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Sunday, October 26, 2014

Bikes, Butchers and Baths

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Dianas Bath

Tucked away in a remote and rugged section of the D’Aguilar Range, Dianas Bath is a difficult place to get to – even on a mountain bike. Today we ventured to this secluded rock pool via a strangely named and ralrely used track named “Butcher Shop Creek Road”.

Laceys Creek Road

My friend, Nick, was visiting from interstate, so Darb, Simon and I decided to tke him on a tough tour of some of the local tracks close to home.

Wirth Road

After a leisurely roll beside Laceys Creek, near Dayboro, we left the paved road and started climbing up the range along Wirth Road.


A few minutes into the climb, we heard a friendly voice behind us and met Zac who had ridden his road bike up from Chermside and wanted to explore the D’Aguilar Range. With its narrow tyres, Zac’s bike made the rocky climb up Wirth Road much more challenging, but he impressed us as he worked his way up the hill.

Wirth Road

Eventually the rough terrain was too much for Zac’s skinny wheels, and Simon kindly offered to walk with him for the last couple of hundred metres up the hill.

Butcher Shop Creek Road

We left Zac at the top of Butcher Shop Creek Road. This steep track drops 530 metres over about 10 kilometres. The rocky descent is a lot of fun as it snakes down the range, but it demands a lot of concentration.

Butcher Shop Creek Road

Butcher Shop Creek Road

At the bottom of the descent we had to ride across rocky creek beds half a dozen times. I was grateful for the dry weather – this track would be hard work if the creek was flowing.

Stirlings Road

Stirlings Road

The thick forest ended abruptly as we suddenly emerged on Stirlings Road. If you keep following this dusty track you’d eventually end up at Somerset Dam. But today we weren’t venturing so far afield.

Stirlings Road

Creek Crossing

The road has a few wet crossings. We let Simon walk through and check the depth, then we rode through. Thanks Simon!

Bobs Camp

“Bobs Camp” is a lovely little camping site on the banks of the creek – complete with wooden “bunks”. We took a few minutes to check it out. I wonder how many travelers have boiled a billy and stayed overnight here?

Dianas Bath

Eventually we had to ditch the bikes and complete the last few hundred metres to the rock pool on foot. On previous visits I had rock-hopped up the creek bed to Dianas Bath, and was about to do the same this time when Darb suggested “Why don’t you just follow the path?”.

I didn’t even realize there was a walking track to the pool. Darb’s way was much easier.

Dianas Bath

Dianas Bath

Despite months of dry weather, Diana’s Bath was still full, so we jumped in for a swim. After the hot work of pedalling and hiking, the water felt delicious.

Dianas Bath

After the swim, we had a bite to eat. While I munched on a humble peanut butter sandwich, Simon produced a massive Cornish pastie. I’m not sure how he managed to fit that in his bag. I don’t know how he managed to eat it all either :)

Dianas Bath

A hiker, Richard, appeared from nowhere while we ate. He had been up to Mount Byron and was on his way back. I was impressed. Some of the slopes around here are very steep, and for someone to cover that terrain solo, in such hot weather, is quite a feat.

Dianas Bath

Our lunch over, we slowly made our way back along the walking path to the bikes.

Dianas Bath Road

The road out was steep. It was hard work pushing up the hill on the bikes.

Dianas Bath Road

Dianas Bath Road

We regrouped at the top of the hill next to the turn-off to infamous “A-Break”. I was glad we weren’t going up that monster of a climb.

Byron Creek Road

Byron Creek Road

After rolling down the other side of Dianas Bath Road we followed Byron Creek.

Byron Creek Road

Byron Creek Road passes through forests thick with Piccabeen Palms, vines, ferns and majestic eucalypts. I was glad we had brought our interstate visitor here.

Downhill Track

Downhill Track

The final track out of the park was down a perilously steep horse track which pretty much went off the side of the mountain range. In many places it was a controlled skid down: there was no way we could have brought the bikes to a halt on some of those slopes.

I loved it!

We rode a total of 48km in six hours, including breaks. We climbed 1,350m in vertical ascent, and I burned 3,000 kcal.

This is a tough ride with some long climbs – especially in the hotter months. BUT… that’s the best time to visit Dianas Bath – swimming there is a wonderful experience. If you just want to visit the rock pool, it might be easier instead as a 20km out-and-back ride from the end of Mount Brisbane Road. But the rocky creek crossings of Butcher Shop Creek, and “Bob’s Camp” are well worth a visit too.

Take lots of drinking water.

I’ll rate this one 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Thanks Darb, Simon, and Nick for another fun adventure!

Dianas Bath

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Fighting Kids’ Cancer

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Darb and Powerlines

Darb has a goal to ride one thousand kilometres in the month of October as part of a fund-raising effort to support the Childrens Medical Research Institute and their fight against cancer in children.

So Simon and I decided to take him on a big long ride up to the Glasshouse Mountains and back.

Lake Kurwongbah

We started on familiar trails close to home while the day was still cool. Kayakers paddled on the smooth water of Lake Kurwongbah as we rolled past.

Dunlop Lane

We followed Dunlop Lane northwards along trails that are very popular with horse riders…

Horse and Rider, Smiths Road

… and passed a horse rider who looked happy to be out in the bush on this beautiful day.

We were heading almost due north towards Wamuran. The road we were travelling on had a long and fascinating history. Dubbed “The Old North Road” it was used by the Archer Brothers in the early 1840’s as a way to travel from the Moreton Bay settlement to Durrundur Station near present-day Woodford.

This track was based on pathways used by Aborigines for thousands of years as a way of getting from “Meanjin” (their name for Brisbane) to “Baroon” – a traditional meeting / fighting ground among the majestic Bunya forests on the shore of Obi Obi Creek near present day Maleny.

Gregors Crossing

Gregors Crossing

We reached Gregors Creek after about 90 minutes. Simon and I had ridden through here a few years ago. It seemed much easier for us to ride it today than it did when we first did it.

In 1846 Gregors Creek was the site of the tragic murder of Rev Andrew Gregor and Mary Shannon which led to race-based reprisals for over a decade. Today the peaceful green hills seem to have swallowed up the sorry past.

Neil at Zillmans Crossing

We stopped at Zillman’s Crossing on the Caboolture River for a quick break. Simon indulged my vanity and agreed to photograph me showing off in the middle of the river. I think he was secretly hoping he could take a few photos of me falling in – but (thankfully?) that didn’t eventuate.


VasectomyStop Aging

After about three hours we reached Wamuran for a quick snack.

The local medical centre has some great signs out the front :)

Simon and Pineapples

After refuelling at Wamuran we set off through endless pineapple fields towards the rail trail.

O'Shea Road

Based on a disused rail line which once ran between Caboolture and Kilkoy, the trail here has tracks branching off in a variety of directions.

Climbing a Hill

Rather than following the easy gradients of the rail trail, we decided to drop into granny gear and grind up some of the steeper tracks under the power lines.

Climbing a Hill

It was supposed to be a “short cut”, but it didn’t feel like it by the time we reached the top.

Simon on the Trail

At the top of the hill we enjoyed some easy downhill tracks through our first pine plantations of the day as we rode northwest towards Woodford.

Darb on a Hill

Pine Plantation

I grinned as I soaked up the freedom in wide open space around me.

Forest Trail

Plank Bridge

Although we were having fun, we did have a few objectives. Foremost in my mind was the need to check that the tracks around Woodford were rideable. We’re planning a large social ride here in a few weeks with about 30 friends, and I wanted to make sure that our planned route would work.

I mentally ticked off a few boxes as we rolled over a couple of plank bridges in the cool forest.

4WD vs The Giant Drop

We’ve ridden our bikes down The Giant Drop a few times. It’s a really challenging hill which requires total concentration.

Today I was impressed to see people drive UP it in their Four Wheel Drives.

Darb and 4WD's

Simon and 4WD's

The place was crawling with 4WD’s and trail bikes. Everyone seemed to be having a good time.

Power Lines

We decided to give The Giant Drop a wide berth and rode down the hill the easy (and more scenic) way.

Pine Plantation

The great thing about the Glasshouse Mountains is that you don’t have to look very far to find alternative routes. There are trails going off in all directions.

MTB vs 4WD

As we neared Mount Beerwah we met a couple of vehicles coming in the opposite direction. Everyone must have had the same idea – that today was a good day to get out in the bush.

Simon and Darb

This was another section of trail I wanted to check out before the social ride.

It had lots of twisting tracks which snaked around puddles and over hills.


Sargeants Road

Sargeants Road

The final bit of trail I wanted to double-check was Sargeants Road. In the past it had been obstructed with fallen logs, but today it was just right. Steep descents, fun creek crossings, friendly log rollovers. I think we’re going to have fun when we all ride this :)

Sargeants Road

The final bit of trail on Sargeants Road is a very steep pinch-climb out. Previously I’ve had to push my bike out. Today I rode up it.

“FIG JAM!” I yelled out as I reached the top.

“Just. Ask. Me!”

“Just. Ask. Me!”

I was very pleased with myself. Simon and Darb were very gracious and let me enjoy my moment.


Back on the tarmac we made our way into town for lunch, as the titan Coonowrin looked mournfully down at us.

In Kabi / Gubbi Gubbi legend, Coonowrin was the cowardly eldest son who didn’t come to the aid of his pregnant mother before an approaching storm. Sometimes I swear I can see a sad face on the side of the rocky monolith.

Pie Shop

Simon often tells me his favourite rides are those with a coffee shop or pie shop at the midway point. Today he was lucky: the pie shop served coffee as well as pie :)

Pine Plantation, Beerburrum

We were now riding south on the homeward leg of our Epic adventure. My backside was starting to feel a bit sore, my legs had a pleasant ache to them, but I’d kept an eye on my hydration and electrolyte levels. Everything was going perfectly.

Old Gympie RoadD'Aguilar Highway, Caboolture

Bike Lane, CabooltureBoundary Road Railway Bridge

The dirt tracks morphed into quiet paved roads, which slowly grew busier as we rode through Caboolture.

Mountain Bikers don’t like riding on tarmac much – but they were a necessary evil as we headed home.

Wyllie Park, Petrie

As we rolled along familiar bike paths close to home, we congratulated each other on a top effort.

Lawnton Cemetery

Lawnton Cemetery

As Simon and I rolled through Lawnton cemetery, I thought about how lucky we were to be alive. Above the ground, rather than under it.

Just then a Butcher Bird smacked me on the side of my helmet, as nesting birds often do, and roused me from my reverie. Simon waved his hand furiously above his head to ward off the aggressive avian. I just laughed.

We had started the day in support of a friend who wanted to do something to combat a disease which kills people, including numerous children.

We had ended it in a graveyard, pondering our own mortality, and getting attacked by a bird who was trying to protect the new life in its nest.

I was reminded of the late Randy Pausch, an inspiring professor dying of brain cancer. In his final lecture, he shared his thoughts on life and he battle we all face with the Grim Reaper:

We don’t beat the Grim Reaper by living longer, we beat the Reaper by living well and living fully, for the Reaper will come for all of us. The question is what do we do between the time we are born and the time he shows up.

Well said, Randy.

I want to live well.

All up I rode 134km in 10 hours including breaks.

Darb rode a whopping 150km.

I burned over 5,000 kcal, and climbed 1,700m in vertical ascent.

This ride was easer than we anticipated. We maintained a steady pace, kept well-hydrated, and enjoyed regular light snacks throughout the day.

I’ll rate it 8.5 out of 10 on the tough-o-meter.

Thanks Darb and Simon for a memorable day on the bike!