Cafe racing Queensland-style is heralding a new genre for adventure motorcycling. For most adventure riders this claim would be an oxymoron. How can a cafe racer be an adventure bike? On this adventure around D’Aguilar National Park, I show why riding a cafe racer is not only an excellent choice of bike but also a lot of fun that can redefine the meaning of adventure.
Looking for an adventure ride on the Sunshine Coast
Behind the glitz and glamour of the golden beaches and expensive shopping boutiques of the Sunshine Coast is a place where real bikers can play. Hiding in the green behind the gold is one of the two best motorcycle riding circuits in this part of the country. It is also hiding some of the best cafes in the region. So, how do you combine these two unique features? With a cafe racer of course!
Cafe racing Queensland-style hasn’t taken off yet in many parts of the country, so purchasing a cafe racer took a considerable leap of faith. But I eventually secured a Royal Enfield Continental GT650. A friend of mine came up with a name. “Speedy Latte” is a play on words for a Cafe Racer. Speedy is a 650 twin that puts out about 47 horses. She has drop handlebars and an indented tank that helps you tuck into the bike when trying to avoid the wind. I chose the all-chrome version known as “Mr Clean”.
My brother Daryl lives on the Sunshine Coast and rides the same bike, although his bike is a 120-year anniversary model in black chrome. We decided to try an adventure ride around the D’Aguilar National Park and check you some scenery and cafes along the way.
Riding a cafe racer around town is one thing, but taking it on an extended road trip is a whole different scenario, not the least of which is rider comfort. Traditionally cafe racer bikes have been built for town use and short durations and can be very uncomfortable for any long highway ride. However, nobody told the people at Royal Enfield that this was a thing, so they built a basic but incredibly comfortable machine.
The first stage of our trip was to get out of the Sunshine Coast, I met up with Daryl at his house in Maroochydore and followed him as we made our way out along the Landsborough Highway now renamed “Steve Urwin Way” in tribute to the late crocodile hunter.
The road was wide and well maintained, the zebra pattern that the shadows made from the early morning sun crisscrossed the road, and combined with the lack of traffic and the cool morning air made for a pleasant ride. It wasn’t long before we passed the Australian Zoo, now run by Steve Urwin’s son and daughter. Our first stop was at Landsborough to check our gear and query our maps.
Over the Range
From Landsborough, we turned south along the Steve Urwin Way until we reached Beerwah where we turned inland onto the Peachester Road and climbed through semi-rural housing blocks and tiny towns towards Peachester. The ride up the Peachester escarpment twisted and turned and I found myself taking my weight from one side of the bike to the other.
Parked next to the curb just opposite the Peachester Cafe was a black and chrome Harley Sportster 883. The grey-haired rider gave us a nod as he mounted his steed, put his helmet on and fired up the engine. We watched and listened as he accelerated up into the distance. This was the first of many bikers we would encounter on this journey.
We left Peachester and no sooner had we ridden over the crest of the ridge than we were decending quickly into tight corners, we could see out over the rural valley below. The tall trees had vanished and the landscape had become more open. Our pace slowed significantly once we got behind two caravans.
How they got the vans down the range through those tight corners is beyond me. But they were now blocking our progress and more importantly the air flow that was keeping us cool. The road was an excellent place to try out the Royal Enfeilds, but the grey nomads didn’t seem to be concerned about the traffic behind them especially two motorcycles.
The scurge of the nomads
Daryl didn’t seem in a hurry to pass the two caravans, but I had ridden 20,000 kilometres around Queensland and had followed my share of grey nomads, I peeked out from behind the Caravan and saw enough room to get past both before the nearest oncoming truck. Dropping down a gear I and accelerated. Speedy took off and from the start kept pulling as the revs built up. I was expecting a drop off as it neared 5500 rpm but it just kept going. I flicked it into sixth gear and she lurched forward. By the time I overtook the last caravan I was doing well over 130kph.
Time for coffee
Just outside the township of Woodford, known for its prison and once the biggest hippy festival in Australia, is a free camping area. It’s called Cruise Park, you can also camp at the Woodford Show Grounds (Woodford Show Grounds)or at D’Aguilar National Park Camping ground (D’Aguilar National Park).
It was time for coffee so we turned left on the D’Aguilar Highway and took a look at what Woodford offered in the way of barista services. The town was bustling, with cars and people going in all directions. We found a number of cafes but chose one with outside dining. During our coffee break we met up with some more grey haired bikers.
The to Kilkoy rolled over small rural hills and dived through gullies, the grass was drying off and turning brown. It’s a clear sign that summer is just around the corner. I’m enjoying myself now that I’m again in the lead, tucked into the tank, with my arms down clutching the drop handlebars, I feel I’m part of the bike. I lean into the corners as they drop and climb the small hills, the curves are tight but easy to manage and predictable. The cafe racers are perfect for this type of rolling hill landscape.
The road from Kilkoy to Summerset Dam is called the Esk Kilkoy Road and runs the western side of both the Summerset and Wivenhoe Dams. It is very much like the rural roads we had just ridden across but the straights seem longer and the corners tighter. The roads are well maintained, allowing for some decent speed, with corners that are predictable. It took about 30 minutes of some of the best riding so far to reach the Summerset Dam boat ramp and picnic area.
This is a spectacular water way and a great place to stop for morning tea or lunch depending on what time you get here. We rode between the hills and valleys as the riding became more technical. This road and the circuit in general is perfect for both single day and multiday rides.
Once you leave the picnic area and boat ramp, you follow the edge of the dam until the road starts to drop down the valley. At the edge of the valley is the Summerset Dam spill way. There are a number of camping spots on this side of the lake, first is the Lake Summerset Holiday park, further down the lake and just past the spillway is the Summerset Park Camping Area, this looks like a free camping area.
The river leading out from the bottom of the spillway meanders along until it joins with the upper catchment of the Brisbane River. The road continues southwest around Lake Wivenhoe, it branches east and becomes the Wivenhoe Summerset Road. At the junction there’s a bridge that goes over the river linking the Western side of the lake to the East.
We followed this path until we found the Mount Glorious Road. There are numerous rest areas that are perfect for the adventure rider looking for a quick overnight camp and I made a note to come back this way and explore it on my adventure bike.
The scenery in this part of the country is spectacular, on one side Lake Wivenhoe, on the other the D’Aguilar National Park. We arrived at the Northbrook Highway, which at some point seems to turn into the Mount Glorious Road. This road runs straight through the middle of the national park as it winds up through sub tropical rain forest and abundant Eucalypts.
D’Aguilar National Park Race Track
We are now in a deep forested area, the air is moist but cool, the trees suck away the suns radiation. I’m having so much fun, it’s no wonder this road is used as a race track by modern cafe racers. There is no place that I know in Queensland that can best this area for shear riding pleasure and if you have followed my blog posts you will know that I’ve been to most of Queensland by motorcycle.
All good things must come to an end and so it is with the up hill climb to the Mount Glorious Cafe. This is the destination for Cafe Racing – Queensland Style adventure. As we crest the peak we come back to civilisation with signs warning of imminent death to bikers and speed limits to everybody else. Around the corner is the Red and White mirrage that is the Mount Glorious Cafe.
Cafe Racers Unite
We sat outside under the shade of the bright red awnings, pitched over little aluminium tables. Off to the side were a couple of other bikers. Very soon there was the high pitched sound of sports bikes mixed with the thumping drone of a number of cruisers. As we ate our burgers and fries, drank our coffee and chai we talked to our fellow adventurers about the road, the corners and the bikes. After an hour we had become good friends and I’m sure if I rode this road regularly I would make some life long riding buddies. It just goes to show that it doesn’t matter what you ride as long as you ride.
Having reached the halfway point in our journey a little later that we expected it was time to make our way down the range and back to the Sunshine Coast. We rode off after our new friends, the eastern side of the range had more vegitation and greener grass. The road seemed to drop steeper and the corners were tighter. I’m not sure if they were actually tighter or if now we had to lean harder against the gavitational effect which was pulling us into the downward side of the corner.
After about 30 minutes of riding through small hobby farms and rural blocks we came across Samford. My fuel guage light was flashing and I had no idea how long it would flash until I ran out of fuel. Luckily we managed to get to Samford and refuel. We turned left and made our way onto the Mount Samford Road.
The Mount Samford Road is fairly busy as it’s seems to be an alternative road to north Brisbane. There are many small villages and farmlets along the road. It climbs steeply at times and you are given excellent view to the east and the west agricultural plains below.
Once past Darboro the road winds further up the ridge and we get even better views of the national park, before we arrive at Mount Mee. A small township is perched on a ridge, Mount Mee has spectacular views over the national park in the west and the Glasshouse Mountains to the north east.
The final ride
It was getting late in the afternoon by the time we left Mount Mee and dropped down through the forest, the zebra shadows had returned making the details on the side of the road difficult to distinguish.
We dropped down steeply through twisting steep corners. It’s fun but tiring and after a long day getting back onto the D’Aguilar Highway and Woodford is a welcome relief. We followed the same road back to the Sunshine Coast and arrived back in Marchoochydore just as the sun was setting behind the hills.
It had been an amazing but tiring day, the cafe racers performed brilliantly, we met more bikers than we expected, had some laughs, great coffee and enjoyed motorcycling as it should be. Long flat roads and tight rising corners. If you’re thinking of visiting the Sunshine Coast you can check it out bike hire at the Sunshine Coast Motorcycle. My next trip is to check out the Scenic Rim on the Gold Coast. Safe riding…..:)