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Rides come in many shapes and sizes and Northern Gateway has been blessed with some excellent ride leaders, such as Eighty-Six. Blip’s managed a few that didn’t end off-road; Spicky’s done a couple that didn’t involve at least three turn-arounds; Geoff (spider-man) Sheather did one once - after which he was banned for life; and even President Twiggy has led one where he didn’t fall off!!

But Lulu (TLC) Rose has also done more than her share and the Tyalgum ride is up there with the best. I counted twenty-four heads when the ride stopped in Countess Street so she could give instructions on how to navigate onto the M1 via North Quay.

Last time we took this route some folks disappeared over the Grey Street Bridge and Spicky had to take emergency recovery action.

Then it was clear highway riding to Exit 38, except some moron had authorised road-works that closed two exits in Springwood. Traffic was a fright there but thankfully the Honda Highway provided an alternative path. Tail-end-Charlie Geoff Sheather really outdid himself, wearing not only a Hi-Vis jacket on a Hi-Vis bike but also modelling a matching Helmet! No-one in their right mind could ever claim, "I didn’t see him".

The trip into Canungra for smoko was uneventful but very enjoyable, except we were tailed for a short while by one of Queensland’s finest until he realised there was no business to be had and shot off to chase a four-wheeler.

Somewhere along the line we lost Twiggy and Dale. Not in the sense of a Car 54 "lost", but as in, they turned around. Apparently Dale said she, "needed some action", (meaning she wanted Twiggy to go faster), but Twiggy, misunderstood and spun around quicker than an Ethiopian who’s seen a sandwich. They were nearly back home before Dale got the message through.

I hear Twiggy missed out again.

Route 97 is flanked by the Numinbah Valley and Lamington National Park and is a superb ride, with scenic vistas at every turn. The road into the tiny township of Tyalgum begins at Chillingham just a short distance outside Murwillumbah and leads into a picture-postcard from a past era. I last visited Tyalgum over half-a-century ago in the back seat of Dad’s old Prefect and can attest that it has changed little. The bank’s gone and some quaint little shops dot the main street which is now a little wider and sealed, but the pub and the produce store are exactly the same. Nostalgia reigned supreme.

Shunning pub-grub, we opted to eat at a main street café that surprisingly opened into a rainforest setting with intimate outdoor dining amid local flora and fauna. Here we discovered Julie Sheather’s love of nature as she admired a small water-dragon waiting hopefully for a feed. If anyone wants to give Julie a present she would really love one of these

but please make sure it has first passed through the hands of a taxidermist.

The return ride was once again led by Louise and, if it were possible, was even better than the outward leg, although we lost Spicky somewhere for the second time in as many weeks! This run took us through Springbrook and the winding roads and beauty of the Springbrook National Park, followed by a brief stop for the terminally short of fuel before moving on to Yatala for our final farewells. At least that was the plan, but instead we hit the highway after the Yatala turn and so Mr Armanelli and Chaffey were denied the pie-stop they had been so looking forward to.

There was nothing left for it but to twist the throttle a bit more and head home – to end a bright 350km day with a hot shower, a relaxing glass of wine or three and the memory of another great NG ride. Thanks Lulu!!

Hamster Huey

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