South Burnett Rail Trail
The jacaranda trees were in full flower, colouring the landscape with splashes of lilac and matching the radiance of a blue sky made clear from recent rains. Grevilleas stood thick with burnt orange blooms. Rows of crops flourished green in the rich red volcanic soil. Springtime on the South Burnett Rail Trail was picture perfect.
Situated in Queensland’s southeast, the South Burnett Rail Trail (SBRT) stretches for 44 kilometres between the small rural towns of Kingaroy and Murgon. The entire trail is asphalt and makes for easy riding. Because the SBRT is built on the path of a former railway line, the gradient is gentle and there are small settlements dotted along the trail every six or seven kilometres. This means you can make the trail your own. You can design a ride that’s 6, 12, 30 kilometres or, if you want a longer distance, you can do a return ride of the full trail and clock up 88 kilometres.
I rode the SBRT with my two cycling brothers and we chose a one-way ride of the entire 44 kilometres. We rode at a leisurely pace – stopping to take photos, read the information signs at each former railway station, and to enjoy a coffee and cake at the Wooroolin café. Our riding time was just under three hours and our stops added another 40 minutes.
The three of us rode mountain bikes but the smooth asphalt and gentle climbs of the SBRT would suit most bike types – road, hybrid, electric, mountain, touring and folding. And with the opportunity to ride shorter distances, even little wheels pedaled by little legs could enjoy the SBRT with their parents or grandparents.
The SBRT is well-signed with information for interest, direction and safety. Every kilometre there is a location marker giving distances and GPS coordinates. At every road crossing (these are side roads, not major roads), there are chicanes to warn and slow cyclists when approaching the intersection.
The South Burnett Rail Trail traces a past rich with stories. A hotel once owned by a former circus magician. Art Deco architecture and grand hotels that signal the prosperity surrounding these small railway stations in the early 1900s. And the long-time past of the First Australians who knew this country intimately.
Even though the SBRT has gentle gradients, the land’s elevation is worth considering when planning your trip. With Kingaroy sitting at 442 metres above sea level and Murgon at 316 metres above sea level, we started our ride in Kingaroy and enjoyed a largely downhill run. Along the way we met thirteen bridge crossings, five majestic brumbies, four swooping magpies, two grazing cows and one goanna who scurried up the nearest gum tree.
Ours was a good day of riding, chatting, sharing stories new and old, and making plans to visit again.
* The safety markers are labelled KKRT because they mark the distances for the Kilkivan to Kingaroy Rail Trail of which the South Burnett Rail is part of.