River Deep – Mountain High Scooter Rally

Come with me on yet another scooter rally, Australian style, the River Deep – Mountain High Scooter Rally in Urunga. “River Deep – Mountain High” is a 1966 single performed by Tina Turner and credited to Ike & Tina Turner. Considered by producer Phil Spector to be his best work. My preferred version would be the less soul full version by The Saints: The Saints – River Deep Mountain High


The song was included in selection of songs on the CD that came in our rally packs – and the Fairly Averages DJ’s set. It is an Award winning song; as was the award winning effort and detail the Los Wankas put into this weekend rally held in the beautifully scenic town of Urunga.

When looking at which way to ride down to the rally, I was pretty pleased that one of the options was to travel along Lions road.

Ride to Urunga

This was the site of the Lions Tourist Trophy Motorcycle Festival in 2014 and 2015. Unfortunately there will not be a 2016 Lions TT event, because police refused to close a section of the Lions Rd for untimed rides as they did in 2014 and 2015.

Entry is via Innisplain Rd, which continues onto Running Creek Rd (with multiple crossings of Running Creek); before reaching the start of Lions Rd. It is easy to see why they would prefer to run this as a closed road event as there is several single lane sections of roads and bridges, as well as cattle grids that keep riders on their toes. There is some great scenery if you have time to look around.

I stopped off at the Border Loop look out, overlooking the Border Loop Railway, prior continuing on to Kyogle for a coffee at Dave’s Bakehouse.


I couldn’t wait around for too long though, as I had arranged to meet up with some other scooter riders. I was to meet  Tony Shirley on his Vespa PX, John Portwood on his Vespa PX, John McDonald on his Lambretta, and Rachel Tooley on her Vespa GTS, all who had departed from Tumblegum and taken a route through Uki, Carwongla, and Larnook into Casino.

We met up at the Oxford hotel and had some lunch before heading off toward Grafton. The Lammy was having some difficulties at higher speeds, so had a few stops to investigate what was going on before turning onto Pringle way to travel via Lawrence, as it follows the Clarence river and would have less traffic than the highway, then travelled via Glenreagh to Coffs harbour. As we passed through it was hard not to notice the four-metre tall, six-metre-long golden dog statue.


In 1964 Warren Dean was one of the cement renderers who put the peel on the “Big Banana” in Coffs Harbour. When he took over the Golden Dog hotel in Glenreagh he started planning a giant-sized version of its namesake.

It was not much further before we started to see the banana plantations on the outskirts of Coffs Harbour. Navigation should have been less of a challenge from here, as it’s the main North South highway, but road works added some detours, before arriving in Urunga just in time to catch the sun set. Urunga has a beautiful lagoon that was an ideal place to view the sunset.

The evening was a meet and greet and opportunity to collect rally packs at the hotel. These included a rally mix of music CD, stickers, patch, poster and a run sheet of the weekend’s activities and times.


The Fairly Average DJs set up and started playing some music to get the weekend rally underway.


The following morning was a leisurely start to the day with 10:30 being the time to be out the front of the hotel with full tanks, ready to venture out on the first rally ride.

The ride followed a scenic mountain road to with stops at Bellingen and Thora to regroup before arriving in Dorrigo and continuing on to Dangar Falls.

We returned to Dorrigo for lunch at either the hotel or one of the other cafes in town. I went with the Plateau Cafe (formerly Juan’s Cafe Del Fuego The World’s Smallest Motorcycle Museum) which has a range of handmade pies, fresh wraps, fish and chips, burgers. I went with a chilli con carne pie and added peas, mash and gravy. It was delicious!

Once all were done eating we rode back to Ocean View Hotel, Urunga for show and shine in the beer garden.

After dinner there was a night of awards, with great music provided by the Fairly Average DJS spinning their discs and the usual nonsense served up at Club Urunga (only 2-5 min walk from pub)!


The winners of the awards:
Best Lambretta – George Shaw
Best Vespa – Billy Drinkwater
Best in show – Billy Drinkwater
Best Rat Scooter – Martin Rapley
Furthest Ridden – Rachel Tooley

A lot of people were going back on Sunday, but over dinner I though better of it and asked Neil where a good day ride would be. He gave an outline of a route he had considered for the rally. After a look around the local market in Urunga and picking up some new music, I headed off to Urunga’s surf beach – Hungry Head, then continued on the Old Pacific Highway, this meant it was easy to turn in to have a look at Valla Beach before riding on to Nambucca heads. I found a waterfront walkway and discovered the local Pelican’s waiting for any fishermen to return to the boat ramp to clean their fish and a group of Harley Davidson’s that had been ridden to the Nambucca RSL Club for the Harley Owners Group AGM, I went back up what appeared to be the main street to admire the mosaic sculpture/mural known as ‘Fish and Chips’ on the corner of Ridge Street and Bowra Street. It is alleged to be one of the longest mural/sculptures in Australia approximately 50 metres long and has a Crocodile, Fish, an Octopus and all sorts of sea creatures contained within.

I went to Macksville then Bowraville for lunch at the Bowra Hotel. One of the prominent buildings is the Frank Partridge VC Military Museum, I did not go inside. The Museum was arranging a Military Vehicle Muster for the October Long Weekend 2016. The Bowraville Folk Museum is at the other end of town and was open when I arrived, which had an interesting collection of pieces on display. I found a few things that I remembered from a long time ago, in addition to other things specific to farming or support industries. I had planned to take Bellinghem road – but found a sign informing it is indefinitely closed, so considering I would have a long day in the saddle the following day – I headed back to the hotel along a similar route to the one I took to get there.

The next morning comes with the realization that the rally is well and truly over and it’s time to go back to work. After waking to the sound of rain during the night, I thought I would be spending the day in wet weather riding gear – but was a great day to be out riding – started at sun up and got home at sun down after some distractions along the way.

The next Queensland event was the fifth Brisbane CaneToads rally in Kin Kin from the 28th to 30th October. Kin Kin is a nice simple (and free) rally set at a fantastic old Queenslander hotel.

There was good food at the pub and a cafe across the road, DJ’s played Fri – Sat nights, and the hotel offered secure parking for the scoots… great ride out to the Sunshine Coast Surf club in some great QLD countryside. This years patch was a hat tip to Pretty Green, which was named after a track by The Jam, featuring one of the Canetoad members scooter, “The Squire” (Steve Baker’s), in the foreground.


Continuing the Hills theme – the next open invitation weekend is “Run for the Hill 2016” being hosted by the South Australia-based Southsiders Scooter Club and Victoria-based Melbourne Crusaders, meeting up in Horsham to ride to Halls Gap for a weekend of shenanigans, beer and DJs.

Grampians Rally

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