Riding Through the Swamp

How far away do you need to travel in order to find a good place to ride? Why are there so many “good” places in this part of the world? What makes a ride “good” anyway? These questions swirled in my mind while I rode today.

I’m leaving on a long overseas trip soon, didn’t want to go far from home today, and decided to explore some local places.

My path followed Four Mile Creek east towards the South Pine River.

A hundred years ago a Cornflower Mill operated on the banks of this creek, boasting some of the cleanest water in the region. It’s a bit murkier today, but still a pleasant place.


As I continued along the South Pine River I passed the site of an old Rum Distillery.

Steamboats would paddle up the river to this point, pick up the precious bottles of “Normanby Rum” and take them back to Brisbane.

What is it about Sailors and Rum?

It’s a good thing I wasn’t drinking any rum today. The path ended abruptly at a sharp drop-off. Floodwaters have carved out a large gulf here, taking away parkland and parks.

I made a quick detour and followed some more secluded dirt tracks near the river.

Canterbury Park at Bald Hills was a quiet expanse of green in the bright morning sun. So much space, and so few people.

“Did you see that huge fish just jump out of the water?” I asked a couple of people as I rode by.

Every few seconds, large fish would leap out of the water making a big splash. It was almost like they were looking for a fishing boat to jump into.

Today I planned to indulge my curiosity and see where I ended up.

A muddy track followed the freeway down towards the river bank near the bridge.

“Hmmmm. I wonder what’s down there?”

It got a bit muddy near the edge of the river. I tiptoed around the Mangroves.

The bridge. Awesome! I wondered if I could go under it, then come up the other side.

While someone sat on a jet ski fishing in the shade, a massive fish leapt out of the water and splashed defiantly next to him.

Alas, I could go no further. It was high tide, and there was no way under the bridge. Perhaps I should come back at low tide some time?

I retraced my steps, then continued again down the other side of the freeway towards the river.

The Tinchi Tamba Wetlands are full of vast tracts of grassy bushland. They’re an ideal place to roll around on a bike.

Once again the muddy mangroves blocked my path…

I backtracked and kept riding.

This place was like a maze. If one path ended in a dead-end, you could just turn around and try something else.

Deepwater Bend was quiet too. I had the boardwalk to myself as I rolled along it.

“Great day?!” I half asked, half declared to someone preparing their boat.

“Yeah mate. Sure is!” he replied.

I left the boat ramp and set off into the swamp.

The shady paperbark forest is on damp ground and is full of kangaroos…

… and mosquitoes. If you visit, make sure you cover exposed skin with plenty of repellant.

The kangaroos were shy and quick. It was a challenge to capture their picture while riding, so I just rode and enjoyed it.

Swamps are the victim of bad press. They’re often associated with unpleasant spookiness. This place was the opposite: Vast open grassy fields, cool shady forest. I loved it.

A rusty old crab pot sat on the grass.

Swamps absorb a lot of our rubbish. Perhaps I should come back here on the next “Clean Up Australia Day”.

Optimistic fence posts disappeared into the mud.

Whoever thought they could fence it off and use it?

When I ride solo I often talk to myself. Today was no exception. More crowds of nervous kangaroos bounced off into the scrub while I chatted away to no one.

One big old fella stopped behind some trees to check me out.

I stopped and checked him out too.

The big old males are muscular and less timid.

Back at the car park I said “G’day” to Jess. She had driven her human here so she could keep an eye on those kangaroos.

Her human sat eagerly by the car while I spoke to Jess.

Total distance: 40.77 km
Max elevation: 46 m
Min elevation: 5 m
Total climbing: 399 m
Total descent: -386 m
Average speed: 13.79 km/h
Total Time: 04:04:18
More data

So what makes a good ride? Most weekends find me in the middle of a good ride. Why is that?

The world is beautiful. I’m often too busy to notice it. When I slow down and treat a place like I’m seeing it for the first time, then I enjoy it.

So perhaps “good rides” have more to do with my state of mind than with the actual place?

Today was a leisurely roll that required little effort. I travelled about forty kilometres in four hours burning 1,500 kcal. I’ll rate this ride 3.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. Easy but fun!


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