Under the Steamers

Emu Vale

“Let’s ride up the valley as far as we can,” I suggested to everyone before to our ride at Emu Creek.

The long narrow Emu Creek valley passes through some remote and rugged country, ending at “The Steamers” – a stunning mountain formation in hidden pocket of the Great Dividing Range.

The Steamers

They’re called “The Steamers” because from some angles, the odd-shaped peaks look like the profile of a gigantic steamship pushing up the valley. We caught a glimpse of these amazing mountains last year when we explored the high plateau in Gambubal State Forest. I was eager to return and catch a glimpse of them up close from the valley floor rather than from up high.

(Photo: Tony Ryan)
(Photo: Tony Ryan)

We parked the cars at the small hamlet of Emu Vale, and started riding up the valley along Emu Creek Road.

Emu Creek

After a brief stint the tarmac, we continued on gravel.

Emu Creek


The creek crossed our path many times giving us plenty of opportunities to hone our riding skills over causeways and rocks.


I made a mental note of one pleasant billabong beside the road and thought “This could be a nice place to swim on a hot day. Perhaps we should come back in summer?”

Emu Creek Road

The road undulated for over twenty kilometres up the valley. Sometimes upwards, sometimes downwards, but gradually increasing in elevation as we progressed.

Mount Bauer

“What mountain is that?” Martin asked.

I had no idea at the time, but later discovered it was Mount Bauer standing 1,145 metres in height.

The valley was over 600 metres above sea level, so any peak that rose above the valley would be high.

Emu Creek

Through the trees, Emu Creek snaked peacefully up the valley.

Mount Guymer

Mount Guymer loomed ahead, even higher than Bauer at over 1,200 metres. Imposing cliffs dropped 200 metres in some places.


Eventually we reached “Broangus”, the last farm in the valley before the national park.

Behind the farm-house and the trees, the sheer cliffs of “The Prow” marked the eastern most peak of the Steamers.


Emu Creek Road

We followed the creek up the valley. I was surprised how much water was flowing this far upstream. Full creeks, lush grass – whoever owned this farm would be smiling at their good fortune.

Emu Creek Road


I lost count of the number of creek crossings we rode through.

We pedaled through most of them, totally saturating our shoes.

At other places the water wasn’t clear enough, so we carried the bikes in case of hidden obstacles.

Lincoln Track Lincoln Track

At the end of the valley the road stopped and the track pointed steeply upwards.

We laughed, ditched the bikes and hiked uphill for a while, hoping to get a better view of the surrounding peaks.

Lincoln Track Lincoln Track

In places I could make out “The Mast” and “The Funnel” – both well over 1,000 metres high with sheer cliffs either side.

Lincoln Track Lincoln Track
A little further on I could make out the northern face of Mount Superbus – the highest peak in South East Queensland, 1,375 metres high.

The mountains are big in this part of the world.

Lincoln Track

These slopes were the site of a fatal plane crash in 1955. In a mercy dash from Townsville to Brisbane, a Lincoln Bomber carrying a sick baby crashed on the slopes of Mount Superbus in bad weather. There were no survivors.

Fifty years later, the plane wreck still sits on the side of Mount Superbus, a sad reminder of the tragedy.

The wreck was a two-hour hike from here. We wouldn’t be going that far today.


On the way out, Martin suffered a puncture while riding over the rocky terrain.

Most of the time we use tubeless tyres to avoid pinch flats which occur when rocks push the inner tube against the wheel rim. With no tube in the tyre, there’s nothing to puncture. Martin wasn’t using tubeless tyres today, but managed to fix the puncture quickly.

"The Prow"

Emu Creek divides in two forming valleys either side of The Steamers.

We had explored the southern valley, and now retraced our tracks a few kilometres so we could have a look at the northern branch.

Mount Asplenium

We followed Old Mill Road along the northern branch of Emu Creek. To our delight it opened up into a large cleared area with views of the surrounding mountains.

Like an amphitheater, we were surrounded on three sides by rocky walls.

Above them all stood Mount Asplenium, another imposing peak at almost 1,300 metres in height.


We stopped for a while to soak up the view and take photos…

Mount Aslpenium

..then began our long trek back down the valley.


Mount Bauer

Earlier in the morning we had ridden mostly uphill for over 20 kilometres, excluding one or two short dips.

Although it was a gentle slope, the long slow climb had been hard work. Now we had the chance to ride downhill for almost the same distance.

Light rain began falling as we rolled past some of the landmarks we had seen earlier in the day.



It was pleasant to ride in the light rain: not too heavy to get us wet, but substantial enough to keep us cool.

Emu Creek Road

The clouds closed in, warning us a downpour was on its way. If we were lucky we might get back in time.

Emu Creek Road

Tyres crunched on dirt. We kept up a steady pace aided by the gentle descent, effortlessly cruising at about 30 km/h.


Emu Vale

We arrived back at the cars just as heavy drops of rain started to fall. As we packed away the bikes, a wizened old farmer looked curiously at us from atop his ancient tractor and waved.

Total distance: 53.97 km
Total climbing: 1149 m
Average temperature: 24.1
Total time: 05:24:21
Download file: activity_1425044305.gpx
More data

We rode about 54 kilometres in about five and half hours, including about an hour on foot on the Lincoln Track.

During that time we climbed about 740 metres in elevation and I burned just under 2,500 kcal.

This was an easy ride in pleasant conditions.

I’ll rate it 7 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.


Callum Darb Martin

Thanks Calum, Darb and Martin for a fun day out in some spectacular country.

Let’s come back here soon!

(Photo: Tony Ryan)
(Photo: Tony Ryan)

4 Replies to “Under the Steamers”

  1. I’m one of Calum’s “Fearless Friday Fossils ” MTB group and have done a number of MTB tours with him. He has often mentioned his exploits with you and I have viewed some of your earlier blogs. This one looks absolutely delightful.
    Up until recently I have been restricted in my movements on weekends but from early in the new year I will be free and would like to perhaps join you and Calum on some of your adventures. I live in Whiteside so we are almost neighbours.



    1. Hi Allan
      You’re welcome to join us anytime. Calum gets the ride plans every week. Whenever you’re free, just turn up with him. It would be nice to mee you.

  2. Hello,
    I just stumbled over your story here,as I’m looking to hike to the steamers this weekend.
    Just wanted to say I got great enjoyment reading your adventure,all the best with your future travels.

    Cheers Jason

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