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Wombi Creek

Wombi Creek Campsite

The challenge of camping at Easter is finding a quiet out-of-the-way place that no one else has thought of.

Get it right and you end up with the place to yourself.  Get it wrong and you have to share it with a noisy crowd.

Wombi Creek was perfect – 30km up a hidden valley on tracks that only a crazy mountain biker would know about.

Wombi Creek Campsite

Wombi Creek is a tributary of the Eastern Branch of the Brisbane River.  It hardly ever flows.  After a bumpy two-and-a-half hour drive from Brisbane, we pitched our tents in the rocky creek bed, and set up camp.

Wombi Creek Campsite

The only noises were butcher birds, breezes whispering in the eucalyptus leaves, and the crackling of dry wood in our fire.

Wombi Creek Campsite

We had found the ideal secluded spot to relax and have a drink.

Camping at Wombi Creek

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

We had a rough “plan” about tomorrow’s ride.

I wasn’t entirely sure how it would go, so I had prepared three routes.  If one course didn’t work, we’d try something else.  If that failed, we’d fall back to “Plan C”.  But this was one of those relaxed adventures where we decided to make it up as we went along.

Does this mean I don’t have a “type A” personality?

Moon Rise

The sky darkened, and the Easter full-moon slowly rose above the tree tops.

Darb and Fire DSC08391-ANIMATION

We stared into the flames and talked about tomorrow.

 

Kookaburra

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

There’s no need for an alarm clock in the bush.  A cackling kookaburra woke us at about 5.30am.

Wombi Creek Campsite

I emerged from my tent to a scene from a Frederick McCubbin painting.

What a perfect morning.

DSC08453_copy

We packed up our camp and headed up into the hills.

Our first “idea” was to follow a track northwards towards a spot where we had got lost in Lantana a year or so ago.  I hoped that perhaps the lantana had been cleared and that we could ride the track properly.

Last time we had ridden from the east, heading west.  This time we would be riding from the opposite direction.  Even if we didn’t make it, I was curious to know how far we had come last time and how close had been to emerging from the forest before we turned back.

Plus I could show Darb and Nick where we had been forced to spend the night.  It’s fun to be able to share tall tales with friends – even more so when you can point to the spot and say “Look at that!  Wasn’t that crazy?”

Hill Climb

Our rocky track led upwards for a few kilometres.

The steady climb was surprisingly easy considering the steep surrounding slopes.

Hill Climb

A sharp rock slashed the sidewall of my tyre, so I had to fix it.  Darb and Nick helped me repair it, and we continued our climb.

Hill Climb

At the top we could see the hoop pines atop the ridge that we were heading for.

Blue skies, cool temperatures.  This was ideal weather for mountain biking.

Old Shed

The aerial maps showed a strange-looking structure among the trees, so I planned our course to check it out.

Old Shed

A fascinating tin shed, complete with its own bar fridge.

Nick was impressed, but slightly disappointed that no one had left any beers in it.

Giant Grass Tree

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

Nearby a giant Grass Tree stretched upwards.

These trees only grow one centimetre per year.  It takes a century for them to grow a metre in height.  This one was over five metres tall – so it was here before Henry VIII and Shakespeare.

Many ancient giants like this one stood patiently on the hillside.

Old Man's Beard

We continued northwards up into the hills.

The tracks were remote, but well-maintained.  We hoped out aloud that this would continue.

Pushing Through Lantana

Familiar-looking lantana poked out of the undergrowth towards us.

This horrible weed had been trimmed back recently, but the further we rode the thicker it grew…

Pushing Through Lantana

It was still rideable, so we continued optimistically.

 

Pushing Through Lantana

We had to dodge the cruel spiky branches as they blocked our path and scratched us.

Pushing Through Lantana

Then we had to dismount and walk.

“Let’s give it 15 minutes,” I optimistically suggested.

Pushing Through Lantana

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

“Nah.  That’s it.”

It was impassable.

Afterwards I checked the map and discovered we had made it to within 250 metres of our previous adventure in the Lantana.  That short gap would have taken a couple of hours to traverse.  We had made the right decision to turn around then, and I had no hesitation doing the same thing today.

Darb

Rather than retrace our steps, we decided to check out a few other trails leading off from our course.  They looked well-made.  Who knows?  Perhaps they led somewhere interesting.  We were in no rush and decided to see where they ended up.

Dead End

Another dead-end, but it was fun looking around.

This little valley would have been the idea place to let stock graze.  The scrub-covered hills were too steep for cattle to escape.  There was only one way out.

Perhaps the tin shed at the top of the hill was for stockmen?

 

Nick

We retraced our steps then followed another track in the other direction past an irrigation dam.
Old Stockyard

Here we found a disused stock yard.

Old Stockyard

Nick found a feeding trough and tried to get his snout into it.  There were no left-overs.

 

Darb

And so we rolled back down the mountain to Wombi Creek.

Plans “A” and “B” hadn’t worked, so we would give Plan “C” a try.

Nick

Nick decided he’d like to “zone out” and ride 30 or 40 km back to Linville while Darb and I continued our exploration of Eastern Branch.

Brisbane River - Eastern Branch

The Eastern Branch of the Brisbane River has its source in these hills at the junction of Moonarumbi and Cowwah Creeks.

This spot was about 4km downstream from that source.

We said “G’day” to a few people who had camped on the riverbank.   We asked about the tracks on the other side of the river.  It was on private property, but they assured us it would be ok for us to have a ride around, although they did warn us it would be rough and steep.

Brisbane River - Eastern Branch

The river doesn’t often flow this far upstream.  Today it was a chain of lagoons interspersed with rocky causeways, but the water was surprisingly clear.

 

Hike A Bike

“Rocky and steep”.  The description given by our camping friends was very accurate.

It was way too steep to ride, so we grunted up the hill.

Darb powered up…

Neil Climbs a Hill

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

I puffed behind.

“Gee THAT was steep!”

 

Mount Gibbarnee

On the other side of the valley, Mount Gibbarnee towered above the river.

Bush Bashing

Our track ran out.  Thankfully there was no undergrowth, so we just followed our GPS track through the grass, up the hill…

Bush Bashing

…and down the other side.

Creek Crossing

This place was full of fascinating trails.  Some of them led east to Jimna.  Others led south to Squirrel Creek.  I’d love to come back and explore some more.  There are weeks worth of adventures in here.

Down the Big Hill

Eventually our course bent back towards the river, and we started the long steep descent back down to the valley.

We skidded down steep rocky trails.

A stick poked through my spokes, and I fell over the handlebars.  Luckily I was unhurt, and Darb helped me back up.

Down the Big Hill

I hopped back on the bike and followed Darb sheepishly down the hill.  Having broken a collar bone a few months ago I was surprised at my good fortune.

Eastern Branch River Crossing

(Photo: Tony Ryan)

Eventually we dropped out at the River, and rolled back to the car.

The day had grown warm.  Should I jump in for a swim or enjoy a cool drink at the Linville Pub?

Linville Pub

The pub won out.  It’s the only pub for miles around, and it was crowded with thirsty travellers.

Linville Pub

We rode 27 km in about 5 hours including breaks.

That’s a short distance – but we climbed over 1,000 m in elevation and I burned about 3,000 kcal.

It was a tough, fun ride.

I’ll rate it 9 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Thanks Darb and Nick for a fun adventure!

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