The coolest chic I know lives in Toowoomba, and a while back, she bought us tickets to see some banjo players at QPAC. I’d noticed last time I visted her that Toowoomba has some cool outdoor/adventure spots, so I decided to turn the whole trip into a mountain biking and hiking adventure.
On the first day I drove to Wondai to see if I could find the mountain bike track I’d overheard some mountain bikers talking about a few weeks back. I went to the tourist information centre, but the lady there didn’t really know anything about it, so I thought I’d try and find it on the stupid map app thing that someone put on my phone a couple of weeks ago. It took me around the block twice, so I promptly deleted it and just went back to google. Luckily I saw some mountain bikers heading down the hill, so I drove down the road and caught up to them. I asked the girl at the back if they were going on the loop (I didn’t realise that it was an actual single track mountain bike track, not just a rail trail loop). “We’re going to the mountain bike track,” she said, looking at me suspiciously. At this point I remembered I was driving a white van. “Ohh, cool! Can I follow you because I’m trying to find it and I don’t know where I’m going?” I said.
I pulled over before the carpark (I didn’t realise there was one), and she rode back to tell me that I could keep driving and park at the carpark about 800 metres further along the road. I felt good about that because it meant she didn’t think I was a white-van-stalker.
This is a bloody awesome track: lots of cool hills and do-able jumps and obstacles. It was heaps of fun. I met a cool fella here called Morris, who took me around the whole thing. He was really nice and I felt like I could be friends with him in everyday life, but as usual, I felt weird about asking if he wanted to stay in touch, so I said nothing, which is stupid.
After Wondai, I headed to Wooroolin with an 18km loop off the rail trail in mind. There was a sign at the start, which I followed up a MASSIVE hill to another sign that sent me down a nice, flat dirt road. A huge dog came running out of a house and I got a bit worried it was going to have a go at me, but it was a big sook. It had its teeth out, but was only doing a stupid grin to let me know it was friendly. I gave it a big pat and told it to go home, which it did. After that, there were no more signs, so I just continued to ride in a staight line, which took me over a grid and onto what looked like a long driveway. It was a long driveway: To someone’s farm house. I turned around and decided to head back to the car because I couldn’t tell which way I was meant to go because there were no more signs. AAAAarrghhh! As it turned out, I couldn’t go back the way I’d come because someone had closed a gate across the road where I’d met the huge dog. That meant I got to ride down a massive hill and managed to go the fastest I’ve ever gone on the bike: 39km/hr. I thought I was pretty cool, but I didn’t realise how much faster I could actually go until I got to Crows Nest the next day.
I headed to Kingaroy thinking I’d find a stealth camp there, but after driving around there for about an hour and not finding anywhere I felt OK about, I decided to head towards Crows Nest and find somewhere on the way. I ended up at Goodger, which was a much better spot than down the end of some dodgy suburban industrial estate.
I write all this stuff in a journal while I’m doing an adventure so that I can remember it properly later on. I really, really hate doing this! It’s the most annoying form of wrting for me and I have to write very fast so I can out-write the feeling of the approaching tantrum of I DON’T WANNA!! This is what happens when I write in a journal:
The next day at Crows Nest I called into the tourist information centre to see if they had any stuff on the local mountain bike tracks. The lady was really nice, but the biggest Covid conspiracy theorist I’ve ever come across. Apparently everyone who got vaccinated only has five years to live. She claimed that the vaccine was a way of getting us all transformed into AI because the global elite want to control everything and depopulate the world. I kept asking her why, not belligerently, but because I was genuinely interested in where she was going with her particular theory, but when she no longer had a way to answer my enquiries, she reverted to beliefs (a war between god and satan), which you can’t really question, so that shut the whole thing down. Ohhh, what a shame.
After that I went into Crows Nest to get a coffee and looked at a few maps to work out where to ride. I decided on a 20km mountain bike loop, which was pretty challenging. The first bit was OK and it was before the road went to dirt that I got the bike up to 50km/hr. That was pretty cool! The bike had a small speed wobble, but it was barely noticeable. Not long after that, the road when to dirt with massive corrugations on gigantic hills and I had to get off and push the bike a lot. It was really hot and I kept fantasising about getting a Crows Nest softdrink when I got back to the car. It was on the back end of the loop that I noticed my back brake wasn’t really working, which was a pain because there were some massive down hills on the way back towards Crows Nest and I could’ve picked up some good speed on these if I wasn’t worried about needing to slow down should a car come over the next crest or whatever. There was really only about 2km of nice riding on this loop. The rest was too corrugated and steep to really stay on the bike.
After the loop I went to Crows Nest National Park. I did the hikes there, but was struggling a bit by this point because my legs were so sore from a big run I’d done two days prior (the 2nd day after the exercise is always the most painful), and I had to find a big stick to help me get up and down all the stairs on the hike to the lookout at the top. It was worth it. I got to do some great cooees and yelps from the lookout. It was really echoey.
That night, I wrote in my journal: ” I think it’s good to not know too much about what you’re going to do. There’s no way to get disappointed: That bike loop at Crows Nest wasn’t really fun, but it didn’t piss me off like the Rainbow Beach ride did because I had no ideas about what it would be like.”
The next day I went for a drive in the forestry at Hampton, with the idea that I’d end up at Lake Perserverence and then Lake Cressbrook. At Lake Perserverence I found a secret hike:
I got really excited about this because I’d looked into the valley the day before from the Crows Nest Falls lookout and thought how cool it would be to go down and follow the creek bed and explore the bush. I went back to the car and got the GPS so I wouldn’t be held back by worrying about getting lost, but I didn’t get that far. I spent around 2 hours climbing around all the boulders in the creek bed, but couldn’t see where the trail went after the second marker. I assumed you follow the creek bed, but I just rocked hopped around up to the spillway and climbed back out to the car. I didn’t feel like getting stuck in the guts of nowhere. Given the condition of the sign and the two markers I did see, it’s obvious that this trail isn’t really used anymore, so it’s not likely that it’s going to be obvious where to go to get out of the valley at the other end.
After Lake Cressbrook, which was full of rules (YOU CAN’T! DON’T! STOP! NO DOGS! KEEP OUT! NO! NONE OF THAT! KEEP IT DOWN! SLOW! ). I went to Ravensbourne National Park, which was awesome. I found an old memorial at the Gus Beutel lookout, but I couldn’t read who it memorialised because the engraving was worn away. I did all the hikes in the park and at one point, in the middle of the rainforest, with the picabeens towering above me, two army Chinooks beat their way overhead. It gave me goosebumps as images of Vietnam sprung to mind.
That night I wrote in my journal: “Today I felt like this is why I’m alive.”
The next day I faffed around in Toowoomba before heading off to Brisbane for the gig. I bought a new seat for my bike (the existing one had snapped) and asked the dude who sold it to me about fixing my hub and my brakes. Nobody in bike shops ever really likes fat bikes, but this guy wasn’t too bad. He reckoned I should probably buy a new bike because mine needs too much new stuff, which will require me to spend more than the bike is worth. He showed me the one below, which seems pretty bloody expensive at $2K (Fatty cost $650), but he reckons it’s only entry level. Entry to what exactly? Entry to spending even more money next time, then on and on ad infinitum. People get really judgey about equipment when you’re doing a specialist-type activity. This is one of the reasons I’m not a huge fan of clubs. So far, the mountain bikers I’ve met on the tracks have been pretty accepting, but even so, I’m not rushing out to join the local mountain bike club!
After the faffing I headed into Brisbane to catch up with the coolest chic ever. We had a great time and, overall I had another really great adventure, which I would not have been able to do had I not crossed paths with the dangerous and stupid iteration of myself in 2022.