When my friend Richard told me about the fun he had exploring the mountainous terrain around Mount Colliery, near Killarney, I couldn’t resist checking it out for myself.
We started on a cold morning in Killarney, near the headwaters of the Condamine River in Cambanoora Gorge.
The Aboriginal people who lived on the plains between what is now Killarney and Warwick called the Condamine River “Corra Corra Beh” which means “Long Stream”.
For our efforts we were rewarded with some great views of Killarney and the Southern Downs stretching out to the west.
“Gambubal” State Forest is a bit of a misnomer. It’s named after the Kambuwal Aboriginal People – the traditional owers of Girraween and the Stanthorpe Area. But historically, the people who inhabited this area were the Githabul. In his paper “Being on Country: Githabul approaches to mapping culture“, Nick Mclean from the ANU describes Githabul country as including the mountains that stretch from Kyogle to Killarney and Warwick.
A blustery southerly wind buffeted us as we strained up the hill. I was glad I’d brought my jacket. Up on this plateau the temperature dropped, and it was much easier to ride if we didn’t get too cold.
On our right we were able to look down into Condamine Gorge. Eric, Darb and I had followed the river through this spectacular gorge a couple of years ago.
We undulated over the mountaintop plateau until we eventually reached the State Forest. The pine plantation provided welcome shelter from the strong cold wind.
Russel has climbed most of these mountains. He has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of the local geography, having grown up not far from here. He pointed out the “Prow”, “Funnel”, “Mast” and “Stern” peaks.
We eventually encountered a locked gate. Since we were following my friend Richard’s plot, we didn’t give it a second thought. It wasn’t until we caught up with the land-owner a little later that we realized we were on private property. He was really gracious with us and explained that he didn’t mind us passing through – he just would have preferred to know about our visit beforehand. If you’re reading this, and are planning on following our footsteps on this ride, please contact me, and I’ll put you in touch the landowner so you can clear it with him before your visit.
At the bottom of the descent we enjoyed a leisurely roll along Emu Creek as we followed it out of the valley.
The slow progress strung our group out over several kilometres. I was grateful that Russel stayed with me. Riding into the teeth of a blustering headwind is much easier when you do it with someone else!
Whoever wrote the Irish blessing must have been a cyclist:
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind be always at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face…
To be sure, to be sure, to be sure 🙂
I am so fortunate, and truly hope for many more days like this.
Thanks Richard, for telling us about this place.
And thanks Becca, Tom, Eric, Russel and Mike for sharing this day with me.
Let’s do it again!
Max elevation: 1131 m
Min elevation: 515 m
Total climbing: 2177 m
Total descent: -2162 m
Average speed: 17.90 km/h
Total time: 06:14:21