Never mind the Isle of Man – Cessnock’s Postie Grand Prix

Around-the-houses racing has been almost killed off by the Nanny State, but the Postie Bike Grand Prix still happens…


 Postie GP crash sequence filmstrip copy

A multi-bike pile-up just seconds into the main race, the defending champion having to ride through the pack, and crash corner living up to its name meant the action never stopped at Cessnock’s annual Australian Postie Bike Grand Prix last November.

Despite a mandated and enforced maximum of 6.3 horsepower, multiple Australian motocross and supercross champion Craig Anderson describes the event as “the best race of the year”. It’s attracted superstars like Chad Reed, Kevin Curtain and Jeff Leisk to have a go and you can get closer to the action than any other motorcycle race I know of.

The only road race run on public roads left in Australia, the PostieGP (as it’s commonly called) has been running for 10 years, surviving a couple of Covid cancellations thanks to the enthusiasm of its competitors and the dedication of the Cessnock Motorcycle Club’s organising committee and volunteer helpers.

The PostieGP is a teams event — two riders, one bike, 90 minutes… but you have to get through the qualifying heats before you get a start in the main race. There’s also a ladies’ event separate to the teams races, with some women competing in both.


So it all kicks off with timed practice… with the teams then split into two groups, one for each heat race. The top half of each heat race go into the final, the others get a one-hour Cessnock Cup race. The heats are started Le Mans style, with racers running across the track where their teammate is ready with their bike. It’s chaos of the highest order, with handlebar banging and elbow clashes as the riders take off and head toward the narrow single-lane section leading into the TAFE.

In 2023, the heavens opened and rained on the race… not the parade lap at the start, but for a substantial part the day, the much-needed precipitation was coming down, making conditions a little dicey, although in previous years it’s been stinking hot, so the rain wasn’t all bad. There were many crashes but luckily not too many injuries — we’re not talking high speed here, but we are racing and people take risks, and the little Honda CT110 Postie bike was never designed for this sort of thing.


Of course, the crowd was down in 2023 because of the weather, but it was still a big event for Cessnock, with riders and their teams, officials and enthusiastic spectators all coming to town for the event.

A Facebook post I put up on the Australian Road Rider page about the event went viral, getting more than a hundred thousand views and more comments, shares and likes than anything we’ve ever done before, showing how approachable and exciting an event like the PostieGP is — yet it almost never was and is still, a decade later, the only event of its type around. And you can blame insurance, litigation, politics and the nanny state for all that.



There’s a mix of competitors at the Postie Bike GP. Many are there for the fun of the event and know they have essentially no chance of featuring at the pointy end of the field at the end of the day… but getting out there and having a go is the point. Some prepare by dragging the bike out of the shed a week before the event, charging the battery, adding fresh fuel and pumping up the tyres… usually while their teammate is making sure the beers are cold.

Some racers only ride at the PostieGP — we met a few who simply don’t have the time/inspiration to ride motorcycles for the other 364 days a year. But come PostieGP, they drag out the leathers and line up for a go.



“I tell all the racers at the rider’s briefing that I’m standing in the middle of the track when the race starts, so they must not cross over to the other side of the road at the start,” Craig Johnston, clerk of the course told me. Turns out the grid for the main race is just behind a traffic island, which is where the flag to start the race is dropped and where the man running the event stands, protected by some empty water barriers and not much else. As the riders go around the barrier, they then channel into a narrow single-lane road and under the GoKartsGo bridge and into the grounds of Cessnock TAFE.

Then there’s the tight turns, Postie bikes forks bottoming out even though the front drum brakes are pretty bad. The handling might be awful, but the little Hondas are bulletproof — few drop out due to mechanical failure despite the majority having done tens of thousands of kilometres delivering mail before lining up for the race.

The track snakes its way back out of the TAFE, then back in and out again… there are speed bumps there so they get airborne, and spoon drains which were full of water in 2023 adding to the excitement. It’s no MotoGP-like surface either, with a carpark section in particularly bad repair for this event, resulting in bikes sliding around on loose gravel… Turns out a background in flat-track racing has proven to be the formula for success, racers who can cope with a bike moving around underneath them being some of the most successful.



Dave Robinson was watching sports on TV well over a decade ago when he saw some footage of scooters being raced around an Italian town and decided that was a great idea and should happen in Cessnock. After discussing the idea with friends and the Cessnock Motorcycle Club, the idea migrated from scooters (which no-one in Cessnock cares about) to Postie bikes (which were popular cheap transport when picked up at auctions for under $1000 when Australia Post finished with them).

Getting permission to run the event turned out to be just as hard as you’d expect — despite Robinson being a senior policeman in the area.

“The first answer was always ‘no’,” Robinson told me, talking about getting permission from governments, bureaucracies and businesses. But Robinson and his team were determined, resourceful and persistent, finding ways to get around the demands and hostility towards anyone having fun on a public road — things like changing the route from the main street of town to a route through the local TAFE college, because businesses didn’t want the street closed. Now businesses are doing a roaring trade on the Postie weekend because it brings thousands of people to town.

The first event ran in 2014, so 2023 would have been the 10th running, but for the Covid cancellations… and Graeme Boyd was able to point to the PostieGP when seeking permission to run Supermoto events in the streets of Newcastle, which then led to the Supercars running an around-the-houses event in the same location…



Defending champion Daniel Wicks saw the weather forecast a few days out and ordered the stickiest wet-weather tyres he could find to fit the CT110’s rims… which ended up being a huge mistake. It turned out the tyres weren’t on the approved list: he would have to start from the back of the grid. “I didn’t even check the rules,” Wicks told Australian Road Rider, saying he’d forgotten how there is a list of approved tyres for the race and when officials came by to check his bike, the mistake was discovered.

The qualifying time was thrown out and starting from the back of the grid, plus a 30-second penalty, was the result. To add insult to injury, a further 30-second penalty was added for passing under a yellow flag. One positive to come from this was Wicks charging through the field, adding to the excitement and helping us catch some awesome footage via a rear-facing GoPro, with some of the shots here captured by that camera. And charge through the field Wicks, and his team-mate Brandon Hollis, sure did — probably more than half the field in the first lap. Then lap by lap, corner by corner, they picked off the riders in front, steadily making progress towards the front of the pack.

Out leading were former champions and the 2022 runners-up Brody Nowlan and Josh Pickering, looking to get their crown back. They’d been leading the 2022 event when a minor crash towards the end dashed their hopes of another victory and they were back to reclaim the title, knowing the whole time that not only would the #1 bike have to get past, it would also have to get another minute in front as there were penalties involved from qualifying too. So in the pouring rain, the #2 bike just punched out the laps, sitting comfortably in the lead until Wicks came past, but by then there was little chance they would be able to put a minute on them… provided no mistakes were made.

A smart race was run, the front runners didn’t crash, and the #2 bike won. 2014 and 2015 winners Luke Richards and Marty McNamara came in second.

Wicks and Hollis will be back in 2024 to have another go, Nowlan and Pickering might not be; they have numerous PostieGP titles now and professional racing might mean the guys bow out of Cessnock’s classic event as champions.

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