You are currently viewing 21 Oct 2023: Picton Botanic Gardens

21 Oct 2023: Picton Botanic Gardens

Today’s Saturday ride in perfect weather at the best riding time of the year is only a group of 5. It’s a very rare day when we have more Suzukis than any other make – but that’s how it is. So – we have Rob Seagull on a V-Strom, John Whispers on a Harley, John TT on a Yamaha, me Pirate on a BMW and our intrepid ride leader, Slim Jim on another Suzuki V-Strom. These are strange times. How can this be the full complement for a Saturday like this?

OK – a question to all the faithful readers…… what do we call a group of motorcyclists? If Avachat was here we’d call it a gaggle. If Bald Eagle was here with Seagull it’d be a flock ….or maybe a flock-up …… The obvious choice is “pack” – but that doesn’t sit comfortably despite Cardo’s PackTalk hardware. It is too reminiscent of the US movies with bikies on Harleys. So – come on folks – what collective noun can we best use to describe our Ulysses group of riders? For this report I’m using the collective noun for fish – simply because I was a teacher.

The school of riders was to head to Cataract Dam today for a BYO BBQ. Slim Jim decided, however, that being such a gorgeous riding day we probably could put the outing to better use. So Picton Botanic Gardens was the destination of choice where the school of riders would have BBQ facilities, seating sheds in the shade and adjacent amenities with running water.

Off we head with Jim in the lead and TT the venerable TEC. Whispers was number 2, I was the meat in the sandwich and Robbie was in front of TEC – and that’s the formation that would remain throughout the day.

We headed as always down the old highway past the nursery at Helensburgh, past Boomerang Golf Course and onto the freeway before turning right onto Appin Road. Various comments along the way as 4 of the 5 riders are connected through UHF. GORGEOUS day. Just the best riding conditions. If this was a Tom Cruise movie the script would then have an invading force of warriors taking possession of the Appin mines and this school of trained Ulysses combatants would save the world – but this isn’t a Tom Cruise movie so the Magnificent 5 will await a future opportunity to bring down the global rebellion. Shame we’re 5 old white guys, really. It’s not very woke, is it…….

We turn right at Appin and head in to Ambarvalle/Campbelltown then left on Therry and left again to follow Menangle Road. As TT points out the roads we’ve ridden for the past 20 years are rapidly changing in character. What used to be rural blats on a bike are now developing into residential suburbs with traffic and roundabouts. Even the entrance to Menangle looks like one of those typical over-developments with rooftops touching each other and no trees. Shame.

Right on Woodbridge. Right onto Finns and then left at the big round-a-bout that is Remembrance Drive – the old Hume Highway.

So – at this point let me deviate from the plot. Unusual for me – yes, I know.
How many of you as youngsters used to leave Sydney on a trip to Canberra or wherever and you used the Old Hume as the only road out of Sydney. You remember- that was when the road through Engadine shopping Centre was the only road through, too – and both single-lane roads each way used to clog up and cause chaos.

Used to drive past that magnificent tree which was the Anthony Horderns “While I LIve I’ll Grow” tree. Did you know the Anthony Horderns Sydney store was 21 hectares (yes, TT, that’s 52 acres) of retail space. Bloody massive. Then Waltons bought them out in 1970 – and promptly closed the store in 1973. Another icon lost. And what of the tree? Not long after the retailer became defunct the tree died. I remember hearing it was poisoned – but that might be a fairy-tale.

So now there is another (much smaller) trree on the opposite side of the road to where the original grew in the 60’s with the “While I live I’ll grow” moniker on it. Anthony Hordern’s (and, for that matter Waltons) have not, however, made a resurgence. Rememebr the old “We’re gonna win ya” ads for Waltons. Well they were taken over by Harvey Norman. What were we saying about round-a-abouts?

Back to the ride. So we ride in to Picton and turn right on Regreme Road where the Picton Botanic Gardens are. What a great spot. Very well done, Slim.

We all have our snags and drinks and cook the BBQ while swapping stories. Most convivial.
After mornos we head back the same way on Remembrance Drive up Razorback.

The Razorback Inn is on our left as we head north out of Picton. You’ll know it now as the Common Grounds Bakery. It looks lovely – but it’s closed. It was originally the Razorback Inn built in 1849 and was a coach stop on what, as I previously explained, was the maiin route out of Sydney.

The last question is – why is it called Razorback? I can’t answer that. A Razorback is a type of wild pig – but I can’t say whether the Range was called Razorback from some likeness or because of a preponderance of pigs at the time … …. don’t know. Can anyone advise????
Anyway – left onto the Old Razorback Road where the views of Sydney are just stunning, down to Cawdor, right on Cawdor Road and then onto our regular route through Douglas Park and Broughton Pass to Appin and home.

A seriously great day for a ride. If you weren’t there you missed out. The pace was relaxing, the morning tea was excellent as were the Botanical Gardens and both Slim and TT did great jobs ensuring that we kept together and had a great club ride.

Thanks for the company, guys. You have to admit that the people we ride with in our club are seriously good company. Now – we just need a better collective noun. A group of Tigers is an ambush. That’s OK if you ride Triumphs. A group of Harleys is called a cacophony. Or maybe a shake (nah – I made that up). A group of BMW is called a bliss. A group of Pirates is called a smartarse.

I’ll leave it there.