“There’s a great waterfall near Mapleton,” Paul suggested last week. “Let’s check it out”.
I wasn’t sure which waterfall he meant, so to be safe I worked out a route that went past five of them. Surely that way we’d end up visiting the one he was talking about?
We started in Mapleton and after a few minutes were riding through the forest beside towering eucalypts.
Some of them had hollows in them large enough to swallow a bike.
It reminded me how important old trees are as habitat for animals. Even the dead trees are important, providing large hollows for possums and large nesting birds such as black cockatoos.
We pointed the bikes down the hill along “Track 2”.
This was a fun descent with numerous water bars on which we could get some “air” as we sped over them.
Somewhere in the back of our minds we reminded ourselves that “what goes down must come back up”. Sometime later today we had a debt to gravity that we would have to repay.
Eventually we reached Kureelpa Falls on the South Maroochy River.
(Photo: Tony Ryan)
Even though there had not been much recent rain, there was a small trickle of water over the falls.
(Photo: Tony Ryan)
From above we could see the large gorge that had been hewn out of the rock by the river.
It was a long way to the bottom from some of the cliff-tops so we didn’t get too close to the edge.
About this time my friend Al turned up with his mates Rod, Graeme and Chris. Earlier in the week Al had given me some hints about where to ride, but the next section was a bit tricky, so I was glad that he and his mates arrived when they did. It meant we could follow them rather than our GPS.
We hauled our bikes across the river. Somewhere on the other side was a track that I didn’t realize was there.
“We used to be able to ride over this.” Al told me. I had trouble walking over it, so must be a lot rougher now than what it was.
The track started pleasantly, but quickly became steep and narrow, with sharp drops on either side.
I later learned it was called the “Knife Edge”.
I was relieved to reach the bottom in one piece.
The “Knife Edge” track spat us out at the “Intake Weir”.
Also built on the Maroochy River, downstream of Kureelpa Falls, it can be very dangerous after rain, and has earned the nickname “The Drowning Machine”.
The sign is sobering:
“Venturing over the weir is risking certain death. Escape is impossible. Swimming in weirs is fatal”
We decided not to swim here.
But we did spot another pleasant waterfall.
After the weir we rolled down a farm track aptly named “Intake Weir Road”. I wonder why it’s called that?
The dairy cows seemed very relaxed about us riding past them. They were some of the most laid-back cows we’ve ever met.
We left Al and his mates as we turned up Schultz Road in search of the next set of waterfalls – Kiamba Falls.
A statue meditated peacefully in an adjacent field as we rode past.
Unfortunately the track we followed didn’t lead to the falls, but we did enjoy a short section of twisting single-track through some thick undergrowth.
We had to walk some of the thicker parts, and eventually decided to cut our losses and leave Kiamba Falls for another day.
We followed some quiet dirt roads through the bush at Kiamba until we crossed the river again at Wappa Dam.
The dam is built upstream of another waterfall – Wappa Falls.
Water wasn’t flowing over the falls, but it still looked like the perfect place for a swim.
People were jumping off the rocks into the water…
It was fun to watch them.
As we neared Yandina, Mount Ninderry loomed ahead of us.
“Ninderry” is from the Undambi word “Nindur” meaning “Leech”. In Kabi legends, Ninderry was a warrior who was jealous of the beautiful woman Maroochy, betrothed to the young man Coolum.
When Coolum was out hunting, Ninderry kidnapped Maroochy. Since he was no match physically against Ninderry, Coolum crept into the warrior’s camp at night, freed Maroochy and fled to his home village.
The next morning, furious Ninderry pursued the lovers. When he caught up with them he threw his huge club at Coolum, striking him in the head, and decapitating him. Coolum’s head rolled into the sea, becoming Mudjimba island.
The spirits were angry with Ninderry and turned him into stone. And there he stands to this day as the mountain.
Overcome with grief, Maroochy fled into the Blackall Range to the west and wept. Her tears were so great that they flowed down the mountain, becoming the Maroochy River.
We continued along some quiet back roads into Yandina.
It was almost lunch time, so we decided to stop in town for a bite to eat.
A couple of drinks, and a steak sandwich later, we felt like sleeping.
Instead we slowly got back on our bikes and eased out of town. We had a large climb ahead, and we weren’t looking forward to it.
Rather than head straight for the “big climb” we procrastinated, taking an easy loop under some power lines and along the banks of Browns Creek.
The tracks along Browns Creek were perfect. Not too steep, not too flat, they were the ideal way to ease back into the hard work after a long lunch.
And so we reached our fourth waterfall of the day at the York Creek Cascades.
The water wasn’t flowing, but we felt hot and decided to cool off in the rock pools for a while.
Jason just cooled his feet…
Paul cooled everything.
Ah… next time I promise not to have such a big lunch on a ride.
And then we started the “Big Climb” up York Creek Road.
The day had grown hot, and although the gradient wasn’t impossible, it continued ever upwards into the mountains.
We were all starting to get a bit low on water, and decided to refill at Cooloolabin Dam. There were no taps, so we just filled our bottles from the lake. I was surprised at how clean the water was.
We crossed our final waterfall of the day on the way back up to Mapleton.
Once again, the creek wasn’t flowing, but there were still some pleasant rock pools perched on the edge of the range with some great views of Belli to the west.
This place must look impressive after rain.
We slowly climbed back up the range to Mapleton.
This adventure had taken a lot longer than we had anticipated, but it was a great ride with some spectacular views.
Max elevation: 438 m
Min elevation: 26 m
Total climbing: 1776 m
Total descent: -1775 m
Average speed: 16.67 km/h
Total time: 08:18:05
We rode about 57km in just over eight hours. In that time we climbed almost 1,400 metres in vertical ascent and I burned 3,700 kcal.
This was a challenging ride, made more difficult because I ate too much lunch.
I’ll rate it 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks to Paul and Jason for a fun day out.
Thanks also to Al, Rod, Graeme and Chris for showing us around the forest when you did. We would have found it much harder to navigate without you.
Finally, thanks to Darb and Adam who followed our course on the following day, and were able to capture some great photos.
(Photo: Jason Reed)