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Somerset Lookout

Somerset Lookout
We’ve been to Somerset Lookout a few times. It’s a spectacular precipice on the edge of the western escarpment of D’Aguilar National Park, overlooking Somerset Dam.

The Somerset Region is named after pastoralist and politician, Henry Plantaganet Somerset who, in the 1870’s, became the first European to cross the D’Aguilar Range from Samsonvale to Cressbrook in the vicinity of present day Joyners Ridge Road. While not belittling Somerset’s achievement, it’s interesting to note that the Jinbara and Undambi Aboriginal people had been doing this for centuries before him. Perhaps Somerset should have just stopped and asked someone for directions 🙂

Chamber Rd, D'Aguilar National Park
Chamber Rd, D'Aguilar National Park

Today’s point-to-point ride started at Chambers Road in Mount Brisbane. While Darb was griding up this steep gravel road, our riding buddy, Paul was heading for the end-point of the ride, Neurum Creek. He planned to ride the route in reverse, and meet up with us near the halfway point.

Peggs Rd, D'Aguilar National Park
As usual, I was the designated driver for the day. It was my challenge to make sure I didn’t lose Darb when he disappeared down a twisty bush track, while keeping an eye our for Paul, making sure we didn’t pass each other unawares.

I love navigational challenges!

Chamber Rd, D'Aguilar National Park
The other challenge about this section of forest is that it’s shared, so it was important to keep an eye out for friendly motocross riders who were also riding the trails.

Chamber Rd, D'Aguilar National Park
Survey Marker, D'Aguilar National Park
Darb is a powerful hill climber. I shouldn’t have been so surprised to see him make it to the top of Chambers Road in record time. He didn’t even stop, but kept grinding up Peggs Road.

Peggs Rd, D'Aguilar National Park
Peggs Rd, D'Aguilar National Park
Peggs Road is challenging. After the tough climb to the top, there’s a wonderful winding descent to Byron Creek. The downhill section is the perfect place to catch your breath, because once you hit the creek crossing there’s another long climb up to Selin Road.

Peggs Rd, D'Aguilar National Park
But, as usual, Darb nailed the climb up to Selin Road in record time. Later, when I looked at his Strava page for the ride, I noticed he had more Gold Medals than an East German weight-lifting team.

Looking Back
Mountain Bike, D'Aguilar National Park
This was a different sort of Mountain Biking experience for me. We were both riding the same trails – except I was doing it in a car. Darb and I got into a rhythm where I’d drive ahead to the next interesting point on the trail, and wait for him to catch up. Usually I didn’t have to wait long. Mountain Bikes can move very quickly on rough forest trails.

Single Track, Mt Mee
Single Track, Mt Mee
To mix things up a bit, Darb went off on some single tracks while I stuck to the road. When I next saw him he couldn’t stop grinning. Those narrow winding trails were a lot of fun.

Somerset Lookout
A popular destination for hikers, Somerset Lookout never disappoints. We could see Wivenhoe and Somerset dams in the distance, as well as the Stanley and Brisbane Rivers. We live in a wonderful part of thw world!

Wild Flowers
Like before, I rushed off ahead in the car then waited at the intersection of the road and the single track till Darb passed by on the bike. I was waiting here for what seemed like ages until I realized that Darb had been too quick for me. Although I had arrived at the point as quickly as possible in the car via the gravel road, Darb had been quicker on the narrow track. He had been and gone before I’d even got there. Nothing to see except wildflowers and tyre tracks 🙂

Single Track, Mt Mee
The Gantry

In order to catch up with my unstoppable riding buddy, I played it safe and headed for our “lunch” stop at The Gantry. “Lunch” is a misnomer – it wasn’t even 10am, but I think Darb had earned his lunch.

The Gantry is all that remains of The Hancock Sawmill that was built in the 1930’s to mill timber that was logged in this forest. It mas much easier to cut up the wood on the mountain than haul it down to Caboolture or D’Aguilar. The timber-getting days are over, and the forest is slowly growing back, although it may take a couple of centuries to regain some of the gigantic mature sentinels that once towered over this forest.

Single Track, Mt Mee
Single Track, Mt Mee

After our break, I sent Darb off into another part of the forest that was inaccessible to me in the car. He emerged a bit later than expected, with cuts from Lantana branches on his forearms.

“That was tough”, he puffed as he reached the top of the hill.

The overgrowth on those tracks made any sort of progress hard work.

Lovedays Road
Lovedays Road

Approaching us from the opposite directioin, Paul met us on Lovedays Road. He had ridden the tough climb up from the Neurum Creek Camp Ground and caught us pretty close to the Gantry. Considering he had started a couple of hours after we did, this was an impressive effort.

Lovedays Road
Driving with Mountain Bikers is tricky in hilly country. While they’re slower than motor vehicls going UP a hill, there are very few cars that can keep up with a skilled Mountain Biker going DOWN a dirt road. I played it safe and stayed behind the riders as we descended some of the steeper hills. I couldn’t keep up with them. Gee those guys are quick!

Lovedays Road
I just waited till they got to the bottom, then passed them on the way up the next hill.

Neurum Creek
Neurum Creek

With more downhills than up, we were in Neurum much sooner than we’d anticipated.

The 40km had taken Darb about four and a half hours including a total of about an hour in breaks. That’s an impressive pace for a route that had about 1,500 metres of climbing.

Darb said he’d rate it about 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. I think the cooler weather was kind to us today. In hot weater, or in muddy conditions after rain, it would have been much harder.

Thanks, Darb and Paul, for another fun day out!

Here’s Darb’s video of the day:

Somerset Lookout 2013-09-28 from Darb Ryan on Vimeo.

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