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Congregations – West Aussie is in!

This entry is part 14 of 17 in the series Adventure Rider Issue #23

What could possibly be better than the 2016 Congregations in Victoria and NSW? The 2017 Congregations, of course. They’ll be better because there’s three of them: NSW, Victoria and Western Australia!

If there’s one occasion no-one wants to miss, it’s the annual gathering of adventure riders called The Congregation.

On that one weekend riders, industry and bike personalities all converge on a given destination and, having adventured their way in there, set up camp, then sit around yarning, comparing bikes, swapping information and, in general, relaxing and enjoying themselves.

2016 saw the second NSW Congregation at a new venue.

Green Valley Farm at Tingha, near Inverell in NSW, proved an inspired choice. The family-run sheep farm offered sensational accom and facilities, excellent catering and the standard of fabulous riding only the New England region of NSW can offer. In the middle of a couple of weeks of downpour, even the weather came up sunny for the Friday and Saturday…although it was a bit of a drizzly effort on Sunday as everyone departed.

Still, a little rain didn’t dampen anyone’s spirits. Those with cabins peeked around curtains and chortled while those with tents got together in the large camp kitchen and, later, the shearing-shed-cum-dining hall.

A couple of loops were offered for those who wanted a ride, the zoo animals kept everyone entertained, and the folks at Green Valley Farm cruised around in utes making sure there was plenty of dry firewood available.

From an educational point of view, Miles Davis set new standards in skills demonstrations and various industry folks offered adventure-specific goods and advice.

It was a tremendously successful weekend. One of the best ever.

Miles Davis set new standards in skills demonstrations.

South of the Murray

Eight weeks after the NSW event Victoria held its first Congregation, and thanks to some brilliant lead-up work by Alpine Adventure Tours’ Bob Bondeson and Julie Luxford, it was a screamer.

Riders rolled into Myrtleford in the very heart of the legendary Victorian high country to find a lush, green footy field offering camping around the perimeter, vast expanses of food thanks to the local footy club, and, in keeping with the established spirit of the event, skills demos from Miles Davis, tech demos from BMW’s Craig ‘Benno’ Bennet, and even a mini Touratech Adventure Challenge overseen by Nick and Trudi Selleck from Maschine.

What a frigging top weekend!

It would’ve been crazy to hold a meeting in the Victorian mountains and not offer a loop, so that was taken care of too.

Once again, the weather was perfect.

Oh, yes. The 2016 southern Congregation will be a hard act to follow.

Northern congregationalists got together in Green Valley Farm’s shearing-shed-cum-dining hall.
Lots of giveaways and presentations.

Best of the west

In 2017 things are really set to rock.

The NSW Congregation will once again be at Green Valley Farm and the Victorian meeting will move to Dargo in an effort to allow riders to form a closer group on site – the footy field in the middle meant people were spaced out a bit in 2016. But in the most sensational news of all, 2017 will see the first Western Australian Congregation.

Petra and Howard at Motorrad Garage have had the throttle cracked wide open making preparations, including a recce run with a group of friends to check out the venue and surrounding trails.

Apparently it all went really well, and the Loose Goose Chalets near Nannup, about 270km south of Perth, will play host.

Howard Bathgate from Motorrad Garage rocketed his HP2 through the West Aussie Jarrah forests and was pretty happy with what he found.

“We’re very excited to be part of this,” said the deceptively quiet bloke.

“There’s a lot a lot of adventure riders who support us at Motorrad Garage, and this is a chance for us to give something back to the adventure-riding community. We’ve followed the success of the eastern Congregations over the past couple of years, and we’ll be following that format as much as possible.”

The area around Nannup is very heavily forested, so for those looking for a loop or two during the Congregation there’ll be plenty of options.

“We spent a few days looking at different venues,” explained Bathgate, “and Nannup became the favourite because of its proximity to Perth. You can get there within three hours if you want to get there via the road. Or you can spend a full day getting there if you want to make an interesting ride of it.”

Howard and his recce crew have scoped out a couple of possibilities which they hope to make available as GPX files, and there’ll be easy and tough options to suit everything from a DT175 through to the big-bore tourers.

Green Valley Farm at Tingha, near Inverell in NSW, proved an inspired choice for the 2016 Northern Congregation. It’s the venue for 2017 as well.
Awesome loops for those who want a ride

Hang loose, Mother Goose

The camping and facilities came under heavy scrutiny was well.

“We chose the Loose Goose Chalets because it had pretty much everything we needed,”

continued Howard. “It’s on a 40-acre property with a couple of cabins and plenty of paddock space for camping. It should be nice and green in October, and there’s space for various skills demonstrations and so forth.

“Then there’s the Goose Shed.

“It’s an old shed that’s been converted into a function centre with a difference, and it’ll be the main hub from where we’ll be doing presentations and so forth.”

Catering and administration is still in the planning, but there’s a strong focus on making the weekend as inexpensive as possible, and that’s good news for every-one. The demonstrations and presentations which have been so popular at the eastern Congregations will be part of the western Congregation, of course.

There’s nowhere quite like the Victorian high country.
The Dargo Inn is just around the corner from the site of the 2017 Southern Congregation.
Big bike or small bike. There’s something for everyone at a Congregation.

No excuse

If you’ve used the excuse that a Congregation was too far to travel in years past, that won’t wash now. One of these three is within range of just about any adventure rider anywhere.

Now’s the time to plan. Pick your weekend, pack your bike and we’ll see you there.

Any bike will do…almost any bike.
Loose Goose Chalets had pretty much everything a great Congregation needed.
The Loose Goose Chalets near Nannup, about 270km south of Perth, will play host to the western Congregation.
There’ll be plenty to see and do. The demonstrations and presentations which have been so popular at the eastern Congregations will be part of the western Congregation, and there’s some great things to see in the area. Wellington Dam is about 100km away and well worth the ride to have a look.

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