During the heat of summer, we often find ourselves drawn to places where we can cool off. Here are a few such spots we’ve visited over the last few weeks.
1. Rocky Hole (The Easy Way)
One Saturday while we were all still sluggish from New Years celebrations, Simon and Paul asked if I knew of an easy ride with a nice swimming spot.
I suggested Rocky Hole in the Mount Mee Section of D’Aguilar National Park.
We started at the highest point of the ride: the Gantry, and started the day by rolling down Lovedays Road for a few kilometres.
I love this dirt road which follows the spine of the D’Aguilar Range north from the Gantry all the way down to Neurum Creek near Woodford.
The Hoop Pine plantation filtered the morning sun, keeping us cool.
Paul rode a “gravel grinder” bike with reasonably skinny tyres and no suspension.
After a few minutes the rocks punctured his tyre.
Simon and I sat in the shade to enjoy the impromptu entertainment as Paul replaced the tube and pumped his tyre up again.
This time he pumped it up to a higher pressure to guard against any more pinch flats.
We turned right at “L Traverse” and rode the gravel track down hill for a few more kilometres.
Simon rocketed downwards on his duallie.
Paul took it a bit more sedately. The track was ok for gravel bikes with no suspension provided you took it slowly.
It took us about an hour to get to the Rocky Hole.
This was a lazy ride, so we spent another hour floating around in the cold water.
After we’d dried off, we pointed our bikes up Neurum Creek Road, and slowly made our way back to the top.
The five kilometre continual climb tested our legs – but we did it slowly.
We rode a total of nineteen kilometres in just under four hours including breaks.
During that time we climbed about 700 metres in vertical elevation, and I burned about 1,700 kcal.
Starting at the Gantry makes this is an easy summer ride with only one challenging climb. I’ll rate it 6 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Total climbing: 737 m
Average temperature: 29
Total time: 03:51:47
2. Rocky Hole (The Difficult Way)
Several weeks later, I thought it would be a good idea to try riding to Rocky Hole again – but this time we’d start at Neurum Creek and head towards the Gantry.
Last time we had started the ride with a long descent.
This time we started the day with a long steep climb up Lovedays Road.
This was a challenging section for me.
Apart from one quick downhill section, we rode uphill almost continuously for more than fifteen kilometres.
Jason is one of the strongest riders I know. I admire his ability to power up long steep hills without much effort.
It took us about two and a half hours to reach the Gantry from Neurum Creek. I’m sure everyone else could have done it quicker, but they kindly waited for me to catch up several times.
As we relaxed on the grass, a hungry lace monitor swaggered around hopeful for some free food.
Leaving the Gantry, we coasted down Neurum Creek Road for a few kilometres.
Last time I slowly mashed up this hill to finish my ride. This time we all reached the bottom in a few minutes.
All of us were eager to cool off in the water.
This is a popular spot in summer, easy to reach on a bike or via car. I’ve even come here once in a two-wheel drive sedan, but drove very slowly 🙂
Jason opted not to swim – and sat on the bank instead.
After we dried off, we followed Neurum Break northwards towards our starting point.
I had discovered this track while looking at a map of the national park and hoped it would give us a quick and easy way back after our swim.
I felt quite pleased with my choice of track until….
…we had to scramble up a horribly steep hike a bike section.
I found it difficult to even walk up the hill. Far away, at the top of the hill I heard Tim yelling “Why do Neil’s rides always have hills like this in them?”
I chuckled and kept on pushing.
At the top of the hill we rejoined Lovedays Road and rolled down the hill back to the cars.
Getting to Rocky Hole this way was much more difficult that starting at the Gantry.
We rode a total of thirty-five kilometres in five and half hours. During that time we climbed about 1,200 metres in elevation, and I burned about 3,000 kcal.
I’ll rate this route 9 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Total climbing: 1290 m
Average temperature: 29
Total time: 05:26:07
Here’s Tim’s video of the ride:
3. Northbrook Gorge
Hiking through Northbrook Gorge is a wonderful experience we try to enjoy at least once per year.
It takes a bit of prior organization, but the effort is worth it.
After leaving a couple of vehicles at the end point of the hike, we made our way back to the starting point at the top of Lawton Road at Mount Glorious.
Fourteen of us set off down Lawton Road, marching through the rain forest towards Northbrook Mountain.
Three kilometres down the road, we turned right and followed a faint track up to “Eagles Nest” lookout.
The views were great, but it was challenging fitting fourteen people on such a small outcrop.
From the lookout we scrambled down the side of the mountain for a few hundred metres. It’s a steep slope, and I found the safest approach at times was to sit down and slide downwards on my backside.
Caro told us her strategy afterwards: “Six point of contact: Two feet, two hands, and two bum cheeks” 🙂
We met Paul down the bottom of the hill beside the creek.
He had camped the night at Northbrook Mountain and planned to meet us. Unfortunately he was waiting at the wrong spot and we missed him. He eventually realized his error and quickly scrambled down the hill after us.
As we followed the creek downstream, it grew deeper…
Eventually we were unable to rock-hop, and started swimming to get through some of the gorges.
It’s always a smart idea to bring a waterproof bag to Northbrook Gorge, to protect any belongings that you don’t want to get wet.
“Gee that was fun!”
“Does this water taste funny?”
“I should have brought my bike!”
“Six points of contact!”
“I might sit on this log for a while and dry off.”
Eventually the swim-through gorges came to an end, and we walked along the creek bank for a while.
We then walked the final couple of hundred metres up the hill to where the cars were parked.
This hike was only seven kilometres long, but it took us almost four hours including breaks.
During that time we climbed almost three hundred metres in elevation, and dropped almost seven hundred metres in elevation. I am relieved that the seat of my hiking pants is still intact 🙂
I’ll rate this one seven out of ten on the tough-o-meter because of the tricky downhill scramble, and rock-hopping.
Total climbing: 610 m
Average temperature: 25.4
Total time: 03:49:56
4. Dianas Bath
Dianas Bath is a beautiful waterhole on the edge of D’Aguilar National Park, but it’s tricky to get to, and involves several really steep climbs.
We’ve visited this wonderful spot many times, usually after rain.
Most times we start and and the ride at the end of Mount Brisbane Road and head west up Chambers Road.
I didn’t take any photos of this adventure, but Tim took a fun video.
We rode a total of twenty-three kilometres in about four and a half hours including breaks.
During that time we climbed about 1,000 metres in elevation, and I burned about 2,000 kcal.
Because of the four big climbs I’ll rate this ride 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter
Total climbing: 1074 m
Average temperature: 28.3
Total time: 04:36:56