I’ve taken a detour on my way to my working holiday in Vanuata in October- a three-day mountain bike adventure down the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail.
Getting from Emu Park to Esk may be a short distance through the post-code book, but it was a long way by car – 12-hours by the time we’d had comfort stops, coffee stops, food stops and changed route to avoid an accident. I kept busy however, filling 100 tissues and moaning, hoping the miserable stage of my head cold would be gone before we started our adventure the next day.
Having stayed at Esk overnight, it was a quick drive to Brassal, Ipswich, where my husband and I met my long-term but rarely seen friend Nat, loaded bikes and luggage on trucks and ourselves on buses and headed to our jump-off point, Yarraman. Its carved Yarra-man stump was a photo opportunity we couldn’t miss.
After a fortifying first coffee we found the briefing, listened attentively along with the 250 other riders on the Bicycle Queensland event and then pedalled off to enjoy 47 dusty kilometres.
We settled into the well-marked trail, delighted by the bicycle grids which have been installed since the last time we were on the trail. They saved us about 50 stops and starts over the three days.
Another innovation was the manky – a map printed on a hanky. With my pouring nose I had to be careful I didn’t accidentally use it. It was consulted regularly, as although the track was very well marked, sometimes you just needed to know where you were and how long till the next coffee.
Old railway station signs, speed signs and unusable bridges litter the trail, which as its name suggests, used to be a rail-line.
The call of ‘photo stop’ would see us slam on the brakes – and then check to see if anyone was behind us. My cycling buddy and I stopped regularly to take pics, but everyone stopped at Benarkin, where a couple of old railway carriages sat awaiting exploration.
The first overnight stop was at Moore, and luckily the predicted freezing night didn’t happen. The tent was warm, the showers steamy, and the only disappointment was the 40-minute line up for dinner – the queue went out the front door of the hall, around the side and then back in to the kitchen.
The caterers made up for it the next morning with cereals, fresh strawberries and CUPCAKES for breakfast. Pastel-decorated girly cupcakes too. I thought it was preposterous, but you know, if that’s how you roll in Moore it would be rude not to try one or two.
saw us set off to Toogoolawah, Esk and Coominya. My friend gashed her leg in the pursuit of photographic excellence, when her bike fell onto her leg as she dismounted so I could take this picture.
We called for the medics, but ended up being delayed for ages while we waited at one end of a road and they waited at the other.
By the time the steri-strip was applied, the sweep riders had caught us up and we were officially last on the trail.
So we skipped a few photo opportunities, but here is one I didn’t miss. We came across a family riding with a dog, which was wearing the cutest blue shoes. I swung the camera into position and grabbed a shot as they went past, and was quite chuffed with myself (and yes, the poor pup is slightly out of focus, but seriously, I had two seconds to take this picture, while riding a bicycle). Sipping coffee in the next town, possibly Toogoolawah, I found a flyer explaining what they were doing – training for a ride to raise money for Motor Neurone Disease, which is rampant in their family. Here is a link to their Facebook page
It was a 70-kilometre (or 4 Sudafed) day, with several deep creek banks have been treated with concrete paths, so it is possible to scream down them and get up impetus to get up the other side. Unfortunately, there were often so many riders creeping down in front that momentum was impossible to achieve.
And it was on the worst of the downhills that I dismounted via, well, my shoulder, elbow and shins. No blood though, just some bruises.
The campsite at Coominya was on a dam, and we awoke the next day to a gorgeous fog-covered water scene.
It was sad to think that our last day of carefree fanging down the dirt track was already almost over.
The towns of Lowood and Fernvale were familiar territory on the rail trail, as we had traversed Fernvale to Esk and back again four years ago – in the pre-grid days!
As we left Lowood alongside the still-present railway tracks I reminisced about the flat tyre my husband had last time we rode this section, just as I felt a cold trickle down my back.
I stopped and as I took my backpack off, the tube from my water bladder came completely off and water poured everywhere. Some kids at the adjacent skate park seemed very interested, yelling sympathy – ‘oh that’s bull crap, oh no, and where’s your phone?’. I was surprised they’d even taken any notice, until my husband pointed out I was screeching “fuck fuck fuck” as I took the bladder out. Oops, and apologies to the parents of those innocent sweethearts.
My friend and I were riders number 219 and 221, so when we came across rider 220, she was an instant friend who needed to be photographed!.
Too soon we passed under the Warrego highway and the path became concrete.
Thus suburbia reasserted itself in our consciousness and we were spat back into the real world, amidst cheers from the organisers and fellow riders.
Within half an hour bikes goodbyes were said and we were in the car heading north, ready to plan our next adventure.
Thanks Nat and Chris for a wonderful carefree three days.