Home to Tenterfield

What a miserable start! It seems like every time I plan a major road-trip on the motorbike, the first day ends up being rainy. Ever since the seven day forecast of a week ago, it looked to be inevitable and unfortunately, I couldn't say the weather bureau got it wrong.

So, under grey skies I set off at around 10 am, ironically, the roly-poly cat was the last inhabitant of home that I saw. With such dubious weather, I decided to ditch fancy plans of a back-road run down over the border ranges for the more mundane run down the Pacific Motorway. I had one of those starts to a long journey where you seem to keep having to stop for one reason or another. First I made a detour via a friend's place to pick up Dean's "Air hawk" seat. He kindly lent it to me for the trip. He did a similar trip two years ago, without the seat and proclaimed that by the time he reached Phillip Island, he would have paid $10,000 for one. So, I thought it was a rather generous gesture to lend me his.

Next stop was for fuel and to don the wet weather gear. The Ventura bike-pack bags make no claim to be 100% waterproof and in fact I had a rain-cover for them. Unfortunately, in the many years of being bundled up in the cupboard, the rain-cover has deteriorated significantly. As such, the silvery plastic shell pretty much disintegrated and I was left looking as though I suffered from chronic dandruff. After a couple of kilometres of bad dandruff, I gave up and took the cover off the bags. I mainly gave up, as the cover wouldn't sit properly over the bags, seeing as though I had attached a backpack to them. The bike offers reasonable weather protection at speed, and as such, the cover ended up being unnecessary anyway.

I stopped in Murwillumbah for lunch and met a friendly local. He rode a Honda Transalp – which are not overly common in Australia. We chatted and I mentioned that I was riding to Phillip Island. That inspired him to make the effort to get down there as well, he said. He was kind and didn’t mention my acute dandruff…

I decided to take a chance and cross the Great Dividing Range. For those of you not familiar with Australian geography, it's the continental divide of the country, running the length of the East Coast of Australia. It's also what makes it good fun to ride a bike between Brisbane and Melbourne. The fact that you can cross the range in a number of places makes for some entertaining riding. At any rate, One side of the range often has better weather than the other, so despite the fact I had to climb into the clouds I thought it was worth a shot. "Yeah – nah". (There's a good Australian-ism for you) It was wet, and it got cold… It wasn't just the fact I was in my own water-cooled jacket travelling at speed either – I could smell plenty of wood smoke from the farm houses I passed along the way.

Having lost an hour due to riding into a state that has daylight savings, I called it quits when I got to Tenterfield. Got a great pub meal at the Royal Hotel before collapsing to think about truly important issues such as how to repack my luggage better and where to go tomorrow…