SOME TRADITIONS should never be broken, and in the case of the HAMC’s Good As Gold Poker Run, this is one event that has withstood the test of time for more than two decades. One of Australia’s biggest and best organised rides has delivered the goods for the past 22 years.
At the time of writing this article, Queensland is going through some of the darkest times since the bad old pre-Fitzgerald Inquiry days. Back then Joh Bjelke-Petersen ruled the state with an iron fist and a police force that had the green light to dish out their own style of heavy-handed justice with very little to answer for.
The new VLAD laws were dropped on the unsuspecting biker fraternity like an atom bomb coated liberally with bullshit. The clock was wound back 30 years and the biker world was changed forever.
It’s not only the members of one percent clubs who have suffered the ramifications of these ridiculous laws! Bikers from all fractions have felt the impact of this “back to the future” styled legislation.
But back to the ride. I had arranged to meet up with Prickle, the Chairman of the United Social Clubs of Qld, in Fortitude Valley.
We left Brisbane via the Arterial road and headed south over the Gateway Bridge. The Mt Lindsay Highway had us travelling through Beaudesert where we hooked up with the other members of our riding group which consisted of Bazz from the Vietnams Vets MC and more than a dozen members of the Misfits SMC.
After a brief meet and greet we were on the road again and making good time as we motored through Rathdowney, Palen Creek, and deeper south before crossing the NSW border at Dairy Flat.
A lone biker walking back up the road in the opposite direction with his jacket slung over his shoulder was a sure sign that we were approaching some sort of roadblock. Sure enough, a stern face farewell committee had set up camp a few km further on… but after a quick chat to Prickle, our designated Road Captain for the day, our wheels barely stopped rolling before we were back on the gas and rolling through the blue roadblock virtually unhindered.
Long flat plains gave way to rugged escarpments as the twists and turns of Mt Barney made for an enjoyable yet testing ride through some awesome countryside where large boulders and lush green valleys bore homage to this part of the county’s violent volcanic past.
We arrived at the Wodenbong pub to find around 60 or so bikes parked in groups around the tiny township. The locals were out in numbers to see what all the fuss was about. Lunch was served and for 15 bucks you could grab a mixed grill that would keep you going all day.
A few marked NSW Highway Patrol cars were present as well as the usual smoked glassed Toyota Prados, and as they used to say in the song Convoy, “They even had a bear in the air,” as a lone helicopter hovered over the pub for a short time. All common place stuff for poker-run-goers, but for the people of Wodenbong it was a real buzz.
The difference with this year’s Good As Gold was that it was run with no poker hands or entry fee as such. The lovely promo girls who worked tirelessly through the day did a great job of selling T-shirts and raffle tickets for some top prizes that were drawn at each stop.
By the time the run was ready to leave, close on 100 bikes had braved the legal uncertainty and threatening weather to head off for the second destination of the ride. Two police candy cars gave us an escort out of town as we headed further south towards Kyogle.
More picturesque scenery and twisty roads made for a leisurely run for just under an hour and the Exchange Hotel was a welcome sight as the bikes soon filled up the rear parking lot and lined the street outside the pub.
A few of the local cops had to have a quick chat to Terry (the ONLY patched member of the HAMC) over a minor traffic incident, but no tickets were issued and the confrontation was light hearted and nonchalant.
From Kyogle the ride went north-east and deep into hippy territory before arriving at the last pub, the Riverview Hotel at Murwillumbah. This was to be our last stop and farewell point. Terry thanked all that had taken part in the run and jokingly invited everyone back to the HAMC clubhouse where the drinks were on him. Good on you, Terry, if only?
Everyone, including myself, thoroughly enjoyed the day’s ride and can be proud that they were part of something very special! Every rider can give themselves a massive pat on the back and take comfort in the knowledge that they helped keep the HAMC Good As Gold Poker Run alive! In the face of adversity, you all risked some possible legal ramifications, and thanks to the HAMC only having ONE patched member there, these were avoided and our safety was ensured. To each and every one of you, the HAMC is very grateful.
Next time… well who knows what the case may be! But this year’s run has sent a crystal clear message — where’s there’s a will, there’s a way.
Words and pics by Chuck U Farley