Caloundra

Caloundra

Strangler Fig
I’ve got pretty close to Caloundra on some of my previous rides, but never quite made it there for one reason or another.

The challenging part for a mountain biker is the busy traffic between the beaches of Caloundra and the quiet trails to the west.

I’m unable to ride rough trails while I recover from injury, so today’s mission was to try fnd a quiet off-road route between Landsborough and Caloundra.

(BTW If you look very closely at my knee in the above photo you might be able to make out the really small puckered mark below my left knee. I’ve got one of those on either side of my left knee where the surgeon did the arthroscopy. I was surprised at how small the hole was. Apart from a bit of pain when I extend it, the op was a success and I’m now working on getting the leg as straight as possible)
Ewen Maddock Dam

I started from Ewen Maddock Dam. I’ve enjoyed many of the trails around the dam in the past, as well as some of the cross-country options through here to the Glass House Mountains, and back up into rainforests of Dullarcha National Park.

Today’s ride would be towards the coast, so I had little option but to follow the main road for a short way.
Steve Irwin WayCaloundra Overpass, Bruce Highway

The road shoulder on this part of Steve Irwin way is nice and wide, so I didn’t have any problems with the passing traffic.

Giant Eucalypt

Before crossing the highway I took a small detour along a quiet path in the Jowarra Section of Mooloolah River National Park. This small rainforest is on the banks of the Mooloolah River with some quiet tracks winding through the strangler figs, ferns and melaleucas. It has about 2km of well-maintained tracks, picnic tables and a nearby shop. If you’re ever passing by it’s well worth a look.

Sattler Road
I only had to endure about two kilometres of busy road east of the highway before Sattler Road beckoned me northward. This quiet road slowly devolves into a gravel track…

Sattler Road
… then a grassy trail…

Sattler Road
I had a grin from ear to ear as I pedalled through the fields of Meridan Plains. This was perfect.

A couple of huge black cockatoos leapt out of a tree in surprise as I rolled by.

“Hello brothers!” I yelled out happily. These gentle birds have a soft call that I love. They always seem to turn up when I’m having a good time in the bush, so I always associate them with delight and happy times.

Sattler Road
For any mountain bikers looking for a quiet off-road way to get from Steve Irwin Way to Caloundra, I’d thoroughly recommend Sattler Road. The flat terrain makes for an easy ride, but it also has the disadvantage of flooding easily. It’s probably best not to attempt it after heavy rain as I think this ground would be heartbreaking when muddy.

Sunshine Coast Motorway
After another couple of kilometres of quiet back streets I eventually met up with this bikeway which passes under the Sunshine Motorway towards the Meridan State College. It was now a pretty easy ride on bike lanes to Dicky Beach.

Dicky Beach
Dicky Beach

There have been a couple of shipwrecks in this area. The iron steam boat, S S Dicky ran aground here during a heavy storm in 1893. It has been there ever since. As a kid in the 1970’s I remember playing amongst the rusty remains. It seemed much larger then. Today, all I could make out was one bit of reddish metal poking out above the waves. The sea appears to be winning a long battle of attrition with the ship.

Moffat Beach
Moffat Beach is just round the corner near the headland. I ran into an English tourist who kindly offered to take my photo when he saw me battling with the auto-timer on the camera. It was difficult but I managed not to gloat about the cricket – I think we both knew what was going in my head, but neither of us went there 🙂

Moffat Beach
R 103

Riding up Queen of Colonies Parade, I passed another chilhood haunt. As a kid we used to share a beach house with a couple of other families. Named “Bimbo”, the house had million dollar northward views from the headland looking up towards Noosa. Those priceless views are probably the main reason “Bimbo” is no longer there today.

The street is named after another shipwreck. The “Queen of Colonies” ran aground on this headland in 1863. The survivors were marooned for a couple of weeks living on shellfish and berries. One of the sailors carved the name of the ship on the trunk of a pandanus tree, which enabled resuers to eventually find them.

Shelly Beach
Shelly Beach

Shelly Beach is just round the corner from the headland. With rocky cliffs at either end, I think this secluded stretch of coast is the gem of all of Caloundra’s beaches. It’s quiet, unspoilt and gorgeous. The perfect place to chill out among the dunes.

Caloundra Headland
As I rounded the southern headland, I had a great view of the surf rolling into Bribie Passage and Kings Beach. The Moreton Bay shipping lanes come in very close to shore here, so the clifftop seats are a perfect spot for ship-watching as the ocean-bound behemoths slowly change course and head seaward.

Kings Beach Cruisers

“Excuse me mate, you wouldn’t happen to have an Allen Key by any chance?”

“Yeah. Of course I do!”

“Oh great – my handle bars are loose and need tightening” he said as he wiggled them back and forth.

“My mates make fun of all the crap I carry in my bag”, I said as I tightened the handlebars. “Times like this I’m glad I do”, I added.

I checked out what they were riding. “Wow those bikes look amazing!”

“Yeah, my girlfriend bought them as a Christmas present…. Hey thanks so much for fixing our bikes.”

“No problems”, I said. “Just let me take your picture!”

The coolest thing about these single-speed bikes? A stubby holder on the top tube! Drop a can of your favourite drink in the holder, get your rubber footwear on, and cruise the beachside paths. Awesome!

Bullcock Beach
I followed a skater and a cyclist along the boardwalk from Kings to Bullcock Beach. The skater had a horn that he honked at unwary pedestrians like a circus clown. I rode in his wake, as the pedestrians got out of his way.

The pedestrians seemed to prefer being honked at by a skater, rather than me ringing my bell. Strange.

Bullcock Beach
I couldn’t resist taking a quick pic of the spot that Murray and I stood at on Bribie Island during our fat bike adventure a couple of weeks ago. It’s amazing how close these two spots are, but how “far apart” they are from a cycling perspective. I think one day I’ll paddle across this section of water at slack tide, just to close the 100m gap in my map.

Bullcock Beach
At the western end of the boardwalk on Bullcock Beach, I took one last look back at the water before heading back along the main road to my starting point.

Caloundra is a beautiful part of the world. It seems much more relaxed than some of the more developed sea-side cities to its immediate north, and it has some gorgeous views.

Caloundra RoadSteve Irwin Way, Glenview

After a bit of a climb up “Little Mountain” I followed the wide road shoulder back to my starting point, waving some furious hand signals as I went through the intersection at the Bruce Highway, to make drivers saw me. It looks comical, but instead of sticking my arm out to the right, in heavy traffic I stick it out and flap it wildly so motorists behind me can see me more easily. They probably think I’m crazy, or pretending to be a bird, but I’d rather be crazy, visible and alive than respectable, invisible and dead.

This ride was about 45km with about 400m of climbing. It took me Three and a half hours during which I burned about 1,600 kcal.

Apart from short sections of busy traffic, it’s an easy laid-back ride with spectacular views of the ocean.

If you’re vacationing at Caloundra, I’d thoroughly recommend the coastal bikepath / board walk between Dicky Beach and Bullcock Beach.

I’ll rate it 5.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Total distance: 43.77 km
Max elevation: 117 m
Min elevation: -1 m
Total climbing: 788 m
Total descent: -736 m
Average speed: 16.81 km/h
Total time: 03:26:03
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Lakeside Epic

Lakeside Epic

Forgan Cove
Riding around Lake Samsonvale via Dayboro is a popular ride for road-cyclists with great views. It has an awful lot of paved road for a mountain biker, so we decided to do an off-road version taking in as many trails and tracks near the lake as we could while still enjoying all of the views.

Forgan Cove
We began by following some quiet meandering tracks around Forgan Cove. I often ride through here during the week on one of my “chill-out” sessions. It was fun to be able to share some of my home trails with friends.

Old School Road
The quiet flat trails were soon distant memories as we pointed our bikes up Old School Road. This is a reasonably tough dirt climb up Clear Mountain, with a nasty little pinch climb at the end.

Old School Road
The final climb on Old School Road is a bit of a bellweather test for me. Until my recent knee injury I prided myself on being able to climb it. This was my first attempt since then, and also the first time I’d tried it using flat pedals instead of clip-ins. It was really difficult, but I made it, puffing heavily, unable to talk. Sue has wanted to nail this hill for a while. She made it,, and put in such an intense effort that she heaved up what was left of her breakfast at the top. Well done, Sue 🙂

Clear Mountain
But the top of Old School Road only marks the half-way point of the climb. After a bit more huffing and puffing we finally made it to the summit of Clear Mountain near the resort.

From there we rode the downhill jump-track to the bottom of the hill.

Clear Mountain
Some people rode the twisty single-track all the way to the bottom. I decided to play it safe and avoid further injury by following the “Pineapple Break” fire trail to the bottom.

South-Western Trails
South-Western Trails

After a couple of kilometres along Winn Road we followed a few more trails along the south-western shoreline of the lake. The shoreline hass many “fingers” of land protrudiung into the lake at this point, so if you wanted it would be possible to meander around countless peninsulars all day.
Mount Samson
Mount Samson looms large in this part of the world.

Mount Samson Rail Trail
We eventually met up with the remnants of an old railway line that used to pass through this area fifty years ago. Much of the railway is under water, but it’s still a viable track in some parts.

Mount Samson Hall
The day grew hotter, and we had been working hard, so we stopped at the Mount Samson Community Hall to fill up with water and rest in the shade.

Mount Samson Rail TrailMount Samson Rail Trail
Mount Samson Rail TrailMount Samson Rail Trail

The remnants of the railway line emerge from the lake near the small locality of Samsonvale. This once used to be a thriving little town. Now all that remains is the cemetery. We followed the railway line along the shore, past the site of the old Samsonvale Railway Station.

Leis Crossing, Dayboro
Leaving the flat shoreline of the lake, we headed west into the hills behind Kobble Creek. Although the roads were paved, this was a hot and challenging section because of some of the steeper gradients. A few people were starting to feel hungry. We had toyed with the idea of having a quick swim at this pleasant section of the North Pine River at Leis Crossing, but I think most people could smell the cafes of Dayboro so we decided to keep riding.

Lunch at Dayboro
Dayboro was a welcome lunch stop. Because there were about a dozen of us, we split up around a few of the different shops around town to have lunch. A few people had a quick lie down on the picnic benches, or topped up their water supplies.

Strongs Road
A farmer out the back of Dayboro kindly gave us permission to ride through his property along the old Strongs Road reserve.

“I thought all you bikies were in jail”, he quipped as he let us through.

Strongs Road is a quiet alternative route east out of Dayboro. Part of it runs through private property, so there are no cars. Most of it is unpaved, which makes it a pleasant ride on a mountain bike.

King Eric
At the end of the road, Eric sat on an old couch and “held court” with anyone who needed his sage advice.

Dayboro Rd Horse Trail
Once we met up with Dayboro Road again, we tried to follow some of the horse trails by the side of the road to avoid traffic. Although the track had been mown, it was still rough going. Eventually we decided to take our chances for 4 or 5km along the bitumen until we met up with our next off-road trail.

Looking over the lake
Northern Trails
The endless trails on the northern side of the lake are a lot of fun to ride. The views were impressive, and the shady green tracks were a welcome relief from the hot tarmac.

North Pine River
Towards the end of the ride, as luck would have it, I was “leading from the rear” and lost about half the riders who rode ahead of me the wrong way. While they rode on ahead, a few of us followed the final few tracks along the river back up to our starting point.

Forgan Road
This ride was 77km with about 1,500m of ascent. It took about 8 hours including breaks, and I burned 4,500 kcal.

For a fit rider I’d rate this one about 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. For beginners or anyone nursing a reasonable injury I’d rate it 9 to 9.5 out of 10.

Here’s Darb’s video of the day:

Lake Samsonvale 2013-10-20 from Darb Ryan on Vimeo.

Thanks everyone for a great day. I’m so pleased to be able to enjoy long rides with friends again!

Total distance: 80.37 km
Max elevation: 158 m
Min elevation: -46 m
Total climbing: 2654 m
Total descent: -2707 m
Average speed: 18.27 km/h
Total time: 08:42:23
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My Backyard

My Backyard

Climbing a Hill
In an unusual twist this week, Eric and I opted for a Sunday Ride closer to home.

Two of my favourite spots around here are Lake Samsonvale, and Mosquito Creek, so we decided to combine the two. The first time I tried this ride almopst 4 years ago it took me almost 5 hours. Today it took about 3 and a half hours, so I felt quite smug considering I’m only using one and a half legs at the moment.

Sweeney ReserveMungarra Reserve

We spent the first part of our ride dodging magpies on the bike paths which follow the North Pine River between Sweeney and Mungarra Reserves. Armed with a trusty piece of hose-pipe which I twirled around my head helicopter-style, the feathered fiends left us alone.

KoalaMike
My neightbor, Mike, is a member of Koala Tracker. When we came across him, he was grinning because he had spotted a Koala near the track. They used to be really common around here but are slowly disappearing because of indiscriminate land-clearing. Good on ya, Mike!

Lake Samsonvle Tracks
Lake Samsonvle Tracks
Before long, we reached Lake Samsonvale and enjoyed riding the bikes along the twisty tracks that follow the shoreline.

Unstoppable Eric
Hike a Bike

As the hills got steeper, I started to lag behind, but Eric kindly waited for me at the top. I’m pretty sure I could have nailed this hill today if I didn’t lose traction. Maybe next time 🙂

Dunlop Lane
After leaving the lake we headed down towards Dunlop Lane which snakes lazily along some small irrigation dams before it becomes a faint trail as it climbs through Slickers horse riding park. We didn’t see any horses today – I think they were all working hard.

Smiths Rd South
From there we followed Smiths Road northwards. Like Dunlop Lane, “Smiths Road” is a road in name only. The road reserve is based on the historic “Old North Road” that was blazed through here in the 1840’s. That was based on the traditional trail made by local aborigines over many centuries as they passed through the area.

Mosquito Creek
The most enjoyable part of Smiths Road is as it descends to the crossing over Mosquito Creek. It’s possible to pick up quite a bit of speed on the bike, shoot across the causeway, then zip up the steep bank on the other side.

Raynbird Rd
Eric and I felt like stretching the ride out a bit longer today, so we kept going north until we hit Raynbird Road. After a bit of huffing and puffing up the hill (mostly on my part), we took a quick break at the top to enjoy the views of the Glasshouse Mountains and Moreton Bay.

Browns Creek Road
From there we headed homeward via Browns Creek Road.

Browns Creek is named after “Shake Brown”, a Sri Lankan man who married aboriginal woman Kulkurrawa in the 1840’s. He was killed in this area because Kulkurrawa’s countrymen (like many a protective brother-in-law) suspected he wasn’t caring for her properly. You can read more about the Kulkurrawa and Shake Brown here.

Browns Road
Browns Creek Road devolves (or evolves, depending on whether you ride a mountain bike or not) into Browns Road. It’s rougher and much more fun – especially if you ride it down-hill like we did today.

Forbes Rd
From there we continued our homeward trek along some quiet back-roads.

Corella
Today wasn’t the most epic of rides, but I enjoyed sharing it with Eric. I’m grateful to have such a scenic backyard. In fact, after two months of staying off it, I’m grateful to just be riding again. Living in paradise, and being able to explore it on a bike. How good is that?

45km, with over 800m of ascent, in about three and a half hours. I burned about 2,000 kcal, and felt pretty tired afterwards.

For the fit, this one rates about 6.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. Rehabilitating limpers like me should rate it about 8 out of 10.

Thanks for a great morning on the bike, Eric!

Total distance: 46.17 km
Max elevation: 118 m
Min elevation: -14 m
Total climbing: 1278 m
Total descent: -1252 m
Average speed: 18.65 km/h
Total time: 03:30:19
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Coochin Creek

Coochin Creek

Wet Feet
Today was a major milestone for me – this was my first cross-country ride since my accident in July. After some encouragement from the doctor to get back on the bike (and take it easy) I decided to plan a long ride with little or no climbing or rough terrain.

Our aim was to ride from “Moby Vics” petrol station on the Bruce Highway at Coochin Creek, through the pine forests to Golden Beach at Caloundra. Then we’d ride back.

I had ridden some of these roads with Darb and Simon last Christmas when I cycled up to Coolum, so I knew what to expect.

As with most of our rides, we had a great time – even if things didn’t go to plan.
Forestry Fire Roads
Today’s ride would be slower than usual – but Simon and Darb kindly agreed to ride with me at a more relaxed pace.

Forestry Fire Roads
We set off into the endless forests around Coochin Creek. Long flat logging roads stretch off to the horizon in almost every direction. This is the perfect place to disappear on the bike for a day, forget everything, and turn the pedals with next to no effort at all.

Mellum CreekMellum Creek
After about half an hour we reached Mellum Creek and started heading eastwards towards the coast. I’d spotted some great looking gravel tracks on Google Earth that would take us almost directly to Golden Beach.

Beerwah and Coonowrin
For most of the day, Mount Beerwah watched over us. Occasionally we could see the smaller stump of Coonowrin as well. Ever since someone told me that Beerwah was a pregnant mother in Aboriginal legends, I like to think she keeps an eye on me when I’m in her country.

Keep Out
Everything was going to plan until we encountered a locked gate. The sign said someone was shooting feral animals, so we decided it would be safer to detour around the area rather than risk getting shot.

We later encountered the guy who did the shooting. He told us he wasn’t shooting today, but we couldn’t follow our intended route. The whole area had been bought up by property developer, Stockland and was going to be turned into a “Satellite city” of 30,000 houses some time in the next 20 years. Till then, no one was allowed on unless they had legitimate business – and that business didn’t include riding bikes. The Stockland motto of “Making a worthwhile contribution to the development of … our great country” seemed quite hollow.

"This Way"
As we headed off, I was aware than another friend, Wayne, was riding this way, about an hour behind us. We’d agreed to meet him at Caloundra. So I decided to make a big crazy wooden arrow on the track pointing in the direction of our detour in case he was following us.

Beerwah and Coonowrin
The flat land around here makes the sky seem huge. It’s possible to see the horizon in almost every direction. It’s an exhillarating feeling.

Camels
These camels looked a bit out of place with the cattle, but they didn’t seem to mind.

Creek Bed
Our aim was to keep heading east and perhaps find another track that would lead us around the perimeter of the Stockland property, and help us get back on course.

Sadly, that didn’t happen. The blocked off property was huge, and there was no way around it, since the only way across Coochin Creek was on that property.

If we were going to ride to Caloundra, we’d have to double back 10km, and try riding on the western side of the Bruce Highway instead.

So we did…
Wet Feet
…and the first thing I had to do was keep a promise to myself.

One of the causes of my accident a couple of months ago was being unwilling to get my feet wet. I was trying to avoid putting my feet in a creek, and slipped. I decided I’d break this habit. My friend Jason encouraged me by giving me a pair of thin woollen cycling socks – the type that dried quickly when they got wet. My old thick hiking socks retained lots of water making for unpleasant rides.

When we arrived at Meillum Creek I boldly waded across. The water felt pleasant, and a few minutes afterwards, Jasons socks did their trick and I wasn’t aware of any moisture. Thanks Jason!

Hilltop
The tracks to the west were rougher and steeper than I had planned for, but we pressed on. I was very pleased to be able to ride up most of the pinch climbs. Darb and Simon patiently waited for me to catch up at the top of most of the hills.

"No Entry"
Eventually we reached another “Private Property” sign. I think we could have navigated around it. We were only a couple of km from the Caloundra highway turn-off, but we all agreed that this was probably a good time to call “half-way”, turn around, and start heading for home.

Simon
Simon
We took a more direct route back south through some of the pine plantations near Landsborough and Beerwah. The trip back was going to take about half the time of our tortuous first half.

Motor Bikes
These motor cyclists looked like they were having a wonderful time, although I think with all that dust I would have prefered to be the guy in front. We stayed well out of the way till they passed.

Mount Beerwah
Packing Up
We rolled back into the car park after about 5 hours having ridden almost 60km with 437m of elevation gain.. I’m sure Simon and Darb could have done it in much quicker time, but I’m really grateful we were able to do it together.
The Little Things
While we relaxed over some cool drinks in the cafe I saw this sign. Normally I ignore cheesy sayings, but this one rang true for me. In the past, going for an easy ride on some flat forestry tracks would have seemed a little thing. Like a lot of “little” things, you don’t realize how “big” they are till you lose them.

Thankfully this had only been a temporary loss.

For fit riders this ride probably rates about 6.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. In my current state I’d rate it about 8.5 out of 10.

Thanks, Darb and Simon, for a great day.

Total distance: 60.63 km
Max elevation: 61 m
Min elevation: -15 m
Total climbing: 1335 m
Total descent: -1289 m
Average speed: 16.39 km/h
Total time: 05:09:35
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Somerset Lookout

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.

Total distance: 41.67 km
Max elevation: 622 m
Min elevation: 100 m
Total climbing: 1533 m
Total descent: -1504 m
Average speed: 18.34 km/h
Total time: 04:32:31
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Anduramba

Anduramba

Nukinenda Road
Totdays adventure was a point-to-point ride from Blackbutt (on the Great Dividing Range) to Toogoolawah (in the Brisbane Valley) via portions of the Bicentennial National Trail through Emu Creek and Anduramba.

I drove the support vehicle while Darb and Eric rode the mountain bikes.

Although I’ve ridden through here several times before via the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, this was my first look at this section of the Bicentennial National Trail. My friends Graham and Rients had ridden some of our route a week or two before us, and graciously gave me their track log to help me plan our ride.
Blackbutt
Blackbutt
Blackbutt is a beautiful little town. The cool thing about the local pub is that it still has rings on the posts outside so you can tie up your horse. It was too early in the day for us to pay a visit to the “Radnor” Hotel, so we set off out of town along the road to Crows Nest.

Emu Creek
My plan was to drive ahead, set myself up, and take some pics of the guys as they rode past. But I underestimated how fast mountain bikes can go. Eric and Darb are strong riders, and although I had driven what I thought was a reasonable distance, as soon as I got out of the car and looked back, they had caught up with me.

I yelled some obscure abuse at them to slow down, but they just laughed at me.

Emu Creek
Emu Creek
Emu Creek

The rolling farmland here had a unique beauty. The horizon felt like it was further away than usual and the sky seemed higher.

Emu Creek

Eventually the plains gave way to a steep descent, and we dropped down to Emu Creek. Although this boulder-strewn creek is quite shallow, it becomes a raging torrent after heavy rain. The landscape changes from year to year as it is continually sculpted by floodwaters.

Today, thankfully, the creek crossing was a mere trickle.

Emu Creek

After the creek crossing we had a steep climb out of the gorge with gradients of up to 25% for almost 1km. Huge granite boulders towered over us on one side, while the hill dropped sharply down to the creek on the other. This is a stunning trail.

"Wayta Buggery"
Eventually the steep grind gave way to more rolling plains. We encountered this fascinating property at the top. If you’re interested, “Wayta Buggery” is for sale. It’s in the middle of nowhere, but I suspect this would probably be a “pro” not a “con” for the right buyer.

Cattle Gate
Farm Fence

The road wound through numerous cattle properties and over countless grids, lazily following the contours of the land. Although Darb and Eric were working quite hard, I enjoyed the slow drive – not having to worry about deadlines. If you ever feel like a leisurely relaxing drive for a few hours, this is the perfect route.

Nukinenda Road
It’s good for the soul to stop once in a while to soak in the panorama and be dwarfed by the landscape.

Nukinenda
Nukinenda

Perhaps that’s part of the reason that Eric and Darb kept catching up with me. Stopping to take pictures, losing track of time, I shouldn’t have been so surprised when I looked up to see them rolling past me.

"Nukinenda"
At this point the route of the Bicentennial National Trail became a bit confusing. It has recently changed. Previosuly it headed eastwards through Nukienda Station, ending up at Eskdale. Today, our track took us further south, on an alternative part of the trail to Anduramba.

Anduramba Hall
Anduramba Hall is a charming old building made from Galvanized Iron and surrounded by boundless plains of farmland. It was just past the halfway point of the ride, and had a friendly little picnic shelter out front, so we stopped here for lunch.

The grounds surrounding the hall were well looked after. The gardens were carefully maintained. The buildings were in good repair. In the city, we take this sort of thing for granted. I slowly turned around and couldn’t see another human anywhere. I realized that caring for a place like this, far from anywhere, takes a lot of work and dedication. These cheerful rural halls are hallmarks of a generous community spirit.

Anduramba
At this point we started heading east towards Toogoolawah. On future rides it might be fun to turn right instead, and explore “The Bluff” and Crows Nest. What do you think, Eric?

Eskdale Station
Halfway along the road to Toogoolawah, we stopped at Eskdale Station. This was where we met up with the old Bicentennial National Trail route again. The road here is hilly. Eric and Darb looked tired, hot and thirsty. Darb told me they were averaging about 20 km/h for the ride. That’s a cracking pace almost twice the speed we normally ride at. It was an impressive effort.

Ivory Creek
As they rode off, I had a look at Ivory Creek – one of the major watercourses in this area that eventually flows into the Brisbane River. The water here is crystal clear. On a hot day like this it was really tempting to ditch the clothes and jump in.

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, Toogoolawah
I made my way back to Toogoolawah to wait for my friends. The last part of their ride was northwards along the rail trail. Although the trains are gone, the railway bridge over Cressbrook Creek is still there.

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, Toogoolawah
As I stood at the trailhead near Toogoolawah, I could see Eric and Darb in the distance. They had done it. Slightly disappointed I couldn’t ride it with them, I was still grateful for being able to experience such a beautiful adventure.