Condamine. When the Rivers Run Dry.

Day 1: Transport day to Singleton. Met up with the two Pauls at Emu Plains and headed to Wisemans to meet Wayne C. A leisurely ride to Buckety and up through the Watagans. From there all slab to Singleton via Cessnock and Elderslie. Met Alex Proude at the Royal Hotel.

Day 2: We headed for Walcha via Goorangoola to Rouchel where the Hunter looked pretty normal. Heading further north above Lake Glenbawn it was obvious the Hunter was being fed from Glenbawn as the River was a trickle above Glenbawn. More evidence of the drought would appear as we travelled.

After Glenbawn we headed to Barry where only about three of the twenty creek crossings had a few inches in them. The trails were dusty although a breeze did offer some relief. Lunch at Nundle then up into the hills to head for Weabonga, Limbri and into Walcha. Waiting in the bar to greet us was Warren Sakey and Colin Moss snug beside the fire; did I mention the cold?

Day 3: Minus five greets us but the air is so dry there is no black ice to trouble us. You sort of have to head back south from Walcha for about 40k to pick up Riamukka and Enfield Forests, bringing us out at Yarrowitch for a short blast along the Oxley, until the turn into Fenwicks Rd for the 100k or so run through the forest to Bellbrook. The trail becomes Racecourse Trail a fair way along and at a place called Racecourse Swamp is where the Hastings River starts, dry as that swamp, so another river running below average down stream.

A quick lunch at Bellbrook then off to Georges Junction, following the Macleay River for a picture. Then up the range to Point Lookout. What a view, a bit smokey but you could see the ocean at Nambucca Heads from about 80k away. The look out is 1,560m above sea level; did I mention the cold? A quick run into Ebor as the sun was about to disappear.

Paul G had a little off in one of the creeks on Racecourse Trail and landed the bike on the RHS, causing the throttle to lose its spring return so rode half the day on manual throttle control. We did try to look at it on the trail but the phillips head screws on the throttle wouldn’t budge. Once settled in at Ebor, Wayne C produced the phillips head tee-bar workshop grade and loosened said screws, this loosened the throttle and all good thankfully as the 690 has fly by wire and we weren’t keen to find out how that works in the middle of nowhere.

Day 4: A big day of 450k through mostly untried territory. Down the Waterfall Way to Hernani, where a left turn heads you towards Dalmorton as the trails fringe Guy Fawkes NP. From Dalmorton the trail follows the Boyd River, eventually crossing the Nymboida River. I don’t think much white water rafting was happening. A short run through great trails eventually leads to Jackadgery for a lunch break on the Mann River. According to the shop lady it’s about 500mm down on normal.

From lunch, a nice run along the Mann River to a lovely low level crossing, followed shortly by another one over the Clarence River that also looked a tad low. Then followed the Clarence Way up to the Bruxner Highway. From here Warren and Col slabbed via Bonalbo to Woodenbong while the rest did a ridge run along the Richmond Range for a terrific run into Woodenbong.

Unfortunately Alex Proude had a little incident about 60k from Woodenbong that turned out to be an ankle break. Tough effort as he managed to ride to Woodenbong, luckily all the rough was behind us and it was a lovely forest trail that brought us to Woodenbong. By the way if ever you are there at the pub Wayne C recommends the Prawn Laksa (magnificent, one of life’s memorable dishes – Wayne C).

Day 5: Finally a short run along twisty tar to our destination. The Condamine Gorge!!!! Well, it didn’t disappoint. It is only a short run of 20k but is quite spectacular. Most of the crossings aren’t a problem, but a couple are deep enough that it goes over boot level, so wet feet for some for the rest of the day. There are also a few nasty rocks here and there that Warren managed to find, dropping his bike but luckily the air box stayed high and dry. Thanks Col for getting extra wet feet to help him.

Well, after that a nice lunch in Killarney before a terrific run to Tenterfield via the Rabbit Proof Fence. A beautiful twin track following the border for quite a way. We had motel style digs in Tenterfield with a hair dryer that dried the boots nicely. By the way, Paul Grech left us at Killarney to slab home ASAP as he and the bride were heading overseas for an Adriatic bike tour. Can’t wait ’til I retire and do that stuff.

Day 6: Tenterfied to Guyra, a reasonably short day of 270k but mostly forest trails with a bit of slab at the end. Just as we exited Washpool NP Paul Lloyd has a stick punch through his rear tyre that conveniently happened right next to an old power pole laying on the ground, a convenient bike stand. With the flat fixed it was off to Glen Innes for a well deserved pie at the cake shop. After lunch a leisurely run on back farm roads into Guyra.

Day 7: Warren and Col headed south east from Guyra to head for Scone, while myself, Wayne C and Paul L headed south west to Bundara, Manilla for lunch then Denman for overnight. The Breeza and Liverpool Plains are very dry and dusty.

Day 8: Slabbed it home.

A trip of about 2,600k. Well worth it and rode a lot of trails we had never seen, which is always good. I don’t think I would do the Condamine if it had rained so we were lucky there.

A great crew, great accommodation and most importantly terrific trails. As the Hunters and Collectors sing, “When the Rivers Run Dry” is what we found at most creeks and rivers. The larger rivers have water but are well below normal.

Wayne McNaughton KTM 690, Paul Lloyd KTM 690, Paul Grech KTM 690, Alex Proude DRZ 400, Wayne Croker Tiger 800, Warren Sakey Kawasaki KLX 400 and Colin Moss GSA 1200.

Wayne McNaughton

One thought

  1. Thanks for an excellent expedition, Wayne. A great variety of tracks and fun company. A real eye-opener to see the country looking so desperately dry.

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