Save the Oxley Ride report – By Taina Hall
The proposed Oxley Highway speed limit changes have been making news lately. Bad news indeed!
Many a tribe of motorcycle enthusiasts from all over NSW and Queensland make the Oxley their annual pilgrimage. So, what is it that really entices them to make that journey?
The Oxley highway has 653 km of bitumen stretching from Port Macquarie to Nevertire and is a bit of a chameleon as it shares some parts with the New England and Mitchell Highways (which may skew the data).
However, those parts West of Walcha really are of little interest to most sportsbike riders, other than for its stunning visual impact and towns along the way.
When the motorcycling community refers to The Oxley, we speak of the wow factor of 160km between Wauchope and Walcha.
A road that certainly makes a lasting impression with its myriad of grin inducing long magical sweepers and continuous 35/45/55km/h signposted twisties in an ever changing landscape.
It is one of the last remaining heart beat raising roads that still has a reasonable speed limit of 100km/h, where you can be naturally at one with your bike and the road without having to constantly check your speedo.
Ok… Imposing a 50km/h speed change for Long Flat makes sense. It is a town with kids and the elderly, a petrol station… and a great little hotel that is frequented by many locals and motorcyclists on most days.
However, the RMS is threatening to reduce the speed limit from 100 to 70km/h for 27 km of road…the holy grail of The Oxley – for many a rite of passage, the most rewarding stretch of all.
Many argue that this will make the journey more dangerous, as car drivers will take more risks to overtake and the attention will no longer be on a technically challenging road, but mostly on the speedo in order to avoid getting caught by the ever increasing state-driven, mighty fund raiser.
Let’s face it! Our driver’s licenses are precious and at a mere 70km/h The Oxley will become just another hunting ground… and why would you want to risk it?
I ride and live in the motorcyclist friendly town of Walcha and part of why I live here is the proximity to The Oxley. On most days, rain or shine, I see a number of groups and riders stop here to fill up on fuel and food.
Some stay for the night and do it all over again before riding back home. Wauchope and Walcha alike rely on the business these groups bring into town and once the riders fail to return, things will get desperate.
Saturday, 5th November saw upwards of 1000 riders converge on Gingers Creek Cafe, a halfway point between Wauchope and Walcha, to protest these proposed changes.
Speeches, signing petitions and peaceful expressions of disagreement were the order of the day.
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Among others, Ken Healey, the rally organiser and Bill Heazlett, a Walcha Councillor spoke in support of the existing limits and all eyes will be on Port Macquarie, where motorcycling and other community members and RMS representatives will finally meet next after such an immense backlash.
There was an overwhelming call for common sense from riders from all walks of life. The message was clear – we are taxpayers too! The economies of small rural communities do matter! No more knee-jerk reactions!
The people have spoken and clearly it would be foolish not to take heed of their perspective. Many commented on the pleasantly charged atmosphere on this windy day, the common cause and a feeling of overwhelming camaraderie among the riders.
Let us ensure we keep the pressure on the authorities to make sure that the changes are not implemented.