“What lottery did I win to be able to see places like this every week?” I muttered to myself as rolled down a quiet road with the huge peaks of Mount Barney soaring above me.
The aim of today’s ride was to complete a large loop from the small south Queensland town of Rathdowney to Mount Barney and then northwards via some off-road trails over the hill to Tamrookum Creek.
We wanted to avoid paved roads if we could, so we followed some rough road reserves wherever they were available. The first track was Glenoak Road which follows Glenoak Gully up the hill towards Mt Barney. It was rough and steep in parts, but it was delightful to explore the small creek, eventually coming out on a quiet gravel road.
It was hard work riding up Glenoak Road from the creek, but the views at the top were spectacular.
The unmistakable profile of Mount Maroon peaked over the the crest of the hill as we pushed to the top.
Prior to the ride, I wasn’t sure whether or not today’s adventure was going to be as enjoyable as last week, but when I saw these views I thought to myself “Yep – we’ve come to the right place”.
To our left, through the trees we spotted Mount Barney, Queensland’s second highest peak, soaring to a height of 1,351 metres.
Stunning mountains followed us on every side as we rode through this picturesque valley. As if it had emerged from an oddly shaped jelly mold, Mount Lindesay loomed large in front of us with its unique straight sides and domed top.
Equipped with basic camping equipment, including a “tomahawk, length of rope and a billy” Johns and three companions spent a weekend scaling the western peak of Barney and measuring its height.
At length a feeling of insecurity steals o’er one, and compels the gaze below. Oh, “how fearful and dizzy ’tis to cast one’s eyes so low.” Below us is an almost un-fathomable abyss, sheer 2000ft., the trees below diminished to shrubs, “almost too small for sight.” The brain swims at the contemplation of the immeasurable depths, Tartaurus itself.
But ages before Johns ventured up its slopes, this place was home to the Githabul, Mununjali and Yugerah aboriginal people.
Between Mount Barney and Mount Ernest a ceremonial ground, or Bora Ring was used by local tribes for important cultural activities.
They call the twin peaks of Barney “Dooayrdin” and “Yahndaddan”. Their legends tell of an old man who was jealous because his nephew was next in line to take over the tribe. The uncle took the younger man to a cave high on the mountain with the intention of murdering him. While the nephew was in the cave, the old man lit a fire to trap his nephew. The nephew escaped via another hole, came around to the entrance of the cave, and lit a second fire, trapping the murderous uncle who died.
The grass here was covered with mushrooms, some of them huge. This particular specimen was larger than a dinner plate.
We made our way to the end of the gravel road at Yellow Pinch reserve. We decided to leave the walking tracks to the hikers, and headed north for the second half of our adventure.
“Church Road” – a rough road reserve – was a fun off-road detour which kept us off the bitumen and forced us to work a bit harder.
By the time we made it to the top of Church Road we needed a bit of a break.
“That would be a fun ride to do in the opposite direction”, I chirped up. This was a much more positive way of saying “Gee that was a tough climb”.
After crossing the main road between Rathdowney and Boonah, we pedalled up Cossart Road. This steep dirt road winds slowly northwards up the hills which overlook Tamrookum Creek.
This sinister looking Gnome stood guard at the final creek crossing before the big climb.
I’m not sure whether he was placed there as a warning or a welcome, and I half expected his eyes to light up red and an evil laugh to echo from the surrounding hills.
After the creek, the gradient became very steep. We had to push our bikes for a few hundred metres to reach the top of the road. We all could ride these sorts of slopes, but the surface was covered with slippery marble sized gravel which made our wheels skid out from under us. Walking the bikes was the safest option.
We finally reached the top, and enjoyed some respite on the flatter trail as we caught our breath.
It’s amazing what you find at the top of some hills.
This track was an important discovery for us. We think we might be able to use it as an off-road way of riding between Rathdowney and Boonah. We definitely would like revisit it.
And so we began our fun descent into the Tamrookum Creek valley. I wasn’t sure what to expect here, as I had merely “guestimated” the track – but it was fun to ride and was clearly defined all the way to the bottom of the hill.
The green valley follows Tamrookum Creek for almost ten kilometres. The road meanders besides verdant fields. It’s an idyllic place to ride.
We rattled over numerous grids, and dodged herds of contented cattle as we made our way eastward at a relaxed pace.
Rather than follow the Mount Lindesay Highway back into town, we rode along Running Creek Road. Although it’s hillier, the quiet narrow roads helped us avoid the traffic on the main road.
What better way to finish a ride than with a cold beer and snacks at the Rathy Pub?
All up we rode 67km in just under 6 hours including breaks.
We climbed about 1,100m in vertical ascent, and I burned just under 3,000 kcal.
I’ll rate this ride 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks Becca, Darb and Paul for another memorable ride!
UPDATE: Here’s Darb’s video of the ride: