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Rally's in the 1980s....

During the 1980s I was into Rally's. What's a Rally you ask. Its not like a car rally or a navigation rally. It's a camping event where a few hundred road going motorcyclists would travel dirt roads to get to a camp site. Rally's are held no matter what the season or weather.

First though you would stop off at the closest town for supplies and a cold drink at the local pub. Once your thirst was quenched with your favourite drink you would ride into the Rally site. Some of the best scenery Australia has to offer is seen on these dirt roads into a Rally site. That's as long as you didn't have to watch for bike eating pot holes. Or worry about the soft dirt on the road that would throw you and bike down the road in a flash.

You would arrive and register with the Rally organisers and collect your Rally badge. Then set up your tent amongst the growing tent city. Gather your fire wood, make a meal and then with a cold can in hand wander around the site looking at the other bikes there and chat to the owners.

As night feel the bull ring would start up. The brave would take their bikes into the bull ring and do burnouts, doughnuts and generally punish their bikes engines. Of course if they had had a bit to drink they would really gun the bike's engine. I can remember one rally where a GSX1100 and side car was valve bouncing. The exhaust pipes were glowing red hot. Next morning this poor bike was being coaxed back into life by it's very hung over owner.

Sunday morning most would crawl out of their tents to be greeted by the Rally organisers arranging the Rally Gymkhana. These would be bike related events. Like balloon busting the balloon tired to the back of another bike. Or a slow race. Or anything that could be thought of that would test the skill of a rider. Of course those who did not take part would be splitting their sides with laughter watching riders and bikes either falling over or trying not to depending on the event.

Once the gymkhana was over the Rally Awards would be given out for things like: Longest distance rider. Longest distance Pillion. Longest distance under 250cc. Longest distance Sidecar. Hard luck story. Oldest rider. Youngest rider.

After the awards ahd been handed out. most would wander off to their tents, break camp, pack the bike and head off for home. Unless it was a long week end and then you would go back into town to the pub and spend the day there. Or in summer spend the day in the local creek or river cooling off.

So you get the idea. Its a fun weekend all based around bikes.

Over the next few blog postings I will put up some pictures taken at some of the 24 odd rallies that I attended.

My first rally was January long weekend 1981. The Karuah River Rally, run by the BMW Touring Club of NSW. This rally was held at Frying Pan Creek in the Chichester State Forest, north of Dungog. Their were 2 roads into this rally both dirt. But depending on if it rained, depended on what road you took. The lower road (about 20 km) was not good when it rained. Turned to mud. The longer one (about 30 km) that wound up through he hills was better in the rain. Well that's how I remember it. I attended this Rally 5 times.

My first Rally Badge

The Pub in Dungog on Saturday morning.

Rally Site Sunday Morning

Gymkhana events


  1. Good write up and love the pics

    Cheers Alex

  2. Outstanding as always! VERY much looking forward to the next!!!!
    anyway, time for me to shove off and clear up some more garage space in the eventual hope of getting an MZ on the road!
    cheers! Sean

  3. Unfortunately most events of a bye-gone era are being reduced more and more, mainly due to public liability and the paranoia that goes along with it. Maybe we all need to stick up for our rights more. So that we are able to hold events like rallys more often and tell little johny howard and his neo-liberal/conservatives, along with the insurance companies to go get stuffed.

  4. Good story. Did around 100 rallies from the mid-eighties to early nineties. Great fun all of them. Still attend one or two every so often but they don't seem to be as prevalent as they were then. Mark - VTR1000.


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