July 30, 2014
Skull’s Mudgee Long Weekend Ride
Friday 30th May – Sunday 1st June
Skull & Jules, Ross & Louise,Don (Beardy), Jonno, Buzz, Vicki, Steve, Catherine & Brian(Buck), Bill & Lorna, Ray and Lizzy on the Spyder & Maggie incar, Mark & Janine, Greg (Boots) & daughter, Georgia.
Apologies if I missed anyone.
What a great weekend!
Jules and I, Vicki and Steve, Jonno,Bill and Lorna made the trek to Mudgee on the Friday, leaving from Oporto’s around 9.30am. Our first stop was Denman for coffee and cake, low fat for me thanks, well maybe not…From Denman it was off to our next stop, Bylong General Store. The scenery is just amazing along this road. Large sandstone escarpments, full of mysterious cave entrances and overhangs, incredible rock formations that change colour depending on the time of day, a beautiful winding river, and glorious lush green valleys. It is hard to concentrate on the road at times when surrounded by such beauty. Bylong General Store is a nice rest stop with great coffee and low fat muffins. What’s that? Out of low fat muffins… Okay, just one of those large choc chip ones will do just fine… YUUUUUUM!
Having made our way out of the Bylong Valley, and heading towards Lue, I heard a high pitched squeal from Jules come through the intercom, and felt her grab onto me tighter than usual. The bracket on the bottom of the top box had snapped,and whilst not completely detached it hung at a rather funny angle.Repair work was needed, but that would have to wait till Mudgee.Jules rode the rest of the way on the back of Vicki’s Spyder.
Next morning Jonno had to return home.The weather looked over cast, with a few spots of rain, but still good for a ride to the old gold mining town of Hill End, about 70 kilometres away. Bill and Lorna, Vicki, Steve and I, Jules went offthe visit our friends who live in Mudgee, headed out of town, turning left off the Hwy onto Hill End Road. Once again the scenery was brilliant, open fields, vineyards, the road then winding its way up the ranges to reveal incredible views, with equally incredible drop-offs at times along the narrow tar sealed roadway. Lorna admitted she closed her eyes on some of those hilly sections. Thank goodness she wasn’t riding! Along the way we were overtaken by a fast moving ambulance and police vehicle, both with sirens wailing.The reason for this was revealed about 5 kilometres up the road. A car had gone over the edge and was precariously balanced about 5 meters down, luckily a few gum trees halting the car from further descent, and certain disaster for the occupants.
Hill End owes its existence to the New South Wales gold rush of the 1850s, and at its peak in the early 1870s it had a population estimated at 8,000 served by two newspapers, five banks, eight churches, and twenty-eight pubs.Its decline when the gold gave out was dramatic: by 1945 the population was 700. At the 2006 census, Hill End had a population of 166 people. Modern Hill End is classified as a Historical site by the NPWS, however it is still home to a handful of residents operating the local pub, general store, cake store and antique store.
After enjoying a nice lunch at the pub,we headed back to Mudgee, arriving just in time to meet up with the other club members who had set off from Cessnock that morning led by Don (Beardy). There was still some good daylight left, so some of us headed a short ride out of town to sample the local wine produce.Hic! Nice drop there!
Saturday evening and a great night was had by all. A cake was brought out to celebrate Catherine’s birthday, and we wined, dined and danced the night away, well some of us. Next time it’s your turn to lead Buzz! Games at the pool table were intense, as the men vs the women. Skull and Buzz victors of course! Vicki and Jules just keep practicing till next time.Hehehehe. Sipping on a scotch or two, and sitting by a warm fire, to finish the evening. Brilliant!
The next morning the heavens had opened up, and after a hearty breakfast at the local café, we bid fare well to Boots and his lovely daughter, before heading back home along the Ulan Road to Merriwa. The ride home was a good test of wet weather gear, as the rain bucketed down all the way to Merriwa, where we pulled up for a break, hot coffee, and to wring out our gloves. Did anyone have dry gloves? I don’t think so…
Unfortunately Ray’s Spyder succumbed to the weather, and had broken down between Mudgee and Merriwa, but with the help of some friendly locals he was able to leave it at a property, and continue the journey in Maggie’s car, arriving home later that evening. The drive home was “Very quiet”, according to Lizzy who made the wise dry choice of travelling with Maggie, from Mudgee in the car.
Thanks again to all those who attended the ride. We didn’t get to the bike museum, but never mind, I’ll save that for another time, maybe towards the end of the year.
Peter Baker, aka Skull. #57889