Between them Darb and Russel aimed to ride almost two thousand kilometres in October to raise money to support Cancer Research. On the last day of October, I took a long ride with them to be there when they finally reached their goal.
Starting from Lawnton on the northern outskirts of Brisbane, we headed north, along familiar bike paths, past happy walkers dressed up in Halloween costumes.
Unofficially we thought we’d aim high and try to reach Nambour – about 120km away, but our main aim was to ensure we reached the October target, and had fun while doing it.
Since we were trying to avoid paved roads as much as possible, we followed the horse tracks beside Lake Kurwongbah. On the dirt we didn’t have to think about traffic and could ride at a more relaxed pace.
Smiths Road is an old road reserve, popular among horse-riders and mountain bikers. It’s historically significant in that it follows part of the original path of the “Old North Road” used by the Archer Brothers in the 1840’s to get from the Moreton Bay settlement to “Durrundur” near present-day Woodford.
Even earlier than that, the route was well-used by Aboriginal people journeying northwards from Moreton Bay.
Today we’d be following in their footsteps for a while.
A little further on we crossed Gregors Creek.
In the past I would have tried to keep my feet dry, but bitter experience has taught me that it’s safer just to bite the bullet, walk through the creek and get my feet wet.
Still part of the “Old North Road” route, this place has a gruesome history. In 1846, Andrew Gregor and his housekeeper Mary Shannon were killed nearby as a result of escalating inter-cultural conflict between indigenous inhabitants being driven from their land and ever-expanding European settlers.
As we climbed out of Gregors Creek the familiar shapes of the Glasshouse Mountains came into view for the first time that day.
The largest of them, Beerwah, lay straight ahead. That’s where we were going.
At Zillmans Crossing, on the Upper Caboolture River, we stopped for a quick break to get the water out of our shoes.
This is a pleasant swimming spot on a hot day. The river was flowing well after recent rain. I think I might come back soon 🙂
With damp feet we left Zillman’s crossing and followed ten kilometres of undulating paved road into Wamuran.
We’d been riding now for about three and a half hours, so Wamuran was the ideal spot for something to eat.
“This grass is a lot higher than last time we were here”, I complained.
Darb didn’t complain. He just used his bike like a bulldozer and pushed through. Russel and I followed.
The grassy trail spat us out in a pineapple field.
We followed the friendly brown “Trail” signs north towards the national park.
In the past the sandy tracks around Wamuran have been soft and tricky to ride on.
Today they had been made firm by light overnight rain.
We rolled effortlessly through a wonderful network of well-marked tracks.
Eventually we met up with the Wamuran Rail Trail.
A railway line once ran through here on its way to Kilcoy.
We guessed that the large mango trees by the trail-side were probably planted by someone who worked on the railway line.
(Note to self – perhaps I should come back in January and get some free mangoes!)
Our course led us away from the easy flat rail trail and up some steep hills under the power lines.
The power line easement cut a swathe through the distant trees all the way to the southern horizon.
Darb and Russel made it up the hill first, and patiently waited for me to arrive.
At the top of the hill we followed the trail markers down the other side towards the Glasshouse Mountains.
We rolled off McConnell Road onto the red dirt and rode north.
Darb commented that an old waypoint had popped up on his GPS. It showed on mine too. We’d been through here before on one of our previous Glasshouse adventures.
At the top of another hill we looked back along the power lines towards McConnell Road.
We’d been following these lines north for most of the morning.
The same lines stretched off ahead of us. If we wanted, we could follow them all day.
Deep ruts cut into the track.
We zig-zagged around bogs, puddles and holes.
This was way more fun than a flat paved road.
The track undulated through a macadamia farm.
We gave the trail-bike riders wide berth as they thundered through.
Eventually the clay road grew steeper and more rutted.
Russel and I pushed while Darb just powered up the hill.
He’d ridden 400 kilometres in the last week and still had stronger legs than me. Amazing.
The climb finished at “Trig Hill” with a great view of Mount Beerwah to the east.
The Glasshouse Mountains all have Aboriginal names. Some of these names are from the Kabi / Undambi language, and some are from the Turrbal language.
“Beerwah” comes from the Turrbal words “Birra-wandum”. “Birra” meaning “sky” and “wandum” meaning “climbing up”. So “Beerwah” literally means “climbing up to the sky”.
At 556 metres in height, Beerwah is the highest of the Glasshouse family.
While we rested at the Mount Beerwah picnic area we saw a couple of climbers on the mountain, “climbing up to the sky”.
Large boulders (the size of a motor vehicle) have been seen crashing down from the mountain top, so it’s a very dangerous mountain to climb.
At this point we were starting to tire.
My fitness is still rebuilding after a couple of months off the bike, while both Darb and Russel were feeling the fatigue of the past month.
So we decided to end our ride at Glasshouse railway station.
We had half an hour until the next train left. If we hurried we might make it in time.
We cycled under the titanic glare of Coonowrin.
His name is from the Kabi / Undambi words “kunna” (neck) and “warang” (crooked).
From this angle he looked like a hunchback staring down at us.
Off in the distance, Tibrogargan stared off to the sea.
His name is from the Kabi words “Jeebora gaggalin” meaning “flying possum” and biting”.
Perhaps glider possums once lived here. Although biting glider possums sound like the things of nightmares.
With only a couple of minutes to spare, we quickly bought some snacks, then got on the platform to wait for the train.
Darb and Russel met their goals, and raised over two thousand dollars towards cancer research.
Well done guys!
We rode 75 kilometres in about seven and a half hours.
We climbed a total of 1,300 metres, and I burned about 3,800 kcal.
I found todays ride tougher than usual because of my fitness level. Thankfully the weather was reasonably mild.
I’ll rate this one 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks Darb and Russel for including me in this long ride.
Max elevation: 157 m
Min elevation: -32 m
Total climbing: 1712 m
Total descent: -1741 m
Average speed: 17.43 km/h
Total Time: 07:27:28