Sunday, May 13, 2012

Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

Arriving home from work at 6am Friday morning I was greeted with the news that wife and number 2 child were heading down to Sydney for a visit with the mother-in-law. " Dear. If that's what you would like".

So, with zero sleep under the belt it was time to come up with a worthy use for this free weekend. After a bit of head scratching and wandering around in aimless circles, I struck upon the idea of riding the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail from Linville to Blackbutt. Even better, with no reason to be home Sunday, why not turn it into an overnighter and spend the night in Blackbutt? This would make it eminently do-able by a ten year old girl at just 22.6km/14mi each way. I could even test out some of my bike packing kit that had been waiting patiently in the cupboard for nearly twelve months.

So, after a win at junior soccer, we jumped into the car for the two hour drive to the trail head at Linville. I rode this trail a few years ago when I was starting out mountain biking and recalled the old Linville station as being quiet and unloved looking. Upon arrival Saturday afternoon it was a hive of activity. Several tents and caravans were dotted around the grassed parking area and half a dozen cyclists came rolling in as we began to set up. They were very friendly and we chatted about the trail for a few minutes before we were ready to roll.

Off up the line we went. Being almost 3pm, we only had about two and a half hours to make the 22.6km to Blackbutt before nightfall. A slightly tall order for a little girl who had been to a (lack of) sleepover with friends the night before and played a game of soccer at mid day. We each had our bikes set up with one half of my AY-UP light set, so there would be no stopping us no matter what interesting objects needed inspecting on the ride.

The gradient is pretty much all uphill going toward Blackbutt. This would slow us down a bit, however, steam trains being steam trains, that gradient was pretty shallow at about 3%. A little bit of grumbling was heard after a mere 4km/2.5mi which necessitated an M&M stop.

Shortly after this we happened across several cattle standing on the trail. Now with the trail going through cuttings and across high embankments the cattle had nowhere to go but to trot along in front of us, at a safe distance. This continued for a kilometre or two and proved a great talking point to take Miss 10's mind off her legs.

We continued along at an easy pace, taking lots of photos and looking at all sorts of stuff by the trail side. A small gangers shed made a great place to stop with it's bench and outlook over the paddocks around it.

The sun was slipping behind the hills by this time and a chill was starting to take the edge off this very warm, 29C/84F autumn day. Very soon we needed to stop and slip into some warmer riding gear. This was done in an equally scenic spot. If only I could do it justice with the camera.

The last 10 kilometres were a bit more business-like as the darkness descended and the whining increased.

She had done very well for a girl with little sleep and switching her head light on for a first taste of night riding once again moved the focus from tired legs to what fun it was riding at night. A short time later we rolled into Blackbutt and our accommodation at the salubrious Hotel Radnor.

Yup. Blackbutt really is a one horse town. I know what they look like, because I grew up in one...or near one. All very familiar surroundings for me, but very exciting stuff for a little city girl.
After a shower and a classic Aussie pub meal, we were bushed. It was off to our electric blanket equipped beds at an embarassingly early hour, yet there were no complaints from either of us!

Not setting an alarm, it was pleasant to wake up when we were ready and not because we had to. Still, we were up and about at about 7:30 and tracking down breakfast at the cafe next door to the pub. The food was tasty and the coffee surprisingly good. Refuelled, we loaded the bikes to check out main street Blackbutt. One shop in particular took our interest. Can you guess the reason?

After all the butt jokes had dried up we were back onto the trail and looking forward to the roll to the car. Only the first 2km were slightly up hill, then it was 20km/12.5mi downhill. Woo Hoo!

Various sites were explored. Everything is exciting when you are 10 and it was interesting to let Lucy lead the way as we rolled down the range.

Somewhere along here she began singing "On the Road Again" and many variations of Willie's classic were belted out over several kilometres.
Here is the real deal.

Back at the car and Lucy was beat. The stats for the weekend were 47km/29mi and 450m/1480ft of climbing.

The last few days were catching up with her and she rested while I packed the car. Not bad going and certainly squeezing a lot into a weekend for one so small.

Where to next then....?


  1. Wow, great weekend for you and your daughter, she did very well. Looks like a heap of fun.

    1. Yep, it was a great weekend away together.

  2. You're a great dad too...

    1. Thanks. Though like everyone, I have my moments.

  3. Great effort Dave ... and Lucy !! Great to see the bike is being used so much.


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