For several years, my friend Eric has organized an overnight ride for members of the MTBDirt mountain biking community. We stayed at the Yarraman Caravan Park and spend the weekend exploring some of the local forests.
The town of Yarraman features prominently in the local history of the area. Early European settlers established cattle stations nearby – Taromeo Station to the East, Cooyar Station to the South-West and Tarong Station to the North-West. Stockmen from Cooyar and Taromeo stations would camp overnight on the banks of Yarraman Creek. It was here that they’d separate the cattle before taking them north to Nanango.
In the 1880’s Queensland Premier, Sir Thomas MacIlwraith made an epic trip through this area by coach from Ipswich to Maryborough. He was driven part of the way by the owner of the Esk Hotel, Ned McDdonald. As a reward for his labours, Ned won the lucrative Royal Mail contract in 1884 to deliver mail between Esk and Nanango via Colinton, Stonehouse and Taromeo. He operated this service for 8 years until 1892. The coach ride was rough and dangerous as it followed the rutted tracks left by bullock wagons.
The Coach service to Yarraman met its eventual demise when the railway line from Ipswich arrived in 1913. This photo from the John Oxley Library in Queensland shows that event.
From there we spent some time wondering around the Boulders just outside of town. They’re strewn all over the hills in the area like left overs from a giant game of cosmic marbles. Some of them are massive. Some are tilted at strange angles, or piled on top of one another. It was fascinating just walking around looking at them.
The stock route continues across Coomba Gully back to the forestry road. On the way we had to drag the bikes over the creek and brave the “Fukawi Grass”. When walking through this grass, which is often head-high, some shorter people can often be heard to say “Where the fukawi” 🙂
This whole area is full of tall Xanthorrhoeas (Grass Trees). Many of them are over three metres in height. Considering their slow growth rate of about 1cm per year, this means many of them were two or three hundred years old.
We did 66km in about 7.5 hours including breaks a long lunch, and an extended walk around the boulders. I burned about 3,800 kcal. With 1,200m of vertical ascent this one rates 7.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Max elevation: 670 m
Min elevation: 426 m
Total climbing: 1290 m
Total descent: -1291 m
Average speed: 17.46 km/h
Total time: 07:31:34