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Townsville to Ayr via Woodstock and Giru

The ideal starting place for this tour is the BP roadhouse on the Bruce Highway at the southern end of Townsville opposite the racecourse. After toping up with fuel the spacious shaded car park makes the ideal spot to meet fellow riders. This is an enjoyable four to six hour run, depending on stops, through the cane farms that dot the area north of the Burdekin River.

The first stage of this tour heads west out the Flinders Highway approximately 35 kilometres to the left hand turn onto the Woodstock Giru Road. This quiet country road meanders through the cane farms for approximately 32 kilometres crossing the Bruce Highway before the final run into the historic Giru Township. From June through to December it is advisable to watch out for slow moving cane harvesting machinery on these back roads.

A little bit of trivia about this small town nestled in the heart of the sugar growing area, is that its rumored the town was likely named after the "Goru" sugar cane variety, although some authorities debate that the name was in fact derived from an Aboriginal word describing a place covered with watercourses or lagoons. Nevertheless the completion of the Burdekin dam in the mid-1980s guaranteed reliable irrigation which prompted CSR to expand the town's sugar mill (Invicta) making it the largest in the area.

A popular watering hole is the Giru International Hotel which not only has nice outdoor area but also serves quality counter meals.

For the next stage to Clare, it's important to follow the directions, and advisable to take a map if you're not familiar with the area, or you could end up on wild goose chase down the wrong road. Head south-east along Bird St towards Drysdale Road out of Giru turning left at the Bruce Highway intersection. Travel approximately 5km south then turn into Upper Haughton Road follow this along for 8km then continue into Haughton Up River Road, 6km further along Haughton Up River Rd becomes Barratta Rd which you continue for 13km and turn left into School Road. At the T-intersection in Clare turn left into Ayr-Dalbeg Road and follow it all the way to the Bruce Highway.

Here it is worth turning left and detouring the few kilometers over the district's most prominent landmark, the Silver Link Bridge that crosses the Burdekin River. Incidentally at 1097 meters in length it is half as long again as the Sydney Harbour Bridge (whose arch span is only 503 metres). Completed in 1958, the Silver Link Bridge required this unique design because allowance had to be made for the lack of a solid river bottom.
The major town in the area, Ayr, is joined to its twin, Home Hill, on the southern side of the bridge. History records an interesting fact as Home Hill was supposed to have been named in honour of those slain in the Battle of Holme Hill in the Crimean War. However the young signwriter commissioned to paint the name on the railway station decided to drop the 'l'.

Heading back north once more, it takes only a few minutes to reach the town of Ayr. Riders have a choice of routes through town, you can take the first exit on the roundabout and follow the heavy vehicle route bypassing the city centre or alternative take the second exit and meander through Ayr's CBD, either way you'll end up back on the Bruce highway at the Northern end of town.

According to the many tourist information brochures available on the region this area boasts more than 300 glorious sunny days each year known as the winterless north, and is Australia's richest sugar producing area along with being the mango and melon capital. Said to be 'built on liquid gold' because it is situated on a vast natural underground aquifer which is artificially replenished with water from the Burdekin Falls Dam.

The natural beauty of the rivers, creeks, estuaries lined with unspoiled mangrove and miles of sandy beaches make the area a mecca for fishing, crabbing, windsurfing and water skiing. Meantime it is also a bird watcher's paradise with 280 species of birds recorded.

Six kilometres north of Ayr is Brandon, yet another link in the seemingly-endless chain joining together the sugar towns of northern Queensland. While Brandon may have little to offer in terms of tourism it does have nice pub. The Brandon Tavern has spacious off street parking for larger motorcycle groups along with generous meals available from a large menu selection.

After that hearty lunch, we headed back to Townsville along the Bruce Highway. On the day we travelled the Bruce Highway was littered with potholes and several large sections of road works. The trip meter on our bike showed 252 kilometers’ which included our detour to Home Hill.

September 16, 2011 | Posted in: On Road Tours, Queensland