Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Mountain Biking - North Queensland Style Part II

This post is taking forever to put together as there seems to be too many other things competing for my time these days, but here goes......

Today, I had even more time than yesterday for riding, so I didn't bust my hump getting out of bed too early to go riding. A spot of breakfast and I was on the road just before 8am.

It was another perfect, sunny day in the tropics and I enjoyed the 10km pedal out to the trails with Magnetic Island standing out of a stunningly blue millpond ocean.

Before long I was nearing the trail head and encountered all manner of signage. We like our signs here in Australia. Nothing quite like telling everyone what to do all the time.....

Climbing the Shelly Cove trail toward the "bunkers" it was nice to be off the beaten track, onto the overgrown trail. Townsville and Castle Hill were ever present in the distance though.

I was soon at the first bunker. These were new-to-me, but obviously were a WWII feature, built when we were rightly trembling in our boots that the mighty Imperial Japanese Army would be coming to teach us some lessons in personal discipline. Scary times.

They were built along a shallow ridge line so that they had a view out to Magnetic Island that took in the whole of Halifax Bay. At least one observation post and several gun positions. 

The guns were long gone, but the concrete will be here for a long time.

I can just imagine how unbearable these would have been to sit in during the hot, wet tropical summer.

Looking for enemy shipping that never came (thank God).

Notice how the bunkers are almost in a perfect line? I would have though staggering them a little might make them harder to hit?

Pedalling further around the headland another bunker was tucked into the hillside by the entrance to "the" trail.

Turning into the "Under The Radar" trail I was soon enveloped by the stunted trees that covered the hillside. The trail was understandably rocky but quite a lot of fun as it switch backed quickly up the hillside.

A rare opening gave way to a magnificent view (no, not the back of my noggin) but Magnetic Island. Like I said, it was a magic morning!

I soon got into a state of "Flow" and forgot all about taking photos. I was in the moment and noticing nothing...and everything.

Eventually I began to notice things again. Like this conglomerate rock formation.

And a right purty section of trail.

I was back down to sea level again and as this IS croc country I made sure that I zipped across this low bridge quickly, stopped and shot the photo pronto then powered off, hopefully before any prehistoric reptile could even think of latching onto me. I didn't see any crocs, but that doesn't mean that they didn't see me....!

From this point the trail disappeared under long grass. Well, the trail was clear but the grass along either side was about 4ft high and effectively closed over at shoulder height, making the trail tread invisible. i just steered at the thin line ahead and hoped that there weren't snakes resting on the trail. Did I mention this is snake country too. Big, venomous, deadly buggers they are up here. Great....power on! Suffice to say there are no photos of this section....

I finally broke out of the long grass onto some salt flats ( booo...damn, croc country...) and continued to power along until I got to a bit of a rise and started to climb away from the water. The view again was magic. Not tropical ocean magic, but endless wetland magic just like what you would expect in the Top End, in say, Kakadu.

Here, I rejoined the Freshwater Trail that would take me back to the main road and the world.

A very rare but pleasant sign.

This was a pleasant, fast roll alongside the grasslands with just one section that was too close to a salty estuary for my liking.

Riding back along the main road to town I was soon looking back at Cape Pallarenda, across Rowes Bay, on this still glorious morning. You can just see the golf-ball-like radar on the right hand end of the range.Yep, the trail went right around that range. 

I discovered a new boardwalk along some cliffs at the northern end of "The Strand". It was an impressive construction that would have cost a bomb! The timber was very solid and very expensive looking and it went for 300-400m(yards) with artwork dotted along it. This photo is from about half way along the boardwalk.

I soon came to Kissing Point Fort. I had never been this far north along The Strand and had often wondered what was on that hill top during my climbs of Castle Hill. 

After almost 12 years of visiting Townsville, today was the right day to visit Kissing Point. Clearly there had been much new work done to make it more people friendly, but also to remind people of what went on in this part of the world during WWII. North Queensland was on the front line in the Pacific war. There was a massive US presence here and the Battle of The Coral Sea was fought and won just to the north-east of Queensland.

A really well thought out and executed mural covered the footpath on the seaward side of the fort. I tried my best to get a photo of the scale of the thing but it was difficult.

A large map of the Coral Sea with major actions inlaid in glass showed how the battles played out.

And it wasn't all good news for the Allies.

There was also a good memorial to the US servicemen who fought and died in this corner of the war.

There are quotes from Chester Wilmot, a noted Australian war correspondent, as he observed our fighters chasing Japanese aircraft over Townsville.

Cycling back along The Strand made me consider how lucky my generation has been not to have been embroiled in "total war" as my parents and grandparents generation had been. It seems almost cliche'd these days to revere their sacrifices but the simple truth is without them, who knows what the world would look like now.

Contemplation must make you hungry as I was now ravenous and pulled into a small cafe' for second breakfast. My mountain biking tour of Townsville was drawing to a close. I was extremely glad that I had made the effort to take my bike along as it opened up so much more of a city that I thought I knew. It was also a great test for my new Aerus bike bag which protected my bike better than I ever thought possible. I can see that it will be a much loved AND used accessory.

Thanks for checking in and I will try to get back to a more normal posting frequency. Its not like there hasn't been plenty going on around here.......



  1. Wow the beaches look beautiful. This place seems really cool.


  2. Hey thats a nice little ride and a great find. The fort looks interesting. Was the only way to get to by the bike path or was there other access for cars etc?

    1. No, you could drive to the park at the Cape, then walk the 400-500m to the bunkers.

  3. Man those are beautiful sights. Your posts make it really hard to stay out of the bike shops when we've already been thinking of upgrading our 20 year old mountain bikes. Well technically we are already down to one bike as I gave mine to a collage student a few years ago.

    Thanks for teasing, I mean posting.

    1. Haha. I bought a new bike last week, then sold it the next day to a mate who I have been trying to get into MTBing for about 5 years. It was too good a deal to miss and he could see how good it was when I on-sold it to him for the same amount. I could do the same for you but pickup might be a bit of a hassle!
      If I rode in your home state I would be constantly waiting for John Wayne to come riding out of the forest. (too many Duke movies while growing up)You have a beautiful state as well. Get out there and ride it! ;)


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