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Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

Rail Trail, Coominya
Today’s ride was from Esk to Walloon following the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail for most of the way. I was support driver for Becca, Eric, Darb and Jason, dropping the riders off in Esk, then making sure they had a vehicle to get home from Walloon.

We’ve had many happy rides ending in Walloon. It has a railway station which makes it an easy destination for long point-to-point rides.

We’ve also experienced some amazing rides along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail from Fernvale in the south to Linville, Blackbutt and eventually Yarraman in the north. The rail trail isn’t an end in itself: in the past we’ve used it as any easy off-road route between different ride locations, allowing us to stitch together epic adventures covering large distances.

Rail Trail, Esk
Rail Trail, Esk
Like rail journeys in bygone years, today’s journey started in the middle of town heading down a straight flat track, surrounded by bustling townspeople going about their business. The only difference was that there was no smokey engine pulling these carriages.

BVRT Railway Bridge (Jason Reed)

BVRT Railway Bridge (Jason Reed)

Bridges over creeks are closed to traffic for safety reasons. There are large sandsone blocks in the creek beds to make it easier to cross the creek without getting your fee wet.

Rail Trail, Mount Hallen

Mount Hallen Railway Station used to be the first stop on the south-bound line 10 km from Esk on the way to Ipswich. Our pedal-powered “train” rushed through there after about half an hour…

Rail Trail, Coominya

… In fact, it was little over an hour before the “Mountain Bike Expresss” pulled into Coominya, 25 km down the line. The flat gradients made it easy to keep up a quick pace.

Rail Trail, Coominya
The word “Coominya” comes from the Yugarapul aboriginal words “Kung-i-nya” which means “View of the water”. One sign in town suggested it might also be a question: “Where is the water?”

Rail Trail, Coominya
Charles Lumley Hill was an early European settler in the area. He owned “Bellvue Station”, a large cattle property. The railway station was originally called “Bellvue” and serviced his property, as well as allowing transportation of timber to the city. Hill asked for the name of the station to be changed to avoid confusion with his property, and so the name “Coominya” was chosen.

Lockyer Creek (Jason Reed)

Lockyer Creek (Jason Reed)

Lockyer Creek has deep banks as you ride south-east from Coominya to Lowood. In flood times, this waterway becomes a raging torrent. But on this mild spring day the water looked delightful.

Rail Trail, Lowood

The trail passes quite close to the road, south of Lowood. The railway engineers elevated it slightly here to avoid flood water. It was uncanny how train-like the riders looked, silently pedalling along the track. I don’t think they had any idea I was watching…

Rail Trail, Lowood, Qld
Rail Trail, Lowood, Qld
The “train” arrived in Lowood earlier than expected (as trains sometimes do), so we decided to have an early lunch. The busy town was startling after the solitude of the trail.

Rail Trail, Vernor (Jason Reed)

Rail Trail, Vernor (Jason Reed)

East of Lowood, the trail follows the Brisbane River. Driving a motor vehicle along the adjacent road, it’s difficult to enjoy the view. One of the delights of trail riding is being able to take your time and soak up the gorgeous scenery.

Vernor, Qld

At this point we left the the rail trail and headed up “into the hills” south of Vernor. The steepness of Ogg Road was a pleasant surprise after 40 km of relative flatness. As always, the views at the top were worth the effort of the climb…

Friendly Horse
… and the horses were friendly too!

Overgrown Trail (Jason Reed)

Overgrown Trail (Jason Reed)

One of the consequences of leaving the rail trail was that the tracks became rougher. In places the grass was quite high, and the only way through was by pushing the bikes.

Haigslea
I eventually caught up with the riders again as they rode up the hill towards Haigslea Cemetery, near Walloon. They had ridden 62 km in about 4.5 hours including an hour of breaks. Total ascent for the ride was about 600 metres.

Becca and Jason had ridden “The Epic” the previous week, and thought this trip was a pleasant change from the rigours of racing. They rated it 5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. Darb rates in about 7 out of 10. Eric had mechanical problems and couldn’t finish.

I think this would be a relatively easy ride in either direction for most mountain bikers. Taking advantage of the railway service in Walloon, it would be an ideal start for a multi-day adventure northwards via the rail trail to exciting destinations in the South Burnett or along the Bicentennial National Trail.

Esk Walloon 2013-09-21 from Darb Ryan on Vimeo.

Here’s Darb’s excellent video of the ride.

And here’s his track log…

8 comments to Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

  • Kenny

    Hi Neil, Great pics & story as always. How the the recovery / knee coming along ???

    • G’day Kenny
      Thanks for reading the story, and for asking.
      I can turn the pedals over on the stationary bike, which means I can exercise my legs better. I’m hoping that means:
      1. My quads will stop shrinking.
      2. I’ll be able to have the surgery ASAP.
      Regards
      Neil

  • jason reed

    Thanks NeilsWithoutWheels ,i always look forward to reading your write ups afterwards it makes up the whole package, you have to wear something a little less camoflagued next ride, it was hard to see you until you moved sort of like the kangaroos standing still in the long grass hehe especially like the side on pic where we look like a train …i was looking again at the above pics and it hard to imagine a train on those tracks and how many ppl would have seen through their eyes the same views we were loooking apon, darbs vid is great as well, reminds me not to pick my nose ..

    • Jason
      Hahahaha – I once picked my nose on skype. Never again 🙂
      BTW I love the camo. It keeps the sun off and means I can creep up on you all.
      You can see more on a bike than on a train though. I find it frustrating on train that you can only look out sideways – not in front.
      Darb’s videos are always awesome.
      Neil

  • Excellent. When I was ‘with You’ doing the switch back and remembering all the work we put into Lockyer Ck. installing the sandstone blocks and turfing the Trail under the bridge, it literally bought a tear to my eye. without going into too much detail, most people learn about the B.V.R.T. by word of mouth or accidentally stumble across the Website.

    Well done !!!

    Shalom

    P.K.

    • G’day Peter
      You guys have done a great job on the BVRT – it often forms an important link in our adventures.
      I’m glad that the section under the bridge is fixed. Now that I’ve recovered from my injury I plan to go back to that particular crossing and ride it again just to prove a point 🙂
      Neil

  • Cliff Weier

    Nice write up Neil. When I lived up that way it used to take the Railmotor around 2hrs to make the journey from Toogoolawah to Ipswich Station.
    I am hoping that eventually the missing section through Harlin gets some funding so the trail becomes ‘complete’.

    Ride Safe

    Cliff

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