With the winter sun just starting to peak over the horizon we cut across a local cricket field into some bushland behind a disused paper mill.
There are dozens of dirt tracks around here. We had the North-Pine River on our right, and a series of large lakes on our left, riding a thin bridge of land between the two. Apart from the low hum of Saturday morning traffic, it felt like the bustle of the city was far-off.
At one time all this land was part of “The Murrumba Run” purchased from the Griffin Family by Tom Petrie in the 1860’s. Around 1930 Tom’s son Walter planted this orchard of pecan and macadamia trees. The trees are still here. Dormant and leafless in the winter weather, they’re still healthy, producing a good crop of nuts every year. Macadamias are native to to this area. Called “Bauple” by the local indigenous people the tree grew in the forests of Queensland and northern NSW. The Petrie Family were among the first to realize their commercial potential.
Their property, “Murrumba” gives its name to the present-day suburb of “Murrumba Downs” where we were headed.
We left the riverside tracks of the mill and followed the river east towards John Oxley Reserve. Nestled on a hillside, this reserve contains a small diverse forest of remnant vegetaion. We followed a popular zig-zag dirt track down the hill to a mangrove swamp at the bottom.
A boardwalk kept us above the ground as we rolled through the trees. I always associate mangroves with mud, but there was very little of it here. She-oaks, paperbarks, and even hoop pines grew out of the thick grass.
John Oxley came ashore here in 1823 as he rowed up the North Pine River with the shipwrecked John Finnegan who he had rescued earlier from Bribie Island. One thing Oxley noted were the huge Hoop Pines. Thankfully one or two still remain.
As we continued eastwards, the river on our right grew wider, and the hills in Acacia Park grew steeper. At this point, the North Pine River abruptly ends….
… as it joins the South Pine River and becomes the “Pine River” for the rest of its journey to Moreton Bay. As we looked over the confluence of both rivers we could see Mount Coot-tha in the distance with its distinct TV transmission towers.
Our passage east was blocked by the Bruce Highway. Any good mountain-biker would prefer to ride on dirt rather than paved-road, so we followed an unusual strip of land northwards along the highway. With 4m high fences and mature trees on either side, this narrow reserve stretches for a couple of kilometres and provides a great off-road alternaive to riding through suburbia. Nothing says “Urban Cross-Country” like a dirt track barely metres from a busy freeway.
… and nothing says “Urban” more than neat houses in suburbia. Most weeks we ride in some rough and remote places. Today it felt strange to be rolling past neat well-kept gardens in front of immaculate brick veneer homes.
After about a kilometre we found a bike path which we followed for a while. We felt more at home as we had to scramble over some rocky drains with our bikes.
The path led north along some picturesque artificial lakes. There is an excellent network of bike paths through Murrumba Downs and Kallangur, and were were able to ride most of the way without having to travel on the road.
The friendly crunch of gravel under our tyres welcomed us to the bushland at the northen end of Marsden Road.
North Pine Christian College (NPCC) has built a wonderful network of single tracks in the bushland behind their school on Hughes Road at Dakabbin.
We raced around the bumpy twisty track likes happy kids. NPCC has done a great job with these tracks…
… they’ve got everything – berms, jumps, rollovers…
… even a podium. Since Becca has excelled in all of the races she’s entered this year, we thought she should get to stand in the gold-medal position.
On our way back home we rode along some motorbike tracks which followed the fenceline along the railway lines at Dakabin. It’s amazing what you can find when you decide you want to avoid busy roads.
Through a quiet park in Kurwongbah we headed towards the lake.
I often ride my bike solo through here during the week. Today I enjoyed being able to experience it with my friends.
And as the clock ticked over to three hours, we found ourselves slowly rolling back along the bike paths beside North Pine River.
Although it felt strange to arrive home early on Saturday morning – before morning-tea time, I was impressed that we could have such a fun adventure so close to home in such a short period of time.
What impressed me even more was that we could ride so far through the suburbs with so little of it on-road.
All up we rode almost 43km in just over 3 hours with total elevation gain of about 420m.
I burned about 1,600 kcal.
This is an easy ride, and parts of it are perfect for beginners. I’ll rate it 4.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.
Thanks Becca, Darb and Paul for a pleasant ride!
Max elevation: 50 m
Min elevation: -5 m
Total climbing: 719 m
Total descent: -733 m
Average speed: 16.68 km/h
Total time: 03:15:09