Queensland Motorcycle Hire Ride to Barambah
Queensland Motorcycle Hire and Overlanders have teamed up to offer organised rides, with full support, bikes and even gear included if you need it. We joined them for a 2 day ride to Barambah.
Ever get that urge to go and buy a dirt bike? You need to think about where you are going to use it, and how often. For some, buying a bike makes sense, for others with a busy life, it will sit in the shed unused for 51 weeks of the year depreciating. If you fall into the second category, you might want to try doing what we did and spend one of the most satisfying days or weekends off-road you could think of.
Queensland Motorcycle Hire and Overlanders have teamed up to offer organised rides, with full support, bikes and even gear included if you need it. You basically just show up, ride, and leave. And have fun. Recently we were invited to try out one of their weekend two day tours, the 2 day Barambah tour.The ever smiling and helpful Trevor Johnson from Queensland Motorcycle Hire supplied three matching new DRZ400 Suzuki’s for us. Us being myself, along with ex enduro/road racer Mal McConnell, and Craig "Four Rolls" Newman from Gold Coast Suzuki.
We all had our own riding gear, but Trevor can supply this if need be. For those that need the use of their limbs to function on a day to day basis, I’d recommend using as much safety gear as you can, the usual helmet, nylons and boots but also body armor and knee guards if you can. Better safe than sorry. I hadn’t been on a dirt bike in any serious off road capacity for a few years, so I didn’t know what to expect.
My main objective for the weekend was to not damage the bike or myself, and hopefully to keep up with everyone else without collapsing in a twitching sweaty heap along the way. I’m happy to report the first was achieved successfully. Not once did anything other than tyres or boots touch the ground. The other…well…
After arriving at Rob Turtons Overlanders headquarters and meeting point just outside Cooroy on Queensland’s Sunshine Coast, the 3 of us and around 20 other riders had the details of the ride explained at a briefing. Two lead riders, and two sweep riders, along with a refueling backup vehicle, a van to carry baggage, and a four wheel drive towing a spare bike were part of the process. Fuel, tools, spares, satellite phones, food and drinks, try taking that all along on your own ride!
The riders on this trip ranged from ex racers to complete beginners, so the first person in line stopped at each turnoff, until all riders were past and the sweep riders caught up. No one would get lost and you could ride at any pace you felt like, or were capable of. And if you have a fall or reached some impassable obstacle, the ever willing sweep riders are happy to ride your bike up the hill you cant manage. This type of system allows all skill levels to ride together.
Luckily for me, the trails chosen for this ride were fairly easy, described as easy C and B level, although there was mention made, and knowing looks passed, about obstacles to come that made me think it wasn’t all going to be an easy ride. Sure enough, it wasn’t long until a fairly daunting hill appeared, and I’m ashamed to say that I took the "easy" way offered and went around it rather than up and over. My excuse was that I did not want to damage the bike of course. However, this was the first and last obstacle I dodged, as I got used to the bike I felt more at home, and it really started to become enjoyable.
By lunchtime we had reached what would be our night’s accommodation (included in the tour) and had the first of the many great provided feeds. It was here Craig earned his nickname "Four Rolls" in honour of his attempt to leave several African nations in famine. After lunch we set out again on a loop of epic proportion, I had no idea where we were at any stage, somewhere in Queensland I guess. Mal earned his new nickname " #%!&!" when he passed me again for the 5th time.
Obviously Rob Turton who led the ride must have spent a lot of time in the area. His local knowledge, and agreements with land owners, meant we were able to go places you never would if you went it alone. After having a feed and a rest, getting back on the bike was really enjoyable, and the pace began to rise. There really is nothing that compares to the feeling of blasting down a trail in the forest with no speed limits or time schedules. There was farmland, then narrow winding logging roads, dark pine plantations swirling with clouds of butterflies, to steep rocky uphills.
Then just as I was really feeling good, Rob stopped on a fire road, and for some reason headed up the side embankment, with everyone else following. Apparently someone had moved Mount Kosciusko to South East Queensland, and Rob thought it would be a good idea if we all rode up it. After sitting at the bottom watching quite a few others pick the wrong line and get stuck, I set out after someone who looked like they knew where to go. They didn’t. Although I didn’t crash, I did manage to spend some time sweating, cursing and wrestling a large yellow bike around on the side of the hill.
Eventually all of us victoriously reached the top, and it was easy going back to the Barambah accomodation for a well deserved dinner. A welcome shower, huge dinner and a few refreshing ales later, some watched a DVD inside, others sat round a camp fire telling lies, while most stumbled off to the cabin accomodation for a well earned rest.
Sunday dawned early, breakfast and refueling done, we set off again. If it was possible, I enjoyed Sunday even more, with more challenges, mad top gear blasts along winding trails, and hugely enjoyable hills all mixed together. Due to time restraints for a few of us, we had to cut short after lunch, and while the others got to take another no doubt enjoyable way back, we road transited back to Overlanders base with Trevor’s help to where our car was stored safe and sound.
The drive home was full of tall stories and wild exaggeration, as is the case after all such rides. We all agreed the level of support, not the least being assistance in the event of an injury, the refueling vehicle, permits and permission to ride in certain places, meant you could not replicate this ride if you tried to organise it yourself. Plus there was the added bonus of getting off the bikes, and driving away leaving it to Trevor to clean and service his bikes.
I can’t recommend this experience highly enough, and if you add up the costs of trying to do this yourself, with accommodation, food, fuel etc – let alone the cost of buying and owning a bike – I’d say its fantastic value. Prices are around $400 per day, including EVERYTHING. Turn up in your car. Ride. Leave. If you have your own bike, you can still join the tours, the price is obviously cheaper this way, as you bear the expense of the bike yourself.
More details are on Trevor’s website here: Queensland Motorcycle Hire
I’ve bookmarked that link, because I’ll be back!!