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South Burnett Rail Trail

A new Rail Trail has recently opened between Kingaroy and Murgon.  We decided to check it out and see what it was like.

We’ve had several fun rides that have passed through Kingaroy.  It was good to be back.

This rail trail follows portions of the old railway line that once extended from Gympie to Nanango.  The line opened in Kingaroy in 1904 and was finally closed in 2011.

If you caught a train from Brisbane, it would take you almost fourteen hours to get to Kingaroy, including the wait at Theebine Junction.  I think passengers may have been better off riding a bike 🙂

 

The Rail Trail has been lovingly restored with shiny new bridges…

 

…and smooth new paths.

We passed a few other people out enjoying the mild winter day.  Mild sun, wide open spaces,  cool breeze – perfect!

 

We stopped briefly at Memerambi.  Russell waited a while for a train, but none came.

Mountain Bikers love dirt.  We left the rail trail at Memerambi, and rode east towards Wondai State Forest.

We planned to rejoin the rail trail later in the day, but for now our bikes were itching to get dirty.


There are endless quiet red-fringed roads in the South Burnett.  We followed one of them out of town.


After rolling downhill for a few kilometres, the bitumen ended…

… and we grinned as our tyres crunched on the gravel.

My friend Eric says it’s worth checking out any road that starts with the word “Old”.

Old Wondai Road led off into the forest.  We took Eric’s advice and followed it.

 

Dozens of tracks led off from Old Wondai Road into the forest.  We followed one of them.

The tracks in here are long, straight and flat.

We coasted effortlessly for ages as we followed a slight downhill gradient northwards.

Parts of the forest were once used to graze cattle.

When we discovered an old enclosure and water tank, I was curious to see if the tank held any water.

Sadly it was empty and full of bullet holes.

 

The dirt tracks emerged back at the Rail Trail just out of town to the north of Wondai.

At this point we could have turned left and followed the rail trail back to Kingaroy, but I was keen to follow the trail all the way to Murgon.  Russel and Paul agreed.

The sign said it was another 100 kilometres to Theebine, and that we should clean up after our dog.  Thankfully we left the pets at home 🙂 

North of Wondai, the rail trail is secluded.  There’s no busy highway or vast open farms.  It’s all bushland.

We passed the remains of an old railway bridge near Barambah Creek…

… and some old railway cuttings.

After about forty minutes, the railway line emerged in the middle of Murgon.

There’s a train at the station, but we got the feeling it wasn’t going to depart any time soon.

I met my dear wife Liz in Murgon.  I love it – it brings back happy memories.

We had a tasty lunch in the local pub, reluctantly hopped back on the bike, and began our return journey.

Barambah Creek looked beautiful.  We stopped briefly, making a mental note that this would be a great spot for a quick swim in Summer.

On the outskirts of Wondai, we passed the silent remains of the old Dairy Factory.

In Wondai, grey nomads relaxed on one side of the track while the local pub did a roaring trade on the other.

The Rail Trail goes up-hill for about twenty-five kilometres between Barambah Creek and Wooroolin.  It’s not steep – railway lines must necessarily have gentle gradients.  Nevertheless, a continual climb over two hours is hard work.

After we left Wondai, we had already ridden seventy kilometres.  We began to feel the effects of the continual grind.

At Tingoora, the “Tinny” pub beckoned to us…

…we resisted the temptation top stop and soldiered on.

Next stop was Wooroolin.  Eighty kilometres on the clock now. We were tired.

We decided to stop a while and rest on the grass.

As we passed more Grey Nomads on the way out of Wooroolin, I wondered what it would be like to live in a caravan for a few months.

If I bought a caravan, would I end up parking by the side of rail trails, watching the bikes roll by?

An old graffiti clad Rail Motor sat on the crest of a nearby hill.  These delightful little vehicles once ferried passengers along the railway line between Kingaroy and Gympie.  This one had seen better days, and wasn’t leaving the station any time soon.

My GPS told me we were approaching the end of the climb.

Paul and Russel had pulled ahead, and I noticed the landscape dropped ahead of them.

The long upward slog had finally ended.

It was a relief to be rolling downhill at last.

As I coasted down the gentle slope I could make out the silhouette of the Bunya Mountains on the horizon.

Paul noticed I was struggling and slowed down to ride with me.

As we rolled in to Kingaroy at last, the sun was getting low.  We had taken a lot longer than I had anticipated.

Back at the car, the “distance” on my GPS showed 99.2 kilometres.

Rather than call it a day, Russel and I rode around the block to chalk up an extra 800 metres so we could log 100 kilometres for the day.

Paul didn’t have to – he had already ridden fifteen kilometres to my place at the start of the day.  He’d done 115km for the day.

The sign at Taabinga State School was appropriate considering the distance we covered. Persistence and determination come in handy on some long rides.

We rode one hundred kilometres in seven hours including breaks. During that time we climbed just over 700 metres in elevation and I burned about 3,200 kcal.

I’ll rate this one 6.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

All sections of it are easy to ride with no technically challenging parts. We found the distance hard work – but any ride of a hundred kilometres requires effort.

Mark Roberts has crafted a beautiful map of the rail trail here: http://www.markroberts.id.au/Wordpress/kingaroy-kilkivan-rail-trail/

As a mountain-biker I’m not normally attracted to riding long distances on paved paths. But I’m grateful for the South Burnett Rail Trail. It’s a useful link as part of a larger multi-day route between Ipswich and Gympie. It provides a handy off-road access to the trails of Wondai State Forest, Cherbourg National Park and the adjacent dam from either Murgon or Kingaroy. And it enables people of all ages to move around some of the larger towns in the South Burnett without having to drive.

Congratulations to the South Burnett Regional Council, the Queensland Government, and the Rail Trail community for making this Rail Trail a success.

Thanks Russel and Paul for a fun day out!

1 comment to South Burnett Rail Trail

  • Paul Glennon

    Great pics Neil.
    and beautiful country.
    I would enjoy coming out some time on these trips.
    Will your Ipswich to Gympie off road trip be open to others?
    All the best.
    Cheers
    Paul

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