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Another Travel Story
Australia
Submitted by: Sharon & Jim Scofield
Chapter A - MA

When the opportunity came along a few years ago to join a local group making plans to view the November, 2012 solar eclipse in Cairns, Australia, we signed up, joining with friends and acquaintances we had done similar travels with in the past. We knew it was unlikely we would get another chance to make the long journey from Massachusetts to Australia, so we made plans to extend our time there and see more of the country, with even a side trip to New Zealand.

We've done some touring throughout the Northeast, eastern Canada, and a bit of the Midwest on our 2005 Gold Wing, so we were excited to see the advertisement in Wing World for Chapel Australian Bike Tours, based in New South Wales. Subsequent articles in the magazine about a month-long Australian outback tour led by Mick McHenry of Chapel Australian convinced us to explore this further. A few emails later and after viewing their promotional CD, we took the plunge and committed to a five-day tour of South Wales.

Both Mick and Marg McHenry were our guides, leading us through their beautiful countryside. The welcome and attention we received were amazing. After a 20 hour or so series of flights to Sydney, they were waiting at the airport to take us to their home for a meal and a good night's rest. Kangaroos in the front yard and hopping down their street made for a special touch, as did the neighbors who stopped by to say hello.

The next morning we headed out on our two Gold Wings, the McHenrys in the lead. Beginning at Jervis Bay, and then on to Bateman's Bay, followed by a ride to and around Australia's capital city of Canberra and a visit to the lookout tower for a stunning view of this man-made city. Then, into the Snowy Mountains to a local "pub" for a meal and a good night's sleep. Driving on the left side of the road, including entering and exiting left through the numerous "round abouts", was not the challenge we anticipated; it quickly became routine. We traveled through small towns and the city, past meadows, seaside and beaches, farms, and forests, and up and down steep mountain switchbacks and sweepers - all on Day One of our ride!

No motorcycle tour is complete without a day of rain, and we were not disappointed! We headed out the next morning into fog and heavy rains at time, completing our time in the Snowy Mountains. Even in the rain, the scenery was breathtaking. And even the signage was fun - kangaroo, wombat, and emu "crossings", notices of where "overtaking" was permissible or banned, and passing through towns with names such as Bungadore, Dalgetty, Jindabyne, and Gundagai. We arrived to our warm and comfy trailer at a campground in Young to more rain, but also to a delicious meal next to an open fire at a nearby restaurant.

The next day brought sunshine, more beautiful scenery, stops in small towns and cities for Aussie meat pies and other great snacks and meals, and it ended at the Blue Mountains - so named for the blue haze resulting from sunshine warming the eucalyptus trees which cover the mountaintops and valleys. We enjoyed views of the famous Three Sisters rock formations and rode the tram down into a rainforest. A night with new friends in Springfield and then some more riding, through areas such as the town of Kangaroo Valley, to a local wildlife center where we cuddled a koala and saw other local, though exotic to us, wildlife up close.

And back to the McHenry's home for a neighborhood cookout and a chance to share stories with these interesting and friendly folks. No visit to Australia is complete without seeing the famous Sydney Opera House and bridge. For our final day of the tour, we wandered downtown Sydney with Mick and Marg, picking up a few souvenirs, and culminating the day with a harbor tour and ferry ride to enjoy a final dinner at the Manley beachfront. The next morning, we were delivered back to the airport by the McHenry's to begin the next phase of our adventure in Cairns.

For anyone interested in touring Australia on a Gold Wing, we heartily recommend doing so with Chapel Australian Bike Tours. Their warm welcome and great companionship, the attention to every detail to ensure a great experience and a chance to see the real Australia, as well as a safe and fun time makes this company a sure bet. They can be contacted via their website, www.chapelaustralianbiketours.com. This is certainly one week we will never forget.

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