We started just outside of Gympie and followed a quiet gravel road into the forest.
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.
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.
Our first summit of the day was “Eagles Nest”…
From a rocky outcrop on the edge of a sheer drop, we looked out over rolling hills covered in Hoop Pine plantations.
Off to one side, a rock climber teetered on the edge of a cliff.
My knees felt weak just looking at him.
Paul didn’t seem to share my aversion for heights.
We took our time and absorbed the panorama.
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.
(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.
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.
We followed the creek south for a while past quiet farmland.
Paul stopped briefly to say “Hi” to a couple of furry friends.
After a while, we headed towards the next hill climb of the day.
A solitary Hoop Pine looked down scornfully from the summit.
(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.
Somehow your body grows accustomed to the rhythm, and the hill gradually disappears.
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…
Thick undergrowth lined the banks of Widgee Creek. It was pleasant to ride in the shade.
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.
Once again, Darb powered to the top. The rest of us tried to keep up.
At the half-way point we had a quick rest, took a vote and decided we’d leave the forestry tower for another day.
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.
Thankfully, the track was well maintained and sign-posted.
I wonder if you addressed a letter to “Wonga Lane”, who would deliver it?
And then we met “The Devils Staircase”.
This nasty little hill was almost too steep to walk up.
(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.
At the top, we anticipated another exhilarating downhill spree. Alas…
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.
(Photo: Tony Ryan)
I decided to play it safe and scrambled down as slowly as I had scrambled up.
It was a long way down.
Eventually it was safe to get back on the bike and roll to the bottom.
We followed a track on the edge of the plantation back down to 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.
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.
To avoid riding along the highway, we took a short detour under the power lines.
Here’s Darb’s video of the ride.
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
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!