There are many people who uncharitably suggest that riding a motorcycle is merely an excuse for finding coffee shops and cafes at which to stop and TALK about motorcycles. Indeed, there is one particular brand of motorcycle which, it seems, is only ever used for commuting between coffee shops. The meme below might give you a clue to its identity.
*stands back and waits*
Back when the IRA forum was still running, there was a thread called, “Coffee and a pie sounds good.” It was one of the most popular and regularly used threads on the forum and that’s really not surprising. Living at the foot of the mountains and within a very short ride’s distance from the Robertson Pie Shop, you could always find a few takers for a quick blat up the Pass if you suggested that you were heading in that direction. Not only was there the attraction of the Pass itself but the pies were great, the coffee was always good and the company was excellent.
The added attraction was that TFRPS was virtually the 2nd home of the IRA. The owners were members, Will rode a BMW and they offered a sweet little incentive for us to go there with a discounted price for coffee available to members only.
Well, things are changing, but hopefully some things will stay the same. After 43 years of running the pie shop, Will has retired and he and Jen have moved down the coast to live and TFRPS is on the market. We can only hope that the new owners will continue to cater for motorcyclists and continue to make the shop the hub of motorcycling in the southern highlands. Because, while there are plenty of other places where one can go to get a coffee, none of them have the advantages that TFRPS has. Just look at the car park at any hour of any day and you will see the loyalty that the motorcycling fraternity feel towards the venue.
So, back to looking for a coffee while on the road. Apart from TFRPS I have several favourites and one of them I visited on my little highland fling yesterday. The Appin Bakery (pictured above) has been a favourite of mine for many years. Back in the day you could sit down inside and drink your coffee, eat your yummies and enjoy the ambience. COVID, of course, put a stop to that and it became a take-away-only venue. Thankfully now that the stupidity is over, there are some chairs and tables outside where you can relax and enjoy the offerings. The staff is always friendly, the hot offerings and the cakes are baked on the premises and it’s always worth a trip. And, before you say, “Wow, that’s a long way to go to get a coffee,” Appin is only 40kms from Wollongong.
Further afield there are plenty more. The General Store at Wingello not only does a great coffee but also meals and in a very friendly atmosphere. The bakery at Silverdale is small but very welcoming and they also do a good coffee. Just 100kms from Wollongong, a quick blat up the Oaks road, well worth the visit.
The old general store at Spencer, on the Wisemans Ferry road, has gone a bit up-market these days but the coffee is still great and being able to sit beside the river and listen to the waves lap the shore is a pretty strong incentive to break the journey there.
Then there’s Jerry’s at Kulnura on the back road to Wollombi, another iconic location that is always crowded with motorcyclists. The facilities aren’t great and seating is only fair-to-middling (all outside) but there is always something great to see there and many Sydney motorcyclists take the opportunity to do a quick blat up the Old Road (of which more in a minute) and stop at Jerry’s for a coffee. Motorcycle-friendly? Sure is.
Back-tracking just for a moment, there are two coffee spots on the Old Pacific Highway and both are worth a stop. At the southern end there is Pie in the Sky, the name says it all, really. Always some interesting bikes to see but you do have to filter through a horde of MAMILs most of the time. At the northern end is the old Mount White Café. Previously called the Road Warriors Café and the closed for quite a few years, MWC is also a bit agricultural but it does tend to cater for the more serious crowd, those whose idea of a ride isn’t just a 40km round trip from Hornsby.
On the other road north there are two choices. Colo Riverside Café is a proper restaurant but it caters well for motorcyclists and the food and the coffee is always excellent. Despite being a cut above just about any of the others in terms of facilities and ambience, its is no more expensive and is always worth a stop, especially if one is after a “proper” meal as well as the coffee.
Then there is Grey Gums. In the middle of the Putty, equally distanced from Windsor in the south and Singleton in the north, GGC IS the motorcyclist’s mecca. The food is good, the coffee is great, the atmosphere is without equal and the service is friendly. I mean, if you order a cup to tea, you GET it in a cup, a proper china cup with a saucer and a metal teaspoon! Because it IS so popular you sometimes have to wait a bit but the wait is always worth it and the road will still be there anyway. COVID nearly brought the place to its knees, the combination of lockdowns, difficulty getting staff and ridiculous government red tape doing everything to try and break Kimmie’s spirit. But, they soldiered on and, while they are still on limited opening days, it is absolutely worth the visit. AND, even if they ARE closed when you call in, Kimmie will still make you a cuppa.
From there on heading north it’s pretty sparse until you get to Singleton and I haven’t actually had a coffee there for quite a while.
So there are plenty of choices and they are pretty much determined by just how far you are prepared to travel before the need for coffee kicks in (for some of us, it’s not far).
As noted above, I did a short run yesterday up around Douglas Park and Appin, why waste that glorious Autumn weather?
By the way, you may notice a little side-track off the Appin Road. I ducked in to the Cataract Dam site to visit the place where, in 1974, I rode a motorcycle for the first time.
See you soon.