Harley-Davidson has pulled out of the Walcha Motorcycle Festival due to the current bushfire threat, but the event will still go on from Friday (15-17 November 2019).
Walcha Royal Cafe owner Toni Keable says HOG members from Perth have already arrived and many more have said they are still coming.
“There’s no change at Walcha. We’re still going ahead with the festival,” she says.
The festival was put together by the town after the last-minute cancellation of the Freak Show Festival of Motorcycles and national Harley Owners Group (HOG) rally when the organisers went into liquidation.
Earlier this week Walcha Tourism said the event would go ahead despite the current bushfire situation.
Harley pulls out of festival
However, late this afternoon Harley-Davidson Australia issued this statement:
The bushfire situation across New South Wales and the progressive dangers across the state has meant that Harley-Davidson Australia has made the difficult decision not to attend the Walcha Motorcycle Weekend this coming weekend, 15-17th November.
Harley-Davison Australia have been monitoring the bushfire situation and have been in ongoing contact with the Walcha Council and NSW Rural Fire Service to understand if it is safe for Harley-Davidson and our H.O.G. members to attend.
Since Tuesday 12th November 2019, the NSW Premier has declared a State of Emergency with dangerous conditions across New South Wales, advising motorists to delay all non-essential travel with many highways and motorways closed.
All H.O.G. members planning to attend the event have been contacted.
From everyone at Harley-Davidson Australia, we ask all riders to remain safe and alert.
However, Harley will still provide the 300-seating chill-out HOG Lounge and a shuttle bus service to Tamworth and Armidale for HOGs.
Toni believes the Harley statement is a “safety precaution”.
“It is probably for insurance purposes not to leave themselves in a position of danger if something happens,” she says.
“We’ve had people arriving all week. We’ve also had people ring and say ‘we’re coming, we’ll get there, we will find a way’.
“Some of the roads are closed but some are still open. Everywhere there is a closed road, there is an alternative route.”
Riders should check www.livetraffic.com.au and www.google.com/maps for road closures before attempting to ride to Walcha.
“We met some Harley riders who said they had to ride 400km further than they expected.
“If they had rung us we could have told them about a safe shortcut.”
The Royal Cafe number is (02) 6777 1117.
Meanwhile, the main attraction in getting to Walcha is the Oxley Highway which remains closed, not by fires but the high risk from falling burnt limbs after fires earlier this week.
Official advice is that motorists should avoid unnecessary travel and be prepared for conditions to change quickly and roads to close suddenly.
Riders should make sure they have water, food, supplies and a full tank of fuel. Make sure your mobile phone is fully charged before you set out.
If you’re already travelling when a bush fire starts, follow the directions of emergency services personnel.
You can check online here for bushfires in Queensland.
In NSW, check the RFS website, SES website, Fire Update Site, or download the ‘Fires Near Me’ app.
The following roads remain closed @ 5pm 13/11/2019
– Leconfield, Leconfield Rd btwn Dalwood Rd & Hollingshed St
– Royal National Park – all access is closed apart from resident access
– Telegraph Point Red Hill Rd between Rollands Plains Rd and Cooperabung Range Rd
– Moonbi to Bendemeer New England Hwy between Charles St and Oxley Hwy
– Nowendoc to Barrington Village Thunderbolts Way between Nowendoc and Barrington Village
– Coutts Crossing to Clouds Creek Armidale Rd
– Walcha to Wauchope Oxley Hwy between Brackendale Rd and The Paddock Rd
– Elands to Marlee Bulga Rd between Middlebrook Rd and Colling Rd
– Buccarumbi to Bald Nob Old Glen Innes Rd and Old Grafton Rd between Buccarumbi Bridge (near Cunglebung Rd) and Gwydir Hwy
– Harrington to Crowdy Head Crowdy Head Rd
– Bald Nob to Eatonsville Gwydir Hwy between Bald Nob Rd and Tindal Rd
– Lower Creek to Yarravel Kempsey Rd/Armidale Rd between Raspberry Rd and Link Rd
– Upper Fine Flower (north of Grafton) Clarence Way between Carnham and Baryulgil
– Failford Bullocky Way between Pacific Hwy and Failford Rd
– Wallabi Point Saltwater Rd between Old Bar Rd and Wallabi Point
– Colo to Milbrodale Putty Rd between Milbrodale Rd and Long Weeney Creek Trail
– Failford Failford Rd between Pacific Hwy and The Lakes Way
– Woodenbong Summerland Way between Mount Lindesay Rd and the Queensland Border
– Grafton to Ballina Pacific Hwy between Gwydir Hwy/Bent St and Bruxner Hwy
– Nowendoc to Knorrit Flat Nowendoc Rd
– Combyne, Koppingyarratt Rd (from Lawn Rd and Upper Lansdowne Rd)
– Cedar Party, Comboyne Rd btwn Mooarl Rd and Collings Rd
Walcha Motorcycle Weekend highlights
Harley was planning to bring its truck of merchandise and demo bikes including a LiveWire electric motorcycle for “demo rides” on their Jumpstart Experience.
However, there is still a host of other entertainment across the three days, including stunt shows, a rodeo, guided rides, Harley demo rides, a Steampunk motorcycle gallery, markets, music, food stalls, a billy cart derby show and shine and more.
Click here for a full schedule of events.
All accommodation in town is fully booked so Council has organised for “glamping” tents at the Oxley Sportsground.
Local not-for-profit groups will provide basic catering onsite and clean-up services.
To read all about the Freak Show debacle check the articles listed below.