Tuesday, November 11

There's always one more road to ride

A few days ago, I travelled a road so exhilarating for a motor cyclist and so stunning in its scenery, I just have to tell you about it.

I'd ridden to Muswellbrook to meet up with one of my sons, Matthew, who's working on a contract at the Bengalla mine. With all the mining, Muswellbrook is a boom town and I was glad he found me a $35 room in the Valley Hotel.

Muswellbrook is one of our most attractive towns, but as with so many others, the main street is full of empty shops – Coles has opened on the outskirts. Locals told me there's worse to come, with Woolworths planning to relocate from the heart of town to a new centre.

Mining boom towns aren't what they used to be. From about six o'clock, the guys started to arrive, still in work-stained orange visibility jackets. A few beers, a meal and a chat with friends, and they drift away.

Many work twelve-hour shifts, and they may be tested for drugs and alcohol as they clock on in the morning. By 8.30 pm, the Muswellbrook pubs are dead.

Next morning, I look for a longer way home – but not too much longer, and there mustn't be too much dirt. That rules out the great scenery on the Scone-Moonan Flat-Gloucester road across the Barringtons.

Then I remember the road I once took from Gresford to Singleton, years ago when Merry's back still allowed her to ride pillion. Once again, but in the reverse direction, it delivers an enjoyable ride. I throttle back into Gresford, past a general store which looks a good place for coffee, then over the hill to the twin village of East Gresford.

These are a lovely little townships, but they're quiet these days. Once a row of shops served timber workers, dairy farmers, and their families, and at one time construction workers from the Lostock Dam. Today the twin villages slumber in bucolic bliss.

I ride right past the East Gresford pub and head north up the Allyn River. But rather than face all that dirt road (I seem to remember fords, too), with a steep climb over the Williams Range, I turn right a few clicks out of East Gresford on a road signposted to Dungog. The map says it's the Bingleburra Road.

Wow! This is one magic road!

If you're a young fella wanting to punt the Ducati around sweeping curves and tightening zig-zags, this is the road for you. Even if you're a poseur astride a two-wheeled American agricultural machine, you should enjoy it.

Me? Back when I was a young fella, I admired the scenery too much as I skirted Canning Dam near Perth. It took me an hour to get the little BSA back on the tarmac. These days, I choose between doing the boy racer bit or slowing down to take in the scenery. Accept my recommendation. Take in the scenery. From this road, it's fantastic.

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