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Australia Day

Camp Mountain Lookout
Australia Day this year was an ideal opportunity for me to get out of the house after all the rain rain and take a nice long ride on the bike to think about what this country means to me.

On the way, I got to enjoy some great trails at Bunyaville, Ironbark, Camp Mountain, D’Aguilar National Park, Samford Pony Trails and finally, Clear Mountain. I stuck to fire trails, so most of the ride was ok despite the recent rain.

It was great to meet up with my mate Graham who was riding with Jack along the Lanita Road Rail Trail. While I was there, I took a few minutes out to find a Geocache that was just a few metres off the track. If you like exploring, and the thrill of a treasure hunt, you might really enjoy Geocaching.
Before the Climb
The steep climb up the short side of Camp Mountain is always hard work. The wet ground was softer than usual which made it even harder. I took a quick break before starting the climb to catch my breath and appreciate the beauty of the place.
Camp Mountain Lookout
14 minutes later I was at the top gasping for breath, and feeling slightly smug that I’d nailed the hill. Even though my time was almost double the fastest time anyone has done that climb. Legend has it that someone did it in about seven minutes.

The views out to Brisbane were spectacular.
Camp Mountain Lookout
There are some great views out to Moreton Island as well.

From there, the plan was to head up to Scrub Road and spend a while down in D’Aguilar National Park before heading home via Mt Nebo.
Mike
But I met Mike instead. He had two flat tyres, and only one spare tube. My big fat spare tubes wouldn’t have been much help to him, but I did have a patch kit, so I stopped and help him patch up his tubes. Since I’m not very fast at on-the-run repairs, this chewed up a bit more time than I planned, so I abandoned my plans for Scrub Road and just followed the bitumen to Mt Nebo instead.

From there it was a quick run down the Goat Track where I met Brock, a mountain biker who is lucky enough to live in Mount Nebo. The Goat Track is looking pretty rough at the moment. The rain has worn a lot of ruts in the track and some of the precipitous edges are looking dangerously soft.
Freshwater / Keelback SnakeFreshwater / Keelback Snake
Rather than head into Samford, I followed the Pony Trails up to Gibbons Road, and came across this little Keelback (or Freshwater) snake chilling out in a puddle. They’re not venomous, but one really cool thing about them is that they eat cane toads. Unfortunately they like living around creeks and swamps, which land developers seem to enjoy clearing. Interesting to think that Land Developers and Cane Toads are on the same side :)

So on Australia Day, I am grateful. This place is beautiful. We have some spectacular scenery and amazing animals. And the people are great. I can stop by the side of the road and say “G’day” to people I’ve never met before and become friends right away. And I won’t even start on how good our health and education systems are (even though we complain about their shortcomings).

We’re still the lucky country.

But on Australia Day I’m also uneasy. I think about what we’ve lost, and what we’re losing. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be an indigenous Australian and slowly watch my country taken away from me, with forests cleared, animals forced to the brink of extinction, huge quarries and open cut mines, and a massive increase in population.

I don’t have any easy answers, but I intend to keep on exploring it and enjoying it.

And I hope we can fully appreciate what we have, and care for it.

All up, this was a 75km ride, with about 1,450m of ascent, and about 4,300kcal of energy. I started running short of water near Mt Nebo, so next time I plan to take some water purifying tablets to make it easier to take on extra water at the emergency tanks in the forest, or in some of the cleaner creeks. Next time I hope to do a similar route, but add in Scrub Road.

This one deserves 9 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter because of the distance, and the tough slog up Camp Mountain in the soggy, strength-sapping dirt.

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