Riding the Cliff-Edge

Today’s adventure took us in a large mountainous loop through Brooyar State Forest between Widgee and Glastonbury Creeks in the picturesque Mary Valley.

Petersen Road

We started just outside of Gympie and followed a quiet gravel road into the forest.


Hagar's Hike-A-Bike

Our friend Mike Z had offered Darb a six-pack of beer if he could ride up this hill without having to push.

Dubbed “Hagar’s Hike-A-Bike” it was steep, rocky and difficult to ride.


Hagar's Hike-A-Bike

We mere mortals, on our skinny tyres, walked up while Darb powered up – his fat tyres gripping the loose gravel.

On our left, a large outcrop of boulders clung to the hillside.   Despite its physical challenges, this was a pretty place.



The gradient became kinder towards the top, allowing us to jump back on the bikes and try to catch up with Darb.

As we ascended, the valley floor spread out behind us, a patchwork of forests, plantations, hills and creeks.

Eagles Nest Lookout

Our first summit of the day was “Eagles Nest”…

Eagles Nest Lookout

From a rocky outcrop on the edge of a sheer drop, we looked out over rolling hills covered in Hoop Pine plantations.

Rock Climber

Off to one side, a rock climber teetered on the edge of a cliff.

My knees felt weak just looking at him.

Eagles Nest Lookout Paul

Paul didn’t seem to share my aversion for heights.


Eagles Nest Lookout  Jason

We took our time and absorbed the panorama.

Point Pure Lookout

A couple of minutes further up the road we came to Point Pure, another sheer cliff face, and a couple more fearless rock climbers perched on the edge of an awesome drop.

Point Pure Lookout

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

There’s an important rock shelter / cave at the bottom of the cliff that is historically significant.

In 1988, Anthropologist Professor Ian McNiven conducted an archeological survey at the bottom of this cliff.  His team discovered remnants of charcoal, bone fragments, stone artefacts, seeds, mollusc shells and egg shells.  Carbon Dating of the charcoal indicated the site was originally used about 2,800 years ago.

The Mary Valley is the traditional home of the Kaiabora tribe, who are part of the larger Kabi aboriginal group.

McNiven suggests that the rock shelter may have been used as a “base camp” for Kaiabora hunters.



After a brief rest at the lookouts, we pointed the bikes down the hill and enjoyed a long twisting descent to Glastonbury Creek.


Glastonbury Creek

Dozens of people had set up camp beside the creek to relax over the ANZAC Day long weekend.

Campers lazing outside their tents looked strangely at us as our quartet of dusty mountain bikers rolled by.

Glastonbury Creek

We followed the creek south for a while past quiet farmland.

Cow in the Water Horse

Paul stopped briefly to say “Hi” to a couple of furry friends.

Diggings Road

After a while, we headed towards the next hill climb of the day.

A solitary Hoop Pine looked down scornfully from the summit.

Diggings Road

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

We dropped down into the lowest gear and spun our way to the top.

Although they’re strenuous, hill climbs are pleasant.  You just zone out, concentrate on the task at hand, and slowly make your way to the top.


Diggings Road

Somehow your body grows accustomed to the rhythm, and the hill gradually disappears.


Golden Hills Road

The law of gravity is symmetrical: you go up, you roll down.  But the descents fly by much quicker than the climbs.

After a brisk descent, we were once again at the bottom in a new valley…

Reid Road

Thick undergrowth lined the banks of Widgee Creek.  It was pleasant to ride in the shade.

Tough Ascent

I warned everyone about the next climb.

There was a forestry tower at the top of a hill, with a nasty 20% gradient.

Half-way up there was a “bail-out” option.  We didn’t have to go all the way to the top if we didn’t want to.

I thought it might be an idea to keep our options open.

Tough Ascent

Once again, Darb powered to the top.  The rest of us tried to keep up.

Rest Stop

At the half-way point we had a quick rest, took a vote and decided we’d leave the forestry tower for another day.

Wonga Lane

Instead we followed a narrow forestry track through some Lantana.  Paul looked at me suspiciously.  These Lantana jokes were starting to wear a bit thin between us.

Wonga Lane

Thankfully, the track was well maintained and sign-posted.

I wonder if you addressed a letter to “Wonga Lane”, who would deliver it?

Devils Staircase

And then we met “The Devils Staircase”.

This nasty little hill was almost too steep to walk up.


Devils Staircase

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

We grunted and shoved the bikes up, one foot at  a time.

I grabbed on the brakes, and pulled my self up with the bike for support.

Devils Staircase

At the top, we anticipated another exhilarating downhill spree.  Alas…

Devils Staircase

It was way too steep to ride, and strewn with large rocks.

Miraculously, Darb rode some of the way down.  His fat tyres gripped way better than ours.


Devils Staircase

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

I decided to play it safe and scrambled down as slowly as I had scrambled up.

Devils Staircase

It was a long way down.


Eventually it was safe to get back on the bike and roll to the bottom.

Hoop Pines

We followed a track on the edge of the plantation back down to Widgee Creek.

Widgee Creek

Widgee Creek is delightful.  This would be a great spot to re-visit for a swim on a shorter ride.  The water is clear, and there are some inviting looking clearings on the creek banks.


Hoop Pine Forest

We made our way back to the cars via some powdery tracks through the plantations.

Fantails of dust spread from our tyres as we raced along the gentle downhill gradient.

Powerline Track

To avoid riding along the highway, we took a short detour under the power lines.


Here’s Darb’s video of the ride.

Total distance: 44.69 km
Max elevation: 295 m
Min elevation: 56 m
Total climbing: 1357 m
Total descent: -1332 m
Average speed: 16.47 km/h
Total time: 05:42:57
More data

We rode about 45 kilometres in just under six hours.  During that time we climbed about 1,150 metres, and I burned about 2,100 kcal.

This ride rates 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.  On a reasonably cool day I used about four litres of water.

This would be a gruelling ride on a hot day.  Perhaps in summer, a shorter trip out to that swimming spot on Widgee Creek would be more appropriate.

Thanks Darb, Paul and Jason for another day of exploration on the bikes.

Thanks also to Mike Zande for giving us some useful information about the trails in your back yard.

Let’s come back soon!

Eagles Nest Lookout

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