I go Mogo
Now this is what we call a back road
‘You better move along a little… the road ain’t wide enuf here for all yo’ wheels.’
Albert Alligator, Positively Pogo
When I was a mere lad, my motorcycle licence still green in my pocket (come to think of it, I believe they were printed in green in those days), we considered a ride from Sydney out to St Albans quite an adventure. In those days both access roads – from Wisemans Ferry along the east and west of the Macdonald River – were a mixture of gravel and deep potholes, and the surface quality was not necessarily predictable. Well, it was, but it was predictably bad. You just never knew how bad.
There was no pub at St Albans, either. You could get basic supplies and beer, but only in cans from the general store on the western side of the river – a building that now seems to be abandoned.
What we mostly did was carry on a little way beyond the little township, to the St Albans Common, where we would then set up camp.
Although we didn’t know it, the track we used was the beginning of the Mogo Creek Road. Its 30 km of dirt, sand and, occasionally, gravel theoretically took it through five settlements including Fernances and Mogo before it ended at the equally theoretical town of Bucketty, on the Wollombi Road. In fact there was nothing along there at all except for a few scattered small farms.
There still isn’t.
I can still remember the first time I rode all the way through to the Bucketty turnoff. It had been dry, so the track was mostly okay until I got to the first Mogo Creek crossing. This was dry, all right, but it was also really deep and rutted sand. I had not yet learned the most useful lesson of dirt riding – look where you want to go, not where you don’t want to go – and as a result my Harley-Davidson WLA ended up buried to the axles in sand, facing off to one side. It took a little while to gather enough branches and leaves to give me some traction…
Both of the roads along the Macdonald River are in much better shape today; one is tarred nearly all the way. There is a pub at St Albans (the Settler’s Arms has its licence back), with accommodation and reasonable meals, and the Mogo Creek Road is vastly better than it was. Mind you, it’s still patchy in places.
To begin with there are some sharp corners and steep little hills with deep gravel after you leave St Albans township. Once you reach the Common the countryside opens out, and the track flattens out around some waterholes and becomes quite quick. This lasts for a while before the hills close in again and you find yourself coping with occasional sand or, if it’s been raining, mud patches. That stays more or less the same until you get close to Bucketty, when you find yourself on sandstone and the going becomes pretty easy.
Services are limited. There should be fuel at St Albans, but you won’t get any more (or anything else) before Laguna on your way north or (probably) The Letter A on the way south on the Wollombi Road. Don’t expect to encounter a lot of traffic on the Mogo Creek Road, either. At most times during the day it’s pretty deserted.
All in all this is a useful and enjoyable track for pretty much anyone; if you don’t have a lot of dirt experience you can take it easy, while the guns can go fanging off at warp speed. We like it, anyway, and tend to use it when we’re assessing dual purpose bikes. Might see you along there some time.