We had unfinished business from last week’s adventure on the upper reaches of the Brisbane River at Kholo, so this week we decided to return and do some more exploration.
We started from the botanical gardens at Kholo.
Our plan was to ride up to Sapling Pocket via the banks on one side of the Brisbane River, then return on the other side.
Ahead of us lay Pine Mountain – its slopes clad with remnant Hoop Pine Vine forest.
This area is special because of those forests. Before European settlement, much of south-east Queensland was covered with such forests. Today they’re much harder to find.
After undulating over several tough hills we arrived at the Kholo Enviroplan Reserve. This wonderful area is built on another of those Hoop-Pine clad hills in the area. It has several interesting looking tracks that we wanted to explore.
The first track was up to “Mango Tree Hill” – a steep out-and-back climb to a hilltop featuring a solitary mango tree.
(Note to self: Come back here next January. We might be able to get some ripe mangoes)
We sat under the Mango tree, catching our breath. Above us, a solitary eagle soared, slowly wheeling on the thermals watching for any prey we might have startled as we rode by.
In the distance the morning clouds were quickly evaporating from the slopes of the D’Aguilar Range, on the other side of the river.
A few minutes later we enjoyed the fun roll back down the hill to the river.
At this point the track ended.
We knew the river was close by, and figured that if we got to its banks we might be able to ride along them on the bikes.
So Simon and I bashed through the “Fukawi” grass in order to find a path to the river through which we could drag the bikes.
At the river bank we realized there was no rideable ground on this side. We would have to cross to the other side – but how?
As any true self-sacrificing leader would do, I asked Simon to wade across the river and see if it was shallow enough to carry bikes across…
…ahhhh – probably not there Simon. Could you try somewhere else?
Perfect! We had found a path across that was just under waist-deep. We’d be able to carry the bikes over. So we bashed back through the grass to share the good news with everyone else.
We rolled the bikes along the faint track through the grass that Simon and I had made.
“There’s a river down there somewhere, guys, honest!”
(Photo: Tony Ryan)
We then carried the bikes over.
The water was pleasantly warm.
(Videos by: Calum Campbell, Neil Ennis)
Adam and Simon decided to have an impromptu swim while we waited for everyone to wade across.
On the other side, we bounced the bikes over the rocky river banks.
Eventually the banks grew steep. We had to push the bikes over a couple of muddy, slippery sections.
We finally emerged on a road overlooking the river, with the Pines of Sapling Pocket on the other side.
You’d hardly think this was the same brown river that our state capital straddles. Up here it’s gorgeous.
We rode through a small plantation back towards the river, near where we visited last week.
We kept following the river upstream.
Our plan was to cross back over the river at McMullens Crossing. Aerial maps showed the remnants of an old bridge. Hopefully there would be the remnants of an old road there as well which would allow us to ride up from the river into Sapling Pocket.
Unlike the previous crossing, this one was deep and fast. It would be tricky carrying the bikes over.
It was good spot for another swim, though, so we jumped in to “think” about our next move.
A few of us climbed up the banks on the other side, looking for a track.
There was none. Hoop Pine Vine Forest is thick. Early settlers described it as “thick as the hairs on a cats back”. We realized there was no way we’d be able to scramble through this scrub with our bikes. Well we could, but we’d probably end up stuck there overnight. That was one experience I didn’t want to repeat.
So we re-arranged our plans: Rather than re-trace our steps, we decided to follow part of last-weeks ride in reverse, then return to our starting point via the Kholo Bridge.
Some of this route was along pleasant old dirt roads – so we didn’t really mind the change of plans…
The day grew hot. We’d been riding over three hours and hadn’t even covered 20km. I don’t think we minded that much – we were all enjoying ourselves.
We had to work hard on Kholo Road. It’s paved, and hilly. We followed it up and down for several kilometres towards the bridge. On our left, inviting dirt tracks led off into the bush. On another day we might check them out.
We rolled over the river again at the Kholo Bridge then worked our way up the hill on the other side.
At the top of the hill we saw a dirt road heading off to the right and felt tempted. It was pointing in the direction we wanted to go. If we followed it we might cut out several kilometres of tarmac. But the downside was that the map showed a gap of a couple of hundred metres at the end.
Who knows? Perhaps we could get through.
Nope. This was one fence we decided not to jump.
As we rolled back along Reservoir Road we noticed yet another dirt track heading off into the bush.
When faced with the choice of following an unknown dirt track or riding on a paved road, any good mountain biker will take the dirt.
So we did.
“Hey I like this track!” I blurted out as we followed it.
It led to a deserted railway carriage stuck in lantana.
My mind boggled about how it was brought here.
The undergrowth around the carriage was too thick to pass through, so…
(Photo: Adam Lynch)
… rather than go around it, we went through the carriage.
This is the only track I’ve been on that actually passes through a railway carriage.
Eventually we found another dirt track which led us up to Riverside Drive and then back to our starting point.
Total climbing: 897 m
Average temperature: 32.6
Total time: 04:31:49
This ride was shorter than expected.
We ended up riding just under 30km in about four and a half hours.
During that time we climbed about 700m in vertical elevation, and I burned about 1,500 kcal.
It was hot, and we had to “make it up as we went along”, so the ride had some interesting navigational problems as well as the physical challenges of hills, river crossings, steep banks and high grass.
I’ll rate it 7.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks Darb, Russel, Jason, Adam, Simon, Calum and Martin for a fun day out.
It didn’t turn out as planned, but that added to the fun.