Posted On 27 Apr 2024
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This entry is part 10 of 29 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#28


It began – for us journalists – in drizzle and it ended – for everyone – in a downpour, but so what? The 24th National Harley Owners Group (H.O.G) Rally was being held at the home of country music in Australia, and it looked as if this would be the largest collection of HOG members to date in Australia.

Leaving the drizzle of HD head office in Sydney, our little muster of journalists headed up through the Hunter Valley and onto the New England Highway towards Tamworth. I was riding the new Rushmore Project 2015 Street Glide,which is about as good as it gets for touring on a Harley-Davidson (which is very good indeed) and I found my steed comfortable and enjoyable to ride for long distances.

It was clear that the home of country music was about to be the home of Harley-Davidson when we arrived in Tamworth on Thursday evening, having dodged some serious weather on the journey up.

When Harley throws a party it stays thrown, and it soon became apparent the 24th HOG rally was going to be no exception. The rally site was the Australian Equine and Livestock Events Centre (AELEC), which is the home to the music festival. It is also the perfect place to host more than 3000 Harley Davidson enthusiasts, with plenty of space and comfort.

After settling in at the Golden Guitar motel, I had a chance to get out and tour the surrounding areas of Tamworth, get photos of the new Harley range and see some of the countryside. Tamworth lies on the edge of the Great Dividing Range and can offer some really beautiful scenery. Sadly it’s a bit brown from the lack of rain in recent months. The roads however leave a little to be desired, and the Harleys held their own on some rather bumpy tracks.

On the Friday night, our little posse of journalists headed out to Kootingal for a pub supper and then back to catch the ‘Screaming Eagles’ play to an adoring crowd. They even pleased the Harley staff with a specially written song about “WHEN HARLEY THROWS A PARTY IT STAYS THROWN, AND IT SOON BECAME APPARENT THE 24TH HOG RALLY WAS GOING TO BE NO EXCEPTION” the Rushmore project. As pm turned to am, the crowd was still dancing to the sound of rock ‘n’ roll, but my time had come for one day and it was back to the Golden Guitar for some z’s.

After a hearty breakfast we took the recommended stroll around the Powerhouse Motorcycle Museum, which is attached to the Quality Hotel on the Armidale Rd. You will find an amazing array of motorcycle history including my all-time favourite – the 900 MHR Ducati. All the bikes are in working order and have been lovingly restored to showroom condition… well worth a look.

On Saturday, I had the chance to ride out to Nundle and get some photos of the bikes, which was very appealing.

Playing pillion with H-D’s Dave Turney on the Road King, I managed to grab some bike-to-bike photos and sat back and enjoyed the ride.

Kim Williams from Harley Davidson organises a great rally and Tamworth was not going to disappoint. In the afternoon we were treated to the rodeo, which was bordering on insane. I assume from this crazy spectacle that the young men who climb on the back of a one ton bull, wait for another chap to pull a rope around its knackers and then release it, must be either very brave or completely bonkers. The injuries from being stomped by bulls and being thrown off horses were very real and looked very painful.

The Saturday night was more horse themed entertainment by way of the Country Spectacular and the Rally Parade. The things people can do on a horse leave me in no doubt that I will be sticking with my motorcycle…

And so to the grand finale on Sunday, the Thunder Run. This was the biggest Australian HOG rally ever, with the final number of registrations at 2320…

At 9am, HOG manager Gary Luxmoore and his significantly better half Jojo led the parade into Tamworth.

The HOG members were treated to that good old country hospitality by the crowd lining the streets, with people of all ages waving the rally through. The rally started in brilliant sunshine and ended in a downpour, but it didn’t dampen any spirits as riders immediately started polishing their bikes, in time for some show and shine.

I need to give a special mention to Gary Cripps who rode 4560km from Perth to be at the rally. My personal thanks go to Lydia Murdoch, Kim Williams, Stef Mallaci, Dave Turney, Gary Luxmoore, and Adam Wright, who by the way celebrated his 50th year whilst on the rally. For he’s a jolly good fellow – hip hip hooray.

And that’s it for the 2015th HOG rally Tamworth, goodbye till next year!

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