Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Biblio Tourismo 2012 - Ride the Riverina, The Outback Adventure


It was a nice morning, sun, no wind and a slight chill in the air. Leaving the F3 I was delayed by traffic, the last traffic delay for the trip, as we were heading west, There is no traffic west, just long narrow roads, huge B doubles and the sound of unbaffled motorcycle exhaust notes that thrill the ears and remind you that if you had wings you could fly. My 139 horse powered Monster was aching to stretch its legs and let me Ride the Riverina.

Riding the Monster
 I reached Windsor on time and after refueling parked in the library basement. I found the entrance and after gently knocking on the glass door, a librarian let me in and I found Ross and Leon drinking coffee and in deep discussion with other library staff. Although I had met Ross at various times throughout the year I had not met Leon since last year, he just keeps getting taller.

I soon had my Monster in through the security system and there were many photos of librarians and Monster. 9.30 am and we were away. Windsor had been Biblioed.
'Hey guys, it fits!'
The three amigos rode through Richmond, up the Blue Mountains to Bilpin, past the apple orchards on to Newnes and Clarence and down the other side to Lithgow. Somewhere along the way I was considered too slow and was left behind. At least I was able to admire the scenery.

The Lithgow Library is in the main street. We met the local journo inside and the boss soon had our bikes lined up at the back door and the photos began. The food was good, the t shirts distributed and we were soon off to Cowra via Bathurst. We left the great western and headed off on the mid-western past Blayney, coldest place in NSW according to my dad. It was here that we met Pam and her husband who had ridden up from Griffith on two Hondas. The pure bred Italians were nowhere to be seen. The MV Augusta and the Aprilla were being kept back in reserve at Griffith to be revealed on our arrival. and on to Cowra.

Overtime in Cowra!
Cowra’s library is in the main street, a split level building with a leafy outlook. I managed the library while the town librarian went out front and sat on my bike while her photo was taken for prosperity. Much talk about libraries and motorbikes. We were soon off again for the wilds of Grenfell. Fifty six kms further west where food waited. 444 kms from Sydney. Birthplace of Henry Lawson.
  The fast ride to Grenfell took us through, Bumbaldry, Kellys Creek and Wirega to find many bikes parked in front of the Library/Art gallery. Peter Soley, the editor of the Grenfell record and his reporter were both there to greet us together with half of the town. Then in the crowd I saw Ian and Sheri with their trusty Honda and two debutantes on a Yamaha. There were children and their moms, volunteers serving food and drinks, librarians, reporters, picture takers, male library customers, young girls walking by and a black dog.

This bike gets everywhere
My red Italian Testastretta Monster was driven in the front door, pushed into the library, lots of pics. While the others sampled the gourmet food I sneaked off down the road on my trusty stead to honor an appointment I had made with the Grenfell Child Care Centre. The children were sitting on the grass out front I in the shade waiting for their story. Sitting in my leathers I began to read about the Magpie who attacked the town. Just as I started to read the bit where the magpie swoops on the mad motorcyclist the Biblioistas arrived and as each bike turned up behind me the children’s eyes and minds were distracted, it was time to end the story and let the children take control.

Uncle Ian took the wheel of the jalopy out back, all the children climbed aboard and through the magic of imagination all rode at great speed into the sunset.
Uncle Ian taking the young bikers out for a spin in the jallopy.
Ian's spin in the jallopy.
This is what Biblio was about a group of librarians bringing interest and joy to small rural communities just because we want to. Sometimes you do not need to raise money, just awareness.

We could not get accommodation at Grenfell and so soon moved on to West Wyalong riding into the setting sun. The roads were straight and flat and after trailing Leo for a while I overtook him and opened up the throttle being forever aware of the kangaroos that can suddenly hop on the road at that time of day.
Lucky man!

West Wyalong is west of Wyalong, hence its name.  We were now 467 km west of Sydney. We were on the crossroads of the Newell Highway between Melbourne and Brisbane, and the Mid-Western Highway between Sydney and Adelaide. At 262 m above sea level there was to be a chill in the morning air.

We all stayed at the same motel which had a mini Trevi Fountain in the court yard. Dinner in the local pub that it seemed Pam was well acquainted with and, after much wine, a hard earned sleep and another day bit the dust.  I had been riding since 7am and covered 500kms and visited four libraries. A day well-travelled.


My early morning walk resulted in some nice shots of the town and watching a parade of cars drive by with men and women dressed in blue and yellow. It seems that the town has a gold mine which has a rich seam.

"Now I've got you, I'm NOT letting you go!"
My motley crew parked their bikes in front of the bakery and after coffee we moved on to the library and reasonably modern building just off the main road. Managed to get my Duke through the security barrier again and parked beside the Christmas tree. More photos. I now believe I could enter the bike in the Guinness Book of records as having gone into more public libraries than any other bike in the world. Everyone toured the library and talked to the staff.

Water break on the dusty road.
We were to continue along the Mid-Western Highway into a headwind to Rankin Springs. I had left earlier to take one more picture of the town and was heading off to Ungarie when I noticed a wave from the owner of the motel we stayed in, who suggested I might want to go the same way as the others to Rankin Springs via the direct route.

It was 57 kms to Weethalle and then a further 20kms to Rankin Springs. Straight road, near desert conditions. After refueling I discovered my saddle where a bag used to be. The t shirt bag. Back to Weethalle.
Stopped in the middle of the highway, asked by a young man in a Commodore if I had lost a bag.
“Yes I have, do you have it”?
“No it is in a road house just down the road,”
“ How far?”
“Well maybe forty klics”,
Off I go again, find the roadhouse, and get the bag and soon heading west again through Rankin Springs and then another 80 kms to Griffith.

Ross literally rode his bike into the ground!
Once I saw the canals I knew I was close, slowed to 130 then 110, 80 then 50. The main street, lots of bikes and a library sign, I was there. Too late for the story time, but some food, talk to locals, and soon off to the motel, drop our bags and off to a winery. After an hour of touring the premises and seeing a machine that filled 25,000 bottles of wine an hour it was back to town via the scenic route with the Italian bikes leading. Only 230kms for the day and two libraries.

No matter how fast your bike, there's always time for a glass of red.

So we went home via the scenic route. Not many curved roads in Griffith but pam knows them all. Even visited the old home of an Italian hermit who lived in caves above the town. That evening more food at a wonderful Italian Restaurant and talk of bikes and rides past.


Woke early and met a railroad engineer who stepped out of his diesel cab at the station. He was bringing in thirty carriages from Melbourne Port, mainly cartons for wine bottles. He was taking back wine from Griffith and rice from Leeton.

The next day it was a long trip on more straight roads. 61 kms to Barellan noted as Yvonne Goolagong’s birthplace, then some of us turned on to the Newell Highway and headed for Temora, 65 KMs away, others took the scenic route.

Temora was a new building, hard to get the Duke in but with help from a local, it was achieved. The librarian in the saddle and more pics for the local reporter. Refreshments then a group photo.

The Canberra contingent left us to go home and the rest of us and 51 kms to Cootamundra, the town where it first started. We had lunch then went on a fantastic narrow road to the Hume then we parted with the Griffith crew and waved the MV Augusta and Aprilla goodbye. The magnificent four moved on to Yass. Being late Saturday afternoon the library was closed, a few pics outside and a nice coffee.

After passing no fewer than three NSW patrol cars we cruise into the ACT. Got lost, and then found the motel. Children on a school excursion from Tasmania watch as we roll our steads to the parking lot with much noise. Dinner at Ian and Sheri’s house. BBQ and wine and beer and more wine. What bikes we will buy next and trying to convince Sheri she was now old enough to have her own. 330 kms for the day and two libraries.


And the sun sets on a wonderful journey.
 Next day each man for himself. As usual I left too early and froze to Goulburn and then hit fog and slowed to a crawl. Eventually the fog lifted and it was full speed to Campbelltown. Lunch at Macs and on to the central coast.  Another Bibilio was over.  I had travelled 1400kms. The Duke had an outing and had stretched its legs. Next year we head north.

Alan Flores November, 2012.

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