The rally had to change weekends this year, definitely once maybe twice to fit availability at the hotel and to not be camping on the oval same weekend as the once a month market day held on the oval.
I started finalizing my loading of the scooter at about one thirty pm, then headed off up the Bruce Highway, hoping to be early enough to miss the weekly gridlock of people heading to the Sunshine Coast. Traffic was moving well, then slowed to crawl just over the river before any of the signs for Anzac avenue exit… oh looks like a long time lane splitting. Being a bit fatigued from the week leading up to this, it was not something I was too excited at the thought of. Traffic was slow, slowing and getting slower without actually falling below the speed it is legal to filter; then for no apparent reason they all accelerated and took off at or above the posted speed limit.
By the time I went under Anzac avenue I was merging to the left lane (the slow lane in Australia as we drive on the left side of the road) to stay within the speed limit. All good and stayed good including through other road work until I reached the turn off to the old Bruce Highway near Pomona.
A different approach to the town as generally I have ridden up via Cooroy, but only being 30 mins from destination decided to continue after topping up the tank. The road from Pomona to Kin Kin is a pleasant mix of straights and curves through scenic valleys and forested curves that is open enough to tempt you to go a little quicker. However there are two, one-vehicle bridges that help keep rider enthusiasm in check. The first being well marked, there are arrow boards and “Prepare to Give Way” signs – a whole range of road side clutter… but none of them prepare you. In spite of knowing it is coming, none of the signs prepare you for the fact the bridge is at the end of a blind bend and you cannot see if there is anything you need to give way to until you are almost on it. A quick stop and a wait for traffic is what happens before continuing on. The second bridge is bit more visible as is its approaching traffic.
A few more turns and arrived at The Country Life Hotel. A heritage building that has been maintained through the years without losing its character. I parked up and went to the public bar to check in to the accommodation.
There was a slight distraction as someone with a tan and a smile in a one piece bathers sauntered by. I assumed that she was promoting Jägermeister, and over at one of the tables there were a couple of men enjoying an after-work ale.
The accommodation room was pleasant and even had a rack to hang and air my jacket and riding pants, in addition to balcony access, I was more than happy with the lodgings, being my first time here as in years past, I had booked into the Villa Kin Airbnb nearby.
I was about to go to the cafe when I spotted a new addition Kin Kin Depot selling a variety of things.
In the front corner there was a box of records – which generally contain copies of Edinburgh military tattoo, Kamal, classic and other albums waiting for someone to love them. I could have easily spent all the money in my pocket on what I found inside but ended of showing some restraint and only buying four. Keith Richards solo album, Ian Dury, The Who and a live bootleg copy of Velvet Underground on vinyl. He said he has more that will be added to the box, so might have to take another look before going. The coffee shop was getting ready for the night, but had a full display case of temptations to have with my coffee with the smoke and smells from the smoker oven wafting past whenever there was a breeze with pork and beef ribs, brisket and a few other things for later smelling fantastic this close to when they would be served. More scooters were arriving and buzzing around either because they had been on a ride or a quick blast to clear the two stroke oil after being transported in a Ute or van.
The group I saw riding to Pomona returned, so figured it was time to come back to rally HQ to drop off my new albums and mingle a bit. There was a sign outside the bar promoting lingerie waitress from 2 – 5 so she was not a spirits promotion girl after all. It’s obviously been some time since I have left the urban area!
Outside, scooters were parked up and a few war stories from the trip up emerging, suspected holed piston, resulting in doubling up the dead scooter’s rider to a train station so he could go home to get his Ute to collect the no long mobile scoot. A puncture and subsequent hunt for a scooter or wheelbarrow tube to repair it ( one of the perks of 8” wheels) and more new arrivals as the sunset
The hotels kitchen was struggling a bit as, the hotel had an unexpected group arrive at lunchtime which consumed most of the stuff that had been prepared for our group when we ordered, so some of the preparation to have things cooked that happened earlier in the day had to be repeated after ordering. All this prep pre-cooking held the meals up longer than the estimated time, which caused some angst, particularly when dishes seemed to arrive randomly, my ribs did arrive they were perfect, the meat came away from the bone easily and was delicious.
Due to the delay in meals the entertainment for the night had already started playing a variety of rock songs.
After catching up with a few people I headed back across the road for an after dinner coffee, as I crossed the road I could hear the music and an artist I was much more into the songs and style of sitting, so pulled up s front row seat to watch and listen to Matt Johnstone.
Wide variety of songs and artists, U2, Redgum, The Pogues, Neil Diamond, Neil Young, it was great. My attentive and appreciative listening (and maybe singing along quietly enough so only I could hear) was rewarded with a couple of cds he has made, so I can and will listen again.
Back across the road and the hotel’s performer had caught his second wind and was banging them out and shredding his guitar on the tunes he obviously likes and practices more.
Woke up the next morning to see what was available for breakfast before the ride departed – not a great deal more than tea and coffee facilities upstairs, so went across the road to the café for something light and a coffee, anticipating something more substantial for lunch. While sitting on the Veranda scanning the horizon, the new day brought the realization that the forecaster had done a total back flip on the weather pre- weekend and what was a right in front of your eyes the new reality… things were definitely cloudy and a little dark that later turned to rain before I finished my coffee and toast.
Damn, maybe with the group being mostly two-stroke manual transmission scooters they would decide to leave them in the shed. Did not hurry back anticipating a lack of enthusiasm to ride but was totally wrong.
There was a line of scooters with helmets and jackets on them ready and waiting. Quick change and I was back downstairs amongst them waiting for the ride brief. As I was waiting, I was approached and asked if I would be tail end rider for the group ride. This not being my first rodeo (or scooter rally) I clarified that if there is a rider that has stopped – not crashed and there is other riders stopped with them that I ride on, corner mark further on if required for when they get under way.
Ride brief done and on our way to Tin Can Bay. Barely made it to the edge of town and the first Vespa PX to falter, roadside diagnosis was it was caused by suspected bad fuel, so they were going to turn around. Further on the next one to be parked up on the side of the road was a Mod-style scooter with loose/falling off mod mirrors on one side of his leg shield – but he said he would be ok, was just going to stow the loose ones till could put them on later. So powered on and caught the back of the pack again, not a chore for the Burgman, and did not take long, as someone was riding a borrowed scooter and was very slow- if he broke down it was not going to be through over-revving the engine. At the intersection the ride leader waited for the group to regroup including the now less Mod-style scooter and we were on our way again into the rain that was not forecast before the weekend. I had a few more stops as riders adjusted to the conditions, i.e., a scarf to block the stinging of the rain of a rider with an open face helmet etc., everyone made it and stopped for refreshments and a leg stretch/ look around Tin Can Bay.
A check of the forecast confirmed we had better get on our way as more weather was on it’s way.
It was a good ride with the group staying together up to fuel stop at a service station dwarfed by a huge cactus. A “poke your head through the hole sign” to capitalise on it and a few things to see while those that needed refueled.
We got underway and sadly one of the scooters did not recover from the restart that well. A few stops and checks were accomplished before finding the filter on the air intake had clogged with the rain. Removing it got it back to full power, if maybe a bit lean with the change in mixture without the filters back pressure, but we did not have far till the next stop and the dark clouds on the horizon confirming we did not have long before we would want to be off the road. Drizzle turned to rain, to heavier rain thankfully without any increased wind till we arrived at Hell Town Hotrods. A working customisation shop with a side branch of cafe restaurant/automotive museum and bar, it had it all.
Very pleased all had made it and off the road under shelter. The food was quickly served after we had been seated in an undercover area out the back. I ordered the mixed grill after reading what is included but did not really imagine it would be the size it was when it did arrive. It was huge – more than picture worthy, excuse my indulgence, it was delicious.
Some good rain downpours went over us as we sat eating believing that once they passed it would be blue skies and happy days for the way home. Sadly this was not to be, as I was eating my last chip, the group was rallied to ride in an attempt to beat the weather approaching. I decided to do a run for it, as there was enough chase vehicles to be tail end for the riders. So set the GPS and took off before the main group as that was enough getting wet for one day.
Others must have done the same as there was not a big gap before other riders started to arrive back at the hotel in varying states of mildly drenched through extremely too wet. The attempt to beat the weather appeared to have been a complete failure for all with none coming back dry. This was later confirmed by people comparing hands that looked like they belonged to two pack a day smokers courtesy of their yellow calf skin gloves. Others with grey hands from leached dye out of black gloves and many wet through black club T-shirts that probably would have got us asked to leave if the club shirts were as wet and white. The show and shine was deferred to allow a bit of time for showers and changing into dry clothes.
When it did start, it was a bit of a treasure hunt locating scooters you knew had been on the ride, but were now loaded in vans, in the undercover area behind the hotel or on the street getting wet.
As this was happening, supplies were moved to the undercover area for an impromptu bbq diner that was going to be in the park, but, was moved due to weather and the hotel offering the area’s use. Once all were finished, we moved back into the public bar for more adult beverages while keeping an eye on the rugby and listening to music on a sound system that had been set up for us. The show and shine trophy s remembered Steve Baker who lost his battle with cancer earlier in the year. 01.20.58 – 01.01.19.
The hotel is apparently currently for sale, which was a bit an ongoing conversation, as to whether things will be the same with new owners when the rally has its 10th birthday. Date has been set for 30th October to 01st November 2020, and it should be a big one.
Check the Brisbane Canetoads page for rally updates, entertained to be confirmed, https://www.facebook.com/events/654225481767698/