“Belhaven” is a 150 hectare cattle property that sits atop the Little Liverpool Range at Tallegalla west of Ipswich. When the landowners generously allowed us to explore their property, we jumped at the opportunity.
As we stood on a hill behind Bruce’s farmhouse, he proudly talked to us about his property and where he thought we’d like to ride. He had even drawn us a detailed map showing the best tracks, with the names of all the paddocks.
The thing about hilltops is that the only way to go is down. After a few quick turns of the cranks we started quickly coasting down smooth winding farm tracks.
Bruce said he was reluctant to remove any trees if he didn’t have to.
The result is that Belhaven is spectacular: rolling hills covered with generous thickets of rainforest, brigalow and wattle, interspersed with paddocks of contented cattle.
At the bottom of our descent we followed some bovine single tracks up a hillside covered with acacias. I had to push once or twice when the track became too steep.
We were relieved to finally reach the top.
Eric had been here five years earlier and showed us the way along the ridgeline to the summit.
The terrain dropped off sharply on either side, which gave us a wonderful 360 degree panorama of the surrounding landscape.
The last push to the summit was a bit too steep for me. Some of us pushed our bikes while others ground the low gears to the top.
To the east we could see Mount Flinders and Goolman.
Yes, pregnant women still make impressive mountain bikers. I couldn’t catch Becca as she powered up the hill.
The mobile phone reception up here was perfect 🙂
After a brief rest at the top, we pointed the bikes down the hill and rode back across “The Saddle”.
We left Bruce’s property by bouncing down Boughen’s Road – an old reserve on the property boundary near the main highway.
From there we followed Mountain View Drive around the edge of the hills.
This road was paved by the army in during World War Two. It forms part of the old highway between Ipswich and Toowoomba. You can still find several roads like this around Brisbane – the big square concrete slabs a hallmark of 1940’s wartime construction.
Cars whizzed along the modern highway, about two or three hundred metres away. We had this old bumpy stretch of pavement to ourselves.
After safely reaching the other side of the range, we followed some quiet dirt roads south towards the quiet locality of Woolshed.
We followed a rough old track back up the hill. It was rutted and washed out from years of disuse – perfect for a mountain bike.
Although we didn’t realize it, our route would require us to climb the Little Liverpool Range four times today.
We slowly rode up and over the range again to the other side.
The track morphed into a dirt road, which eventually transformed into a reasonably busy paved road.
Although it’s no longer a school, the old Tallegalla State School building still stands. When it opened in 1879, many of the migrant German schoolchildren were unable to speak english.
The day grew hot. We cooled off in the shade of some big old trees.
Our course took us up and over Mount Marrow via a rough track. One or two farmers gave us bemused looks as we pedaled up the hill.
“These people must be crazy to ride up there in this heat”
At the top we enjoyed a brief respite, rolling down the other side with Mount Flinders on the horizon.
We weren’t far from the Amberley RAAF airbase. In the distance a huge Globemaster aircraft thundered off over the mountains.
It was worth stopping to look at.
Not far from our lunch stop, we followed a couple more quiet lanes into Walloon.
Ah the Walloon Pub. It has been good to us on many rides.
We stopped for a cool drink and some snacks in the shade.
I was starting to tire, and briefly toyed with the idea of bailing out here and catching the train home.
Thankfully the refreshments lifted my spirits and I decided to continue.
Heading out of Walloon, we followed narrow horse trails northwards. On many past rides from home we would often come blasting down these tracks. Today we climbed up them at a more sedate pace.
Just before Haigslea Cemetery we turned left and followed a road reserve through the grass and mud.
The views to the south were impressive.
When we came to this boggy patch, Eric thoughtfully threw a few logs in to form a makeshift bridge so we could avoid getting our feet wet.
By the time we reached the paved road again, most of us were starting to tire.
Rather than follow my original course up Postmans Track, we decided to try and shorten the ride and get back to the start via the shortest route.
This involved following a few more quiet dirt tracks towards Marburg.
From the GPS we surmised that we could probably follow Schubels Road up and over the hill to Minden.
My legs gave up and the others disappeared into the distance as I struggled up another hill.
Schubels Road ended up being a dead-end.
We had to turn around and retrace our steps.
Suddenly being half a kilometre behind was an advantage – I was now half a kilometre ahead 🙂
I’d had enough. “I’m holding you guys up. I think I’m going to bail-out at the Marburg Pub. Can you come and pick me up when you get the car?”
Darb kindly agreed, and I meekly rolled into town in search of the local watering hole.
What a sight for sore eyes!
By a fortunate stroke of luck I met some mountain biking friends in Marburg who bought me a drink and sat with me on the pub’s verandah to wait for Darb.
Thanks, Chet and Tarquin. You guys revived this exhausted rider 🙂
The rest of my riding buddies toughened up and rode back the final ten kilometres to Tallegalla.
I ended up riding 57 kilometres in seven hours (including breaks), and burned 3,500 kcal while climbing 1,000 metres.
Everyone else rode 67 kilometres in eight hours (including breaks) and climbed 1,300 metres. I have tough friends.
Becca suggested I rate this ride 9 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. Becca is a strong rider but she found this one hard work. Personally I’d rate it tougher (9.5) – but that’s probably because I’m still regaining my fitness after a couple of months recovering from injury.
Thanks Becca, Kate, Eric, Darb, Paul and Jason for a difficult but fun ride – and for not being too hard on me when I bailed out.
Thanks also to Bruce and June for letting us ride through your beautiful property.
Max elevation: 321 m
Min elevation: 72 m
Total climbing: 1353 m
Total descent: -1453 m
Average speed: 17.09 km/h
Total time: 06:56:46