This morning we had planned an exciting group ride up into the Mt Mee section of D’Aguilar National Park. Unfortunately we had to cancel because of heavy overnight rain. Instead of a long morning ride with friends in the forest, I ended up doing a short solo afternoon ride close to home – pretty much around the block. It was probably one of the shortest Saturday rides I’ve ever done, but it was fun to check out some familiar places and revisit the history of the area.
Tom Petrie and his wife Elizabeth are buried just around the corner from our house. Whenever I ride out from home, I often pass his grave and inveitably find myself following in his footsteps in many of my local adventures.
Initially, this region used to be called “North Pine”, after the river which starts in the D’Aguilar Range west of here, twisting through the rolling foothills until it eventually meets the sea in Bramble Bay. After Tom Petrie’s death in 1910, the local community changed the name of the town to “Petrie” in his honor.
The A.J.Wylie Bridge was named in honor of Alexander Jackson Wylie whose property, “Riverleigh”, adjoined the river near present day Wylie Park. In the late 19th Century several agricultural shows were held in his paddocks. It’s the second bridge bearing his name – the first one was damaged during the 2011 floods.
The first bridge across the river was “Sir Arthur’s Bridge” built in 1877 and named after Sir Arther Kennedey. It was located several hundred metres upstream of the present brdge. All that remains of it today are a couple of old pylons visible at low tide, but there are other clues. In Sweeney Reserve there’s an earthen mound running diagonally through the park, covered with Camphor Laurel trees. This is the remnants of the old Gympie Road / Bruce Highway which crossed the river over “Sir Arthurs Bridge”. These days the Camphor Laurels are reclaiming it, but it’s fascinating to think of horses pulling buggies down this old road almost 150 years ago.
A couple of hundred metres back up the remnants of Gympie Road I came across a couple of old white gate posts. These used to mark the entrance of A.J.Wylie’s “Riverleigh” property. In those days busy Gympie Road would have run right by the gates. Today it’s just a park.
Wylie didn’t build the gates. They were built in 1860 by a colorful land owner named Courtenay Hele Fowell Spry. Spry was one of the first people to purchase land in the area, and was well known for using his power and influence to get his own way. As I rode through the old gates I muttered to myself “You’re a spiv, Spry”. I’m sure I’m not the first person to ever say that 🙂
I followed “Old Dayboro Road” up the hill till I reached Jacksons Lookout. This is a great spot to enjoy the westward views of the D’Aguilar Range and Mount Samson on the horizon. A young motor mechanic named Gordon Jackson set up a garage down the road in 1929 during the great depression. It was a bit of a risk considering the huge unemployment in the area, but he made a success of it. The lookout is perched atop land that he was able to purchase after his venture was successful.
I rolled down the hill from the lookout, into the park which follows the North Pine River until I came to the point where the river meets One Mile Creek.
This is a beautiful stretch, especially in the late afternoon. The creek and the river were happily bubbling away after the recent rain. You wouldn’t want to be in this spot when the river is in flood, however, as the torrent can often reach above the level of my head in the above photo.
There are scores of “xxxx mile creeks” in Australia. “One Mile Creek” was probably named by the Archer Brothers in the 1840’s. The historic “Old North Road” crossed One Mile Creek at the point where this photo was taken. Not far from here (about One Mile) the road crossed the North Pine River at “Gordons Crossing”. (Gordons Crossing has since been covered by the waters of the North Pine Dam). Hence this creek marked a point that was one mile down the road from the North Pine River. Further south, “Four Mile Creek” marks a similar point that is about four miles down the road from the North Pine River.
When all of this area was wilderness, and the “Old North Road” was a faint track through thick scrub, a traveller would have found it useful to know how far thew were from a major river crossing.
On the final leg of this short jaunt, I passed along Todds Road, named after John Todd who purchased this land in the 1860’s. I suspect the old shed in the distance was built by the Mumford family who took over this farm after Todd. It’s nice to see that it’s still being used as a farm, and hasn’t yet been gobbled up by property developers.
Todays ride was only 12km, and took me about 90 minutes. It was more of a “stroll” than a ride. I enjoyed the pleasant change of pace which gave me a chance to think about some of the fascinating things that happened here long before we were born.
I wonder what this place will be like in another 150 years?
Max elevation: 23 m
Min elevation: -25 m
Total climbing: 272 m
Total descent: -286 m
Average speed: 13.71 km/h
Total time: 01:29:39