I was in a hurry to get going again, so I jammed my phone into my jacket pocket, pressed the starter and took off. Two kilometers down the track we came to a stop, I hopped off the bike, put my hand in my pocket and grabbed my phone. Except there was no phone. “SHIT”, new phone and new two year contract! I tried pairing my headset…nothing! “Ok, you’ve dropped your phone, maybe you should go back and try and find it” and so I started back tracking. I have dropped stuff before including a GoPro, a few pairs of glasses, gloves and now a phone and I have NEVER found any of them…damn! I must have gone back 2 kilometers and was getting a little despondent when I looked down and there it was…unbelievable. Lying silver side up in the middle of the track AND undamaged, what a relief!
So, what was the occasion? I was one of a number of sidecars on the 2019 ARSTY ride, more commonly known as ARSTY’19. What does ARSTY stand for? To be honest I have no idea but let’s just say “Australians Ride South To Yagoona”. For Australians living south of Yagoona, it’s be a bloody long ride to the start! The group included Urals, a very flash Africa twin and a large capacity Yamaha V twin.
Suited up and ready to roll
This year we met in Tenterfield on a Wednesday, rode three days of loops out of there and then the group continued on to Killarney for another 4 days of riding.
Tenterfield Saddler store is still going
Accommodation in Tenterfield is abundant and excellent. Our group stayed at the Tenterfield Lodge and Caravan Park. I booked late, missed out and so I stayed at the Best Western Henry Parks. Comfortable room with excellent Breakfast & Dinner served 7 days in their restaurant, they will also put together a lunch pack if required.
Thursday morning the bugle sounded at a very civilized 10:30am. A short 118km loop from Tenterfield via Timbarra Road to the Mount McKenzie lookout and back to Tenterfield.
Assembled ready for departure Day 1
An excellent patch of dirt up to Mount McKenzie, very picturesque with huge rocky outcrops dotted along the way.
Ural in full flight
The ride gave me a chance to familiarize myself with my GoPro 7 again and what a fantastic device it is. The 7 is a GIANT leap forward, the stabilizer is phenomenal, if you're looking for a great little action camera it's well worth a look.
Also got a chance to pop the drone up which is always fun. I’ve put a couple of links at the bottom of this blog if you’d like a gander. Quite a sight to see 15 sidecars barreling along a dirty road!
Enroute to Mount McKenzie
Love the rear wheel conversion. Frame, swingarm and rear guard widened and then some wizardry with a drill and some M8 Bolts… et voila!
New York Rat along for the ride with emergency supplies.
What an enjoyable ride and a great way to ease into the trip. We were back in Tenterfield by mid afternoon well before the sounding of the happy hour gong.
Friday morning roll call…
Friday morning roll call called for 09:00am. Today’s ride is a 150km loop from Tenterfield to Drake, then back to Tenterfield via Rock River. The run down to Drake on the Bruxner highway is a fun road with lots of twisties (actually a lot more fun on two wheels). Morning tea in Drake then continue south a couple of kilometers to Long Gully Road.
Morning Tea in Drake.
Right onto Long Gully Road and so began our loop back to Tenterfield. The ride to the bottom of the hill is really beautiful, twisty narrow road through a forest with native palms and rain forest trees, very Jurassic. The dirt starts at the bottom of the hill on Rocky River Road, a really nice piece of road, great surface, lots of corners, nice short straights with good vision.
The fabulously picturesque Rock River Road
On the right is the range and on the left are the Rocky and the Timbarra Rivers. Wasn’t too much water in either but it’s beautiful all the same.
Taking a break on Rock River Road.
Exhilarating riding. Right turns on loose dirt in a sidecar are the biz. If you get it right, the rear wheel breaks loose, slides around, open the throttle and you’re pointing down the next section of road. Once you get in a rhythm it’s a real buzz. If you get it wrong…well let’s just say it’s not such a buzz!
Nothing goes together better than a Ural and a winch!
I thought I was absolutely tearing up the road, but at the end of the day my average was 43 Kph! This is one of many things I enjoy about riding a sidecar, speeds are down and you see a lot more of your trip.
Shacks along Billirimba Road.
The dirt continues for around 90 kilometers, Rocky River Road turns into Billirimba Road that eventually takes you out onto Scrub Rd.
Lunch break on the side of the track.
Bridge over dry river bed - Timbarra River.
Hang a right and Tenterfield town centre is less than 2 kilometers away. We came across 1 or 2 cars on Rock River Road all day, keep a lookout for cattle, horses and the usual sprinkling of native fauna. Highly recommended.
First Stop Saturday.
Yesterday’s ride is going to be hard to beat. Saturday roll call was 09:00am. Comrade Paul had organized a special day for us today. A guided tour through a 32,000-acre property brimming with history, great tracks, stunning scenery including a tundra swamp 1100m above sea level.
Hacked Africa Twin.
Leading the group was Bronwyn the property owner later to be joined by husband Bill, backed up by Terry and Fiona from Tenterfield council.
It’s just so refreshing to listen to locals talking with such passion about their local area. Terry’s knowledge of the history of Tenterfield is encyclopedic and he is justifiably proud about this wonderful part of our country. How many councillors do you know would take their Saturday to show a group of bike riders around their area? None…thank you so much Terry and Fiona.
Tenterfield has a rich history and I was surprised to learn that they built tank traps up in the range in WWII to stop our northern neighbors from attacking. It was also a thriving gold prospecting and tin mining area, remnants of which were pointed out to us.
This is a HUGE property and I’m pretty sure we were only given a glimpse of the treasures hidden within her boundaries. Old tin mining areas with shacks dating back to when God was a child, log haulers, rock walls built by Chinese gold miners to divert water for their sluices and much more.
Two of the VERY old shacks on the property.
Wheel hub from the old log hauler.
Rock Wall built by the Gold miners many years back.
Incredible rock formations everywhere you look.
The tracks on the property were mildly challenging but it’s rare if ever, that one gets to ride trails like these, so it was a lot of fun. It was here that my phone de-camped my pocket and tried to give me a mild coronary.
The “Great place to drop a phone” track.
Just the place to take a BIG Yamaha Roadbike!
We were so caught up in our surrounds that we eventually made our 1pm lunch break at 3pm. Back to Bronwyn and Bill's place for a BBQ. After lunch we took off back to Tenterfield along those glorious roads on the ridges…damn that was fun!
Unfortunately I left the group to return to base on Sunday and they continued on to their next base at Killarney.
I’m sure I speak for all when I say a big thank you to Robyn and Paul for putting the whole trip together. Everything ran with “military precision”. Robyn and Paul do everything on their own time and there is “NO CHARGE” to join the tour. This just doesn’t happen anymore, so we are very privileged to have these two wonderful people doing what they do…thank you so much.
Comrades Robyn & Paul.
Terry and Fiona, thank you for arranging an amazing day on Saturday and so selflessly giving up your time to chaperone us around Bronwyn and Bill’s amazing property.
Property Owner Bronwyn pointing south!
Bronwyn and Bill, you live in paradise, thank you for giving us the grand tour. Tenterfield is a beautiful part of the world. It’s cool at this time of the year and well worth a visit. Base yourself in town and ride out from there.
Just in case anyone is interested ARSTY stands for “Australian, Russian, Sidecar, Tour…Yippie”. To the Honda and Yamaha sidecars on tour…you’re excused. Bring on ARSTY’20, open to ALL makes and models of sidecar and for those on Urals needing an earlier fix, the Ural Australia Adventure ride is scheduled for September this year…be there.
Links to Youtube videos of the trip: