Global Fat Bike Day 2015

GFBD

This Saturday (5 December 2015) is Global Fat Bike Day 2015. A ride from Coolum Beach to Noosa, starting at 7am, is being organised and you can read about it on FB at https://www.facebook.com/events/882938278463830/

There’s a lot of GFBD events on all around the world (http://allevents.in/events?q=Global%20Day&page=1#) but most of them seem to be in the northern hemisphere and will involve snow! I’m sure that would be a lot of fun, but I love our beaches in the summer and am very glad this day falls in the season (here) that it does. Some pics may follow in a later post.

Humpback Whales at Hell’s Gates, Noosa

Humpback Whales at Hell's Gates, Noosa
Humpback Whales at Hell’s Gates, Noosa

In early October, the Antarctica-bound humpback whale migration is moving along the south Queensland coast. Their numbers continue to rise and by some estimates they are now reaching pre-whaling population levels. And while the whale-watching boat cruises do a brisk trade at this time of year, there are plenty of locations on the coast where you can get a great view of the whales from the shore. One of our favourites is Noosa National Park.

Noosa National Park
Noosa National Park

We hiked around the coastal perimeter of the park from the Sunshine Beach end, making our way to the cliffs at Hell’s Gates, the north-eastern point of the park, to see if we could spot some whales. To our great delight, we saw many whales passing by, and the view from the cliffs was clear and uninterrupted. One whale in particular was breaching close to the cliff just as we arrived. But unfortunately I didn’t have my camera at the ready, so I learned a valuable lesson for wildlife photography – be prepared.

Synchronised whale swimming
Synchronised whale swimming

The whale photos shown here are somewhat grainy, as I had to enlarge them quite a bit to get the whale tails into view. I use a moderately powerful zoom lens, but I have yet to master the use of a DSLR. It’s a more complex beastie than I imagined it would be. However that took nothing away from the joy of watching these magnificent animals swimming by, in such a spectacular setting on a clear spring day.

Australasian Figbird
Australasian Figbird

As well as the whales, there are lots of sights to see around this coastline, and my inner bird-nerd enjoyed spotting what I later identified as an Australasian Figbird.  At least I’m pretty sure that’s what it was – any corrections gratefully accepted.  One more to mark as “seen” in my Slater’s Guide.

Exploring Tunbubudla, Glasshouse Mountains

The Glasshouse Mountains region is a superb area for hiking, cycling and climbing. So with a clear, crisp mid-winter day to spend, we took our bikes on the train to Beerburrum to enjoy a ride through the forest and to see if we could make it to the top of Mt Tunbubudla. Tunbubudla West to be precise. One of a pair also known as ‘The Twins’. They are part of the 11 hills of the Glasshouse Mountains and lie to the west of Beerburrum.

Heading along the track to 'The Twins'.
Heading along the track to ‘The Twins’.

On the way to Beerburrum I realised that having a fancy schmancy DSLR camera is of little use when you leave it behind on the kitchen table! So the photos you see were taken with my phone camera. Not as effective but on the bright side it was one less item to lug up the mountain.

As soon as we left the train we could smell the clean and invigorating country air. It’s a great pleasure to leave the city sometimes and enjoy some open spaces. The road heading west through the forest was a little boggy in parts. But KJ was on the new fat bike and was almost unstoppable, no matter how gooey the trail became. I did my best to keep up on my hybrid bike.

KJ blitzes the trail on the fat bike
KJ blitzes the trail on the fat bike

After a short ride through the pine plantation, we came to the national park area surrounding the Tunbubudlas. The trail here is not a forestry road, but merely a track which is very eroded in places. Not at all suitable for 4WDs but a plain old bicycle can go just about anywhere. If you’re prepared to get off and push it every now and again. But as we got closer to the base of T-West, we decide to leave the bikes and continue on foot.

Heading up the trail
Heading up the trail

The west twin is 293m high and the east is 312m. There may be a track heading up the east mountain but we didn’t see one. The climb is moderate at first, leading up to an area between the two peaks called ‘The Saddle’. From there the climb becomes very steep, and there is a lot of loose rock underfoot.

Climbing from 'The Saddle', the eastern twin in the background.
Climbing from ‘The Saddle’, the eastern twin in the background.

As we approached the top, we came across an almost vertical rock face that might be 20 metres high to the summit. It may be higher – I’m not so great at estimating distances, especially when craning my neck upwards.  To scale this last section would require actual rock climbing expertise and equipment. Neither of which we possess. So after unsuccessfully searching left and right for a track that went around this cliff, we were satisfied that this was as high as we could go.

The steep ascent on Tunbubudla West
The steep ascent on Tunbubudla West
The cliff face near the summit
The cliff face near the summit

There are excellent views from this not-quite-the-top vantage point, although there are lots of trees to peer through. It’s not like a lookout with 360 degree views. But we could see right across to Pumicestone Passage, and had good views of Mount Coonowrin (Crookneck) and the western side of Tibrogargan.

View of Tibrogargan from the west
View of Tibrogargan from the west
Mount Coonowrin
Mount Coonowrin

We cautiously made our way back down to the Saddle, enjoyed our packed lunch and regretted not bringing a thermos of tea.  Back to the bikes, back through the forestry to Beerburrum and back home on the train. In the words of Wallace and Gromit, a grand day out.

postscript – when checking some facts and figures on the Glasshouse Mountains, I stumbled across an extraordinary story from 1912, about three intrepid sisters who cycled from Brisbane to Mount Coonowrin (Crookneck), climbed the mountain in their ‘voluminous gym clothes’ and then cycled all the way back to Brisbane. The story and some photos can be seen here. Definitely worth a look.

 

Finally, a fatbike!

fat bike 1I did it. I bought my self a fatbike. An Avanti Tracker to be precise. And it’s hard to describe without hyperbole, just how amazing it is to ride. These photos were taken in the Beerburrum state forest, where I recently put the bike through its paces. The bike’s traction, stability and go-anywhereness (not a word but it should be) are incredible. Whether the trail was sandy, muddy or covered with loose gravel, the bike just kept happily rolling along. I could ride along tracks where, on my hybrid bike, I would bog down and have to walk it. This was just a short ride to see what the bike was capable of. But watch this space – there’ll be many fatbiking trips ahead, for sure.

fat bike 2

Cycle trip to Mudjimba – and loads of lorikeets

Rainbow Lorikeet
Rainbow Lorikeet

It has been an unseasonably warm start to March, so KJ and I took advantage of the perfect weather to have a cycling trip to Mudjimba Beach.

Beerwah Forest Trail
KJ appearing as a small speck on the Beerwah Forest Trail

Taking the train to Beerwah Station, we set out along the forestry trails, aiming to reach Caloundra by midday.  We did so – more or less.  A couple of shortcuts, suggested by me, turned out to be not so short after all.

Let's go this way
Let’s go this way

What began as a promising shady alternative route, ended up being blocked by some minor flooding on the trail, which was probably caused by the recent impact of Cyclone Marcia.  I thought that by unloading the panniers I would be able to carry the bikes around the water, but it wasn’t meant to be.  We returned to the sunny, but dry track and continued to Caloundra.

It's easy - just watch me.
It’s easy – just watch me.

Back on the trail, we continued with the beautiful Glasshouse Mountains visible in the distance.

Glasshouse mountains in the background
Glasshouse mountains in the background – each side of KJ’s helmet.

After a few hours of occasionally challenging riding – the cyclone had caused a lot of damage to some sections of the trail – we reached the seaside just north of Caloundra, near Currimumdi.  A short rest, a bite to eat, and then onto lovely Mudjimba.

Arriving at the beach
Arriving at the beach.

Having rested after a long day’s ride, we spent the following two days exploring the area by bike.  It’s a liberating experience, leaving the car behind and travelling under one’s own ‘steam’.  We weren’t limited in any way, and we even brought fishing rods with us on our bikes.  As it happened, the fish weren’t biting this week, although it may have had something to do with the skills of the fisher-persons!  Just a bit.  KJ did hook a garfish at one point but it skipped off the line at the last minute.

Mudjimba sunrise
Mudjimba sunrise

We took a trip to nearby Peregian Beach, passing through a lovely area called Yaroomba.  There is a strong protest movement underway there at the moment, hoping to reject the council’s intention to alter the local town plan and permit high rise development.  It would be heartbreaking to see the character of this relaxed and peaceful region undone by the construction of high rise resort buildings.  Hundreds of home that we rode past had signs out rejecting the high rise plan.  We thought this one with the sea turtle was particularly arty and original.

Turtle power
Turtle power.

Continuing on to Peregian Beach, we found a cafe for the dedicated cyclist where, if you wanted a coffee but didn’t want to stop pedaling, you could pedal along while getting your dose of caffeine, and not spill a drop.

Pedal seats
Pedal seats. The chains could do with a clean.

Walking along the sand near Peregian, we noticed hundreds, possibly thousands, of jellyfish that had been washed ashore.  The local newspapers reported that a bloom of Catostylus mosaicus jellyfish, aka ‘blue blubbers’ or, as we affectionately called them as kids, ‘snotties’, had been caused by the warm weather.  They do have a mild sting but are not regarded as particularly harmful to humans.

Blue blubbers
Blue blubbers

And then there are the lorikeets.  As noisy as they are colourful.  These attractive birds are common all over the coast, and are especially vocal in the early morning (no sleeping in for us) and late afternoon.

Lorikeet conversation
Lorikeet conversation
A most noisy neighbour
A most noisy neighbour

We adored Mudjimba.  It’s peaceful, picturesque and has great cycling all around.  The Mooloolaba Triathlon was about to start and many of the locals asked us if that’s what we were there for.  It was flattering, but we didn’t much resemble the speedy lycra-clad athletes zooming around the area on their bikes, in preparation for the big day.  We were perfectly happy to just roll along at our relaxed pace and take in the glorious sights and sounds of the coast.  This is a definite do-again trip.

Big Band Gig on the Sunshine Coast, 1 November

New Groove Jazz Ensemble

This Saturday night, 1 November, I’ll be gigging with my musical buddies in the New Groove Jazz Ensemble at Buddina on the Sunshine Coast. This is a great band with an awesome sound that you can only get from a large (18 piece) ensemble. We’ll be playing at the Kawana Community Hall at Nanyima St, Buddina. Most of our gigs are in Brisbane, and this is our first performance on the Sunny Coast – can’t wait. The Sunshine Coast Jazz Club’s Facebook page has all the details.

 

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

Tranquil morning at Tin Can Bay
Tranquil morning at Tin Can Bay

Day five – 26 September, Tin Can Bay to Lake Cootharaba  (70km)
Having found Cooloola Way a bit too challenging, I was keen to take an alternative route back to Lake Cootharaba.  Some helpful locals suggested I take the (only) road out of TCB and then look for Counter Rd, a long straight dirt road running south which meets up with the Kin-Kin Pomona road.
From TCB to the Rainbow Beach turnoff, the road has a reasonably wide shoulder, making it safe enough to cycle on.  However, past that point there is no shoulder at all and the road is quite narrow.  Safe cycling on the road was out of the question, as the trucks take all the available room and don’t seem very patient with other road users.  Fortunately there is a forestry track running parallel with the road so I opted for that as a safer – but slower and bumpier – option.

Toolara forest
Toolara forest

After a few kms I turned off into the forestry, taking the Toolara-Como road hoping to find my way to Counter Rd.  I got a little lost, but realised I was heading in the right direction when I came to the crossing at Coondoo Creek.  This was a nice shady spot to take a break.

Coondoo Creek
Coondoo Creek

Soon after, I found Counter Rd and headed south.  There was still a long way to go, but I knew that navigation wouldn’t be a problem from here on.  Counter Rd is a long, long road with a few steep hills.  But nowhere near as tough as Cooloola Way.

Counter Rd, looking north
Counter Rd, looking north
Counter Rd, looking south
Counter Rd, looking south
Turn off to Harry's Hut Rd
Turn off to Harry’s Hut Rd

Eventually I reached the bitumen at Kin-Kin Pomona road, then turned off towards Harry’s Hut Rd.  From here I could retrace my original route along the Boronia Trail, crossing Kin Kin Creek and through Elanda Point to Lake Cootharaba.

Elanda Point kangaroos
Elanda Point kangaroos

Riding back through the lush grassland near Elanda Point, I came across the now familiar sight of kangaroos grazing in the cool of the afternoon.

Day six – 27 September, Lake Cootharaba to Coolum  (56km)
Slept like the dead after yesterday’s long ride.

Garden visitor
Garden visitor

My host at Cootharaba lives alongside a large area of forest, and the wildlife often walks, flies, slithers or hops in to visit.  This morning a very large kangaroo bounded into the vegie garden to inspect what was on offer.

After breakfast I headed for Tewantin, and got the only puncture of the entire trip on a smooth stretch of bitumen.  All that distance on tough, stony dirt roads and rocky forestry tracks and my only flat tire was on a “proper” road!  No problem though – I was carrying spare tubes and was on my way again soon.

View from Coolum boardwalk
View from Coolum boardwalk

Another perfect Spring day, with lots of great ocean views along the cycleway.

Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos)
Little Pied Cormorant (Microcarbo melanoleucos)

Arriving at Coolum, I stopped for a break at one of my favourite ocean viewing spots.  Soon after, a Little Pied Cormorant flew into a tree beside me and proceeded to dry and preen its wings.  This is a different species to the Little Black Cormorants I saw at Tin Can Bay.

Day seven – 28 September, Coolum to home (69km)
The last day of my first bike tour and it was a glorious sunny morning in Coolum.  A quick dash to the seaside in case there were any whales to be seen (nope, still none) then onto Mudjimba for a big breakfast.

This final leg of the trip was roughly in two halves – bikeway from Coolum to south of Caloundra, then the forest road to Beerwah station.  The construction in the photo above is at Alexandra Headland, it’s the HMAS Brisbane Mast Memorial.  In 2005 the ex-HMAS Brisbane was scuttled off the coast here to create an artificial reef and is now a diving site.

Beerwah State Forest
Beerwah State Forest

Back in the Beerwah State Forest again, on the home stretch to Beerwah Station and then on the train to Brisbane.  The Glasshouse Mountains can be seen in the distance.

Home again
Home again

And after a grand total of 405km and a week on the bike, finally home again.  This had been a wonderful experience, with plenty of challenges as well as relaxation and tranquillity.  Travelling in this way gives you a great sense of freedom and independence.  And to have gone all that way without burning up fossil fuel in a car is doubly rewarding.  I hope this will be just the first of many bike tours in the days ahead.  Thanks for reading my blog everyone!