First bike tour, Brisbane to Tin Can Bay, part one

Morning at Tin Can Bay
Morning at Tin Can Bay

After much planning and preparation, the time had come for me to attempt my first bike tour. This was to be a week long journey from my home in Brisbane, to the quiet fishing village of Tin Can Bay, and home again. The plan was for 3 days cycling there, stopping at Coolum then Lake Cootharaba, a rest day, then 3 days cycling back. I had cycled most of the route before, although not as part of a continuous ride. And the section between Lake Cootharaba and Tin Can Bay was new to me. This was to prove the hardest part of the ride by far.

Beerwah Forest road
Beerwah Forest road

Day one – 22 September, Brisbane to Coolum (75km)

With my fully loaded bike, I took the train to Beerwah Station where I set off through the Beerwah State Forest, heading for the district just south of Caloundra. After only a few minutes riding, I saw a flock of about 8 Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoos, noisily making their way through the pine trees.

Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo
Yellow-Tailed Black Cockatoo

The road surface was pretty good, and in a couple of hours I had made my way through the forest and into Caloundra. Right beside the cycle path I saw galahs and a corella, peacefully feeding on the grass and quite unperturbed by my presence.

Long billed corella
Long billed corella
Galahs
Galahs

I reached the coast just before lunch, arriving near the Currimundi area.

Currimundi
Currimundi

The weather was comfortably cool, with just a little rain.  But this cleared to clear blue sky and bright sunshine as I approached Coolum.  I stopped at one of the many coastal lookout points along the way, hoping to see a whale, as this is their southern migratory season.  The view was spectacular, but no whales were to be seen.

Lookout, south of Coolum
Lookout, south of Coolum

At about 4pm I reached my accommodation, a little weary as it had been a while since I’d ridden that distance.  And I’d never ridden with a fully loaded bike before.  But it felt great to have got my first day’s travel in.

Day two – 23 September, Coolum to Lake Cootharaba (65km)

My second day’s riding was almost all along the coast.  There is a coastal pathway that runs 95km from the southern end of Caloundra all the way to Noosa.  For anyone interested in seeing the Sunshine Coast by bike, this is a must-do ride.  Lots of terrific riding by the sea, like this spot near Marcus Beach.

Marcus Beach
Marcus Beach

Enjoying another great day of clear sky and sunshine’ I made my way through Noosa and Tewantin, and onto Lake Cootharaba, arriving at about 3pm.

Weyba Creek, Noosa
Weyba Creek, Noosa
Noosa river
Noosa river
Lake Cootharaba
Lake Cootharaba

Day three – 24 September, Lake Cootharaba to Tin Can Bay (56km)

On day three I set out early as this was the section of the ride I’d never been on before.  And unlike the previous two days, I was not going to be in any populated area – the whole day was going to be spent in the Toolara State Forest.  I wanted to give myself plenty of time to make it to Tin Can Bay.  My host at Cootharaba has a house surrounded by bushland and wildlife and as I was setting off, a butcher bird settled on the back stair to partake of a few scraps that had been left out.

Butcher bird
Butcher bird

I set off through the Elanda Point grasslands, and then walked the bike through the 2.5km of the Boronia Trail, leading to Harry’s Hut Rd.

Boronia Trail
Boronia Trail

Along the trails, I saw an enormous rainforest tree that had toppled over, exposing the trunk and root system.  I placed the bike nearby so as to give an idea of scale.

Toppled tree, Boronia Trail
Toppled tree, Boronia Trail

Coming off the trail, and onto Harry’s Hut Rd in the area called Como, I was very surprised to see a group of three deer grazing beside the road.  One very large buck with a magnificent set of antlers, and two smaller deer.  They ran away quickly but I did manage to get a photo of on of the smaller ones, whose curiosity about this strange person on a bicycle, must have outweighed the desire to hide in the bush.

Deer at Como
Deer at Como

After Harry’s Hut Rd, I turned onto the dirt road of Cooloola Way, which would take me almost all the way to TCB.  It was at that point that my ride turned from a pleasant exploration to a grueling struggle.  The heavens opened and it poured with rain for hours.  Cooloola Way turned out to be five and a half hours of bicycle hell.  The surface was either so muddy and sticky that it was like riding through glue – or it was rocky and stony and utterly bone-jarring.  I left my camera safely stashed in the waterproof pannier, so I don’t have any pictures of that part of the journey.  For anyone planning on taking the Cooloola Way as part of a bike trek, I strongly suggest you think otherwise.  But eventually I made my way to the edge of the forest, found the bitumen road, and wearily cycled into Tin Can Bay.

Arrived TCB, weary but happy
Arrived TCB, weary but happy

As I arrived, the weather cleared as if to welcome me and assure me that the toughest part of my trip was over.  I had a rest day to look forward to, and plenty of time to plot an alternative route back to Lake Cootharaba.  196km all up and I had completed the first half of my bike tour.

 

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2 thoughts on “First bike tour, Brisbane to Tin Can Bay, part one

  1. Love you blog Michael. Fantastic adventure all the way up the coast on your bike! I know Cootharaba Lake very well. My grandparents lived there for 32 years and I have very fond memories of ‘The Lake’ Love and blessings, Jaya x

  2. Great pics and narration. I am still to do a bike tour anywhere (even overnight) but would like to one day when time and finances allow. I currently have a road bike which I’m not really suited to, comfort-wise for long trips and the ability to carry panniers is limited as well. This gives me some great ideas for local areas though. Great blog. 🙂

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