Friday, April 18, 2014

Kids On The Brisbane Valley Rail Trail

It is school holidays here in Queensland and as always it can be challenging to keep the kids entertained. Lucy has been asking for a while now if we can ride more of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail after last years Linville to Blackbutt ride. Well, it is finally getting cooler so why not?

For logistical reasons, I settled on the Esk to Fernvale section of the trail. We would need to drop a car at either end of the ride to make it happen and this section has two small towns, Coominya and Lowood, along it to act as resupply points if energy was getting low.

An early start from home was in order as it is a 90 minute drive to the starting point in Esk. This saw us kitted up and rolling out of Esk at about 8:30am. The sun was starting to get a bite in it but at least this section of trail had plentiful shade.

The group consisted of four kids and two adults. One of the kids, Gus, had not ridden any more than about 20km (12mi) before so this 44km (28mi) ride would test his stamina as it would the little kids.

The excitement factor was high today with the kids particularly looking forward to crossing the old rail bridges along this section of trail.

The trail is easy riding with the "ups" being very gentle as are the "downs". 

One of the unknowns was how long would it take us? I was planning on achieving 10km/h average, so somewhere around 5 hours with breaks seemed do-able. The kids were motoring along nicely here though.

We soon came to the first bridge. I was slightly disappointed to see that it had been fenced off so that we were obliged to take the detour around it. The last time I rode the trail back in April last year the bridges were still open to use. The kids were a bit underwhelmed as well. That may have been due to me geeing them up about how cool the bridges were to walk across!

We were keeping mainly in the shade which is a good thing when your skin is very fair. Lucy was also "fair ripping" along leaving the little kids struggling a bit.

We were soon all together again though. 

The odd stop to refuel gave a chance to take in the view.

 Passing through the locality of Mt Hallen, we rolled along a sustained downhill grade and effortlessly sat around the 30km/h mark for quite a while. The grins were huge!

This section led to the first large bridge, which as per the others was blocked off. We took the detour but the kids were busting to clamber over it for a look.

A sustained uphill section now followed and as the day warmed up young Lauren was starting to feel the heat so there was an opportunity for another snack stop.

And still the trail climbed toward Coominya. Gus and Lucy powered off into the distance, chatting away.

This section is a little rocky and that makes the effort a little harder than most of the trail. The road parallels the trail along here so Chris and the kids jumped onto the tarmac, while Gus and I stayed true to the trail and pressed on. In a few short minutes we crested the hill and rolled into Coominya to meet the others who had "cheated" on the road.

A stop at the Coominya store was in order and all sorts of cold, sugary drinks were soon washing away the dust from some parched throats.

Not far down the road (yes, we paralleled the trail again for a few km) we came to the BIG rail bridge that the kids were looking forward to. I was pleased to see that you could still "unofficially" access it, thus avoiding the huuuge drop into the creek and the equally huuuge climb out. After breifing the kids on what to do, they set off, full of excitement and managing the risk for themselves.

Bad parents? Just look at the satisfaction on their faces. They took a calculated risk, applied a strategy to how they were going to manage it and DID IT! 

The trail crosses open paddocks from here on and while not hot, the direct sunshine was starting to sap the energy of the smaller pair. Still, the kids were having fun.

The beauty of riding the trail in this direction, apart from it's overall downward slope, was that the towns were closer and closer together. We stopped in Lowood, opposite the old railway station, for a rest in the shade and a bite to eat.

Only 8km(5mi) to go now! Lowood to Fernvale.

Arriving in Fernvale we plonked down on the grass to rest, then refuelled via the Fernvale Bakery. Mmmm...pastries...

The kids were worn out, but there had been no grumbling and Gus had almost completed his first 50K! 44km without a hitch was a pretty solid ride in anyones books. Well done to all 4 kids!

The smiles say it all.


Sunday, April 6, 2014

New Zealand - A Quick Look At The South Island - Part 5

Days 9, 10 and 11

Balclutha to Twizel to Methven and Christchurch - 796km(498mi)

The beauty of Kiwi motel rooms is they all seem to have a great little kitchenette in them. Either us Aussies are too lazy (quite possible) or too corrupt (make you buy something from the motel,quite possible also) to include some basic eating facilities in our motel rooms. It will be buried in "a regulation" as to why we can't but we were pleased that the Kiwis retain this freedom as it allowed another cost effective, semi-healthy breakfast before we rolled on toward Twizel today.

We had some discussions over beers the previous evening as to which way to leave Balclutha. There was an East of the Clutha River option and a West side option. 

Friday, April 4, 2014

New Zealand-A Quick Look At The South Island- Part 4

Days 7 and 8

Queenstown to Te Anau(and Milford Sound) to Balclutha- 762km(476mi)

After scarfing down the complimentary continental breakfast at Reavers Lodge we mounted up and bade Queenstown farewell. I could have easily spent the rest of the week here but the road was calling.

Crossing the little single lane bridge (like most here on the South Island) over the Kawarau River we were on the open road, passing between the foot of The Remarkables and Lake Wakatipu. The road hugged the shoreline, albeit 100ft up the cliff face. (Note: Lots of photos borrowed from my brother's blog as what photos I could be bothered taking were eaten by my phone/camera.)

This made for more fantastic views out to our right. Steve stopped along here for some photos but I felt in the groove so keep motoring along until we came to the end of the lake and to the tiny township of Kingston.

Chillertek rolling into Kingston
We stopped for a coffee and chatted to a couple of German backpackers who were dressed in traditional Bavarian costume. These girls revealed that they were travelling the world dressed like this, teaching traditional German language, music and tradition as a way of seeing the world. They were staying with anyone who offered food and lodging and being dressed so conspicuously I suspect that they had no issue with striking up conversation with potential landlords.