Where there’s a wheel, there’s a way
By Mark Sheehan and Andy Purvis
A pair of Sydneyside locals, ‘a couple of old boys with big toys’ have discovered a great way to slip-in a few annual road trips, under the guise of a fact-finding foray for our families’ future holidays. A couple of clever lads maybe? “It gets us out of the house, into the saddle, and onto some of the best black-top that hugs the New South Wales Central Coast. If it has wheels on it, or legs under it, we are ‘wheeling and willing’ to give it a go,” so says Andy, a purveyor of classic speed machines.
Lighting Out – According to the brotherhood of buddies, “if the plan works, use it, that’s our motto,” added Andy. “We’ve devised a plan for inserting the key in the ignition and lighting out atop our classic Harleys for a trip away from our own backyards.” It works wonders for everyone involved. We try to plan these trips to revolve around annual requests from our loving spouses to clean out the garage, or ‘do time’ in the garden at home, or straighten out our side of the closet. Our vignette treks give our gals a few days break from raising husbands alongside the other children.
Our road-trips usually begin before daybreak, as we never know what we’ll be seduced to stop off and see along the route. And if we do divert, get lost, or otherwise take the trail less travelled, it always seems to lead to a place we’re glad we’d encountered. Some of the best discoveries in history were made by making a wrong turn or two.
Spectacular Sights Surround Sydney – if the city of Sydney is the diamond in Australia’s bejewelled landscape, the city’s northern coastline is trimmed with precious gems. A day trip or short holiday by car, motorcycle, coach tour or motorhome is pure pleasure once you are on the road. The biggest challenge confronting a short-stay or day-tripper to the New South Wales Central Coast region is picking your bucket list of ‘must dos’ whilst visiting this region, north of Sydney. It is a veritable smorgasbord of activities, and narrowing them down to satisfy your own traveller’s palate requires a bit of pre-departure homework.
Picking Your Pleasures – Both of us believe big-time, that planning our outings holds nearly as much fun, as kick-starting the engines and pulling away from the curb. I think business gurus call it the ‘Five Ps’ of “Proper Planning Prevents Poor Performances.
For our road-trip, we wanted to try as many things as we could that required us to either sit in the saddle, or revolve around the “Wheel Australia”. So what we came up with was a punch list of activities we’d try to get through in a duet of days. The ‘smart money’ suggests you too, should take at least two days or more to savour the Central Coast surroundings. So let your mouse do the moving, as you plan your way to putting the key in the ignition.
Say You’re Lost, even if you aren’t and engage the ‘Locals’ – Nowadays, driving north to the Central Coast it’s nearly impossible to get lost. We’ve tried. Even with mod cons like trusty, multi-lingual GPS (now you can get told you’re off track in 11 different languages) strapped to our handlebars, and fully-knowing where we were going, we frequently stopped, engaged the ‘locals’, and asked questions, and we were handsomely rewarded with some great hidden gems we’d not even considered covering. ??We travel well out of our way, assuring we don’t measure our mileage in straight lines or sticking to the super-slabs. On any of our road trips, we enjoy acting lost, even when we’re not, and it gives us a good reason to chat. Each special discovery we garnish goes into our saddle-bags to take home, so we can share with our troops, all in the interest of planning our next outings with the family in town.
Don’t Care to Drive The Coast? Go Anyhow – Even if you don’t feel up to getting behind the wheel of a motorbike or car, make it a point of discovering this pearly necklace of New South Wales. We saw a fair few APT (Australian Pacific Tours) coaches, stopping to enjoy the camel riding, or sand dune surfing, the go-carts, and horse-back riding options that are available. They boast a dozen fully-escorted tours to the area, with on-board gurus who’ll give you all the facts; history, flora, fauna and local gossip as you motor along. If you want to linger longer, they’ll book your accommodation as well as drop you off for a day or more and arrange to collect you when you’ve had your fill of fun.
Adrenalin Anyone? With a two day total of about 30 hours of daylight, our tandem road-trip managed to tick all the boxes for excitement, entertainment and experiences not normally covered under our daily routines. Making it a heck of a holiday, even if it was enjoyed on a tight timeline, we knew we’d return with a broader knowledge of the region, in turn enhancing our next family vacation.
With loads of wonderful pit-stops en route, we managed to out-manoeuvre each other on hairpin turns aboard souped-up go-carts, learned a good bit about licking camels (no, they licked us), Sand Surfing (it’s not nice to eat more than a mouthful), Quad Biking (you can get all four wheels off the ground) and pub-crawling on horseback (take the hayride home) it was nothing short of wonderful.
It’s a Wrap! There’s an entire book in the options of the area known as the New South Wales Central Coast, and we’ve hardly scratched the tarmac this time. Do your own homework, plan well and head-out for this area next time you’re in town. You won’t be disappointed!
The ice cream atop the pie for my motorcycle-mad-mate was our last stop on the way home at, The National Motorcycle Museum in Nabiac. We were pleasantly surprised by the extent of the collection, weaved into a wonderful history of Australia. They turned back the clock and all we needed to do was add to the donation tin for a contribution to the couple who created and maintain the place for us all to enjoy. We stayed longer than we thought we might, and finally arrived home just after dusk.
As Andy pointed out, “the opening song lyrics from Steppenwolf’s 1968s ‘Born to be Wild’ still ring as true today as they did back then:
Get your motor running
Head out on the highway
Looking for adventure
In whatever comes our way
So to all you budding Easy Riders – are you Dennis Hopper or Peter Fonda? Hire a Harley the next time you visit New South Wales and feel the wind in your face and the thrill of a rumbling engine beneath you as you head out on one of Australia’s classic road trips.
Tourism NSW – Action for Everyone! You can let your mouse leave the house by checking out: www.tourism.nsw.gov.au?
The Glenworth Valley – Want to ride Quad Bikes and the horse-back all in one location? Try this 3,000 acre place: www.glenworth.com.au/index
Australian Reptile Park – We waved as we went past the Australian Reptile Park, only because we’d been there a dozen times before. It’s a great day out, so plan an extra day and stay to pet the locals. Peek over the fence at: www.reptilepark.com.au
Port Stephens – You’ll find it all, in or around the Port Stephens area. If it’s 4-wheel driving or camel-climbing along some of Australia’s’ best dunes, try: www.portstephensnsw.com.au
Port Stephens 4WD Tours – These 4WD Tours offer stunning scenery, sandboarding thrills and adventures for the whole family, an experience you won’t forget. www.portstephens4wd.com.au
Australian Pacific Touring – Let them chauffeur you around. We’ve tried them and they are very good: www.aptouring.com.au
National Motorcycle Museum – With over 700 motorbikes on display this is Australia’s largest collection of vintage, veteran, and classic motorcycles. The Museum is situated in Nabiac, on the mid-north coast of NSW on the Pacific Highway 140km north of Newcastle, go to: www.nationalmotorcyclemuseum.com.au
Peppers Anchorage Resort & Spa – Port Stephens www.peppers.com.au?
Crowne Plaza Hotel – Terrigal www.crowneplaza.com
Ocean Beach Holiday Park – Umina Beach www.oceanbeachholidaypark.com.au