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Report 1

The wagon-train left Carseldine on "Twiggy Time", which according to Dale, is half-an-hour slow – a bit like his brain. This explains why Hans and Keith, who were on time at the Blacksoil BP, were well and truly baking when the ride finally arrived. But things soon improved as they headed west with the wind in their hair.

Our tail-end-charlie was Alby Jones, driving his better half Julie, who pathetically claimed she couldn’t ride because her arm was sore. Deb Ferguson pulled a similar stunt saying, "my finger hurts". Some people just need to toughen up!

On the way out we collected Bruce and Sue Ryan in Clifton then rode through to Texas via some great bike roads and an increasingly dry landscape, with not a camera, car or ‘gun’ to be seen. Heaven on a popsicle-stick!

Now Texas Queensland is not in the Lone Star State and while it has cattle the only Mexicans were a few Victorians who should have turned left at Albuquerque. Since it’s illegal to shoot them we pointed them towards Bass Strait and waved them off, then rode on to the Stockman’s Arm Hotel.

As he came level with the hotel entrance, Blip, who was in front of me, suddenly came to a dead stop in the middle of an otherwise empty road and it required great braking skill on my part to avoid a very close encounter. (Translation: I swore loudly and threw out the anchors). After pausing to consider whether or not he would grace the place with his presence Blip started to reverse, oblivious to the fact that I was 20cm off his rear wheel. Shouts from me and a few smart belts around the ear from Diane on the back seat thankfully woke him up, preventing an even closer encounter. Nice work Di!!

On arrival we were greeted by the Sheathers and Steve & Rosi Johnson who got there the night before, then after throwing our clobber in the rooms it was all hands to action-stations as we headed up the road for a barbeque lunch and a few rounds of "barefoot bowls".

Each game was hotly contested in an atmosphere of alcohol-assisted under-arm throws and many accusations of cheating. Julie Jones was even drafted in to play one-handed and did better than most with two! But it took a one-legged local to demonstrate how the game’s really played.

As expected, the President’s motley collection of kitty-kickers was declared the winner even though the President himself was twice disqualified for substance equipment-abuse. However, I must not be unkind to Twiggy because he did something that afternoon so uncharacteristically generous that I almost cried. He opened his wallet and after killing the moths took out a 10/- note - the first he ever earned back in 1963, and bought me a beer!

To go with the beer, the B-B-Q feed was outstanding. Country-killed beef produces the best steaks and when the steak ran out the beef sausages came in second place. There may have been salad or coleslaw but with all that great meat who wanted green stuff?

Sadly, there’s not very much left in Texas - a place which once boasted the largest Rabbit-meat Processing Works in the Southern Hemisphere and a thriving drug growing (tobacco) industry. The Stockman’s Arms Hotel, a Motel, a café, and the Memorial Bowls Club are about all the standing structures still commercially viable. "Bakery Bob" Rose couldn’t even sniff out a shop selling jelly-doughnuts or vanilla slices!

But we stout Ulysseans, including the Wheelers - Russell and Kieran representing Redcliffe, did our very best to inject some life, couth, culture and a considerable sum of money into the town as we spent Saturday night eating, drinking and talking bollocks.

There were surprisingly few ill-effects on Sunday morning as everyone trooped into the café for breakfast. One person who shall remain nameless (but who is married to Skinny Latte) had not fully recovered because he passed backwards on the chair, passed sideways on the table and passed water on the floor. A very good effort in front of a highly appreciative audience - and the vase didn’t break.

Before we left to make our way home by different routes, we had the obligatory "photo out the front of the pub" session. This involved Rob (Eighty-Six) and Spicky setting up their cameras opposite the hotel , racing back to be in the photo before the timers went off, then dashing back again to check the photo was ok and setting up for another shot.

Inspired by a captive audience, Spicky took the opportunity to show us his amazing and previously unsuspected athletic ability. We watched in admiration and silently applauded as he gracefully launched himself off the lower half-step and executed a beautiful double somersault with roll, half-pike and hitch. A little direct pressure stopped the worst of the bleeding and the specialist said the skin will grow back in time.

I went with a hardy group of riders who wanted to cover more distance before calling it a day, so with big Russell Wheeler in the lead we headed south, eating up the bitumen over more great bike roads less-travelled, through Tenterfield and finally back to Brissy!

An altogether great weekend away! Thanks to the organisers, to everyone who came and made it so much fun, and commiserations to those who couldn’t be there. Hope the long-weekend in Uralla goes off with a big bang too! (Can’t be there myself but will be thinking of you)!

Ride safe. Cheers as always,

Larry-the -Wonder-Llama.


Report 2

Northern Gateway’s Texas Weekend, Keren & I had the pleasure of being invited on their weekend away. We started from their usual place the Caltex at Carseldine for a7.30am leave.

The first stop was to be Blacksoil where we would pick up more riders for the trip.The route would take us through all the Tunnels and then on to Ipswich Road to Blacksoil, after picking up the extra people we then headed for Clifton for Smoko. This would see us travel the Warrego Highway to Gatton and then OldHighway to the Ma Ma Creek Road.

After smoko we headed for our destination, which would see us travel through Leyburn, however on entering the town limits I lifted my visor and copped a bee sting straight on the nose. We had to stop so I could remove the sting form my nose. We resumed our journey which would bring us out onto the Cunningham Highway at Karara. We caught up with everyone at Oman Ama for fuel and meet those who had travelled to Texas on the Friday, we had a casual ride around the back of Coolmunda Dam to Texas.

We arrived at the Pub to find Steve (Mr Grumpy) & Debs were there to greet us. Once everyone had booked into the Pub and Motel we then went to Bowls Club where an afternoon of Barefoot Bowls had been organised. After lunch the teams were organised with some of the local Bowlers educating all the prospective players on how to play the game. It took some time for everyone to get to grips with the game, but after a few ends most improved fairly quickly. Following the bowls everybody headed back to the Pub to clean up for Dinner and Steve & Debs headed home. Some took the opportunity to rehydrate after the activities.

After being seated for Dinner it took no time to get very noisy. They had a varied menu at reasonable cost. All the meals must have been good as it went quiet whilst everyone ate.

The night was a great social occasion with everyone partaking in a few more cool beverages.

Sunday morning greeted us with a fantastic day ahead with not a cloud in the sky. Most of us had Breakfast at Café over road form the Pub, once again we had a good meal and once coffees were finished, a group photo was taken, and plans were made for the trip home.  A few different routes were discussed, with some travelling the most direct route home, others were going to wind their way home through the back of Stanthorpe and Warwick, with the last group going home via Tenterfield Casino, Kyogle & Lions Road. Being part of the group that went via Casino we had a fantastic run home with a quick stop in Tenterfield for fuel and lunch at Kyogle thank you to those who travelled with me it was one of the best rides I’ve had for a long time.

Cheers, Russell

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