Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Biblio Turismo 2013

Thursday 7th November


I had been polishing the Duke all weekend and now it was show time. Thursday morning was sunny and for the first time we did not expect rain. It was to be hot, very hot and windy. When I arrived at the office, the usual suspects had already arrived on their shining steeds. Alan from Campbelltown later to be called Alan Alan. There was Alan from Lake Macquarie later to be called Alan Bookmobile and of course myself later to be called Alan Turismo.

There was the Turismos from Canberra Sheri and Ian on their nearly always dependable Honda and I was told we were to meet Richard and Helen also from Canberra at Bulahdelah. They had arose late and would cover the 400 kms by lunch time in their devil may care attitude to riding the highways.

The mayor and general manager made their appearance and before I could impress the young lady from the press Alan Alan told her the tale of how this all started. Each time I tried to explain that it was I leading this motley crew, he would push me aside and tell me to keep getting the rust off my Duke’s wheels while he continued to tell of his travels far and wide and how he would save the day as always with his keen sense of direction and incredible riding skills.

Soon we were off and headed for Belmont, Ian continually complained about the houses and traffic along the route, but I explained to him that unlike Canberra, people actually live on the Central Coast, it’s not called “God’s own Country” for no reason, although he felt we called it that because so many residents were of an age that they were soon to meet their God. I told him we would not be hitting the rural back roads until later in the day. He mumbled something about not being abler to get out of second gear and was only able to average 120 km per hour. By the end of the day he was able to get that average up to 160k/h which was more to his liking.


It was hard pushing the Duke up the walkway to the entrance, but after the photo shoot, it was a simple matter of firing it up and keeping the hands in, while I rode through the security gates then leaning forward on the pegs jumping the seven steps to the pavement before braking on the other side of the road.


This great library is a credit to Newcastle Council and what many millions will buy. There was space for all the bikes, but it was thought best to only bring in the Duke, I’ve been there many times and it was a pleasure as usual. More food, more talk, more bike inside, more pics.


The contrast between Wallsend and Bulahdelah could not be any wider. Three thousand square metres against less than one hundred. Each fills a need. Bulahdelah spared nothing to make us feel welcome.

The librarian and her group of volunteers showed us the library then fed us in the beautiful park adjoining with its covered BBQ areas. Much discussion of the tourist points and the history of the area.

It was sad to leave, but the beer was getting warm and we had about sixty kms to go along two mountain ranges and pass lakes beyond beauty, who ever designs these trips should be congratulated on the scenic splendour along the way.


Great Lakes Chris greeted us warmly but gave us the feeble excuse that his son was to go overseas for a few years on Monday and that he wanted to spend time with him. It was not important enough to give dispensation, and we told him so. Sheri felt we should put a bracelet on him to track his whereabouts to make sure he was not spending time with others.

I just love old motels.
"You Alan?"
Me and the other two Alans
"Yes", "yes", "yes,"
"You’re not the Trinity are you?
Park your bikes under cover near my car, no burn outs in the yard, no nude bathing in the pool and no women after ten in your room unless they intend to spend the night. Have a good stay."

We did get three separate rooms and we never saw him again.
Alan Alan and I waited for Alan Bookmobile for fifteen minutes out front till a guy came along and said ” Are you waiting for the short guy? “
Yeah we stick together. We said in unison.
“Well he went to the pub thirty minutes ago.”
So much for unison.
And sure enough when we got there he was well into it with a few schooners around him and chatting up the barmaid as well.

The Forster Hotel is the place in town for a drink. Its sophistication expressed in its ambience of wooden benches with beer covered tables decorated with half full ashtrays is made even more welcoming by the traffic that drives by the window, the plethora of large screen monitors that shout out horse races from around the country and the perfume of cigarette smoke from the beer garden. The bar girls who I confused with a customer who had just come from the beach in her brief attire was only bettered by the treasurer of the hotels sporting club who managed to convince Ian that tickets in the meat tray raffle would not only give him meat for a week but he could also win cash beyond his wildest dreams.

The microwave in his apartment was to cook all the meat should be get lucky. He didn’t and interestingly no one got the cash. Ian and I thought that fair trading might be interested in this raffle where no one won the prize. The beer was cold and the food adequate.

That night at the bar I asked Alan Bookmobile if anything had changed since we last saw him a few years ago. Had he been married, divorced, had a child, lost his job, bought a bike, sold one, bought a house, taken up surfing, won the lottery, lost a pet, bought one, travelled overseas, taken up smoking, stopped drinking, bought a suit, lost weight?"

"Well Alan", he said, “no, no, no, no, no, no, no, not likely , wish he had, no, no, no, nearly, why would I, yes, tried to,”
And then thought about it and said “I did buy a Jaguar,”
"The animal or the car?" I asked,
“It is gold and thumbs its nose at global warming with V8 motor and leather seats.” Alan had done the impossible, worked less hours and bought a luxury car, we were impressed.
Dinner was at the pub and after more drinks Alan Alan announced that the lingerie waitresses has gone off duty, so we left.

Friday 8th November


The next morning saw a beautiful day with more temps in the high thirties and no rain but strong winds. We were off to Wingham. As it was to ensue on the worst road in NSW. The Buckets Way was patch on patch. I forgot to bring Lauren’s direction so Sheri waylaid a local and they advised it was on the other side of the village green in a two story building which we later discovered was over a hundred years old and used to be the local primary school.

Used to be a school. Children ran up and down the steep chairs, played on the balconies, how many Stroud children must have spent their youth there. Today the building is as beautiful as it was one hundred years ago. Unfortunately today OH and S risk assessment stipulates that the stairs are now too steep for the general public and so upstairs is off limits to all. I Hope they get a lift soon so that the whole magnificent building can once again be used. If it was my building I would have a sumptuous office upstairs with grandiose turn of the century furniture.


The ride into Laurieton was spectacular with views of lakes and mountains. The village was full of life and we soon found the library, a newish building. Up the ramp and bike indie for shots.
The view from the Laurieton lookout was breathtaking. A Chinese man with his family asked me where I was going.
“Down the hill.” I replied.
“We are public lib….” I continued but he was not interested.
They soon left and we enjoyed the scenery and the cool air. We were at 558 metres above sea level,
Bring the bike in and so I did.

A Catalina seaplane carrying entertainer Bob Hope was forced to make an emergency landing on Camden Haven adjacent to Laurieton on August 14, 1944. Bob Hope was returning to Sydney after entertaining troops in Guam. The local postmaster lent him money for his hotel bills after the luggage was jettisoned. An impromptu party was held, and the next day Hope and his entourage
Harrington travelled by road to Newcastle and flew from there to Sydney. Bob Hope maintained contact with the residents of Laurieton for decades afterwards.


Before the beach is a designer village with its own church, shopping centre and library. Rode the Duke straight in before the auto doors could close on me. The librarian and her staff laid on the food and drink and we all sat around on the lounges and talked. One of the regular customers arrived and soon her Harley riding husband also turned up on his Harley. He was nice enough to leave it outside. He had travelled the country on it and it was his love and joy. Ian discussed the intricacies of that particular model enquiring as to if it had the rectangular copper nuts on the rear wheel or the diamond shaped ones. The city fathers wanted to close this near new perfect library due to lack of use, but the locals saved the day.

The ride to Forster was pleasant until I got behind a Highway patrol car that cramped my style for the last 10 kms.

The dinner that night was Chinese, except the two romantic Turismos who celebrated Helen’s birthday at an Italian restaurant, we thought we would gate crash but it would not have done any good as they actually had Mexican. Let’s face it love is where the heart is.

At dinner we discussed the gravitas of the BT as we drank wine and laughed at each other’s jokes and the craziness of our thoughts. Ian felt we should write to the various companies that import bikes and see what they might pay us for us to endorse their product. Alan Alan felt a new bike each might be a good start. I want a ten thousand dollar retainer to push the product on our web site and Sheri felt she should get ten thousand dollars to have a logo on her t shirt that said “I am having a wonderful relationship with my partner; unfortunately my partner is married to his Honda.”

I told her that this would conflict with my arrangement with Ducati to push their superior image enhancing lifestyle product over an average means of transport. The bill came and we all needed to go to the bathroom leaving Alan Bookmobile to pay the bill.

Saturday 9th November.


The last day began with a group breakfast at the Chilli Bar. Richard and Helen gave us a lame excuse that they could not continue the rip as they had to be at a wedding in Canberra at 5pm. I told them that we would be finished at Speers point at 1pm, more than enough time to ride to Canberra, change and make the wedding. How slow did they want to go? Richard did not feel as optimistic as myself as to his ability to cover five hundred kilometres in four hours.

We again met at the motel and again we were all surprised to see Ian’s ancient Honda start first time. Then again he Sheri thinks it’s a miracle that he is able to get on the bike at all. My Monster might be too much a bike for an old biker like me and I will never use the power that it has all 130hp, but at least it looks good in photos and sounds awesome. At idle, it’s like “Nails in a tin can” as Ian once said.

The road south was fine, the road to Stroud was the second worst in the state. Tar patch on tar patch, it would have been better if it was dirt. The one saving grace was when we came around a corner and saw two ducks and six ducklings crossing the road. We slowed and once the family was on the other side the parents flew in formation about 30 cm above the road for about 200 metres, I suppose to attract our attention from their brood. I hoped that they knew where they had left them.


Stroud Library now occupies an old RSL hall. Beautifully done up and painted outside in bright yellow. The history of Stroud Library was explained and lots of tea was drunk.

The four bikes cruised towards the expressway in the 30 degree heat and soon we passed Raymond Terrace, then Hexham and Alan Bookmobile piloted us to Speers Point, unfortunately Alan Alan was in the wrong lane as we crossed the Hunter and we lost him. He rang later and said that the pub looked inviting and thought the library could wait so he followed his instincts. We did not see him again.

Speers Point

I revved the bike up and this time rode right into the library without touching the security barrier. Great food, nice company, spoke to customers, pictures behind the circ desk, lots of snaps, concern about the thunderstorm; soon another Biblio was over and plans for next year begun. I loaded up and as I rode down the path from the front door the library staff kept snapping away and soon I disappeared into the Saturday afternoon traffic of Lake Macquarie.


1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Looks like a great ride and a fun time had by all. Looking forward to the 2014 edition of Biblio Turismo.

I'll be there for that one.

Ross Turismo