We had a nice time with Tom, Rachael and their family in Bellingen despite the rain and stayed two days in the end one of which was spent on the computer trying to pick photographs for our upcoming presentation at the Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting. It was nice and cosy inside next to the woodburner listening to the pouring rain outside and Rachael spoilt us with her yummy cooking. Thanks guys. Their house is in a beautiful remote spot and we saw Cookaburra’s sat on the fence outside our window in the morning. It’s just a shame the weather was so bad we couldn’t see the views in the valley.
Bellingen regularly floods and can get completely cut off so the next day we just had to get togged up and ride in the rain. The cause of all this rain was a couple of colliding storm fronts and boy did it rain, we could not believe there was so much water in the sky, it rained hard all night and just when we thought it had stopped in the morning it started again.
We had another contact to head to thankfully, Graeme got in touch almost the moment we touched down in Sydney and invited us to stay with his family in Coff’s Harbour, it wasn’t too far from Tom and Rachaels and we almost felt like we should be pushing on further as we have a long way to go before we get to Dayboro and the HU meet but we promised to visit and a promise is a promise.
Graeme was out when we got there but a phone call later we established he was not far away and would be home soon. It turned out his teenage son was in but in bed so after a couple of phone calls he was raised and we were ushered inside and fed coffee while we waited for Graeme and Vicky to get back.
About the same time that they arrived home the rain ramped up a gear from Torrential to Monsoon and we were glad to be inside.
After a bite to eat Graeme kindly took us out in his car to show us around Coff’s Harbour. The weather eased a little and we were able to get out and have a look around with a cagoul on. The pictures below are of Coff’s Harbour with Mutton Bird Island in the distance on left. The sea was rough and the waves were smashing into the rocks soaking the unwary.
The birds are rainbow laurikeets, they regularly come to the bird table in their back garden, they look really exotic compared to the sparrows and starlings that we are used to at home.
A couple of young lads were taking pictures of the wild sea’s on the rocks by the harbour and a photographer from the local paper (The Advocate) caught the moment a big wave came in and soaked them and their cameras.
We got talking afterward and asked if he was interested in taking some pictures of us and the bike for the paper. We arranged to meet later that afternoon and he took some interesting and different pictures which he kindly let us have copies of. The pictures below are courtesy of the Advocate Newspaper. Graeme is the guy in front of the screen holding Jack the dog. He is a fellow Guzzi rider and vice president of the local Ulysses club.
While we were staying with Graeme he noticed the sorry state of our riding trousers and suggested we should contact Neds a local company who make Kevlar riding gear. He showed us their website and we drafted a quick email to them explaining what we were doing and asking if they would be willing to supply us with a couple of pairs of their Kevlar cargo trousers in return for some sponsorship. Sponsorship of any kind is hard to find especially in a recession but we were determined to try.
Much to our surprise we received an email a few hours later saying no problem drop in on your way through and stay the night aswell if you like. WOOOHOOOOOOO!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Our first sponsor, that was easy !
Next day it was still raining hard so we got togged up and prepared to leave, checking the web Graeme discovered the main highway was closed due to flooding. He showed us another way to go inland throught the hills. We said thank you and farewell to the whole family before heading back out into the rain. We stopped for a picture by the big banana before heading out of town, Coff’s Harbour area is famous for growing bananas although this year the crops have been devastated. Several Aussie towns have big landmarks for their specialty and doubtless we will see some more on our travels.
It got heavier and heavier as we got out of town and the surrounding fields had water lapping at the edges of the roads. The water was pouring off everything and tumbling and cascading everywhere, if it carries on we will need floats, about 30km out of Coffs we reached a point where the road was badly flooded. It was about 18 inches deep and fast flowing and right on the limit of what we can ford before air filters and plugs dissapear underwater. I was game to try but suggested to Karen she should try and hitch a ride in the back of a Ute (pickup) just in case. A 4×4 ute came through from the other direction and told us not to bother as he had just had to turn back as it was 6 feet deep further up.
This was our last option heading North. Bellingen further inland was already flooded and cut off and now this was impassable. We had no choice but to turn back to Graeme’s at Coffs Harbour and try again tomorrow even the routes out south were blocked. We were getting seriously concerned that we would not get to the HU travellers meeting just North of Brisbane that we were scheduled to speak at in a couple of days time.
Riding back we rode through flood after flood and the spray and rain were incredible. There was that much rain with so much force we were even getting soaking wet with the roof (something we’re not used to now!).The bike was a trooper and kept going despite the attrocious conditions.
That day after drying out all our gloves and boots at Graeme and Vicky’s we checked the road reports online, the rain eased that afternoon and it seemed the main highway was due to open again at midnight.
Next day the sun peeked through and the roads were much better, we even had time to visit Byron Bay on the way through and made it to Helensvale just before dark. Our hosts here were Steve and Sandra. Steve is the brother of Ani from Invercargill who gave us his details and said pop in, unfortunately she forgot to mention it to him. I did ring the day before to check it was okay to stay but got the answer machine, luckily I left a message so by the time we got there he had been in touch with his sis to find out who the heck we were. Steve and family were nice people, he is also a biker. There are some pictures of Byron bay and lighthouse together with Steve and family below. Byron bay is the most easterly point of mainland Australia and it is also where we got our first sighting of whales on their northern migration although far out to sea the water spout was obvious in the still waters, hopefully we will get a closer encounter as we travel up the country.
We left Steve and Sandra’s quite late as it wasn’t far to Neds HQ at Shailer Park on the outskirts of Brisbane and we were there by mid afternoon.
Kenn and Andrea the couple who run Ned’s motorcycle wear were incredibly kind to us, after fitting us out with two pairs of Kevlar lined cargo trousers for free they apologised that they had prior commitments that evening but they gave us the keys to their house and told us to help ourselves to dinner and make ourselves at home. They put us up in a spare room and were lovely people.
Next day we caught up in the morning before they headed off to work, all they asked for this generousity were some pictures of us in our new Ned’s to put on their facebook site. We were truly grateful for their help as my original trousers were on their last legs and Karen has already had to throw hers away. Replacing kit like this on the road eats into our precious travelling fund and help like this is invaluable.
They were such nice people that we left determined to try to be good ambassadors for their product. They are well made with kevlar lining right down the front, hips and bum and they are really comfortable.
They are also cool to ride in which is really important especially in Australia, the kevlar is soft inside and not too woolly, Andrea originally comes from Wales has worked in the rag trade her whole life so they know what they are doing. Ned’s mill their own fabric and one of their jean styles even has the kevlar woven into the denim so they really are just like wearing a pair of ordinary jeans.They also make them in womens sizes and shapes, Karen always struggles to find things that fit her well and it took a few try ons to find the right ones but she is really comfy in them. She now is happy to stay in them off the bike instead of constantly wanting to get into something more comfortable when we stop which is how it should be. There are a few pictures below of us with Kenn and Andrea and our new gear together with their contact details. They will export overseas too, the internet is making the world a smaller place !
THANK YOU NEDS We really appreciate your help.
Coming next: The Horizons Unlimited Travellers Meeting