Today’s ride was from Esk to Walloon following the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail for most of the way. I was support driver for Becca, Eric, Darb and Jason, dropping the riders off in Esk, then making sure they had a vehicle to get home from Walloon.
We’ve had many happy rides ending in Walloon. It has a railway station which makes it an easy destination for long point-to-point rides.
We’ve also experienced some amazing rides along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail from Fernvale in the south to Linville, Blackbutt and eventually Yarraman in the north. The rail trail isn’t an end in itself: in the past we’ve used it as any easy off-road route between different ride locations, allowing us to stitch together epic adventures covering large distances.
Like rail journeys in bygone years, today’s journey started in the middle of town heading down a straight flat track, surrounded by bustling townspeople going about their business. The only difference was that there was no smokey engine pulling these carriages.
Bridges over creeks are closed to traffic for safety reasons. There are large sandsone blocks in the creek beds to make it easier to cross the creek without getting your fee wet.
Mount Hallen Railway Station used to be the first stop on the south-bound line 10 km from Esk on the way to Ipswich. Our pedal-powered “train” rushed through there after about half an hour…
… In fact, it was little over an hour before the “Mountain Bike Expresss” pulled into Coominya, 25 km down the line. The flat gradients made it easy to keep up a quick pace.
Charles Lumley Hill was an early European settler in the area. He owned “Bellvue Station”, a large cattle property. The railway station was originally called “Bellvue” and serviced his property, as well as allowing transportation of timber to the city. Hill asked for the name of the station to be changed to avoid confusion with his property, and so the name “Coominya” was chosen.
Lockyer Creek has deep banks as you ride south-east from Coominya to Lowood. In flood times, this waterway becomes a raging torrent. But on this mild spring day the water looked delightful.
The trail passes quite close to the road, south of Lowood. The railway engineers elevated it slightly here to avoid flood water. It was uncanny how train-like the riders looked, silently pedalling along the track. I don’t think they had any idea I was watching…
East of Lowood, the trail follows the Brisbane River. Driving a motor vehicle along the adjacent road, it’s difficult to enjoy the view. One of the delights of trail riding is being able to take your time and soak up the gorgeous scenery.
At this point we left the the rail trail and headed up “into the hills” south of Vernor. The steepness of Ogg Road was a pleasant surprise after 40 km of relative flatness. As always, the views at the top were worth the effort of the climb…
One of the consequences of leaving the rail trail was that the tracks became rougher. In places the grass was quite high, and the only way through was by pushing the bikes.
I eventually caught up with the riders again as they rode up the hill towards Haigslea Cemetery, near Walloon. They had ridden 62 km in about 4.5 hours including an hour of breaks. Total ascent for the ride was about 600 metres.
Becca and Jason had ridden “The Epic” the previous week, and thought this trip was a pleasant change from the rigours of racing. They rated it 5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. Darb rates in about 7 out of 10. Eric had mechanical problems and couldn’t finish.
I think this would be a relatively easy ride in either direction for most mountain bikers. Taking advantage of the railway service in Walloon, it would be an ideal start for a multi-day adventure northwards via the rail trail to exciting destinations in the South Burnett or along the Bicentennial National Trail.
Here’s Darb’s excellent video of the ride.
And here’s his track log…