MICHAEL & MITCH'S RIDE TO HILL END
Michael’s previous story about his (and wife Desley’s) trip down the coast of NSW, through Victoria and mid-west NSW was very popular with our readers, so when he and his son headed off for a weekend at an iconic historic location, I encouraged him to write another story of his trip. And here it is. Only an overnighter, but still a good yarn! My son, Mitch, rang me the Sunday before Easter telling me that he had a new bike. Previously he had a 250 Kawasaki road bike for his L’s & P’s. His new bike is a 96 YamahaVirago 1100; just like my own “Black Betty” Virago. So a ride was arranged for Good Friday & Easter Saturday; an overnight trip to Hill End.
I left Kanahooka at 7am to meet Mitch at his place at Cambelltown for an 8am start. My original route was to just go up Narellan Rd then Great Northern Rd and Great Western Hwy, but Mitch knew a short cut on some back roads with a petrol stop and then hit the Great Northern Rd at Bringelly. Traffic was good so far even on the little bit of the M4 and the start of the Great Western Hwy. But, oh I should have known better; it was after all Good Friday!! And we were on the worst Hwy in NSW. Traffic lights, 60k, one lane, road works, 40k, more traffic lights, two lanes, 80k back to one lane, 60k more road works – I think you get the picture! (I could go on & on with that one!). Believe me this road will never develop into anything passable to be called a Hwy. It was just as well we were on our bikes because every time the traffic stopped we hit the white line on the left and only rejoined the traffic when it was moving or there was no more room on the left of the white line. Needed to stop at Lithgow for petrol, food and leg stretch. On to Bathurst, and even along this stretch traffic was heavy, but moving along at a reasonable pace. That was until just before Bathurst there was an accident up ahead which saw us on the left hand side of the white line yet again. Leaving the servo we just kept following the Hwy and looking for the turn-off to Turondale. After about 5ks of heading towards Cowra we turned around and went back to the servo to ask directions. The man in the servo was as clueless as me but thankfully there was a young guy standing in the cash register queue and he put me straight. Where the Great Western Hwy does a sharp left on the western side of Bathurst CBD do not turn left but go straight ahead ("Eglington" so the sign post said and funnily enough so did the young guy at the servo!). So up we go, then three roundabouts and on the third turn left. Follow this up till you see the Rural Fire Station on your left and turn right. Ah ha! There’s a sign post behind that tree that says Duramana & Turondale. So we followed this to the end; about 50ks of good country road, but watch out for the corners that seem to pop up just over the crest of a hill and are not sign posted. We arrived at Hill End around 1.30pm and presented ourselves at the visitors centre to book our camping site (cannot pre book) close to the pub, but unfortunately this site was already full. So we ended up a little out of town (approx 1k) at the Glendora camping area. $7 per night with coin-op showers, bbq’s and a fire pit on every site. We had no immediate neighbours, it’s amazing what 2 motorbikes will do! All camping sites are managed by National Parks & Wildlife Service so it was interesting to see people camping with their pets. So with the tents set and firewood gathered we jumped back on the bikes and headed into town. Had a look around town (a lot of Australian history up here) then a couple of beers and a game of pool at the pub. Then it was back to the camp for dinner. It was here that we decided to walk back into town cross country (as the crow flies). While doing this we decided to stick to the road on the way back. (Cunning plan Boderic!). There were not many people at the pub and as we sat out the front we noticed the locals across the street next to the General store come and buy drinks and go back over. There was a big fire going and we could hear music! It was my shout so as I fronted the bar I asked the barmaid was it a private party or could anyone join in? She said, “Open slather, just introduce yourself.” So across we went and introduced ourselves as harmless tourists and were openly accepted into the throng. Very hospitable natives!! The band consisted of Brad playing really mean blues guitar, Gary on harp and vocals and Richard on drums, which resulted in an incredible, impromptu blues jam session. Hill End Blue’s is alive and kickin’! We got a couple of cans of rum & cola before the bar shut and carried them back to camp open (no bottle sales on Good Friday, not even out the back door). Lit the fire and sipped our rum while watching the smoke roll over the full moon. Next morning saw a slow start (understandably!). But all good after 2 cups of coffee and some muesli bars. Packed up camp, put the fire out, loaded the bikes and headed for home. About 10ks out of town I was nearly knocked off my bike as a huge eagle dropped out of the trees next to me I could feel the wind coming off his wings as he struggled to get altitude. (“Drop eagle’s” out here not “Drop bears”!).
We took the same route back, stopping at the beautiful Turon River for a swim. I was going to go in starkers but seeing as we were swimming right next to the bridge I left my undies on. Just as well the first car that came across the bridge stopped and the lady leaned out and wanted to know how the water was! Now to Bathurst for a Mac attack, then Lithgow for petrol the traffic was only slightly better but still busy.
Saturday lunchtime had a quick leg stretch at Springwood (lots of tin-top tourists around here). Now the last leg back to Cambelltown with Mitchell’s wife Jane and their 4 girls gad to see us.
Both bikes went well and the weather was fantastic, but if I do this trip again I’ll do it mid week and out of holiday season.
Don’t Slide, Just Glide!!
Mick Harris & Black Betty
Thanks Michael for another great ride story! It really makes you want to get out and enjoy "the great outdoors" doesn't it! And what better way to do it than with a mate (or your son!) and a couple of bikes!
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