I took Fatty out for a ride yesterday to a spot I found a while ago. It was awesome: I rode through a muddy creek and muddy water flicked up everywhere. I love it when this happens because for some weird reason it feels like I’m really doing something, really getting right into being in nature, and because I’m getting dirty, I’m doing it properly. I know this is ridiculous, but who cares!
I rode over a river crossing, up a massive hill and took off into the bush. I can’t tell anyone where this is because I’m not really meant to be riding there. It’s not private property, but still I’m not meant to be there, no one is, but I actually don’t care because I’m not doing anything antisocial, like illegal dumping, I’m just riding my bike. It’s a great spot. I really like it.
I rode a fair way, but the track ended at a creek, which I couldn’t get across, so turned around to come back. About half way back I noticed a track off to my right. I’d already gone down a track like this on my way to the creek I couldn’t cross, so I kept riding, telling myself that it probably wouldn’t go anywhere and I’d get disappointed like I had when I’d taken the last side track to nowhere.
See, I love finding relics in the bush. The ultimate relic for me is a dead body. I want to find one before I die. I know it’s weird and I don’t care. A skeleton is what I’m really aiming for. This isn’t likely to happen, but it doesn’t stop me from getting excited everytime I come across a remote area. The next best relics are old abandoned buildings and weird stuff that is hard to explain, like how a car got to the bottom of a massive cliff that is nowhere near a road, or why a house in the middle of nowhere, still full of books, clothes and personal items was abondoned and left to rot, or how did this old Zippo lighter and leather tobacco pouch end up here in the middle of the bush, just for me to find twenty years after it was lost?
I got some way down the main track and decided that in the spirit of adventure and exploration I really should go back and check out the side track, so I turned around and followed it. It went for much further than the earlier side track had gone and I started to worry about where I’d end up because it was getting late. I won’t turn any corners I told myself, I’ll just keep going straight. I have a problem with knowing when to stop and didn’t want to end up in the middle of nowhere, fighting my way through spiders to find the car in the dark. God, I hate spiders! They always build their webs at face height across tracks.
My breath caught in my throat when I looked up to see the edge of a building come into view.” Holy shit” I said out loud. It was hard not to get too excited, but I made myself slow down, lean my bike against a tree in the direction of escape, and approach with caution. I left my helmet on so I wasn’t trying dick around with it incase a gunman came at me, even though I knew that wasn’t likely given the condition of the track I’d ridden in on – nobody had driven on it for a long, long time.
I thought I might find some bodies hanging from the beams in the theme of the Violent Femmes Country Death Song, but there was nothing in there. I’d done a pretty good job of creeping myself out by this stage, so it was just as well really. Here’s a link to that song. It’s my favourite Femmes song: Country Death Song
I swear, the Cooloola region is out to get me! The last time I planned an adventure here, The relentless wind blew me sideways on a bike trip on Teewah beach, which caused me to push my bike for 33km before jagging a lift to Tewantin with some beautiful people. Before that, I’d booked the Great Walk twice before only to have it cancelled by QPWS due to fires in the area. The Cooloola Wilderness Trail got me a couple of years back when I almost froze solid on the banks of the Noosa river. When I first got my fat bike, I drove all the way to Rainbow to ride for a day in the forestry, only to have the seat break in the first five minutes. Oh yes, and of course there was the bed incident at Teewah village in 2007, which is a long story without a happy ending in which I got to see someone I’d always loved for who they truly were: a horrible, horrible arsehole.
It’s not all bad though. I did find a $50 note on the side of Rainbow Beach Road in 2019 on my way there on a charity hike for brain injury. Plus, the community at Rainbow is really cool. Rainbow Beach is where my dad taught me how to swim safely in the surf when I was a little kid. I also had my first go at catching sandworms with Dad on the surf beach. I have always loved seeing the brumbies roaming wild in the pine forests on the way into Rainbow. It’s a really nice place and when I was a kid I used to say that when I grew up I would either live at Rainbow or on Fraser Island.
The hike started out fine:
The first day from Carlo sandblow to Kauri campsite wasn’t too bad because it was only 15.2km. The worst part was getting up onto the trail from the sandblow. I was mindful of my hiking boots because the right one has a massive hole in it, which I’d only noticed the day before. I didn’t want my boot to fill up with sand, but after a while I decided to just forget about it because worrying about it wasn’t going to reduce the sand intrusion. In the end, it didn’t matter because no extra sand made its way into my right boot anyway.
I was hopeful I’d see some lightning sand (fulgurite), but I was too intent on getting across the sandblow to have a proper look. This desire to do everything at speed would become a problem as time wore on.
I got to Kauri much quicker than I expected. There was a lot of “track clag”, by which I mean big tree falls blocking the trail. Some of the trees were massive and I wondered if they were infected with cinnamon fungus.I could tell that one of the big trees had fallen in the last 24 hours because I could still smell the chlorophyll. At this point I started to pay more attention to the extremely windy conditions. Would a tree fall on me? As the the day wore on, branches crashed through the canopy and onto the trail in front of me and behind me, but somehow I didn’t get taken out.
There were a lot of cool fig trees..
I’m not sure what species of fig these are, but they have massive fruit:
At the campsite there were two other solo hikers already set up. I was not expecting this and I wasn’t particularly excited about it, but nature doesn’t belong to me, so I have to stop thinking that I’m the only person who likes doing stuff outdoors. It was really windy setting up the tent and it had been raining on and off all day, which was really annoying for setting the tent up, but I managed to get it done before there was a major downpour. Argh! It pissed down rain all night long and I was less than impressed when water started dripping on my head. I have a $750 Wilderness Equipment tent: Water is not meant to drip on my head!
I was also a little bit worried about the wind. I kept thinking about all the fallen trees I’d seen on the trail that day. In the end I had to say to myself, I doesn’t matter if a tree falls on you because you’ll be dead, so you won’t know anything about it. All night I swear I could hear music. It sounded like a distant concert.
The next day was a 20.5km walk to Littoria campsite. This was really hard because I walked too fast and as a result got royally fucked up by my need for speed. I also got bitten by a spider or a little snake somewhere along the trail, which didn’t help. About half way I started to think that I wanted to go home.
By the time I got to the campsite I could hardly move because my hip flexors were killing me. After I set the tent up and had stopped moving I realised I was in a bit of trouble because I felt like absolute shit (maybe from a combination of the snake/spider bite and the reality that I’m not invincible?). At this point I decided that it would be pretty stupid to keep going because if I did get sick combined with the obvious reality that my hip flexors would only get worse as the kilometres wore on, I would be in a bit of trouble. Someone was coming to pick me up at the end of the hike, so it was no big deal to get them to come and pick me up the next day instead.
Littoria is pretty much right on Kings Bore Road, which I knew was a way out to Cooloola Way, although I wasn’t sure if it was open to vehicles. There was phone service here, so I phoned the Qld government to find out if the road was open to vehicles. What a complete waste of time that was. They had no idea what I was even asking and would not forward my call to QPWS so I could get some local information. In the end I just winged it and it ended up being ok.
I walked about 10km out along Kings Bore Road to the intersection with Cooloola Way. It was a really nice walk and even though everything was killing me, and I had a massive headache, it didn’t get to me too much. I got to see this awesome creek, which I would not have even known existed had I not left the hike…
The entire great walk is around 100km. I ended up doing about 50km. I can always come back to where I got picked up to do the remainder of the hike even though a ranger I saw didn’t seem too impressed that I’d been walking on Kings Bore Road. “I’m pretty sure I’m not a vehicle,” I said to him because there were signs that vehicles weren’t allowed, but none to say that pedestrians couldn’t use the road. It’s a real shame that these old road aren’t accessible by cyclists (bikes are considered vehicles by QPWS in some locations) because they’d be great for bikepacking. It’s a low impact activity, so who knows why you can’t take bikes on roads. A utopia of rules.
A valuable thing I learnt via this experience is that I need to treat hiking as recreation and not as a race because it’s not a race: I have to slow the fuck down. Also, just because you’re extremely fit from training on a bike and on a HIIT machine, it doesn’t mean you can just head off on a 100km hike if you don’t even go on short walks. Durr! I also learnt that it’s ok to call it quits, that it’s smart to call it quits, that it’s not weak to call it quits, that it’s the responsible thing to call it quits, that calling it quits in a situation like this means you are not a danger to yourself or to others, which demonstrates good decision-making. Being a good decision-maker is an essential quality for living an adventurous life, in fact, for living any kind of meaningful life.
…of all strategies, knowing when to quit may be the best…
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.
A while back I bought myself a 4WD van so I could go on adventures and take my fat bike with me. I wanted a van because I thought it would be easier to just pull up and sleep in the back of it instead of sorting out accommodation and putting up tents. I’d also heard a lot of stories about bikes getting stolen from bike racks, which I was keen to avoid, so a van seemed like a really great option, and it is.
I love it! It’s a Mitsubishi Delica. I never really saw myself as a van person, but I love this van and I get the feeling that it loves me back. I went on my first van-bike adventure last weekend, and it was heaps of fun, but not without it’s moments, especially early in the trip when I nearly flipped the van over in a big old mudhole:
Going through the mudholes (there was a big one and two small ones), wasn’t the problem. It was coming back five minutes after I’d gotten through. There was a bulldozer-sized hole in the road around a bend, so I had to turn around and come back and there was mud and crap everywhere, which made the sides of the bog super slippery. I tried to straddle the deepest part of the big hole, but the wheels slipped off the edge and the whole van seemed to be just hanging there on a ridiculously scary angle with the wheels spinning. Somehow, I managed to get out. I shit myself!
The stupid thing was that I didn’t even need to go down that road to get to where I wanted to go: Point Pure Lookout.
After climbing around the bottom of the cliffs at the lookout I came back up to find some people setting up to go abseiling: RJ and Andy. I talked to them about a bunch of stuff and asked them if they ever got scared. Andy responded without hestitation, “of course, all the time.” I was really surprised. I was fully expecting them to say that they never get scared anymore. Andy went on to tell me that all climbers get scared and if you have a break from climbing, it can take months and months to get rid of the debilitating level of fear that can potentially hold climbers back from taking on new climbing challenges. This was news to me, and it made me feel good because there’s heaps of stuff I get scared about all the time, like riding my horse, like swimming long distance in the ocean, like riding downhill through obstacles on my fat bike, like jumping off a pier, etc etc. Both Andy and RJ said that when they’re afraid, they just do stuff anyway, even though it makes them feel crappy. “You’re right, fear is just feeling, and fear itself never actually hurt anyone, did it?” I said.
I didn’t really have a plan for where I would go, or what I would do, so I drove around a fair bit in Brooyar State Forest and ended up heading towards Kilkivan because I thought I could do some of the rail trail, but no, it was padlocked shut. I saw a sign for Mudlo National Park, so I followed that to check it out. It was really cool! I did a hike up a massive hill and stopped at picnic area for the night.
I got woken up early when another car pulled in next to me. It was really annoying because in the dream I was having, I was just about to tell a very annoying person what I actually thought of them. D’oh!
After here I headed towards Goomeri and got a croissant from the Goomeri bakery. I love that place. It’s one of the nicest bakeries I’ve ever seen. As I was driving off, I recognised the name Kimbombi from some research I’d done ages ago, so swung into the road heading to Kimbombi Falls. The falls were pretty cool, and the gorge is amazing, but the RV camp at the top wasn’t that great. There were a lot of rules that basically just boiled down to DON’T. There was also a couple of whingers that really crushed my soul into the dust. Ugh, I wish I’d never talked to them. They had some really racist things to say about Aboriginal People, but I didn’t bother arguing when them like I usually do, although I did say, “there are a lot more white people who do the wrong thing.” Sometimes I wish I wasn’t so polite and could just say to people, “shut the fuck up, you racist/bigoted/xenophobic cockhead.”
After here I drove to Maidenwell because I knew there was a nice swimming hole there: Coomba Falls. It was packed with people! I had to tell a couple of loafers off for sitting on my towel, “Hoy, do yous wanna get your arses off my towel?” The poor towel, it was all muddy and gross. Off they went, didn’t say sorry or in fact, even look at me. The swim was great. I stayed in the water for about an hour. I would have stayed longer, but it got too cold and I had to get out.
After here I drove to the Bunya Mountains. It was awesome! I stayed there one night and did a bunch of hikes. I met some cool people, and some not so cool at the various locations I visited here. Mostly people were really happy and friendly, but there were some that had a permanent scowl on their faces, which is hard to understand when you’re in such a nice place.
I met a cool dude, who had a tiny drone that could fly up to 8km away. He and his wife invited me to watch the sunset with them:
The drone dude put an app on my phone called maps.me. It’s meant to show you where trails are without needing phone service. I used it the next day to find the Gordonbrook mountain bike trails, but not before it took me almost all the way to Chinchilla, which was nowhere near Gordonbrook. Aaargh!! Not sure it’s as great as what he made out when he put it on my phone, but probably ok for getting a general idea.
I stayed the last night at Wooroolin free camp. I went to see Shane and Robyn at the pub. These lovely people gave me a free meal and organised fundraising for me when I came through the area in 2016 on a solo 375km charity hike. It was the friendliest and most generous place on the entire hike.
I thought I could do some more riding the next day because there are two mountain bike loops our of Wooroolin, but I decided to just go home and come back another time for the rides.
On the way home I decided I was going to check out Barretts road. I’ve been wanting to do this for years, mainly to see if it was possible to get down to the Isis River. Yes! It is. Check it out:
I had a freakin’ awesome time.It was a different approach to going on an adventure for me: first time in the van, first time not having a plan. It’s hard to let go of needing to plan everything to the Nth degree, which is unavoidable if you’re on foot or on the bike remotely, but in the car, it’s really amazing how freeing it is to JUST GO. I can now see why so many people choose this nomadic type of lifestyle.
A good traveller has no fixed plan and is not intent on arriving – Lao Tzu
In January I meticulously planned a ride from Rainbow Beach, across the Leisha Track, up Teewah Beach, across the river on the ferry to Tewantin, and back to Rainbow via the Cooloola Way. It was around 150km of riding in total. I only managed to ride 15km: from the beach ramp at Rainbow to the Teewah side of the Leisha track. I didn’t factor in trying to ride into the galeforce wind on Teewah Beach. Ugh!
The problems started early; before I’d even gone 15km. The beach was blocked by a massive treefall just before Double Island Point. To get through I had to unpack everything off the bike and stash it in the timber. Then I had to grab the bike and carry it through all the logs and sticks while unsuccessfully avoiding the waves breaking around my knees. After I parked the bike on the other side, I had to go back for the packs, which were more difficult and cumbersome to carry though the log jam than the damn bike was! I really wanted to go for a swim because the water looked so nice, but I decided against it and that was a good decision given how much time it took me to get anywhere once I got out onto Teewah Beach.
I was meant to ride 25km from the Leisha track, but only made it 17km because I pushed the bike almost the entire way. When I did try to ride I got a massive rippling cramp in my right thigh, so stopped and drank a little bit of seawater. I also licked my arms to get the salt off. It seemed to help with the cramp, but I couldn’t ride. It was waaay too windy. I did not expect that and felt kind of stupid for not even considering it.
In my journal (which I really hate writing by the way) that night, I wrote: It really wasn’t that fun today, or even fun at all if I’m really honest. It was really fucking hard. I don’t remember the Wongi ride being this hard…I don’t know how people camp in sand. It’s fucked. It gets everywhere, even into places you know you haven’t touched or opened. And, it’s sticky too because it’s kind of wet, so it’s not like you can dust it off. It’s sooooo annoying!
Lots of people stopped to give me lifts on the two days I was on Teewah Beach, but I wouldn’t have been able to fit Fatty in any of their cars, so I kept saying no. Some people eventually did come along with an empty ute tray, so I got a lift with them. They also gave me mini Mars Bars, so that was pretty cool. They were all very beautiful people. Beautiful in the way that people from cities normally are, not like me; someone who looks like they just fell out of a tree! Ange, who sat in the front told me about her business: About Faces Noosa. No wonder she was beautiful! They talked a lot about Yoga and it made me want to give it a go.
In total I rode for 15km and pushed the bike for 33km. I don’t recommend doing this! I couldn’t even complete the “easy” return section of the ride along the Cooloola Way, so I had to stay in a caravan park and get picked up the next day. When I was there, I wrote in my journal: I like Tewantin. I reckon I could live here.
When I got home I came up with a five year plan to buy a house in Tewantin. I would never have thought of this had I not had this epic fail, so it wasn’t really a fail because I got to learn some cool stuff and come up with more cool plans for the future. I also got to meet some really great people and made it home, even though at times it seemed like that would never happen. This guy wasn’t so lucky…