Inspired by our trip a couple of weeks previously and Gary buying a new motorbike, oh yes, Gary has a new motorbike (squeal!), we decided that a day trip to Bathurst was required.
As I have recently written a post covering a similar route, I won’t repeat everything again, just the highlights.
The forecast for Sydney was fine and hot, this probably explained the number of motorbikers we saw heading out early on Sunday morning.
We took our favourite route to the Blue Mountains, out to Richmond and onto the Bells Line of Road. We’ve seen many changes to the road since we started riding it a couple of years ago, road improvements mean better surfaces and more overtaking lanes which can only be a good thing as there doesn’t seem to be any plans to straighten any of the sweeping bends that makes this road so appealing.
We stopped at the Ellie Cats Cafe on top of the ridge, not far from Lithgow, for a break and to admire the view across the top of the mountains, then down into Lithgow and onto to the Great Western Highway towards Bathurst. This stretch of the road is not particularly interesting for motorbike riders although it is straight, well surfaced and has areas of dual carriageway/ divided road allowing some good speeds of 100kph and 110 kph. The thing to watch here is the ‘average speed cameras’, which photograph the vehicles and each end of a stretch of road, record times and average out the distance travelled to make sure drivers aren’t speeding. I can only imagine some of the speeds reached on this road by some drivers which lead to the cameras’ installation.
At Bathurst, we headed straight for Mount Panorama and onto the track. The Bathurst 1000 had been on the week before but it was surprising how quickly the evidence had been removed, save a small grandstand still in the process of being dismantled.
The loop is about 6km of two way public road with a speed limit of 60kph, which is appropriate due to tight, blind corners, people stopping every few minutes to take photos, people walking on the road and a lack of verges on some stretches. The road wound around the mount to a peak which provided an amazing vista across the lower parts of the track, over the city and beyond to the mountains.
What really surprised me about the place was, in the centre of the loop, were a number of wineries, vineyards, and homes – driveways opened up onto the track itself and mail boxes stood proudly at the entrances; this track was the absolute marriage of country road and motor racing track.
We passed groups of cyclists on the way up the mount, peddling hard as they reached the steeper parts, we stopped for photos overlooking the ‘Mount Panorama’ hillside sign and I cheered a few of the cyclists as they struggled up the hill, it made them and me smile :-).
We stopped again at the highest point in the road, a perfect spot to take some shots of the motorbike with the ‘track’ in the background. I watched as a cyclist gained speed and overtook a car on a descending blind corner, clearly forgetting that it is a two way road and lucky that nothing was coming in the other direction.
As we rejoined the road it became very narrow, with tight turns descending the mountain, Gary stopped to help another rider who had dropped his motorbike on some gravel on a narrow driveway while I continued around the loop, rejoining him on the other side, I wasn’t feeling confident enough to navigate myself around and into a gravelled driveway.
The rider was around 50, with a fully laden motorbike, from Perth and on a cross country tour before heading down to Philip Island for the following week’s MotoGP, he was very glad of Gary’s assistance, no damage to the motorbike, he had caught it as it dropped and his panniers had also helped soften the impact.
Mindful of the time and the, at least, 3 hours’ ride (200km) back to Sydney (plus stops), we reluctantly left the circuit, grabbed some lunch in a nearby cafe and headed home. Didn’t work out how to get a certificate of our visit to the circuit, a mission for next time because we will be back!