Not being home long from the National Rally in Renmark it was time to pack again and head off to a rally closer to my home.
For those that are not familiar with Australia, it is a big big place, in fact about the same size as continental USA. Also worth noting is that Australia’s population is significantly less than America’s, in fact, the whole of Australia’s population is about the same as the number of people living in Texas.
By road the location of the National Rally is approximately 1,771km (1,100 miles) from the location of the Tumbulgum rally; so scooterists tend to go to the one that is nearest them. The other difference is that the National Rally location has been changing from year to year in Southern Australia, where the Northern Australia rally has been held in the village of Tumbulgum (pronounced Tum-BUL-gem) on the Tweed river for six years.
The town was originally called “Tweed Junction” but in 1880 the residents petitioned to have the name changed to “Tumbulgum”. This was claimed to mean “meeting place of the waters” in an Aboriginal language but others claimed translations include “a large fig” or “wild fig tree”.
The rally is the brain child of Tony Shirley who ran the first couple of rallies and later with support from the Brisbane Canetoads scooter club, and other South East Queensland scooter groups.
The hosts for this year’s event like the location but have also had some interesting name changes over the years. Originally they were referred to as “The Mexicans” as most of the members were from “South of the Border” of New South Wales and Queensland. That was later changed a little by the fact that at that time a lot of the members had PX Vespas which combining the two created “PEX – MEX” but later whilst browsing as Richard Rawlings of Gas Monkey Garage fame would say -“The Inter Web”- a member stumbled onto the Deportivo Wankas – a Peruvian football team founded in 1996 named after the Wankas people who formerly inhabited the area and after whom the city of Huancayo is named. This little team, from a country a long way from the UK, has been giving Manchester United a run for it’s money in the replica soccer jersey market.
The Huancayo based Deportivo Wankas have no idea why more than 1,000 British (and now Australian) soccer fans might want to wear a Deportivo jersey. A spokesman for the team said “It is very strange. Everyone in Britain seems to think we have a funny name.” They play their home games at Estadio Huancayo. Their last First Division participation was in 2004. They protested against their relegation and were suspended from participating in any football tournament. The scooter club is now “Los Wankas”.
Saturday April 23rd
Most of the daytime activities originate from the The Tumbulgum Tavern, a National Trust Listed, first in the area and licensed since 1887. Evening activities happen a little down the road at the Tumbulgum Town Hall.
Quite a few people travelled down on Friday to set up camp, but my wife and I had work commitments and could not leave till Saturday morning. After some investigation of alternative routes that were more sympathetic to the abilities of her Honda SH150, we ended up deciding to take our chances on the expressway with the option of moving to secondary roads if our speed was holding up traffic. We left just after sun up and there was only light traffic by the time we made it to Beenleigh where the speed limit increases to 110km/hr, so we stayed on the expressway to Muggeraba, where it was time to take an exit ramp and find a some warmth and get off the scooters for awhile. Not far from the expressway exit we found the Honey Pot Café which turned out to be a great find. From the front it appears to be a small café, but it is an illusion as the café is very deep and beyond the traditional restaurant opens up into a bigger area with an extensive honor system library along one wall. It looked like a few man caves in the area have lost some books to their wives for swapping as there was many books I would have liked to read by authors such as John Silvester, Andrew Rule, Kathryn Bonella, that must have been traded for books authored by Christa Parravani, Ann Dowsett Johnston, Katherine Boo, and more. After our stop, we continued to Chinderah to drop off our bags before completing the final leg into Tumbulgum, greeted by a reassuring yellow arrow with a scooter on it stapled to the city sign.
We arrived at the “Tumby Hotel” and found one of the organisers to collect our rally packs, and confirm the details of the day. There was a menu circulating for riders to mark which menu items they would be ordering on our return to give the kitchen half a chance of being able to turn the meals around within a reasonable time as there were other events going on at the same time in Tumblegum. Once we are all gathered, there was a warning siren at 10:55 to denote five minutes till departure and the ride headed off at 11.00am.
We rode out of the village and crossed the river on our way and wound our way to Murwillumbah where there was a fuel stop before continuing on through Uki to the Mount Waring Tavern.
The original tavern was burnt to the ground in 2013 after an electrical fire. The hotel reopened after a after a three-year, $2 million restoration and is a pleasant combination of modern and contemporary styling to honour the original 100 year old pub’s history. Once everyone had a chance to have a drink and break, it was time to return to the scooters for the next leg, which was a surprise to me, who had assumed we would just head back to the start, the next stop was Hastings Point over looking the surf for a photo opportunity. The wind and swell were up – but that just added to setting ensuring any flags were flying at full length and fox tails wagging before we headed off to another fuel stop before returning to the Tumby Pub for the afternoon’s show and shine in front of the hotel.
Voting slips for the categories had been included in the rally pack, so all socialised and scrutinised the scooters till the votes were in, drinks in the pub and thoughts of diner before heading off to the Town Hall for the evening.
My wife and I headed off after the Show and Shine as we were mostly done in after our early start, ride down, and rally ride. We walked up the road to the Chinderah Tavern for a meal there. Great selection to choose from but went with the Steak Mushroom and Pepper pie and a Chicken Schnitzel. The portions were big enough that we probably only needed to order one main to share! As we were eating, the “Smashed Crabs” starting playing. They seemed to have a good following with many songs turning into full verandah karoke with some energetic dancers completing the scene.
Sunday April 24th
We headed over to the beach in Kingscliff for breakfast. Kingslcliff has a long beachfront café strip. After surveying the options we returned to the top of the strip to the Stunned Mullet which is a combination of café, burger/ fish and chip shop. Once we had finished eating and picked up a few supplies at the supermarket, we returned to Tumblegum for another ride out. There must have been some strong winds or overnight rain, a the crowd had thinned significantly and there was people confirming most of the camping area had cleared with people returning for work or maybe after a big night of dancing decided they had enough. There was enough to head off the back way to Tweed Heads and the Ivory Hotel for some drinks overlooking the water before riding back for a lazy afternoon chilling out and dinner at the pub.
Monday April 25th
We packed our gear back into the dry bag and strapped it to my seat before setting off home the back way to avoid the long weekend traffic. So we returned to Murwillumbah for a fuel stop, then left town after deciding it was a bit early for breakfast, which was postponed to the next town. The choices seemed to be the General store or Buck’s Farm.
So we went to Buck’s to see what they had to offer, the lady serving suggested that if we have time we should ride to Tylgum which is 10 mintues away, turn after the bridge. We took her advise and are glad we did as we would probably have never found Flutterbies Café, which is a visual sensation. The theme is carried from front to back in every detail with waitress in Jane Austen style period clothing, and a great menu.
The restaurant does theme nights, and there was advertising for their upcoming William Shakespeare Twelfth night evening of comedy and Shakespeare and fine food. There was some rain we rode through on the way and some heavy showers while we were eating, so we put on the wet weather gear before continuing our travel toward the NSW and QLD border at Natural Arch. This is a really nice road to ride with some great views along the way, that prompted a photo stop or two. On the way back to the scooters after one stop, my wife looked up the hill and was surprised to see two brown camels grazing on some bushes in the paddock.
Next stop was a popular motorcycle café in Canundra – the OutPost bakery.
Thanks to the Los Wankas and all involved in organising the rally. Apparently A$1420 was raised and is being donated to a young local girl who has a malignant Peripheral Nerve Sheath Tumor and the money will assist her family with the costs involved in treatment. The Wankas thoughts are not on Bubble gum Number 7 as yet. After the success of the Run to the Big Banana in Coffs Harbour, they are putting the finishing touches on their next rally. Everybody will be made welcome at the Rivers Deep Mountain High rally to be held on the weekend 12th, 13th, and 14th August, Urunga , Mid North Coast, NSW. See you there?