Have you ever enjoyed the view from a lookout and wondered what it would be like to explore the valley below it? Today we did just that – exploring a hidden valley near the upper reaches of Byron Gully, west of the D’Aguilar Range.
We started just outside of Dayboro and followed Chambers Road as it climbed the D’Aguilar Range.
There’s no gentle introduction. The track ascends steeply. Some of us clicked the gears down and spun the pedals till we got to the top. Some of us walked.
Although it’s steep, Chambers Road is the easiest way I know to get over the range. After a few minutes we reached the top, then accelerated down the other side, rainforest trees and palms a green blur on either side of us.
We followed Byron Creek west. The sun hadn’t reached this part of the forest yet, so most of us kept our jackets zipped up against the cold.
Riding in the cold is a novelty for us in Queensland. Sometimes it’s tricky to get the fine balance between keeping out the cold and allowing in enough ventilation to avoid over-heating.
At the National Park Boundary we jumped the gate and rode through Byronvale.
Earlier in the week I had spoken with the land owner who kindly gave us permission to ride through.
We rode past the homestead, but no one appeared to be awake yet, so we kept riding through.
The track crossed Byron Creek a few times.
At first we were able to avoid getting our feet wet.
Where possible we tiptoed over the rocky creek bed, or climbed around it, then continued our westward trek.
Eventually the crossings grew too deep to avoid. We bit the bullet and waded through. There are worse things in life than wet feet.
Some other crossings were shallow enough to ride through. Calum’s fat tyres parted the water divinely.
We planned to explore the terrain underneath the peak of Mount Byron, and eventually turned into “Happy Valley Road” following it up the valley.
Mount Byron loomed ahead.
Instead of looking down from the lookout, we were looking up from the valley.
Mount Byron loomed ever larger as we approached it.
Strangely we lost sight of the mountain as the creek, and our track disappeared into bushland.
First the blue-gums grew thicker around us…
…then plantation pines…
The road reserve stopped at an impressive collection of huts. What an amazing place to get away from everything!
We relaxed on the grass for a snack while Eric regaled us with stories of his recent trip to Europe.
Since the road did not progress any further up the valley, we decided to turn around and retrace our steps.
This time we didn’t even flinch about wet feet.
We followed the track back through Byronvale as we slowly regained the altitude we had lost earlier in the day.
I mentioned to Jason that there was a rock pool called “Diana’s Bath” not far from here. He suggested that we could probably call this spot “Jason’s Bath”. Perhaps not as spectacular, but steeped in intrigue and mystery nevertheless.
Our route from earlier in the day unravelled in reverse as we left Byronvale and followed the tracks back into the national park.
…slowly back up the range.
After finally reaching the top again, we followed the Mount Mee Horse Trail down some steep tracks back to our starting point.
Max elevation: 366 m
Min elevation: 97 m
Total climbing: 1539 m
Total descent: -1529 m
Average speed: 16.24 km/h
Total time: 05:17:39
We rode 44km in just over five hours. During that time we climbed almost 1,200 metres in vertical ascent, and I burned about 2,500 kcal.
Apart from the big climb at the start of the day, this was a reasonably easy ride. I’ll rate it 7 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks to Eric, Darb, Paul, Jason, Calum, Nick, Simon and Dean for another memorable ride.
I wonder how many more hidden valleys we can find?