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.
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.
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.
Back on the trail, we continued with the beautiful Glasshouse Mountains visible in the distance.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Another perfect Spring day, with lots of great ocean views along the cycleway.
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.
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.
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!
Day four – 25 September, rest day at Tin Can Bay
Feeling well rested after a quiet night at the motel, I had a day of gentle cycling around the bay, seeing the sights and enjoying the perfect weather.
One of the most popular things to do here is see the dolphins. Tin Can Bay is one of the few places in the world where wild dolphins regularly visit the shore to interact with people. Most mornings, two or three Indo-Pacific humpback dolphins come into the shore near the Snapper Creek boat ramp. Tourists can feed the dolphins and get up close and personal with them, albeit under close supervision from wildlife volunteers.
These dolphins are smaller than the bottlenose and are a coastal species, generally staying close to shore. There are sharks in the bay and in Snapper Creek, and the dolphins have visible scars from their encounters with them.
Though they aren’t bottlenose dolphins, one had decided to pretend he was by carrying a discarded bottle on his snout, which he’d retrieved from the seabed. It was amusing to see, although I despaired at the mentality of the knuckleheads who throw their rubbish into the water.
Tin Can bay has a lot of bird-life to see. At this time of year, the flowering trees are full of nectar, and attract lots of hungry and very noisy lorikeets. And of course, there are lots of water birds – pelicans, cormorants and herons.
This was a relaxing day, with beautiful Spring weather. Just what I needed to be refreshed for the journey home.