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Spicers Peak

Winding Trail

Today’s challenging adventure took us through some rugged scenic country on the edge of the Great Dividing Range.

Governors Chair Lookout

We started high on a clifftop at Governors Chair Lookout, Spicers Gap.  We took a few minutes to enjoy the panorama before setting off on our journey.

Spicers Peak

As we headed west along the old convict-built road, the craggy summit of Spicers Peak jutted skywards through clouds.

Before European settlement, the Yuggera and Githabul people would light fires on its peak to send signals that could be seen from a great distance.

They called the peak “Binkinjoora” which means “Turtle with its head sticking up”.  It was alson known as “Barguggan”.

There is an old dreamtime legend that the Yuggera people once rounded up all the kangaroos and fenced them in large valley at the base of these mountains.  An old woman freed the animals and they stampeded westwards over the range, tearing a gap in the rocks between Cooyinnirra (Mount Mitchell) and Niamboyoo (Mount Cordeaux).  This is how they believe the gap we now call “Cunninghams Gap” was formed.

 

spicers-journal

In the late 1820’s, explorer Alan Cunningham, named Spicers Peak after Peter Beauclerk Spicer – the superintendent of convicts at the Moreton Bay Penal Colony.  With flawless cursive handwriting, Spicer kept a meticulous journal of day-to-day life in the colony, called “The Book of Public Labour Performed by Crown Prisoners “.  It is more commonly known as “Spicers Diary”.

Darb

I wonder what Cunningham would have thought of our bikes as we raced down Spicers Gap Road on the far side of the Great Dividing Range?

dsc07860-animation

Adam loves splashing through creek crossings.  He couldn’t resist “parting the waters” as he rode through this one.

Spicers Peak Trail

Eventually we left Spicers Gap Road, following some beautifully groomed single tracks south through bushland.

Spicers Peak Trail

Mountain Bikers love single tracks.  This was an unexpected surprise.  Instead of grinding up steep hills, these wonderful tracks snaked around hillsides, gently undulating as they went.

Spicers Peak Trail

The tracks were well-marked and easy to follow.

Adam

While I deftly rock-hopped around several deeper crossings Adam again opted for the more-direct approach.

Spicers Peak Trail

Eventually the single tracks emerged from the bush into the rolling open plains of Spicers Peak Station.

 

Jason

Hills and mountains surrounded us in every direction.

Spicers Peak Trail

We followed the trail along a farm track towards a distant high ridge.  Somewhere in the back of my head I knew we’d have to climb that ridge soon.  It would be hard work.

Repairs

Simon accidentally broke his chain and kindly gave us a lesson in how to repair it, while we sat around in the shade and watched with interest.

John

The major climb of the day started in some shady hoop-pine forest.

Hoop Pine Forest

We followed the track through the trees then joined some more snaking single-track as it slowly zig-zagged up the mountain.

Winding Trail

As I mashed my pedals up the hill, “zigging” one way, I could see my riding buddies “zagging” back the other way as the track switched back and forth many times.

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Slowly we climbed the huge hill.  The jagged route smoothed out the steepness of the course, except at the end-points of each switch-back where we had to abruptly change direction.

 

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As we gained height, we stopped a few times to admire the view and take photos.

Creek Crossing

Halfway up, we reached a small plateau and followed a creek for a few kilometres, enjoying the respite from the gruelling climb.

Steep Hill

At “The Brumby Track” there were no more switchbacks.  The uphill track was too steep, so we walked the bikes upwards.

Paul

Signs on the tree gave us clues that we were nearing our destination.

Steep Uphill

More steep climbs.  Jason took a break halfway up.

 

Brumby Track

Eventually the gradient eased off.  We passed through an open forest on the edge of the top plateau.

Lodge Plateau

And then we were there.  A vast grassy plateau spread out before us.

Lodge Plateau

We left the forest and followed more delightfully groomed tracks over the plateau towards the lodge.

(Photo: Jason Grant)

(Photo: Jason Grant)

Spicers Peak Lodge is a premium quality resort which sits atop a high plateau, more than 1,100 metres above sea level.  It boasts some of the most impressive views you could ever hope for in a hotel.

Subash

Earlier in the week, I spoke with lodge manager, Subash Basrur, who had kindly agreed to host us, and let us ride their private trails.

Mountain View

We rolled around on the summit, amazed at the spectacular views.

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

Behind us, a furious storm rolled in from the west, blue-green clouds ominously heavy.

Incoming Storm

The clouds moved in fast.  We rushed a few quick photos, then quickly huddled under shelter while the clouds crashed over us and burst with heavy rain.

Storms on a mountaintop are intense.

I was glad I had brought a warm jacket.

Lodge Plateau

The rain had soaked the trails.  It was now unwise to ride them, so we all decided the most appropriate route for our return journey would be via the road.

I would have loved to have ridden down the Brumby Track, and down those numerous switchbacks, but alas – today the weather had beaten us.  Maybe next time?

Lodge Plateau

We slowly accelerated down the slippery bitumen.

Rainy Downhill  ”

I took it slowly.  Wet leaves on tar can be treacherous when wet.

Rainy Downhill

Mist rolled in…

Rainy Downhill

My camera got soaked…

Rainy Downhill

We all got covered in mud as it sprayed up behind us from our back wheels.

Rainy Downhill

Through my fogged-up glasses I saw hints of spectacular views rush by while I plummeted downwards.

Rainy Downhill

The storm had passed.  Everything was wet.  We stopped to soak up one last view before completing our descent.

Mount Mitchell

We figured that the single-tracks at Spicers Peak Station would be softened by the rain.  We didn’t want to damage them, so decided to return instead via the Cunningham Highway.

Spicers Gap Road

Eventually we reached Spicers Gap Road.  The powdery black soil had been transformed into sticky black mud by the rain.

It stuck to our tyres, slowing us down.

Spicers Gap Road

To avoid the mud, we rode beside the road on the grass.  Unfortunately, the mud on our tyres now picked up leaves and twigs…

Mud

By wheels were hopelessly clogged.  They wouldn’t turn – even if I walked the bike.

It was like pushing a plough.  I pushed, my back wheel skidded, leaving a furrow in the mud behind me.

Pushing Uphill

This continued for five kilometres, mostly uphill.

I’d stop to clear the mud from my wheels, but after one revolution of the wheel it clogged up again.

I was exhausted.

“How’s it going, Neil?”

I had thought I was alone, and was surprised to discover Peter walking behind me.

“I’m tired, Peter.  I need your help.”

Without hesitating, Peter said “Here, take my bike.  It’s fine.  I’ll fix yours.”

I was stunned.  What an incredibly kind gesture.

I offered to stick around and help him, but he waved me on.  “You keep going.  It’ll save time.”

With my heavy weight lifted, I walked on then rode back to the car, while Peter cleaned up my bike and followed about twenty minutes later.

I owe you, Peter!

Governors Chair Lookout Governors Chair Lookout

This was a stunning ride with spectacular scenery.  We couldn’t have done it without the generous hospitality of Subash and Spicers Peak Lodge.  Thanks so much, Subash!

And I couldn’t have completed this ride without the assistance of my friends, especially Peter who bailed me out at the end.

Large portions of this ride were on private property.  Please do not attempt to retrace our tracks without landowner permission.

We rode a total of 51km in about eight and a half hours.  During that time we climbed about 1,500m in elevation and I burned about 4,500 kcal.  (The last few km didn’t register because Peter had my bike).

This was unusually difficult compared to most of our rides.  I think it deserves a rating of 9.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Thanks Darb, Eric,  Paul, Adam, Simon, Jason, Peter and John for a memorable day out on the bikes!

Spicers Peak Trail

3 comments to Spicers Peak

  • Groundhog

    We made it down before the storm and sheltered in the shed where Peter fed the horses. We still had to take shelter further on from the lightening and the mud was a slog all the way back to the cars. Still a great adventure and a privelege to ride Spicer Peak resort tracks.

  • Thank you Neil- a pleasure to host you to see the wonders of our part of the Scenic Rim and Spicers Peak Lodge

  • Russell

    What an absolute cracker of a ride Neil and team! 4 seasons in a day and some really magic scenery

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