ride: head south and west to the Victorian border of the Newell Highway, then north far enough to get the required mileage before returning home. Departure was set for 2:00am Saturday and Olaf was joining me for this ride. I was awake slightly earlier than planned, so no point in hanging around. I was up and readied myself and quietly pushed the GSA out the garage and down the drive before firing it into life and riding around to the ATM to collect my starting docket.


Collecting my starting reciept......alas soon to be lost

From there it was short ride over to the front of Old Parliament House to wait for Olaf. I was 10 minutes early, so was content to enjoy the solitude of the early morning. No such luck, there was a fair share of people on their way from home from the Friday evening festivities, including a group on electric scooters who were fascinated to see me and the bike. We passed the minutes away chatting until Olaf arrived before bidding them farewell. Well, that was the plan… I have a habit of starting the bike, (in neutral of course) and then hopping on by standing on the foot peg and stepping up and into the saddle. By some quirk of German engineering the gear lever of the R1200GSA is VERY close to the foot peg, so with my big booted foot bridging the gap nicely I put the bike into gear while standing up on the peg. Not surprisingly the bike, once in gear, moves… in this case, around the side stand resulting in a most unceremonious dumping of bike and rider on the road.


Old Parliament House at early O'Clock Saturday morning....whiling away time entertaining the local scooter riders

This amused the scooter onlookers immensely, but they were most helpful in standing the bike up, and with my reassurances that I really did know what I was doing, we waved them farewell and wobbled off into the night. Confession time: I have done this dismount a few times on this GSA, but never on any of my other bikes.

Out through the suburbs of Canberra, things were quieter, and then onto the Barton Highway, things got even quieter. Almost a full moon and the predicted single digit temperatures had not eventuated with the temp sitting a comfortable 14 degrees. Turning south onto the Hume the traffic was busier, as expected, with plenty of trucks about, plus the odd car. Now it was just case of counting down the distance and time to Albury.

Just after 5:00am we took the off-ramp into Albury, past a parked police car with its lights flashing and the offending vehicle. Given we were slightly ahead of schedule, and we hadn’t had a break, we stopped for a leg stretch and coffee at the local Macca’s, before getting going towards Tocumwal along the Riverina Highway. It was now pitch black, pre-dawn and I was content to cruise at 80km/hr along this stretch of the trip. I’ve always found this section of the Riverina Highway makes me uneasy, even more so in the pitch dark. We stopped for fuel along the highway, and with tanks topped up continued on our way. Dawn slowly eased through the low-lying cloud cover as we neared Tocumwal. We stopped briefly outside the golf club to grab a photo with WWII Bomber and then again in Tocumwal to grab a corner docket at the local bakery.


Tocumwal NSW, just after dawn
When I went to store this receipt with my others, I discovered them missing! I had left the pocket of the tank bag open after fuelling up earlier and the Ziplock bag with receipts must have blown out. Bugger, rookie mistake! Still, nothing for it now, what’s done is done.


Tocumwal Bakery and the moment I discovered my lost receipts....

It was time to head north on the Newell Highway. Moving away from Tocumwal the countryside opened, gradually becoming flatter with less vegetation. There were plenty of emus about, but thankfully all away in the distance. The towns of Finley and then Jerilderie passed, soon followed by Narrandera. By now the clouds had cleared away and it was a beautiful sunny day with temps in the low 20s. Perfect for riding. Just after West Wyalong the Highway was closed due to flooding. While we pondered our options the traffic controllers reopened the road, and we were off! However, our relief was short-lived, and we arrived at the next closure 50kms up the road. Chatting to the traffic controllers they advised they we were about to reopen the road, pending clearance from ‘above’ which was due in 10-15 minutes.


The wide open spaces of western NSW (between Jerilderie and Narrandera
Sure enough, an official-looking ute roared up to the front of the queue, and after a few minutes of consultation we were waved through under the guidance of a pilot vehicle. The reason for the pilot vehicle soon became clear, the tide was still in across the road and in some cases up to the underside of the engine on the GSA. So we had a variety of water crossings to traverse for about 30 kms. Standing up on the pegs, it was a pleasant change from the normal SS1600 pace. As we neared Forbes the pilot vehicle waved us on and turned to join the queue of traffic waiting to head south and we got back up to cruising speed.


Waiting for the Newell Highway to reopen...AKA watching the tide go out

Forbes was busy, despite the flood waters lapping at the town’s edge. We didn’t stop but continued onto Parkes, where we took a lunch break at the local Macca’s. It was now mid-20s, so we took the opportunity to shed a few layers of clothing. My original plan had been to ride through Dubbo to Dunedoo, but checking Google maps over lunch I realised we could take the Renshaw McGirr Way through the Goobang National Park to Wellington and then onto Dunedoo. Back in the DHTS Rally in 2019, Pillion Piglet and I had passed on collecting a bonus in Goobang National Park due to it being late at night and the uncertainty of a National Park, so we erred on the side of caution and stayed on the Newell.


Lake Newell at one of its lowest points...a few ks up the road and the road was underwater

Taking the turn off just outside Parkes we headed off into Goobang NP, and a good choice it was too. Much more of a motorcyclist’s road with hardly any traffic, it was a very pleasant change after the flat lands of the Newell Highway and the ride to Wellington passed quickly. Once through Wellington, we took the Cobbora Road over the Golden Highway and 30 minutes later we were in Dunedoo, where we refuelled the bikes and took 15 minutes to stretch the legs and have a cold drink. The afternoon was warm!


A sunny afternoon in Dunedoo, NSW

It was now time to head for home and we retraced our steps back to Cobbora Rd & Wellington, where we continued on to Cowra, Canowindra and Boorowa. As we were approaching Boorowa, the sky clouded over and down came the rain! And the temperature plummeted as well, from mid-20s to low teens. Frustratingly, there were still a large number of small midges about which were smearing themselves on my visor and wouldn’t wash off in the rain. This got so bad we had to stop at Boorowa to wash this greasy mess off our visors. With vision restored, we rode on into the dusk heading for the Hume Highway and then up to Gunning for our last corner docket. Arriving in Gunning in the pitch black and pouring rain, there was nothing open, including the servo where I had planned to collect our docket. As soon as we pulled in under the canopy, the attendant (who was still in the store) came out to see if we needed help. She explained everything was shut up for the night but did offer to help if we needed fuel, but I didn’t have the heart to make her open everything back up. We took photos to prove we were in Gunning, plus of course we have the Spotwalla link as back up.


A bad photo to show we were in Gunning

From Gunning, it was a leisurely 70 kms to Canberra, the rain stopped, and it was a pleasant ride through the countryside back home. I waved Olaf goodbye at the Majura Parkway off-ramp while I continued through to my local ATM to collect the final docket of the trip. Job done I motored around to home, in time for a friendly welcome from the dogs. Ride complete, with another SS1600 completed in just over 19hrs for 1,626 kms.


Job Done, 1,626kms for the day
 

Skidoo

Administrator
Premier Member
#2
Loved the shot of the old Parliament House. Great ride with varied conditions and roadworks, who would have believed that :eek: Enjoyed the read over a coffee.
 

IBA-Tiger

Well-Known Member
#6
Nicely done Martin - & Olaf.
Countryside looking somewhat greener these days.

I do the left-foot-on-footpeg-&-swing-leg-over trick as well on the Tiger 800XC, actually recommended by Triumph!
Found that I need to concentrate to only stand on left ball-of-foot, to avoid gearlever.
 

Biggles

Premier Member
#8
Floodwaters were definitely the order of the day. I'll have to pull my report together with similar watery pix from eastern NSW.
Comforting to read a Big Dog losing receipts due to not closing a tankbag! :oops:
 

Tele

Premier Member
#13
Excellent report as always Martin. And another first class ride under quite challenging circumstances.

Dropped my GSA once doing the same mounting manoeuvre as yourself. Those damn foot pegs are close. It was in my driveway so no laughter from anyone ..... certainly not from me when I had to pick up the bike myself. I am now close to paranoid about mounting the bike when the engine is running. And I now park in gear on any sort of slope, as I've been embarrassed twice when the bike has slid on the side-stand whilst I am getting off.