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Down the Shute

McCarthy Shute
Maleny was built on timber – literally.

When the new Queensland Government repealed the “Bunya Proclamation” in 1859, they opened up large tracts of dense forest that had previously been protected for the benefit of local Aborigines. Timber-getters hungrily harvested thick forests on the mountains around Maleny.

The only problem was getting the massive logs down the mountain – which was where “The Shute” came in. The logs were slid down long steep shutes (that’s the old-fashioned way of spelling “chute”), such as McCarthy’s Shute, to waiting bullock drays at the bottom of the mountain. From there, the precious cargo would be lifted onto carts, and hauled to timber mills.

Today we followed the slippery path of the logs, and rode our bikes down McCarthy’s Shute.

Mary Cairncross ReserveMaleny Clouds

Bernie kindly drove us up the mountain to our starting point at Mary Cairncross Reserve, on the outskirts of Maleny. Amid the damp mist and light drizzle, we headed westwards down the hill towards “The Shute”.

McCarthy Shute RoadMcCarthy Shute Road
McCarthy’s Shute starts off as a picturesque hill gently winding down the slopes of the Blackall Range.

DSCN4360_copy
Even though they were wrapped in clouds, the surrouning hills looked pretty enough to prompt me to stop a few times for the obligatory photo 🙂

McCarthy Shute
McCarthy Shute

Eventually the road transforms into a “Shute” 🙂 It gets steep, muddy and slippery – perfect mountain biking terrain.

Road ClosedRoad Closed
The “road” disappeared in one spot and we had to scramble over a gulf in the road a couple of metres wide.

Ewen Creek
We finally reached the bottom of the descent at Ewen Creek – a tributary of the Stanley River which runs only a couple of kilometres from here. (Yes, I got wet feet!)

Macdonald Road
The next physical challenge was a gruelling climb up Macdonalds Road. Thankfully it was paved, but this nasty little pinch reaches slopes in excess of 25% as it makes its way up one of the precarious peaks near Bald Knob. (Oh, why do cameras always make steep hills look flat???)

London Creek Reserve
The sign says “No Through Road”, but once at the top of the climb, we followed a faint track down the hill again into the London Creek Environmental Reserve.

Spoke RepairSpoke Repair

The track is steep, rough and muddy in places. At one spot, while riding over a steep drop-off, my front wheel got stuck in the mud, and I went over the handlebars in slow-motion. I was unhurt during this manouevre which seemed to take an eternity. But, sadly, I managed to break one of the spokes on my rear wheel. For some reason, the spokes on my Crank Brothers Cobalt Wheels seem to easily break – even though they’re advertised as tough cross-country wheels. On the up-side, it’s relatively easy to replace spokes, and I always carry spares in my pack, so we took a break for ten minutes while I fixed my rear wheel. This is the first time I’ve ever replaced a spoke – so I’m feeling very proud of myself at the moment 🙂

"Ocean View"
After putting the wheel back on the bike, we ground up another steep hill towards Mount Mellum. Hills are inevitable in Mountain Biking. The best approach is to get used to them. We normally arrive at the top out of breath, but the views are always worth the effort!

Dullarcha National ParkNorth Coast Line

We made our way eastwards through Dullarcha National Park. Most people know this park for the “Rail Trail” which passes through it, but Dullarcha is much more than that. Nestled up against the Blackall Range, it’s very hilly in parts. We got a great view of the Glasshouse Mountains to the south as we passed over the railway tunnel on the North Coast line.

Dullarcha National ParkDullarcha National Park

We followed the tracks from the hills above the railway line down to the muddy trails around Ewen Maddock dam.

Ewen MAddock Dam
The dam is full after recent rain, so we had to take one or two detours to avoid a couple of flooded tracks.

Lunch at Landsborough
It had taken us over 3 hours to ride only 30 kilometres. This was hard work, so we stopped for a hearty lunch at Landsborough before heading back off into the forest.

Landsborough Pine Forest
Landsborough Pine Forest
The pine plantations near Landsborough are on flat terrain, so we enjoyed a leisurely after-lunch roll along some of the forestry trails.

Riding Through the Melaleucas
Plantations gave way to National Park again as we rode through some beautiful (but boggy) Melaleuca forests near Beerwah.

Strawberry Farming
Rolling past some of the strawberry farms, bustling with busy workers, I thought we’d temporarily ridden to another country 🙂

Bora Ring
And just outside of our destination at Beerburrum, we stopped at an old aboriginal Bora Ring on the edge of a pineapple field. The sign said “Silent now” but sometimes I think if you use a bit of imagination you can hear the echoes of clapsticks and soft singing.

On the distant horizon, the heights of our starting point reminded us of where we had started the day.

All Aboard!All Aboard!

After giving the bikes a quick hose-down, we hopped on the train for the quick ride back to Brisbane.

We rode 65 km in about 7 hours including breaks, climbing about 900 metres. I burned 3,000 kcal. The first part of this ride was the toughest. After lunch it was quite relaxing. Taking it all into account I’d rate it about 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Thanks Becca end Eric for a fun day out.

Thanks Bernie for driving us to our starting point.

6 comments to Down the Shute

  • jason reed

    ‘Its a long way to the shop for a chocolate sausage roll’ – food of champions eh ! another interesting read looks a bit wet and slippery, i like that old Bora circle i visited a few years ago, and spoke to a local who walks his dog past their a lot and is in to mountain biking it has a great view of the Mountains but would have been surrounded by tall forests, i’m sure back when it was built the edges were a lot higher, maybe even so high that an outsider could not see what was going on ?

  • Frank

    Nice one Folks always enjoyable to read a tale of intrepid adventure. Will hopefully get to join you in the not too distant future. Frank.

  • jason reed

    no haven’t got bike yet but working on it, might be buying that Cannondale flash, just got to wait to the end of this week to find out – fingers crossed

  • […] I had ridden down McCarthy Shute Road before, with Eric and Becca. It was a fast and exhillarating descent. But today I was going to ride UP it. My progress would be much slower. […]

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