This month’s RTB Ride Guide sees our sweet Harley 883 taken for a burn through the hills to the magnificent Bunya Mountains in South East Queensland. A very achievable single day trip or push things out to a one-night stay at one of the regions many cabins and homestays. Visit www.bunyamountains.com.au for accommodation options.
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Bunya Mountains Ride Guide
By Michael Hinz (Don't forget to follow Michael @MPhotographic)
With an unseasonable run of wet weather the past few weeks, I could barely contain my excitement when the weather man promised a dry clear day for me to head off to the scenic Bunya Mountains. A 550km loop from Brisbane to the Bunya Mountains & back was the order of the day, and as the shots of the day show, the weather gods were kind enough to deliver a picture perfect Queensland spring day for my jaunt through the hills.
Picking up the Harley Davidson Iron 883 from my friends at Rent This Bike and parking my own KTM Super Duke GT in the vacant space felt a bit wrong – my Duke is something of a corner-carver and the 883’s pegs looked a bit too ‘scrapeable’ to promise anything enjoyable through the awesome curves the Bunya Mountains offers. But, a review I had promised, and a review I would deliver!
There’s something appealing to the fire-up and idle of any Harley – Harley fan or not. This particular bike is still rocking stock pipes, but the noisy off-beat rumble and lumpy idle must stimulate some primitive part of a man’s brain, as I allowed myself a smile at this bike’s obvious character.
The 883 is low-slung and feels very manageable – the pegs themselves aren’t as far forward as some of its cousins in the Harley stable, which meant a lot less ‘peg searching’ for my feet as I adjusted to the differing ride from my own sportsbike. The first hour on the approach to Fernvale was still an adjustment period for me – not only the physical aspects like seating position, suspension, and throttle response, but I also struggled with my own mindset.
At my first stop at Somerset Dam, I slowly circled the 883 before my revelation set in - this wasn’t a sports bike and it refused to be treated like one. I had to just relax . . . just relax. After this epiphany and my newly refreshed mindset, the rest of the day flowed along rather nicely.
I like the roads around the back of Somerset Dam and each road you take there seems to only lead to better and better roads. There are a couple vantage points of the dam wall and also a couple nicely setup day-use areas for picnics and the like if you wanted to stretch your ride out that bit more.
After a quick refuel in Kilcoy, another 100km brought me to Kingaroy for lunch. By my calculations, the fuel tank on the 883 should get you somewhere between 200 & 250km, with a bit to spare but I couldn’t bring myself to believe a 12.5L tank would do that. This simply meant I stopped twice as many times as I needed to.
Don’t forget to call in to Pottique Lavender farm, on your left just before Kingaroy. It’s a neat spot to work into your lunch stop in Kingaroy and gives you the opportunity to get your better half something nice (bribe for letting you take off on a bike for the day). There’s lots of country-inspired knick-knacks and lots of lavender products, and it makes a great backdrop for photos.
After a quick lunch at one of Kingaroy’s many excellent cafes, I continued on towards the Bunya Mountains. The road up & over the Bunya Mountains is, as the sign clearly says, a narrow winding mountain road. It’s pretty fun but it’s certainly not a race track. It’s a road perfectly suited to taking in the magnificent scenery and the country quiet.
There are a number of camping spots along the way which would be a great option for an overnight ride, just make sure get a camping permit from the Department of National Parks beforehand (www.npsr.qld.gov.au). If camping isn’t your thing, there is a stack of accommodation options in the area, there are plenty of chalets for rent right on the boundary of the Bunya Mountains National Park. There were an incredible number of wallabies as I passed through, and I regretted not penciling in more time in my journey plan to explore the area for longer.
With the day fast disappearing, I cut cross-country to Crows Nest via Haden. The route to Crows Nest had a couple short stretches of gravel road which the 883 handled very well, and without issue.
There are a few different ways you can head back to Brisbane - I went past Perseverance Dam, across to the Gus Beutel lookout at Ravensbourne National Park. The views are pretty impressive to say the least. I did the home stretch in one hit and my date with the 883 was over. Whatever my initial thoughts of the Harley were, I can’t deny the worldwide attraction & appeal of these bikes & the type of riding they inspire.
I’m curious about doing the same route on the RTB Indian Scout now . . . hint hint guys!
As usual, I enjoyed my day - It’s always a good day for a ride!