no rules...no politics...just ridin'

Iluka

Been a bit slack over the past couple of weeks - unfortunately nothing too much has been happening on the bike. You know how it is - middle of winter, weather is cold and wet, bed is nice and warm - those early morning rides just don't seem as appealing. However, this past weekend I spent both days in the saddle and managed to get to a couple of out-of-the-way places that I am now keen to visit again.

A child free Saturday had been arranged so I decided to stay at Kat's place on Friday night and thought we might head further south the following morning. I left work in the city at about 4pm and headed straight down the M1 to Kat's place at Kingscliff. The weekend exodus had begun and so the 120km ride south took me about half an hour longer than usual but luckily it was dry all the way. Once there we ate and then spent the rest of the night watching DVD's. It started raining later on in the evening and was looking like a no go for Saturday as the weather man predicted showers all weekend.

Woke the next morning to patchy, grey cloud cover but no rain. We decided to head down the 180kms to Iluka and get a decent ride in. Geared up, including the rain pants, and hit the road about 9:30. About 25 minutes down the Pacific Hwy we hit light showers, but nothing too uncomfortable and still not requiring the rain jackets. It was just after one of these showers had started that I pulled my visor down and we rode through the tunnel near Murwillumbah - on exiting the tunnel, BANG! I copped a sparrow full on in the visor at about 120kph. Man it was loud but didn't really knock me back that much - I kind of half expected it - I saw it coming but thought the stupid thing would change course. All I can say is that I was lucky it was raining, otherwise my visor would have been up and I would have eaten the goddam thing!! I slowed up a bit but after getting over the initial shock, continued onwards.

We passed through the roadworks near the Brunswick Heads turn-off and the VTX got real dirty - loose fill along with the rain meant no more shiny chrome bits on the bike and a light film of mud on everything, including us. More importantly though, it meant slow going for all through this section as the road looked real slippery. Further on, we reached the Byron Bay turn-off and decided to pull in for a warm cup of coffee. On reaching the outskirts and seeing all the people we realised that Splendour In The Grass was on and so decided to pass through Byron and continue along the coast road to Ballina. We then rode through Lennox Heads before arriving in East Ballina .

Found a coffee shop on the banks of the Richmond River in Ballina - I bet it would be busy in summer but on Saturday it was only us sitting inside and one other table of people outside. Obviously the weather had a lot to do with that. Anyway, we settled into a nice warm seat with views out across the river and ordered a coffee and bite to eat and discussed if we should continue on. After taking all of 10 seconds to make the decision we fixed up the bill, out to the bike, geared up and headed back onto the Pacific Hwy and further south. The rain was still intermittant but also light enough not to worry us too much. Rode into Broadwater and passed the sugar mill with it's chimney belching out plumes of thick white smoke - obviously it's harvest time and the fields are slowly being cleared of cane, loaded onto trucks and onto to the mill for processing. We passed many of these trucks full of cut cane heading towards the mill. The smell of a sugar mill is something you always remember - sickly sweet and toffee like.


Looking north from Evans Head - the plume of smoke off in the distance is the sugar mill at Broadwater


As we exited Broadwater I made a spur of the moment decision to turn off the highway and ride out to Evans Head on the coast - a decision I would not regret. The road out was good and passed through fields of uncut cane and then the head high scrub of Broadwater National Park - the sun even decided to make an appearance and made the ride that much more enjoyable. After about 15kms we finally rode into Evans Head. This is very much an unspoilt coastal fishing village with lots of basic holiday accomodation and the basics - you come here to fish or relax. I must admit that it did feel a little strange riding down streets of these neatly kept holiday houses and seeing almost no life. We cruised along the beach front road towards the main street but were unable to see the ocean due to the coastal dunes and vegetation adding to the unspoilt feel of the place. The main street had all the basic businesses you would expect as well as a retro looking brick pub and we finally saw a few people. We rode over the Evans River and out towards the lookout passing a small fishing fleet moored in the river on our left and some very impressive looking houses on our right - apparently the main business in Evans Head is prawn fishing hence the reason for the sexy houses. After reaching the lookout on top of the point we soaked up the view and took a few pics then decided to get back on the road.

Riding out to Iluka through Bundjalung National Park - watch out for Emu's!!

Made our way back inland to Woodburn and the highway and then rode the remaining 35kms south to the Iluka turn off. Again we turned towards the coast and followed the road which passes through the thick sub-tropical rainforests of Bundjalung National Park. This part of the ride was really relaxing and enjoyable with the forest butting right up to the roadside although you need to keep a lookout, so the signs tell you, for any stray emus that make their way onto the road - wouldn't want to hit one whilst riding the bike. As we got closer to Iluka there were a few dirt/sand tracks on the left hand side heading out to 10 Mile Beach - times like these I wish I had something I could ride on the beach!! Anyway we finally made it to Iluka and decided to eat first and look later. Found the pub, Sedgers Reef Hotel, which sits overlooking the Clarence River - ordered a couple of beers and then sat outside taking in the view. I really felt like sitting there all afternoon and staying in Iluka for the night but unfortunately we couldn't. There were plenty of people in the pub for a Saturday arvo and a lot of them were eating which is always a good sign. We saw a couple of the meals being brought out and they looked fantastic so we ordered and waited and then ate and really, really enjoyed.

View across the Clarence to Yamba

Once we had finished we took a slow ride around the town having a look at what was on offer. Once finished it was time to head off. Directly across the river is the town of Yamba which is more of a tourist destination while Iluka is a bit more laid back and a lot smaller - similar to Evans Head but in a better location - and I think more appealing than Yamba. It is also home to a large number of fishing and prawning trawlers and some good surf beaches. On our way out we took the turn off (sealed road) to the Woody Point campground which took us through rainforest and out to an opening sitting on the southern end of 10 Mile Beach. There are a few cabins and plenty of camp sites in the park and this would be the perfect spot to stay next time we are here.

Deserted car park at the beach - well it is winter!

The weather was not looking the best so we put all the rain gear on and headed towards the highway. It started almost immediately we got on the highway and then showered on and off for the entire ride back to Kingscliff - nothing too heavy but it was getting cool. A really enjoyable days ride that I would do again but hopefully spend the night next time.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Biker Betty said...

Wow, glad you were able to get out. What wonderful countryside you have to drive through. Love the pics. Glad all went well with incident with the sparrow.

Thanks for the ride-along, Betty :)

1:39 PM  
Blogger KT Did said...

Your posts are so vivid and the pictures bring it all too life. For us Californian's an empty beach parking lot is rare! Hope I get there one day to ride your beautiful land.

1:36 PM  

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