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.
I’m taking a sabbatical from posting blog stories. My quest to travel by bicycle continues. My love for seeing life from two wheels shines brighter than ever. But there are projects that need my energy. So, for awhile I’ll be working on them and enjoying a sabbatical from publishing stories here on this blog.
Keep your pedals turning towards your dreams…
PS – If you’d like to contact me regarding this experiment, bicycle-riding or writing, don’t hesitate to send me an email through my contact page.
PPS – If you’re a new visitor to this website, the start here page gives you a good introduction to what this blog is about and some popular posts to read.
Some people say it’s cheating but I know they’re curious. You see, I’ve bought an electric bike, a pedal-assist Gazelle. And the question I’m being asked is: why would you want an electric bike? Yes, I’m fit and a seasoned bike rider and I have a trio of bikes in the garage. However, there’s a problem that I haven’t been able to solve with them. My work commute. Riding 28 kilometres each way for several days a week is a fair dinkum ride. I can ride the commute on my Vivente Tourer but combined with a full day’s work, the commute becomes exhausting and isn’t a sustainable choice.
In 2017, going multi-modal brought me a partial solution. I’d ride my tourer to the closest tram station (13kms away), lock up my bike and catch the tram to work. The commute was long, the tram cost more than I think public transport should, and at times I felt stifled by the tram’s constant stopping and starting. Especially when I looked longingly out the window at bicycle riders pedalling past. The multi-modal choice works but still isn’t ideal.
I knew an electric bike would find a place in my life at some stage. Now, is that time. The technology behind electric bikes has advanced. Battery lives have extended. Ease of operation has improved. There is a wider range of brands and styles to choose from. And I have a need for a sustainable commute that isn’t dependent on a car. The costs of fuel and maintenance are an incentive to leave the car at home. So too is traffic gridlock – being stuck in traffic isn’t how I want to spend my time.
I chose a Gazelle Chamonix T10 pedal-assist bike. The bike uses a Bosch motor that is activated by my pedalling. If I stop pedalling, the motor stops assisting. Hence, the term ‘pedal-assist’. And I can regulate how much I allow the motor to assist by choosing one of five modes: OFF (in which I am completely under my own pedal power), ECO, TOUR, SPORT and TURBO. On a fully charged battery, the bike’s software estimates ECO mode will power me about 120 kilometres and TURBO about 56 kilometres.
This data is calculated by the Bosch software and screened on a digital display mounted to the handlebars. On that dashboard display, I can also read my current speed, average speed, maximum speed, trip time, odometer and clock (all without needing my prescription glasses too 🙂 ).
My Gazelle came with plenty of useful features.
My Gazelle came with plenty of useful features. It has a rear pannier rack that acts as a mount for the bike’s battery and also has handy luggage straps. I use the straps for carrying my raincoat when rainy skies are up ahead and and also for my breakfast esky. I’ve added an Ortlieb waterproof pannier bag that has excellent reflector features for riding before or after dark (which will happen when I commute through winter).
There are also front and rear lights powered by the battery and easily turned on and off via the dashboard display. The bike has a key-operated lock built into the rear wheel. It has mudguards, chain guard and a skirt guard too for flowing frocks! The Dutch think of everything. They’ve even included a walk-assist option which means the bike helps me if I have to wheel it anywhere. With the bike weighing in at around 24kgs (with battery but without any luggage), that’s a handy feature.
My Gazelle has me arriving at work not feeling excessively hot and sweaty. And not feeling spent. I feel energised after an enjoyable ride, having let TURBO mode carry me up the hills. On the way home, I can put a little more effort in if I like, or not. Either way, I’m more active than I would be sitting in a car or on a tram. Then there’s the fresh air in my lungs and the sunshine on my face (sometimes it’s rain, but I don’t mind a rainwater facial spa for free). Plus I have a commute that makes me less dependent on the car. That’s my kind of solution.