Mountains to Mangroves

Nestled between the rainforests of the D’Aguilar Range and mangroves of Moreton Bay lies the city of Brisbane. Over a million people call it home. Our ride today took us in a huge loop over those mountains, through the rainforests and down to the bay.


Simon, Darb and I rode from home, rather than drive; following bike paths through the northern suburbs towards Bunyaville, where we’d meet the others.

During the month of October, Darb and Russel are raising money to fight kids cancer. As part of the fundraising effort, they’re trying to ride as far as they can during the month.

Between them they hope to ride over 2,000 kilometres for the month and raise $2,000.

So today we wanted to help them ride down as many of those kilometres as possible.

Although Darb was riding a heavy fat bike today, most of us had trouble keeping up with him.

We hit the dirt at Bunyaville, and he disappeared over the top of a huge hill in front of me.

We met with Jason, Calum and Russel at Bunyaville and rode a short way to Ironbark Gully in Samford State Forest…


…following a couple of delightfully flowing single tracks over the Samford Range.

From there we followed the Lanita Road rail trail westwards…

… to the Samford Pony Trails.

This wonderful network of dirt tracks extends over a large portion of the Samford Valley. Originally designed with horses in mind, it’s also enjoyed by mountain bikers and walkers. It is a great way to get out of Samford without having to go on the road.

We emerged from the pony trails at the end of Days Road, under the shadow of Mount Nebo.

Our major climb of the day started here. Over the next ten kilometres we’d have to climb almost seven hundred metres in vertical ascent. It wasn’t steep compared to other climbs we’ve done, but it was a reasonable amount of work considering the distance we hoped to cover by the end of the day.

Darb and Jason are quick climbers.

As we ascended the Goat Track, they slowly drew ahead while Simon and I tried to keep up.

Despite today’s low clouds. we could see out to the coast from here. Somewhere in the back of my mind I remembered we’d probably be riding near that coast a little later in the day.

It seemed so far away. Was that really possible?

We finished the climb slowly, on the paved road, before stopping at Mount Nebo for a quick snack.


(Photo: Tony Ryan)

Brightly adorned King Parrots watched hopefully as I devoured my BLT and coffee.

With full fuel tanks, we left the coffee shop and disappeared into the rainforest.

A blur of green whizzed by on either side as we twisted along the track towards South Boundary Road.

From here, apart from a few nasty blips, we’d be going downhill for almost thirty kilometres.

South Boundary Road is a delightful piece of recreational infrastructure which lets you get from Mount Nebo to Mount Coot-tha on dirt.

I don’t ride it often, but when I do I am impressed.

Although it runs predominantly downhill, there were a couple of climbs along the way on South Boundary Road. We regrouped at the top of the hills, then continued our descent on the other side.

When we reached Gap Creek we diverted into the forest along “Death Adder” – a popular single track.

I made sure to get out of the way when some riders came rocketing down the track from the opposite direction.

From there we followed more single tracks upwards towards Mount Coot-tha.

The idea was to avoid the paved roads, and to take advantage of the gentler gradients on the single tracks.

Even so, it was a tough final push to the top of the mountain.

Mount Coot-tha is dotted with TV studios and transmission towers.

We followed a track around the back of Channel Nine, then followed “Powerful Owl” trail to the foot of the mountain.

Mount Coot-tha forms the eastern-most part of D’Aguilar National Park.

It’s only six kilometres from its base to the middle of Brisbane.

There aren’t many places in the world where you can ride for hours in a mountainous national park, and find yourself so close to the middle of a bustling capital city.

But it does create a bit of “culture shock”.

It’s quite a contrast to move so quickly from the tranquility of such a vast forest into the city.

Thankfully Brisbane has an excellent network of cycleways and bike lanes.

We followed the path under Coronation Drive and…

…on to the banks of the Brisbane River.

We followed the riverside bike path into the middle of town.

The cycleway took us through the middle of the Roma Street Parklands.

We had another refuelling stop af a Cafe in the parklands. Eighty kilometres down, forty-odd to go.

After lunch we followed the bike paths out of the city…

…and on to the North Brisbane Bikeway.

This is a busy part of town. The bikeway let us ride through it in peace without having to battle with cars.

After following some quiet back roads for several kilometres, we emerged at Kalinga Park and joined the Moreton Bay Cycleway.

This would take us all the way out to the Boondall Wetlands.

Our route took us along Schultz Canal, near the airport, and out towards Moreton Bay.

Eventually the ground became boggy.

We rolled along board walks, over muddy swamps.

We pedaled over the boardwalk and through the mangroves.

It felt good to think the creeks that feed these swamps had their source in the mountains we had just traversed.

The Boondall Wetlands are diverse.

Leaving the mangroves behind we rode through open grassy meadows….

…she-oaks and paperbarks.

It was an easy ride along a flat path, with several useful information points along the way.

We rode up and over the Gateway Motorway and into the back streets of Bracken Ridge.

My feet were sore – we were almost home.

…along some more paths through Bald Hills….

As I looked west from Bald Hills I could just make out the peak of Mount Samson in the D’Aguilar Range.

We’d come full circle.


Total distance: 124.6 km
Max elevation: 478 m
Min elevation: -63 m
Total climbing: 2303 m
Total descent: -2355 m
Average speed: 18.61 km/h
Total Time: 10:07:14
More data

We rode a total of 125 kilometres in ten hours including breaks.

During that time we climbed about 1,800 metres in vertical ascent, and I burned about 4,800 kcal.

I’ll rate it 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Thanks Darb, Russel, Simon, Calum and Jason for a great day out.

If you’d like to donate to the Great Cycle Challenge and support Darb and Russel, there links are here:


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