Old Bar - Forster via Nurbushring Run
22 February 2018 / Words & Photos by John Hansen
Saturday 17 February saw a small enthusiastic group of Mid North Coast Chapter members gather at the Port Macquarie Services Centre a.k.a "The Donut" for a run to Forster. Keiran and Peter were the run leaders. The day was slightly overcast no rain expected with temperatures forecasted to climb well into the 30s.
Graham, our Chapter Convenor, conducted a comprehensive briefing on the requirements of the club to follow the revised guidelines for conducting car club runs and the importance of complying with the guidelines to ensure CAMS approval for insurance purposes.
Run leaders Peter and Keiran outlined the route, maps were given out and we set out for our first stop at the Flow Bar in Old Bar for morning tea. Peter and Keiran in their Heritage NB, led the way followed by Pam and Allen enjoying their new ND, Judith and John in their freshly washed NB, followed by Peter and sweeper Graham.
The first part of the run was through familiar territory and soon we were turning off the Pacific Highway through the small town of Coopernook to pick up the Landsdowne Road to Taree. This road is becoming a well-known route south as it avoids the Pacific Highway and is a good way of entering into the spirit of the day. In fact, the familiarity with the route has increased the satisfaction of some spirited driving as many of us know what to expect in the corners and the road surface. The country side still was still very green, and the purplish horizon of hinterland hills makes for a very picturesque drive. The road twists and turns across the main railway line south as it meanders on its way to Taree. The 25 km/hr corners to the level crossing approaches seem to come up very quickly and certainly test one's reflexes, especially when coupled with a fairly hefty dips in the road on some of the exits. The sight of the XPT Train going along was a good reminder that the line south is a busy one and due care needs to be taken when approaching the railway crossings.
On a previous run along this road Keiran and Peter "lost" a couple of gears in their NB, which they subsequently found, however today it was smooth running into Taree. Across the river we bypassed the main part of Taree to join the road to Wingham and then onto the Gloucester Road. Coming out of Wingham the Gloucester Road provides a very enjoyable MX-5 experience with many fast-flowing corners and very little traffic. The countryside also changed from the initial lush green to a much dryer landscape. Outside temperatures also had started to climb and even with the roof down we had the air-con on full. Eventually we reached the Buckets Way and turned left to make our way cross country to Old Bar for morning tea. On the way we were treated to a worm's eye view of a large number of roadworks complete with a short gravel section.
Thanks to Kieran's radio announcements regarding which lanes we should be in we all made the exit to Old Bar, a wrong turning could have lead to a long trip down the Pacific Highway before finding a spot to turn around! We all knew that Graham had to leave the run after morning tea however we were surprised to see a Police Car behind Graham turn on lights and sirens, not half as surprised as Graham though! Graham dutifully started to pull over when the police car passed him and the rest of us to go on a job.
The morning tea stop at the "Flow Bar" was greatly appreciated by all. One of the great pleasures of driving the MX-5 on the Mid-North Coast is the plethora of fine eating places to feed the inner person. I’m convinced that our not so secret agenda on our car runs is to actually compile a list of great cafes! After an excellent morning tea it was time to tackle the "Nurbushring" a.k.a the old Wootton Way to Bulahdelah. After a general briefing about driving at your own pace and a warning about the amount of leaf litter on many of the corners especially when banked up by the immovable concrete barriers that separate the two lanes we set off. The road surface in fact is surprisingly good and with very little traffic the road is a joy to drive especially with the roof down with the sound of the exhaust competing with bird calls whilst the scenery flashes past, all at the posted limits of course. At the Pacific Highway turn off we turned north to then took the turn off to Forster along the north shores of Wallis Lakes. This is an interesting drive with enticing glimpses of the lakes through the trees. Although the road suits MX-5 spirited driving with a large number of corners and short straights; there is inevitable a large amount of traffic especially on a Saturday morning. However, taking one’s time is no chore as the slower drive provides time to appreciate the surrounding countryside, bird songs and fresh air.
Forster finally appeared, and it was a short run to our lunch stop The Paradise Marina on the waterfront. At least it was a short run for most of the group your scribe lost sight of the others and was soon merrily crossing the bridge to Tuncurry. Lost, hmm, such an emotive word! We were not lost, just temporarily misplaced, however with the aid of radio, sat-nav and mobile phone we were soon heading back into Forster to the luncheon spot all the more ready for a fine lunch. The Paradise Marina lived up to its name and we enjoyed a leisurely and tasteful lunch. Good food and conversation in beautiful surroundings it was tempting to stay at the lunch spot all day.
Ah well, yet another MX-5 run with good food, great driving and interesting companions what more could one ask? Thanks to Keiran and Peter run leaders and Graham our Convenor, we say farewell until the next run to the Nabiac Motorcycle Museum, Judith’s run.
Members: Graham Rochester [Convenor], Peter and Keiran Rodgers, Peter McDonnell, John and Judith Hansen, Allen and Pam Martin.