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Sunday, February 23, 2014

Maroochy River

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Jason at Lake Dunethin

The serene Maroochy River meanders through sugar cane fields and mangroves as it wends its way from Yandina to Maroochyore on the coast.

Today’s adventure took us from Parklands State Forest, near Nambour, to several interesting spots along the Maroochy River, and then finishing back in Parklands.

I also wanted to have a look at different ways of getting from the river to Parklands as part of a future social ride where we may have to paddle across using Eric’s inflateable diinghy.

Clare and Kat from the Bushrangers Mountain Bike Club kindly offered to show Darb, Jason, Paul and me around the twisty trails at Parklands where it’s easy to get lost if you don’t know where you’re going.

Clare on

Clare and Kat lef us from the Radar Hill Road carpark along the “Road Rage” trail. This track starts in an open eucalyptus forest which follows the edge of the motorway, hence the name “Road Rage”…

Darb on

As it drops into the rainforest, the Road Rage track gets hilly, covered with slippery roots and rocks. In the high heat and humidity it was tough work.

Creek Crossing - Creek Crossing - Creek Crossing - Creek Crossing -

Road Rage Creek Crossing. Photos by Clare Burns.

There’s one tricky “W” shaped double creek crossing where you roll down and up through one creek to a peak before immediately rolling through the next crossing. I baulked in the middle, while Clare captured my lack of skills for posterity.

Jason on the Rocks

It was a lot of fun to ride over the rocks at Rocky Creek, although I don’t think it would be a good idea to try this crossing after a lot of rain. We exited the park here and made our way towards the river.

Cane Fields

While the road here is reasonably busy, we only had to endure it for a few minutes and a kilometre or so before reaching the river.

Lake Dunethin

Lake Dunethin is a small inlet on the southern side of the Maroochy River. Popular with kayakers and anglers it has some great views of the surrounding scenery.

“Is that Dunethin Rock?” someone asked pointing across the water.

“No, that’s Mount Ninderry”, I said, recounting the aboriginal legend of the old man who was jealous of the love between the young man, Coolum, and his lover Maroochy.

“So where’s Dunethin Rock?” we wondered, having seen some tourist signposts telling us about it as we rode in.

Fishing on the Maroochy River

“Is that it?”, a few of us wondered, pointing to a submerged reef in the middle of the river. I asked the fishermen, but they didn’t know.

Dunethin Rock

The rock eventually answered our questions. As we rode out of the park, the monolith loomed up on our left, so we rode up it to have a look…

Dunethin Rock

Atop Dunethin Rock we had a perfect ventage point for viewing the river, and the cane fields on the other side.

In the 1880′s steamships from Brisbane would paddle up the Maroochy River as far as Dunethin Rock. A decade or so later smaller mailboats plied the river carrying sugar can to Dunethin Rock. A horse-drawn tram would then carry the cane to mills in nearby Nambour.

Sugar Cane Lift Bridge on the Maroochy RiverSugar Cane Lift Bridge on the Maroochy River

Sugar Cane Lift Bridge on the Maroochy River

From Dunethin we pedalled a little further downstream through fields of sugar cane to the railway bridge.

Not long ago, Simon and I had checked out the northen and of this bridge. It was interesting to have a look at the same bridge from the southern side, with its small gap part-way across preventing anyone from crossing over.

We all mused about how we might use an inflateable boat to get riders and bikes across.

Darb suggested we just swim across, and swing the bikes over on a rope.

Jason thought we could bring a ladder and either use it as a bridge or climb over the lift.

(I was getting vertigo just thinking about some of these solutions).

Eric’s boat was looking more and more like the best solution, until…

Passing Boat

Passing Boat

“You wouldn’t want to be floating in a dinghy when that went past you”, Paul advised.

Jason retorted, “We could always just hitch a ride across.”

Walking on the cane tracks

With all these ideas spinning in my head, I turned and started to edge off the bridge. It’s tricky in cycling shoes, and I admit I felt a bit uneasy stepping over railway sleepers with nothing but daylight underneath. Solving the river crossing problem could wait for another day.

River Store Road

Pleasant dirt roads zigzag through endless cane fields in this part of the world.

Before returning to the tough trails of Parklands, I wanted to “cruise” for a while, and asked if everyone wouldn’t mind a bit of a roll through the farmland next to the river.

Clare in the Cane

The conditions were perfect. Thick clouds gave us plenty of shade, while a stiff easterly sea breeze cooled us down. As we zigged and zagged along gravel roads, Mount Coolum peaked out from behind the waves of cane.

Kat in the Grass

When the road petered out into a faint grassy vehicle track, we just turned the bikes around and headed back the way we came.

Wheelie in the Cane Fields

Jason found it difficult to keep his front wheel on the ground. This seems to happen to him quite a bit on his rides. I suspect his engine is a bit overpowered :)

After a long slog up Camp Flat Road (which is anything but flat), and Atkinsons Road, we eventually made it back into Parklands.

Darb on

Clare led us down some some beautiful fast flowing smooth single track with high berms which twisted and turned through the trees. Single track riding is not one of my strengths so I quickly percolated back to my natural position at the rear of the pack while everyone else raced ahead.

Puncture RepairChain Repair

Some of the descents were tricky. Darb had a minor crash on one drop-off. His tyre lost air and slid out from under him at the wrong time. He suffered a few scratches and his bike copped a small amount of damage, but he was able to ride out.

Earlier in the ride, Paul broke his chain, which gave me a chance to catch my breath and pester him with a few photos.

Darb at

As we snaked back to our starting point through “Ho Chi Ho” track, the rain that had been threatening to come all day finally fell. The light drizzle in the cool mossy forest was a perfect way to end the ride.

I was surprised when I looked at the GPS and realize that during our five hours of riding I had burned 2,400 kcal, but had only covered 38km with 750m of ascent.

It seemed so much further – but that’s the thing with Parklands. The hills and technical trails make any distance seem twice as far.

I’d rate any multi-hour ride in Parklands 8 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. Our pleasant roll by the river mitigated the effort and gave us time to relax, so at the end of the day I’d give this one 7.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter. In cooler less steamy months, maybe 7.

Thanks Clare and Kat for showing us around your back yard.

And thank you, Darb, Paul and Jason for sharing in this enjoyable adventure.

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Yandina Creek

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Yandina Creek Bridge

Today Simon and I explored the cane fields between Yandina and Coolum looking for a route that we could use for a future social ride.

This alluvial plain contains a mixture of swamps, farms and melaleuca scrub. It floods regularly, but has many tracks that are fun to ride.

Mount Coolum

We started near the small farming community of Valdora, with Mount Coolum looming large on the eastern horizon.

Not long ago this area was criss-crossed with narrow gauge railway lines for carrying sugar cane trains which hauled cane to the local mill. The lines are almost all gone now, but there are a few remnants if you know where to look…

Cane Bridge

This “Lift Bridge” still has the old cane-train lines on it.

Cane Bridge

When it was operational, the lift would be lowered to let trains pass over the bridge, then raised again to allow boats to pass up and down the Maroochy River.

Cane BridgeCane Bridge

On a future ride we think this might be an ideal spot for launching Eric’s inflatable dinghy to ferry bikes and riders over the river.

Mount Coolum

Our aim now was to find a quiet route from the north to get to this bridge, avoiding the busy main road into Coolum.

We rode eastwards along River Road past numerous farms as Mount Coolum seemed to watch over us.

Simon's Weekender

Some of the buildings have seen better days. Simon thought this would make an ideal weekender.

I don’t think I’ll be staying over, Simon.

Bridge, River Road

As often happens when we follow quiet roads, the tarmac ended, the gravel road became narrower, and we rattled over a few ricketty bridges.


Eventually we ran out of road, every turn blocked by a canal or creek – so we turned around and tried a different approach.

Cane Fields

Riding through a cane field is much more enjoyable than riding on a busy main road.

Yandina Creek

The cane field led us to a quiet track which followed Yandina Creek. It was overgrown in parts, but I had ridden through here a few years ago, and was confident it would lead to the river.

No Bridge

Unfortunately a bridge over one of the canals had been washed away. Faced with the choice of doubling back, or wading through the canal, we chose the latter. Like all good leaders I let Simon go ahead to make sure everything was ok.

With Simon’s help I managed to scramble across with the bike by jumping between clumps of mud.

I was happy – we’d traced out a challenging off-road route from the North that would get us to the river.

Our next hurdle was to see if we could join that eastwards to Coolum.

Stumers Creek

We followed the familiar trail from Coolum State School along Stumers Creek to the beach.

Fukawi Grass

I thought we should mix it up a bit, and looked for a new way to get us into Noosa National Park without getting too close to “civilization”. We did it, but ended up having to negotiate some head-high “fukawi” grass along the way.

We were heading for some bushland near Peregian Springs. I had ridden there a few years ago, and thought it was delightful.

Coolum Tracks

Here’s what it looked like in mid 2010. I was looking forward to getting back here and thought it would a great place to take friends on our future ride…

Here’s what it looks like now.

It was like something out of “The Lorax”. I felt really sad. The land is being cleared to build more homes as the area faces an influx of new people who want to live here.

The irony is they’re loving it to death.

I wish developers didn’t turn such beautiful bushland into a sterile desert.

I don’t have any answers – all I can do is enjoy the beautiful places around here while there’s still something to see!

Thanks, Simon, for following me through along some unusual tracks. I’m looking forward to exploring this area with more friends in future.