Drew Jackson from Townsville (QLD) attended the 2016 Rally in Bethanga in November 2016.
Here’s his account of the long ride down!
GETTING TO THE RALLY
The annual SR500 Club Rally was the destination for a week-long ride. The ride began in Warwick on the Darling Downs after travelling from Townsville in the ute. My riding companion was already with his Kawasaki KL250 Super Sherpa packed and we set off south on Tuesday morning [15/11] with the intention of covering about 400 km per day and arriving at the rally on Friday [18/11]. We had decided to travel the back roads to avoid traffic and find as many windy roads as possible while still heading south. So we headed to Killarney and from there we headed for Urbenville through the Tooloom Scrub. These roads are narrow, but good fun. From Urbenville, it was then off to Tabulam for our first fuel stop.
The service station was out of 95 octane, so I filled the SR with 91 and it ran just fine at the speeds we were doing. The KL used about 10c less on this section and a quick calculation on the phone returned a consumption figure of 66 mpg (imperial). I don’t like L/100km. From Tabulam we headed down the Clarence Way towards Grafton where we stopped for a pie and cold drink and to fill the tanks again. The SR only holds 12 ltrs and the KL250 only 9 ltrs, so keeping them topped up was essential. From here we headed to Armidale on the Waterfall Way, one of the best roads in NSW, especially the first section to Tyringham – really good fun on the SR as you can ring its neck and enjoy the handling. John was having a ball on the KL as well. We refuelled just before Armidale and again our consumption figures were within a few cents of each other. Our next stop was Uralla before heading to Walcha. This is where the first signs of trouble emerged. I was following the KL when I noticed a couple of puffs of white smoke from the exhaust. We pulled over and checked the oil, but all seemed OK and we spent the night in Walcha at the pub. They provided a shed for the bikes.
The next morning, after loading all the gear, we were about to head down Thunderbolt’s Way when the KL refused to play ball. It wouldn’t fire. John is a skilled mechanic, so we set to work to diagnose the problem. We had spark, compression and fuel, but nothing could coax the KL into life. So after an hour it was decided that I should push on and John would catch up at our next overnight stop. I headed off towards Gloucester on my own. There was a lot of roadworks and some of the hills required a bit of a run up and even the occasional downshift to maintain a good speed.
I stopped in Gloucester for coffee and rang John to see if he’d managed to revive the KL, but he was stumped. He eventually rang a mate who came and took him to Newcastle where repairs took a couple of days. As a result, he didn’t get to the Rally, which was a real shame as we were going to catch up with some of the SR Club members who we rode around Tassie with earlier in the year. I eventually rejoined him in Canberra after the Rally for the ride back to Warwick.
From Gloucester, I rode to Dungog, Singleton, and then onto Denman for lunch – a schooner of Toohey’s Old. It was pretty hot and the Bylong Valley Way was waiting. This is a beautiful part of Australia and the protest signs along the way made me wonder for how much longer will it remain beautiful. The coal miners want to stuff it up like they have the Hunter Valley. The road itself is great with a variety of sweepers and tight sections.
By the time I arrived in Rylstone, I’d had enough for the day, so I took a room at the Globe for the night and was seated in the bar in time for the Happy Hour. They also provided a lock-up garage for the SR. I am an early riser, and after a quick breakfast, I was on my way south to Kandos, Ilford, Sofala and Bathurst. I did of course do a couple of laps on Mt. Panorama. It still staggers me how the likes of Crosby and Hansford could do the speeds they did around the mountain.
From Bathurst, it was once again on to the back roads after a short ride on the highway to Woodstock, where I turned south to Wyangala, Boorowa and Harden.
This is a very pleasant ride and again plenty of corners and bugger-all traffic. Because of the early start, I had plenty of time to cruise along at a relaxed pace, and the SR was running really well. The Airhawk on the seat made it even better. Eventually I arrived at Jugiong where I had to take the Hume Highway for a few kilometres to Gundagai. Sitting on 110 kph was OK, but the SR prefers a gentler pace.
From here it was off to Tumut and Jingellic. The road along the Murray was interesting as recent rains had filled the Hume Weir and the water was backed up all the way.
A huge contrast to the drought conditions at home in Townsville. Eventually I made it to Bethanga and proceeded to set up camp for the weekend. I had arrived early, but a few other members had as well. In total, I had ridden 1680 km to the Rally and my fuel consumption varied from 62 mpg to 75 mpg. I did lose one bolt from my side cover, but I had a spare. The oil consumption was nil.
The ride home is another story!