Our first true multi day ride! The plan was to spend as much time on dirt roads as we could and stay in pubs each night. But what’s a journey without a purpose? While the global adventurers make trips to the centre of the earth, or Mongolia at the very least, our humble journey was to find the geographic centre of NSW. It’s a start!!
Sydney to Boorowa (355km)
We left home a bit later to avoid traffic but that did kind of throw out the basic plan of the day. Our second rookie mistake was to not fill up the bikes at the local servo, so we had to pull off at Campbelltown to refuel – note to self: always keep your bike filled up. We eventually found our first bit of dirt approaching Goulburn which felt nice, especially after spending longer than normal on the freeway to get out quicker. Of course with our late departure we ended up riding due west in the late afternoon and spent best part of 100km squinting into the setting sun, worrying about roos and wombats on the road. There was also a long stretch of freshly laid tar which had the bikes feeling very squirrelly. Stayed at a great pub in Boorowa – after trying to check into the wrong one! – and after a beer and some chips and gravy we felt nicely settled.
Boorowa to Fifield (290km)
Waking up to chooks at 5am and headed off early. It turned out to be a great day of riding on the old stock routes – we came across a big herd with a couple of drovers who’d been on the road for 6 months. From there we came across some amazing canola fields in full bloom. Rolled into Forbes around lunchtime and we can highly recommend the barra burger at the Vandenberg Hotel! After lunch it was more great riding along the wide open plains next to the Lachlan River until we eventually arrived in Fifield. Apparently it’s the smallest town in NSW with it’s own pub and it was a great place to stay (although dinner left more than a little to be desired) and we spend the evening talking at the bar with local truckers and shearers plus the Italian girl running the place (while the boss was away) who had only been there three weeks.
Fifield to Dubbo (395km)
Awoke to the local church bells and wandered down to the pub kitchen to make our own breakfast. We decided to double back a bit and headed to Condobolin for Campdraft – great to see all the drovers in town. Watched for an hour then off with first stop Mt Tilba. It used to be considered the centre of NSW until the surveyors got to work and had a pretty gnarly dirt road to the top. Some of the roads around there also had true bull dust which was slippery and very interesting. We then headed for Five Ways along long straight roads, changing colours all the time (white, grey, red) with inevitable bull dust that almost made us double back on one stretch. Struggled through to the top of the next rise and luckily kept going as we’d already seen the worst. Stopped for first billy of tea by the road in middle of nowhere, then arrived at the cairn that marked the true centre of the state. Back through Tottenham – a very cool and tidy town indeed, then on to Dubbo via Narromine (with an amazing number of roos on the road). By then the animals we reckoned we’d also seen included an echnida, hare, rabbits, blue tongue lizard, and a leopard (it may have been a cat). Ended up staying at a motel in Dubbo – nice to have a queen size bed and a nice shower, and excellent Thai food at the restaurant across the road!
Dubbo to Merriwa (255km)
Good night in a big bed, breakfast and off. First leg to Wellington via some great back roads – farmers always look so surprised to see us as if no one in their right mind would come down their roads just for fun! Chased a wallaby for almost half a kilometre until I finally got past it. From Wellington headed for Gulgong and this bit had some weird dirt roads that soon became single lane tracks. We eventually doubled back when it really got to the point where I was worried about whether we would actually make it through. In all our confusion we rode through a bit mob of sheep twice, and the same mob of cattle four times – the first time they got a bit skittish but barely moved by the end! On the final stretch from Gulgong to Merriwa you certainly notice the mines with their terrible scarring of the landscape. Decided to stop in Merriwa at a cool B&B which was excellent. Pub dinner then bed.
Merriwa to Sydney (303km)
A simple ride home but decided to head down Settlers Road to St. Albans for lunch – something that has become an essential part of any trip up that way. All in all, a great trip with great scenery and roads. We me some fantastic people and accomplished our mission of finding the centre!