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Sunday, June 02, 2013

Down the Shute

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McCarthy Shute

Maleny was built on timber – literally.

When the new Queensland Government repealed the “Bunya Proclamation” in 1859, they opened up large tracts of dense forest that had previously been protected for the benefit of local Aborigines. Timber-getters hungrily harvested thick forests on the mountains around Maleny.

The only problem was getting the massive logs down the mountain – which was where “The Shute” came in. The logs were slid down long steep shutes, such as McCarthy’s Shute, to waiting bullock drays at the bottom of the mountain. From there, the precious cargo would be lifted onto carts, and hauled to timber mills.

Today we followed the slippery path of the logs, and rode our bikes down McCarthy’s Shute.

Mary Cairncross ReserveMaleny Clouds

Bernie kindly drove us up the mountain to our starting point at Mary Cairncross Reserve, on the outskirts of Maleny. Amid the damp mist and light drizzle, we headed westwards down the hill towards “The Shute”.

McCarthy Shute RoadMcCarthy Shute Road

McCarthy’s Shute starts off as a picturesque hill gently winding down the slopes of the Blackall Range.


Even though they were wrapped in clouds, the surrouning hills looked pretty enough to prompt me to stop a few times for the obligatory photo :)

McCarthy Shute

McCarthy Shute

Eventually the road transforms into a “Shute” :) It gets steep, muddy and slippery – perfect mountain biking terrain.

Road ClosedRoad Closed

The “road” disappeared in one spot and we had to scramble over a gulf in the road a couple of metres wide.

Ewen Creek

We finally reached the bottom of the descent at Ewen Creek – a tributary of the Stanley River which runs only a couple of kilometres from here. (Yes, I got wet feet!)

Macdonald Road

The next physical challenge was a gruelling climb up Macdonalds Road. Thankfully it was paved, but this nasty little pinch reaches slopes in excess of 25% as it makes its way up one of the precarious peaks near Bald Knob. (Oh, why do cameras always make steep hills look flat???)

London Creek Reserve

The sign says “No Through Road”, but once at the top of the climb, we followed a faint track down the hill again into the London Creek Environmental Reserve.

Spoke RepairSpoke Repair

The track is steep, rough and muddy in places. At one spot, while riding over a steep drop-off, my front wheel got stuck in the mud, and I went over the handlebars in slow-motion. I was unhurt during this manouevre which seemed to take an eternity. But, sadly, I managed to break one of the spokes on my rear wheel. For some reason, the spokes on my Crank Brothers Cobalt Wheels seem to easily break – even though they’re advertised as tough cross-country wheels. On the up-side, it’s relatively easy to replace spokes, and I always carry spares in my pack, so we took a break for ten minutes while I fixed my rear wheel. This is the first time I’ve ever replaced a spoke – so I’m feeling very proud of myself at the moment :)

After putting the wheel back on the bike, we ground up another steep hill towards Mount Mellum. Hills are inevitable in Mountain Biking. The best approach is to get used to them. We normally arrive at the top out of breath, but the views are always worth the effort!

Dullarcha National ParkNorth Coast Line

We made our way eastwards through Dullarcha National Park. Most people know this park for the “Rail Trail” which passes through it, but Dullarcha is much more than that. Nestled up against the Blackall Range, it’s very hilly in parts. We got a great view of the Glasshouse Mountains to the south as we passed over the railway tunnel on the North Coast line.

Dullarcha National ParkDullarcha National Park

We followed the tracks from the hills above the railway line down to the muddy trails around Ewen Maddock dam.

Ewen MAddock Dam

The dam is full after recent rain, so we had to take one or two detours to avoid a couple of flooded tracks.

Lunch at Landsborough

It had taken us over 3 hours to ride only 30 kilometres. This was hard work, so we stopped for a hearty lunch at Landsborough before heading back off into the forest.

Landsborough Pine Forest

Landsborough Pine Forest

The pine plantations near Landsborough are on flat terrain, so we enjoyed a leisurely after-lunch roll along some of the forestry trails.

Riding Through the Melaleucas

Plantations gave way to National Park again as we rode through some beautiful (but boggy) Melaleuca forests near Beerwah.

Strawberry Farming

Rolling past some of the strawberry farms, bustling with busy workers, I thought we’d temporarily ridden to another country :)

Bora Ring

And just outside of our destination at Beerburrum, we stopped at an old aboriginal Bora Ring on the edge of a pineapple field. The sign said “Silent now” but sometimes I think if you use a bit of imagination you can hear the echoes of clapsticks and soft singing.

On the distant horizon, the heights of our starting point reminded us of where we had started the day.

All Aboard!All Aboard!

After giving the bikes a quick hose-down, we hopped on the train for the quick ride back to Brisbane.

We rode 65 km in about 7 hours including breaks, climbing about 900 metres. I burned 3,000 kcal. The first part of this ride was the toughest. After lunch it was quite relaxing. Taking it all into account I’d rate it about 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Thanks Becca end Eric for a fun day out.

Thanks Bernie for driving us to our starting point.

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