Posted On 24 Feb 2024
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This entry is part 9 of 33 in the series AusMotorcyclist Issue#24



Life can get complicated when you listen to your readers. I’ve tried to do this for all of my editing career, with varying success, but generally speaking it has been more than worthwhile. It has also meant that a bond has been established between my readers and me – I hope I’m not exaggerating – which has kept you interested and me employed.

But as I say, things can get complicated, like for example when I was talking to regular and long-time reader David Paul from Melbourne at the Bombala Celebration of Motorcycling, which we sponsored this year. When I asked him my usual question – what can we do better? – he suddenly got all thoughtful.


“You know, Bear,” he said, “riders have got mates all over the country. I like the bike holiday stories you do, but how about this: instead of writing about places that are good destinations from each of the big cities, how about places halfway? So there’s somewhere where we can meet. Maybe a weekend return ride, so I can say to a mate in Sydney that I’ll see him there and we can have a feed and a drink on Saturday night.”

Yes, good idea, of course, but – as I asked Dave – surely you know places like that yourself?

“Surprise us, Bear,” he said. “You’re good at that.” It almost sounded like a compliment…

When I got home I dragged the atlas out and had a look. Sure enough, there were a few places that fitted some of Dave’s requirements, and that might not be all that well-known… although some of these will only be weekend runs for those of us who don’t mind putting in a thousand k weekends, as well as that ‘drink’ (drinks?) on the Saturday night. Make sure you’re sober on Sunday morning – breath test units will often be out then.

The roads in northern NSW can be very quiet.


Meeting point: Pub With No Beer, Taylor’s Arm The Cosmopolitan Hotel at Taylors Arm, better known these days as The Pub With No Beer (although its entitlement to this name has been challenged), used to be little more than a shed in the bush, some 20km west of Macksville. Today it’s a pretty fl ash pub with accommodation (including camping) and good small brewery beer.

Taylors Arm Road is sealed but enjoys a reputation locally as the worst road in Australia. It’s not that bad.

Taylors Arm Road, Taylors Arm NSW 2447 02 6564 2100 Pub opening hours: 10am – 8pm, Fri & Sat – 10am-whenever. Trading hours and services may vary during winter. Time from Brisbane: 5 hours Time from Sydney: 5 hours

It should take you about that time if you take the Pacific Highway, from either direction. Of course traffic, weather, road works and Highway Patrol shenanigans may change that, as may long stops to enjoy a leisurely lunch. It’s also kind of boring.

There are several alternative routes, although they will all take longer.

From the north, you could take the Numinbah Valley road from Nerang to Murwillumbah and then head for Kyogle.

Here you pick up the Summerland Way which takes you to Grafton, and the Orara Way to Coffs. Further south, avoid the temptation to take the back road from Bellingen to Taylors Arm via Bowraville. It takes a lot longer than it looks on the map.

From the south, you could take the freeway and then turn off to Wollombi before continuing via Cessnock, Maitland and Dungog. Pick up the Bucketts Way to Gloucester and Krambach before turning north through Wingham to Wauchope (some of this last stretch may be a bit gnarly).

A left here lets you re-join the highway at Telegraph Point. You can turn left at Kempsey onto the Armidale road and then reach Taylors Arm by way of a dirt forest road if you like.

Alternative: the Star Hotel in Macksville.

Long a stopover for me when I was visiting my Mother in Ballina from Sydney, the Star has also seen a major upgrade. Not only the rooms but also the food are recommended. The location is wonderful, overlooking the river.

16 River St, Macksville NSW 2447 02 6568 1008

No, you can’t get a drink here – the Uki pub burned down.


Meeting point: Commercial Hotel, Junee Sadly, the Loftus Hotel in Junee is not currently open. It hasn’t been a pub for a long time, but operated as a B&B more recently and made a terrific place to stay. I’m going to miss it; it was my base there for a while, and I used to enjoy talking – or rather listening – to the trainspotters who often booked the rooms overlooking the rail line.

Not to worry, though, both the Commercial and the Junee are also typical classic Australian two-storey pubs with wide verandas and rooms to let. I’ve chosen the Commercial because its food enjoys a better reputation than the Junee’s, but that might not matter to you. More to the point, perhaps, the Commercial is further away from the railway line so unless you’re a train spotter the sound of passing trains is less likely to bother you while you try to sleep.

The sign has faded, and so have Woodstock’s fortunes.

Junee is an interesting place with a railway museum and other stuff to look at, and it’s worth having a coffee or perhaps breakfast in the railway station waiting room, which is a classic from the time when the trains stopped here to let the passengers have a meal. The railway connection is also why the pubs are so big – many passengers stayed here overnight.

68 Lorne Street NSW 2663 02 6924 1023 Pub opening hours: Standard pub hours Time from Sydney: 5 hours Time from Melbourne: 5 hours

Battered but still reliable – signs on the (back) way north from Sydney.

There are two relatively quick ways to get to Junee from Sydney: down the Hume Highway, right turn at Gundagai and you’re there. Alternatively, take the Great Western Highway over the Blue Mountains to Bathurst and Cowra and then turn left onto the Olympic Way. Err,

Highway. It’s been promoted. The former is faster but, except for the stretch from Gundagai to Junee, duller; the latter offers pretty good riding all the way.

Well, okay, except across the mountains;

take Bells Line of Road instead. You can also make the ride more interesting by turning left at Woodstock, just short of Cowra, and heading south via Boorowa and Harden before re-joining the Olympic Way Highway.

The direct route from Melbourne to Junee is even simpler than from Sydney: up the Hume Highway and continue on the Olympic Highway at Albury. You’ll get to Junee after Wagga. Albury to Junee is not a bad ride, but the Hume is really just a fallback. There are much better rides.

My choice would be the Melba Highway to Yea to pick up the Maroondah Highway before cutting across to either Euroa or Benalla or, if I had the time, to Wangaratta from Mansfield. All you really need to do is make it to Wodonga/Albury;

from there, the Olympic Highway is your best bet.

The Star in Macksville has long been a favourite of mine.

Alternative: the Junee Hotel, also in Junee and just across the railway line.

As with the Commercial, I can’t make a personal recommendation here but a local reader reckons that this is the place for a beer (because it’s on the Olympic Highway and other riders stop here) while the Commercial is the place for a meal.

17 Seignior Street Junee NSW 2663 02 6924 1124

This is not Taylors Arm Road – it’s much better!


Meeting point: Great Western Hotel, Great Western I know that this place is not in halfway between Melbourne and Adelaide, but I like it and I reckon it would make a top place to meet. And I’m, the one writing this article…

The pub is small – it looks bigger from the road than it is – and has some old-fashioned but quite nice standard motel rooms arranged around a little three-sided courtyard. The publican closes pretty much when he wants to but he’s quite happy to sell you a six pack or whatever at bottle shop prices if you want to continue drinking in or in front of your room. That can be quite convivial. Across the road is a takeaway that makes excellent bacon and egg rolls at very reasonable prices.

Possibly the best vanilla slice you will ever taste is available here.

If you ride the Western Highway from Adelaide to Great Western and back, it will take you about 11 hours; if you take the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne and the Western Highway back, it will take about the same amount of time.

Apart from the many options to get as far as Tailem Bend, there is not much choice about the route from Adelaide.

From Tailem Bend to Bordertown and onward there are few other roads that offer much more in the way of scenery or corners. Still, it’s a nice relaxing ride.

Jewnee Street? Notice that all the old signs are spelt correctly…

If you’re coming along the Great Ocean Road from Melbourne, I suggest you take the Cobden – Port Campbell Road from Port Campbell (to Cobden, oddly enough) and on to Terang. Continue due north through Lake Bolac (the town, not the lake) to Ararat, where Great Western is a short distance up the Highway. If you like vanilla slices, stop at the bakery on your left as you turn into Barkly Street from the Pyrenees Highway, in the middle of Ararat.

Pub opening hours: Umm… variable Time from Melbourne: 2 ½ (or 8) hours Time from Adelaide: 5 ½ hours

Alternative: Camping in the Grampians, just down the road. See things-to-do/camping for up-to-date information about the campgrounds in the National Park.

And yes, if you want to you can approach Great Western from the north, too.


In order to make these and other rides as enjoyable as possible, may I recommend the latest edition of my Australia Motorcycle Atlas from Hema Maps? I know it’s self-promotion, but the atlas also comes highly recommended by other people. Ask someone who’s got one. The current issue consists of a plastic sleeve with an enlarging lens, holding a wall map and two ringbound books; one contains the maps, the other the info about the 200 rides. The books are cross referenced. There are a further 27 rides on the wall map.

Cost of the atlas is $49.95 including postage to anywhere in Australia; drop us a line at and we’ll get one to you. PT

No, the freeway is not interesting no matter how hard you try with your photos.

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