When you have a hammer, everything looks like a nail. When you have good camping gear, every ride looks like a good excuse to pitch a tent. When my friends suggested we do an overnight trip to the beautiful bush camp at England Creek, how could I refuse?
We all rode from home, bringing only the things that we could fit on the bike. Having packed everything that was humanly possible, I arrived at the start point on my heavily laden bike impressed by how lightly some of the other guys travel.
While they had expertly packed most of their stuff in a simple handle-bar roll and seat bag, I had a lot of extras that I had to bundle in big red dry bag which I tied to the top of everything. It rattled when I went over bumps, but it was secure, and I was happy.
We followed some quiet bike paths to Bunyaville State Forest where we had arranged to meet Russel. He and Paul weren’t camping with us, but had decided to ride with us for the day to share in the fun.
While light bikes are a joy to ride quickly down steep dirt tracks, heavier bikes take a bit more concentration.
After Bunyaville and Ironbark forests, we followed the Samford Rail Trail westward to the pony trails.
Although it wasn’t as direct, this was a much quieter way of getting to the D’Aguilar Range compared to riding on the road.
After all the off-road detours, we only had to ride a couple of kilometres along the main road. Mount Nebo loomed up in front of us, a reminder of the hard work that lay ahead.
Normally the climb up the Goat Track is pretty easy. Today, with the extra cargo, we took it a bit slower.
Out of the corner of my eye I spied something unusual…
Was it a bird? Was it a plane? If the “Man of Steel” could leap tall buildings at a single bound, then surely I could get this bike to the top of the hill.
More strange characters started showing up, glued to the top of signs and fence posts. This was delightful.
Eventually Paul and I found an entire tree infested with strange-looking toys. Somewhere inside me, a childlike curiosity awoke…
While Paul and I had been waylaid by these fascinating toys, the others had ridden past them completely oblivious. It made me consider how many other delightful things we hurry past every day in our haste to get somewhere.
“Nice to meet you, Mr Gollie”.
After a bit more huffing and puffing we eventually made it up to Mount Nebo for an early lunch.
While I demolished a BLT sandwich, hungry Cockatoos picked at the seed we left for them on a table.
After our break, we made our way up to Dundas Road, to start the long descent into the England Creek valley.
The views on the way down were stunning.
Goodes Road is steep. I’ve rocketed down it quite a few times (and struggled up it as well), and I often slow down at this point to enjoy the view to the west.
The descent ended with a pleasant splash through the “Right Branch” of England Creek. Our destination for the day was the “Left Branch”. We had to climb one more hill to get into the next valley.
Ah hills… one of the inevitable pleasures of mountain biking. Sometimes you have to walk – most times you stubbornly grind the pedals as you slowly make it to the top.
After one final splash across a bubbling causeway, we arrived at the campsite.
Eric is an old hand at this, and had his tent already erected before we arrived. He was busy sorting out the fireplace.
Darb and I have recently lashed out extravagantly on new tents. We proudly set them up.
Mike is a lighter traveller, and had this excellent tarp arrangement; although during winter I think I’d prefer something more cozy.
Simon is a bargain-hunter and had an amazing low-cost system…
… including a “high-tech” pool mattress from Aldi.
Our original plan was to set up the camp, then go for a bit of an exploratory ride on the bikes.
“What do you want to do?” Darb asked me after we had set everything up.
“I want to bludge,” I confessed to him, “but if you decided to go off exploring I’ll come too because I don’t want to miss out”.
In the end, we decided to take it easy and sit around the fire. I cracked open some wine, nibbled on some cheese and nuts, and relaxed.
It took a while to get going, but Eric did an amazing job of stoking up the fire while sparks spiralled upwards into the darkening sky.
A few things I liked about this particular bush camp:
- It had plenty of running water.
- It was remote – there was lots of peace and quiet.
- We could legally have a fire.
- The camp sites were fairly flat.
- There were ample logs arranged around the fireplace to give us all enough room to sit.
- There were some decent trees from which you could string a line for a tarp.
- It was in a valley and reasonably sheltered from the breeze.
Out in the middle of the bush at night, we all decided to go to bed early. I was fast asleep before 7pm.
Down in the valley, the sun didn’t rise above the hills until almost 8am. We got up before 6am, had breakfast, packed and were on the bikes before 7.30am.
It’s a very long and steep climb up England Creek Road. We all climbed at our own pace. I just looked at the road ahead of my front wheel and slowly turned the pedals.
The views grew more impressive as we climbed higher.
As we rolled down the other side of Northbrook Mountain we passed a father and daughter returning from an overnight stay at the mountain campsite.
Alex was carrying a lot of gear. He looked quite tired. The walk looked like it was a long way for Ammonie.
Mike kindly gave them some lollies. This cheered them up.
We finished the climb up Lawton Road and emerged at Mount Glorious in the rainforest.
Everyone agreed we had earned a second breakfast, so we stopped off at the cafe for another bite to eat.
Buffet brekkie with a view. Perfect!
As we descended the Goat Track, we could see it had turned into a beautiful clear morning.
Darb and I followed pony trails back to the Lanita Road Railtrail while the others took a quick break in Samford.
The last major climb of the day was back up through Samford State Forest. My legs were starting to tire. I was looking forward to getting home.
We said our goodbyes at Brendale where we had all met the previous morning.
We travelled a total of 120km for the weekend in about 13.5 hours. During that time we climbed about 2,600m of vertical ascent and I burned about 6,500 kcal.
I’ll rate this one 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks Eric, Darb, Simon, Mike, Paul and Russel for another great adventure.
Max elevation: 543 m
Min elevation: 16 m
Total climbing: 1624 m
Total descent: -1505 m
Average speed: 15.10 km/h
Total time: 07:24:29
Max elevation: 695 m
Min elevation: -25 m
Total climbing: 1410 m
Total descent: -1567 m
Average speed: 20.10 km/h
Total time: 06:04:44