The Long Way to Wauchope
With Mark Battersby
Day three of the rally sees us heading towards Tamworth via towns I’ve never heard of like Elsmore, Inverell, Oakwood, Delungra, Bungarra, Lower Horton, Burraba, Manilla and Halls Creek.
The GPS immediately goes to work routing us through some great roads. The route sends us through the main street of Delungra, a typical looking small country town with a population of around 650. What isn’t typical was a bright pink Rock and Roll Diner food truck on the side of the road.
The diner looked like the Dagwood Dog or Fairy Floss vans you see at yearly royal shows, except way cooler. I had to stop and meet the owners who were setting up for the day’s business. I chatted with Leanne and John about their business, and they shared the struggles they had faced with cancelled shows due to COVID.
I love marketing and anything that has a bit of wow factor and their business has it in truck loads. Unfortunately, I had to cut the visit short with a quick coffee, mini muffin and few photos.
Just outside of Delungra the GPS guides me towards dirt tracks and some open plains. I approach a series of farm gates and the fun of taking turns in closing and opening gates as riders begin to leap frog each other. The bike is feeling great, I’m growing in confidence, and the scenery continues to impress and amaze me.
The next few hours were some of my favourite of the trip. Blasting across open farmland through a combination of twin tracks and dirt trails. It felt like I was riding in the Australian Safari and at some level living out my youthful dreams.
The contrast to day one is incredible, and I’m absolutely loving the challenge of the ride. Everyone can ride at their own pace, mine slower than others but to me it’s an absolute blast. Its proof to anyone that wants to enter their first adventure rally, should just do it.
I catch up with a couple of riders and enjoy the next hour or so riding side by side, launching over cattle grids and blasting across the open plains. We even enjoyed some river crossings, one of which had a long moss covered concrete causeway. One unnamed rider attempted some on-bike yoga during the crossing in an attempt to keep their feet dry, and let say this didn’t end well. This person may have won an award which involved carrying the RideADV mascot, a stuffed wombat.
I’d forgotten that Tamworth was more than a small country town and was surprised by the amount of traffic. We navigated through what felt like peak hour and arrived at the motel where the crew and majority of riders were staying.
The Mercedes Monster Truck is again awaiting our arrival, so I collect my gear and check into my room for a well earned shower. As I reflect on the day it dawns on me that tomorrow is the last day of the rally. You’d think ten days on the road would be enough, but I wasn’t ready for the rally to finish.
Tonight was going to be our last night together for dinner, and we meet at a pre-arranged pub. Such a diverse group of riders of all ages, from just about every walk of life and we all shared a passion for the mighty Tenere 700 and of course adventure riding.
I even reached out to a good friend of mine Mark Willis, whom I hadn’t seen for decade or more, but remembered he was a resident of Tamworth. Mark messaged me back that he was up for beer and would meet me and the guys at the pub.
Let’s just say Mark is a handy rider, winning a Australian Supermoto Championship and also racing against the likes of Mick Doohan in the 500cc World Championship. Mark also offered a few tips on how to improve my adventure riding.
All too soon the night came to an end and we headed back to our rooms prior to final day of the rally. How can they possibly match the challenge and scenery of the past three days?
Day 9: 440 Total km. Highlight – Feeling like I was riding the Australian Safari. Must do – Call in and say G’day to Leanne and John at the Delungra Rock and Roll Diner.
Stay tuned for day 10…