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a short four-day pre-Christmas ride in SE Australia


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A FEW DAYS R&R, SO I WAS BARGARA-BOUND… and re-reading this I guess the heading should read 'SE Queensland'.

A few days R&R seemed in order just before Christmas, as I’d had to abandon my earlier plans for a much longer trip in August to Far North Queensland.  April or May now beckons for that delayed ~4500km trip north…
So one of my closer but still favourite spots called me – Bargara (often also called Bargara Beach), about 400km north of home as the kookaburra flies, where I could enjoy a couple of days solitude and relaxation.   It’s an easy day’s ride there, and back, and a very pleasant place to do absolutely nothing, so off we went.
In the days before I departed there had been several fierce tropical storms, with abundant thunder and lightning as well as torrential rain, but I had promised myself that I’d go anyway, whatever the weather.
As good luck would have it Monday October 11th dawned bright and clear, if very windy, so I set off at the crack of dawn and 21°C (70°F).   Heading out of town I rode briefly on the west-bound Motorways out of Brisbane, and then onto the oft-travelled Brisbane Valley Highway, which follows the Brisbane River up through the hills to the north-west of the city and through the scenic lakes region.
We then turned onto the D’Aguilar Highway, and began the crescent-shaped sweep north-east towards Bundaberg, joining up with the Burnett Highway at the southern edge of the Burnett Region.
I usually take this inland route – or others like it – when riding further north, as it is not only very pleasant riding but it avoids the congestion and tedium of the major north-south Bruce Highway further east on the coast.   This is usually very busy, and would be even more so at this pre-Christmas time of the year, with school holidays having already started and many families on the road as well as the usual hundreds of cars, caravans (trailers), trucks, and other heavy vehicles.
The D’Aguilar and Burnett Highways are a real joy for the motorcyclist, with mile after mile of smooth sweeping roads and bends that allow one to ride at decent (but of course legal) speeds and enjoy the freedom of the open road, unchallenged by much other traffic.   These roads traverse the eastern end of the Great Dividing Range, in places over 1000 metres above sea level, so this first part of the day’s riding was largely uphill and always winding and undulating – super stuff!
A short fuel and coffee stop at the pleasant inland country town of Nanango refreshed both me and the Tracer, and we then continued in warm but still very windy conditions.
The tiny dot-on-the-map Ban Ban Springs appeared shortly, where we turned off right onto the delightful Isis Highway.   I had ridden only some of this road previously, so it was at least in part ‘the road less travelled’ today.
Ban Ban Springs is named for the artesian springs at the foot of the Bin Bin Hills, and they feed into a large wetland which hosts scores of varieties of birds, as well as some unusual trees and other plants.   The area apparently has great cultural significance for the local Indigenous people.
It was then a short ride to join up with a few kilometres of the Bruce Highway at Childers before swinging off right again to head east to the coast and Bargara Beach, by-passing Bundaberg to the south on the excellent ring road.
Apart from the poorly-maintained and much-patched Brisbane Valley Highway this was all excellent riding, mostly well-surfaced if at times narrow and undulating highway, little trafficked this early hour, and enjoyable in many ways.   The very strong south-easterly wind on my back pushed me along nicely all day long, and it was a quiet and smooth ride.
Given the forecast warm-ish and humid weather, averaging recently about 27ºC (81ºF) I had decided to wear my summer mesh riding jacket, which is more holey than Mother Teresa, yet with ample CE armour at the elbows and hips, and a solid back-protector.
This proved a good choice as it reached 30°C (86ºF) towards mid-day, but I also carried along a two-piece wet-weather over-suit, just in case, but it wasn’t needed. A little very light and intermittent rain fell in the final hour of my ride, but not enough to justify donning other riding gear, and it all disappeared by the time I reached Bargara.
Bargara Beach is a very small but extremely pleasant residential village some 13km east of Bundaberg, on the Coral Coast, with a population of only 6000.  In recognition of its location and potential it has been transformed in recent years by the regional local authority, and has become a popular destination for holiday-makers as well as many retirees from the south who have settled there.
I checked into the Pacific Sun Motel, which I’d used many times in the past.   Like many such places it’s small – with only eleven rooms – and quite old, but has recently been spruced-up, and I have always found it affordable, clean, quiet, and ideally placed just a few hundred metres from the sea and the coastal walkway, with its lookouts and seats and benches for the weary.
Within a few minutes strolling distance of the motel are several inexpensive but decent restaurants, and of course the inevitable pub, which from past experience serves rather ordinary meals of the ‘chips-with-everything’ variety.   I gave it a miss this time.
I’d booked in for three nights, giving me two days off the bike, and had nothing much in mind.   The bike was safely parked under cover and so close to my room that I could almost reach out and touch it while in bed – good bike security makes for a good night’s sleep!
In my room’s large comfy queen-sized bed I enjoyed a very good sleep that night after a long-ish and warm-ish ride of 563km, and a very pleasant day’s riding it was in mainly excellent conditions.   The Tracer, of course, didn’t miss a beat!   I had set the Time Trip with the MENU button, and it showed that the engine had been running – which meant that I had been in the saddle - for 7’06”.
A cuppla highlights on the ride north – first, the rubber trim ‘ring’ around the base of my helmet became detached when I got off the bike at the first fuel stop, and was hanging around my neck like a hangman’s noose!   In many years of riding and owning many helmets I’ve never had this happen before.   The ring is largely cosmetic, so I brought it home to fix it as it seemed that two pairs of hands would be needed for a good job.
Next, I mentally ‘collect’ unusual creek names along the road, and have been doing so for years: one such attracted my attention as I rode along – ‘Murdering Hut Creek’.   Gotta be a story there somewhere – though it stands behind my favourite ‘Turn Back Jimmy Creek’ in the New South Wales Riverina district.  Another story there too, no doubt.
The following day I took the local bus into Bundaberg, the closest large town and only 13km away inland – the bus fare was a very reasonable $3.80 return.
Bundaberg is a rather uninteresting, even run-down town it seems to me. A local told me that the busiest ‘shop’ in town was the local Centrelink, which pays out dole money and other social benefits.   Judging by many of the locals I saw milling aimlessly around another thriving business in Bundaberg is clearly body-ink and body-piercing in local tattoo parlours, while shoes seemed to be in short supply, or at least purely optional for all ages and genders.   OK, call me cynical if you must…
But the weather was fine, so I took a walk along the Burnett River which runs through the middle of town – and which regularly floods it – and enjoyed browsing and even a little light purchasing in some unusual local shops.   Lunch was enjoyed in the very posh RSL Club, overlooking the river.
Time to return to Brisbane, then, on the morning of day four.   I had so much enjoyed the inland route north that I decided to retrace my tyre-tracks exactly, for although the Bruce Highway would have been quicker and shorter – by about 100km – I was in recreation mode, not worried about saving time or distance.   (On the small route map attached ignore the green line, which was my intended return route: the red line traces the ride in both directions).
So again, after a 6am start at 21°C (70°F) rising to 31°C (88°F) as the day progressed I found the roads all but deserted until we got to within about an hour of Brisbane, so it was again a delightful ride.
For the return leg I again set the Time Trip with the MENU button, and it showed that the engine had been running for 6’30” during the 530km return leg, slightly shorter than on the way north as I bypassed Kingaroy on the way home.   I zeroed the #2 fuel trip on leaving home, and the average fuel consumption over the whole trip was 3.8L/100km.
I do have to say that I seem to ride the Tracer quite a bit more assertively than my more recent prior bikes, mainly BMW boxer twins, not that they lack anything, but the Tracer seems somehow more responsive to my inputs, more ‘fun’.
The CP3 cross-plane engine is an absolute gem that I appreciate more every time I venture out, and I swear that if in-flight refuelling could be done as with military aircraft the 848cc three-cylinder mill would just go on and on and on.
There are plenty of deficiencies with the Tracer package.   There’s widespread dissatisfaction with both the seat and screen and – for many – poor suspension takes away a lot from the overall experience.   The cheap quality of many of the fastenings is another let-down: I don’t think I’ve ever found cheesier nuts on any motorcycle than the ones on the Tracer securing the mirror stems.   But IMHO the sparkling performance of the engine together with the nicely-matched gearbox almost makes up for all these deficiencies.
The recently-fitted 'double-bubble' screen worked well on its lowest setting.   Although the screen, hand-guards, and fronts of the mirrors were liberally pasted with dead squashed flying bugs, my light grey (gray) and white fabric jacket seemed well-protected, and only a few bugs got through.
So all-up it was a great, thoroughly relaxing and enjoyable four days away, covering 1093km (656 miles) in entirely trouble-free fashion.
Some pix follow.

(below) - route map - ignore the green line as I followed the red line in both directions.
(below) - Large map of Australia shows the location of this trip tale.   She's a B-I-G country.
(below) - typical early morning on the road. 
(two pix below) - Ban Ban Springs.

(below) - premature separation, or another wardrobe malfunction.
(below) - welcoming street sign in Bargara.
(two pix below) - typical beaches around the Coral Coast region and Bargara, the rocks being from prehistoric volcano activity.  But plenty of sand left too.
(below) - plenty of outdoor shower-heads, shelters, barbecues, seats and benches are provided along the boardwalk overlooking the Coral Sea.
(below) - bright blue cloudless sky greeted me after a good first night's sleep.
(below) - the Burnett River road bridge at Bundaberg takes through traffic both north and south.   The river is often in flood during the wet season.
(below) - Bundaberg has a number of fine old buildings.   The current Post Office was originally the Town Hall, and the white statue in front of it commemorates local fallen soldiers from WW1.
(below) - a $15 'light lunch' meant that no dinner was needed that evening!
(below) - This bus sign says a lot, I think, about Bundaberg and at least some of its residents.   Fortunately Bargara has a different vibe.
(below) - the Pacific Sun Motel is not exactly the place you'd take your new girl-friend for a weekend of passion and horizontal line-dancing, but it suits me very well.   Besides which, I cannot dance!
(below) - the long and winding road.   Great bike, good roads, fine scenery, superb weather - what more can one want?
(below) - The Great Dividing Range is a constant backdrop down the entire length of Australia's eastern and south-eastern coastline.   Its peaks and valleys extend for 3700km (2300 miles) and it is the third longest such range in the world.   In some places the foothills are only a few hundred metres from the sea, while in other spots the Range is many scores of kilometres away from the coast.   Pictured here, the Range is about 70km (42 miles) from the nearest coast.
'Riding the Range' is a favourite thing with many riders in this land of Oz.

Riding a fully-farkled 2019 MT-09 Tracer 900 GT from my bayside home in South East Queensland, Australia.   

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You truly live up to your handle.  A truly well written and absorbing synopsis/retelling of your trip. 
Plus some great pictures!!
Additionally, I actually believe your statement about staying within the speed limits.  3.8L/100Km is about 61 US Miles per Gallon (Imperial Gallon is about 20% larger).  Must have been some beautiful sights. 
Congrats on your getaway during your summer ... and the USA's freezy ass winter.
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Very nice. Thank you for the write up wordsmith
Everyday's a good day when your able to ride
15 FJ-09 - 2WDW ECU flash, Givi SV201, Nelson Rigg tail bag, OES sliders, Koubalink extenders, Ermax Sport, Vista Cruise, OEM seat mod, (smiles)
07 Honda ST1300A (sold)
06 Kawi KLR650 - Big Gun full exhaust, Corbin, Givi, PMR racks, carb mod (keeper)
97 Honda VFR750 - Traxxion Dynamics, Penske, Givi 3 piece, carbon exhaust (keeper?)
20+ years of snowmobiles
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Mate...you know how to take one on a ride with your my friend.
Yet again a fabulous adventure and amazing pics to boot.
I am taking some time off in the time between xmas and new year and with a tiny bit of luck, will get out and about to my favourite place in the country.......unfortunately, it's not QLD but the sun will still be out.
Keep up the good work.

Kimmie......the lady who likes to take little detours :)

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Outstanding @wordsmith  
Great write-up and photos of what looks like an amazing trip! Thanks for sharing your adventure. Gotta admit that I’m a little bit jealous right now...

Got to admit ..... 
I am a LOT jealous!!!!
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