Riding to wellness

Riding to wellness

Bicycle Queensland have published another article that I recently wrote for their Bike Life Blog.

This article is about wellness and although I’ve written on this topic before, I’ve given it some new insight.

To read the article, click on the image below or click this link: https://bq.org.au/bike-life-blog/riding-to-wellness/

BVRT: Esk to Linville

Crossing the Bubble Bridge at Toogoolawah

This is the second story about my 2-day ride along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT) from Wulkuraka to Linville. In this post, we ride 56 kilometres from Esk to Linville.

The town of Toogoolawah and a century-old tunnel wait for us on the trail between Esk and Linville. This segment of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT) is 56 kilometres in length and winds steadily north-west, mirroring the Brisbane Valley Highway. As a motorist on that highway, you will occasionally see bike riders in the distance pedalling along the BVRT, seemingly in a world of their own. As a bicycle rider on the trail, I can tell them I certainly am. The sounds of the wind rushing past fills my ears. The terrain of the trail focuses my eyes. The scent of eucalypts and earth warmed by the sun, lands me in the country.

An enjoyable downward run into Toogoolawah

Leaving Esk the trail rises a little in elevation (50 metres) which can make the ride feel a little difficult first thing. But that doesn’t last for long and after ten kilometres there’s an enjoyable downward run into Toogoolawah. I’ve ridden the Esk-Toogoolawah section numerous times and this time was the absolute best experience. Why? The trail used to be extremely bumpy and corrugated. It was the type of riding that I didn’t look forward to. Everything jiggled and I was always glad when that section was over. But now, thanks to the significant trail works being done, the Esk to Toogoolawah track is much improved and will get a whole lot better. (At the time of writing, the track works are still underway at the Esk end with graders and trucks working weekdays).

Entry into Toogoolawah is via the Bubble Bridge which was designed to celebrate the condensed milk factory that once operated in the the town. Now, the old factory is home for the Somerset Regional Art Gallery, named “The Condensery’ and worth a look. You can see the statue of Norman the Red Deer and learn about the interesting connection between this region and the royal gift of red deer from Queen Victoria. Having started our ride mid-morning, Toogoolawah was our lunch stop. The Exchange Hotel serves a good counter lunch and very, very cold beer.

A century-old tunnel waits ahead

About ten kilometres on from Toogoolawah, the Yimbun Tunnel quietly sits. Over one hundred years old and one hundred metres long, this historic tunnel is fascinating. Completed in 1910, the tunnel took over a year to build and has an appealing egg-shape design. The tunnel’s dimensions are semi-elliptical, meaning they are based on an elongated circle halved at its axis. Its egg-shape is visually pleasing on approach and also while riding through the tunnel. And as for riding the length of the tunnel… that is a lot of fun!

The small settlement of Harlin is next and this is one of two places where you’ll need to cross the highway to continue onto Moore and Linville. You might also find yourself meeting a few cattle between Esk and Linville. So ride with care and don’t be freaked out like I was on my first ride back in 2016.

Where the bloody hell is Linville?

For our 2-day ride, Linville was our destination. It was also our gathering point where we left our cars and boarded the Out There Cycling shuttle to Wulkuraka to start our ride. So as the Linville Hotel signature t-shirt aptly asks: “where the bloody hell is Linville?”.

Linville sits at the base of the Blackbutt Range, about a two-hour drive from Brisbane and about 120 kilometres along the BVRT from Wulkuraka. A small community with a general store, a war memorial and the historic Linville Hotel, this township marks the beginning of the BVRT’s big elevation. From Linville the BVRT climbs some 300 metres up the Blackbutt Range.

I am attracted to the enjoyment of riding free of cars, through beautiful landscapes and experiencing small vibrant village-type communities. 

For us though, arriving at Linville was the end of our 2-day ride. Spending a couple of days pedalling along the BVRT was both relaxing and invigorating. There is the enjoyment of riding free of cars, through beautiful landscapes and experiencing small vibrant village-type communities. And for me, being able to ride the rail trail with two of my brothers made the time especially enjoyable.

Our itinerary for 2-day/ 3-night BVRT ride: Wulkuraka to Linville….

  • Day 1 Meet late afternoon at Linville Hotel for overnight accomodation
  • Day 2
    • Catch Out There Cycling shuttle from Linville(7:30am) to Wulkuraka (9.15am)
    • Ride Wulkuraka to Esk – 67kms
    • Stay overnight at Esk Caravan Park & Motel
  • Day 3
    • Ride Esk to Linville – 56kms
    • Stay overnight at Linville Hotel
  • Day 4 Drive home.
Beautiful landscapes on the BVRT
Beautiful landscapes on the BVRT

BVRT: Wulkuraka to Esk

BVRT signage at Fernvale.

This is the first of two stories about my 2-day ride along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT) from Wulkuraka to Linville. In this post, we ride 67 kilometres from Wulkuraka to Esk.

Unless you know the outer Western tendrils of Brisbane’s rail network, then you possibly haven’t heard of Wulkuraka. Sporting bright orange Queensland Rail signage and pedestrian-friendly overpasses, Wulkuraka Station is 25 stops from Brisbane’s Central Station and serves the community of this Ipswich suburb. Time ago Wulkuraka Station marked the turning point where trains left the main line to travel up the Brisbane Valley. Now, Wulkuraka Station is a starting point for bicycle riders travelling along the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail (BVRT).

Our 2-day ride along the BVRT would see us start at Wulkuraka, lunch at Lowood and finish the day at Esk. After an overnight stay at Esk, we ride on to Linville. Another place you might not know and clearly others haven’t either with the Linville Hotel signature t-shirt emblazoned with “Where the bloody hell is Linville?”

For our 2-day ride, we used the Linville Hotel as our gathering point, stayed overnight, left our cars there and caught the Out There Cycling shuttle to Wulkuraka to begin our ride. The shuttle drive between Linville and Wulkuraka chewed a couple of hours out of our day but knowing that for the next 48 hours we’d be simply pedalling our bikes, the shuttle was time well spent. Plus the crew at Out There Cycling run a good service – on time, friendly, careful with loading and unloading our bikes – making it easy to make the most of the rail trail.

For me, riding the BVRT is not a race. I clock a slow average and stop often. I stop to take in the landscape, snap a photo, navigate the gullies where the old bridges can’t be used, read the information signs about the area’s history and soak in the space offered by acres of sky and paddock.

How was the ride?

The Wulkuraka to Esk section of the BVRT begins in a suburban setting on a well-signed concrete pathway, with the occasional street crossing. After thirty minutes though, the trail becomes less manicured and we’re enjoying sandy tracks lined with wild grasses and bushland.

Twenty kilometres into the ride we arrive in Fernvale, and being Sunday, the place is particularly busy with people in cars taking a Sunday drive and motorbike riders doing the same. Crossing the road was all about timing and the queue for coffee or food was long. Both removed us from our rail trail bubble, where we’d been free of fast traffic and crowds of people. In hindsight, we all agreed that riding the extra eight kilometres to Lowood would have been a better choice for our ride that day.

About six kilometres on from Fernvale, the rail trail is elevated above the nearby asphalt road. The elevation delivers a pleasant view of the upper reaches of the Brisbane River. From here, Lowood and lunch is only two kilometres away.

…the old railway line leads us to the centre of Lowood

Lowood greets us with a stretch of the old railway track to admire. Weathered timber sleepers topped with heavy gauge steel tracks give a glimpse into what once was. A gravel trail beside the old railway line leads us to the centre of Lowood where the old railway station and Clock Park makes a good lunch stop. With little open on Sunday, the Lowood Bakery wins the lottery as the place for refuelling with a gaggle of bicycle riders flocking to feed.

…the steady ongoing climb to Mt. Hallen doesn’t go unnoticed

Gullies, grasses and gravel, winter sunlight softening the edges of everything and a kangaroo bounding across the trail only metres ahead, entertain us for the remaining kilometres. The real signature feature of the section between Lowood and Esk is, undoubtedly, the slow but sure climb. The trail gains some 150 metres in elevation between these townships. Nothing is ever too steep (leaving aside the climbs out of the creek gullies) but after a long day of riding, the steady ongoing climb to Mt. Hallen doesn’t go unnoticed. And that’s why riding south from Esk to Fernvale is a more popular choice (and was my first BVRT ride back in 2016).

Elevation: Wulkuraka to Esk (across distance of 67kms)

Nonetheless, we arrived safely in Esk, checked into the Esk Caravan Park and soothed a few tired muscles in their heated pool. What to do in Esk on a Sunday night? We walked to the Club Hotel for a post-ride drink by the fireplace and enjoyed an excellent meal at Esk Thai with cooking by the Lin Family.

Like every section of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail, riding Wulkuraka to Esk has its own appeal. With links to the Brisbane train network, some riders access the BVRT by bringing their bike on the train. The slow climb up to Mt Hallen is satisfying and arriving in Esk set beneath the stunning Glen Rock Mountain is a pleasant place to stay.

For us, that stay would be overnight. The next day we ride Esk to Linville. I know, I know where the bloody hell is Linville?

View of the upper reaches of the Brisbane River near Lowood.
View of the upper reaches of the Brisbane River near Lowood.
Lowood Railway Line
Lowood Railway Line
Coominya Station
Coominya Station
A steep gully to tackle.
A steep gully to tackle. I walked 🙂
Wild grasses softened by winter sunlight near Mt. Hallen.
Wild grasses softened by winter sunlight near Mt. Hallen.
Our cycling trio on arrival at Esk.
Our trio on arrival at Esk after 67kms.
Check-In Parking :-) at Esk Caravan Park with Mt Glen Rock in the background.
Check-In Parking 🙂 at Esk Caravan Park with Mt Glen Rock in the background.
A topographical view of our ride from Wulkuraka to Esk

Footnote:

All my recommendations in this blog post are free of any financial or in kind benefit.

They are made because I had a genuinely positive experience using these businesses.

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