Businesses on the Oxley Highway have been impacted since the speed limit on 44km of the eastern mountain section was cut from 100km/h to 80km/h in December 2017.
Save the Oxley protestor Ken Healey says business is down and there were “not many bikes” around over Easter.
“Groups are not coming as they use to,” he says. “The RMS (Roads and Maritime Services) did a fantastic job of stuffing up businesses, a great road and a great destination.”
Gingers Creek Roadhouse owner Garry Hartas is reported in the local newspaper as saying his banking is down 50% since the new limit was imposed.
His popular motorcycle cafe is right in the middle of the new 80km/h mountain zone.
Near-empty park at Gingers Creek Roadhouse
Garry claims rider numbers are down from 100 to 200 over a weekend to about 30 and accommodation has gone from 20-30 a week to none for the past two months.
However, John Keogh who handles Garry’s social media blames locals for the downturn in rider tourism businesses.
“I believe as a non-local that all the negative chatter from the locals on social media is making people think twice,” he says.
“I ride it all the time and love it but people ask me about it all the time. They are killing it, I think.
“Let’s talk the road up, not down.”
John has put together the following drone video of the road to show its rider attractions and has challenged locals to say something positive about the Oxley.
It appears some of the drone footage is sped up. It also shows some rather dangerous lines as riders hug the centre line around a blind corner.
We agree that riders should talk up the Oxley Highway and continue to make it a pilgrimage.
For a promotional video of the highway’s virtues, we prefer this one by moto journo Mick Matheson that we posted in June 2016 before the speed limit review.
Tourism is not only down on the mountain section, but also on the western end of the highway.
Walcha Royal Cafe owner Toni Heaney says the number of riders through the area have slowed down.
“But we also believe that we were in a elevated economy before December with bike riders wanting to tick it off their list before the speed reductions were enforced in late December,” she says.
“I also feel that there is a general belief that the speed reductions are all across the mountain from Port to Walcha not just in the one area and that’s what needs to be clarified to the bike riders.
Protestors line up at Walcha Royal Cafe
The RMS review originally proposed speed reductions along the length of the highway from Wauchope to Walcha.
However, local protests forced a review of their proposals, resulting in the reduction only on the 44km mountain section, not long the rest of the road to Walcha.
The good news for riders worried about watching their speedos instead of the road is that the tight and winding mountain section is almost impossible for police to patrol safely.
Police would not confirm this to us, but we have heard it reported second hand from several riders who have talked with local police and heard them discuss the issue at local meetings.
Ken confirms that police are “not a worry” on the mountain section where there are no pullover areas and the road is too narrow for patrol cars to u-turn.
“I’ve only heard of one guy getting booked (since the 80km/h limit was imposed),” he says.