The aim of today’s adventure was to find an enjoyable off-road route between the South Burnett towns Kingaroy and Yarraman, linking up two historic railway lines.
(“RM 1901 at Kingaroy station, ~1991” by Ellis678 – Own work. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Commons)
Two railway lines once passed through this area, but were never joined.
The Brisbane Valley Line reached its northern terminus at Yarraman. Today this line has been converted into a wonderful recreational trail, the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail: enjoyed by walkers, horse riders and mountain bikers.
There was also a railway line from Gympie, passing through Kingaroy and then splitting into two lines: one to Nanango and the other to Tarong. Recently there has been discussions about converting parts of this corridor into a recreational trail as well. But if this ever happens, there would be a gap between the two trails.
We thought it would be useful to know how to “close the gap” between the two railway corridors, and decided to check out the trails between Kingaroy and Yarraman.
Who knows? One day it may be possible to ride off-road from Ipswich to Gympie – over 300 kilometres. Wouldn’t that be amazing?
We started at Taabinga on the southern outskirts of Kingaroy and followed the remains of the old Kingaroy to Tarong railway line. Large silos towered above us: a reminder of the main crop for which Kingaroy is famous – peanuts.
Kingaroy’s other claim to fame is that it was the home of former Queensland Premier, the late Joh Bjelke Peterson, after whom the local airport is now named.
As we rode southwards out of town, we headed out the back of the airport to avoid the busy highway.
The airport was an important airforce base during the Second World War, housing at least eight squadrons. We stopped at the memorial to look at the names of some of the service men and women who died.
These days, the airport is a popular place for gliders. A couple of sleek-looking gliders sat on the tarmac outside a hangar waiting to be launched into the sky. It was a perfect day to be outdoors.
Shortly after leaving the airport, we rolled off the paved road and onto the red South-Burnett dirt.
Edenvale South Road stretched off in front of us. We coasted with ease along its gentle gradients, keeping up a brisk pace.
On either side of us, fields of peanuts reached up out of rich maroon soil and soaked up the sun. On the horizon we could just make out the distant peaks of the Bunya Mountains.
This area is delightfully crisscrossed with quiet country lanes, red dirt, green trees and blue skies. It’s a pleasant place to ride.
At the small village of Goodger we looked around the remains of the old school. It has been closed for over fifty years but is still in good condition.
There used to be a railway station at Goodger. Trains would pass through here from Kingaroy on their way south to Tarong.
The railway line closed in 1961 but the buildings have been lovingly maintained.
If Eric hadn’t been riding with us, we would have missed the turnoff to Old Cooyar Road.
For a short way we pushed through thick undergrowth…
… and around fallen trees.
But it was worth the effort. The track surface improved and we rolled down the gentle descent of this delightful track for almost five kilometres.
Eventually we emerged on Old Taabinga Road.
Eric says that any road with “Old” in the name has to be worth a look.
For another five kilometres we followed this gently undulating road east towards Barkers Creek.
The bridge over Barkers Creek was closed – but it seemed safe to walk across.
We peered over the edge. Recent rain has raised the water level in the creek. It babbled happily beneath us.
We’d been riding for two hours, and decided to rest a while in the shade.
A rusty old tractor on the edge of the paddock had seen better days. It didn’t look like it would be going anywhere again.
We continued our journey eastwards through Tarong State Forest.
Although we had to pedal up a few hills, the ride was mostly downhill. We’d been slowly losing altitude for most of the morning. This had been an easy ride so far.
The downhill holiday came to an end at Berlin Road. Over a series of three moderately challenging hills we slowly claimed back the elevation we had surrendered.
Always the master of foresight, Eric had left a large ten litre water bottle at the top of the hill. We stopped to refill with the water and to enjoy another break.
Eric strapped the empty water bottle to his backpack.
After all – there’s no need to waste a good water bottle.
It’s this range of hills that made it difficult for engineers to join up the two railway lines last century. Economical railways need gentle gradients. Tunnels and switchbacks are costly.
We were back at the top of the hill, and followed the ridge south towards the Tarong power stations. The terrain dropped off gently either side of us, offering great views out to distant horizons.
In the distance, we could see the smoking chimneys of the Tarong power stations.
Next to them, the huge open-cut Meandu coal mine stretched off into the distance. If you’re going to burn coal to generate power, it’s handy to have a coal mine right next door.
When I had planned this ride, I was tempted to follow a straight line from Tarong into Yarraman.
Eric wisely suggested that it would be easier if we stuck to the top of the ridge. Following a straight line would force us down off the ridge, and then back uphill again. By sticking to the top of the ridge, we enjoyed the views and didn’t have to work so hard.
Is this laziness or wisdom? When the vice and the virtue suggest the same thing, it’s probably best to do as they say.
Eventually we left the ridge and enjoyed a long slow descent into Yarraman through the state forest.
Mature Hoop Pines towered above us, cooling us in their shade.
As with most rides this summer, we decided to finish the day in the pool at the local caravan park.
“The water is always cold in this pool” Adam commented.
Sounds good to me.
We rode about 60km in four and a half hours including breaks.
During that time we climbed just over 700 metres and I burned about 2,000 kcal.
This was an easy, pleasant ride.
I’ll rate it 6 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks Eric, Paul and Adam for a fun ride in beautiful country.
Total climbing: 908 m
Average temperature: 32.8
Total time: 04:20:14