Location: Atkinson Dam to Ban Ban Springs, Queensland, Australia
Distance: 353km

The waterskiers woke me early far too early again and I did my best to ignore them for a while but was up and packing soon enough and on the road by 9. Made my way to the back roads heading in a somewhat northerly direction towards Esk. Found a nice smooth gravel to follow for a while before taking a break in the shade after the road a few too many short up and downs. Rolling in to Esk I passed my first cyclists, albeit of the road racing, lycra variety but still got a few waves.

It had been 7 or 8 years since I last passed through Esk but was mostly as I remembered it. A typical little town with the usual runs of shops, pub and bored teenagers milling around with nothing better to do a Saturday. Given it was just before midday I’d being hanging around for a while too. Enforcing my own “not riding in the worst heat of the day” rule. Continued reading Game Of Thrones, bought some fresh rolls and delicious smoked ham for lunch and enjoyed doing nothing. Eventually found the motivation get moving late afternoon but only made it 10km or so down the road before deciding the uphill run to Crow’s Nest could wait for tomorrow. Made camp on the least rough area of grass I found in a paddock screened from the road somewhere Redbank Creek. Flashes of lightning in th west had me concerned for a while but no rain eventuated.

Woke with the birds and slowly packed. Managed to get some confused looks from a couple walking along the road as I appeared out of the bush pushing my bike back to the road. I had time my stop well the night before as it was less than 1km until the road kicked up. Not too steep but it would continue for the next 15km or so, luckily with the company of a rather nice forest of trees providing some very welcome shade. Not too far into far into the climb a car passed me pulled over not far up the road and the driver hopped out and started taking pics of me riding up the road. He was called himself Mushgang, someone in Esk had told him about me and hoped I might be riding the National Trail which he had been following on horseback for 5 years. We chatted for a bit before he handed over a couple of nectarines and I continued on. Stopped for some late breakky/early lunch at a rest area near the top looking back down the valley I had climbed out of and found my Leatherman sitting on top of one of my panniers. A gentle reminded to double check everything before I set off. Took a slightly less direct route to get to Crow’s Nest hoping for some more interesting scenery past a couple of dams. Not really worth the effort and extra climbing but I did stop to take off the Kool Stop brake pads – I’d had enough of the squealing. Arrived in Crow’s Nest pretty knackered and in need of a shower. I reluctantly opted for the overpriced caravan park. Found fish n chips in town for dinner and road back to camp in the night rain.

Before leaving Crow’s Nest I stocked up on food as I was pretty sure there was little available over the next few days – later proven correct – and spoke to and old guy from NZ who used to cycle in his younger days. He gave me some directions which handily cut 20km from my journey. The flies found me not too far out of town and accompanied me for most of the day, only disappearing when I kept above 23km/h. Difficult to impossible uphill. The road was quiet, but nice and smooth as it wound its way through rolling cattle country, a car every 15 minutes if I was lucky.Crossed a bridge washed out by last year’s floods and rolled into the deadly quiet town of Quinalow. There was however a library which I cooled down in air conditioned comfort for a while before setting up camp in the far end of a a park, ignoring the “No camping” signs.

North from Quinalow, more cattle, a short stretch of crappy dirt road and not too hilly but I knew that would change later in the day. I stopped to refuel for starting the climb up the Bunyas which kicked off with a bang. I managed to ride maybe 50m at a time before having to stop but kept at it taking breaks as needed and found myself halfway up just as the clouds engulfed the view and let the rain fall. Out came the Gore Tex and pedaled onwards and upwards. Finally made it to the camp ground mid afternoon half wet, the rain subsided and I set up while I had the chance. Very green, wet and quite cool, I could actually wear a jumper. The rain came and went so I whiled away the afternoon, eating, reading and resting tired legs.

Had a lazy morning but I did want to do some walking here, it would have been a waste not too, but I couldn’t have timed my departure any worse. 5 minutes in the clouds unleashed. At least it made the creeks runs swiftly and the waterfalls roar. Decided by the end bike shoes are the devil for walking it – blisters on each big and little toe – and that I return to the a few spots when the rain abated long enough for some photos.

The next morning – Australia Day, a fact I didn’t realise until much later – the Sun made and appearance and I gingerly (need more band aids) retraced some of the Scenic Walk route for a few photos. Spent the afternoon reading until I finished Game Of Thrones (they could have easily made 2 seasons of TV from the one book) and had an early night hoping to be up with the birds.

The rain started sometime in the wee hours and came down hard, sounding like a barrage of small explosions under the fly. Packed up everything inside the tent but waited out chatting to a Czech (good to see some other people in actual tents, not caravans, camper trailers, motor homes) couple over breakfast, hoping the sun would come out or the rain would at least cease momentarily so I could attempt to shake it dry before packing up. It never happened, but I did pack up and set off by 11. Rode west through the rest of the Bunya Mountains National Park, check out the other campsites deciding I’d made the right decision to stay at Dandabah, it had hot showers before the big decent began. Took a break in Kumbia and had a free cuppa with some friendly caravaners before pushing on to Kingaroy in more rain. Found an Aldi and restocked. Realised I’d passed 3 rest areas and endless fields of peanuts coming into Kingaroy but there none (rest areas) marked on my map for another 70km to the north. Local knowledge prevailed and a quick blast up the wet road in fading light to Wooroolin I set up in a Lions Club rest stop.

Spent the morning trying to dry the tent in a War Memorial pavilion and eventually succeeded as the rain eased and the wind picked up. Didn’t really have a destination in mind for the day so I cruised along pretty casually to Wondai where I had a quick look around the information centre museum on the logging history of the Burnett region and picked up a couple books – The Bourne Identity and a John Grisham double The Partner and The Runaway Jury – on the cheap at Lifeline. Had some average fish n chips in Murgon where I was surprised by the number of aboriginals around town until I remembered Cherbourg a town founded under segregation policy of the Queensland government in 1900 was only just down the road. The legs were still feeling fresh so from Murgon I headed for Ban Ban Springs, about 70km north, passing more cattle country, some tiny country schools and a reindeer farm while the rain couldn’t make up its mind. Finally arrived, not long before dark having cracked my first 100km day. The rain ceased and I slept well.

3 comments

I envy you mate looks like you are having a blast keep the great stories and photos coming.

Hi Aaron,thanks for sharing your wonderful adventures & photos,they’re much appreciated. Look forward to the next instalment, take care of yourself.

Hi son. Looks like you having a great time, only minor probs. The photo of Bunya Mountain are great. All good here hope all well with all the best Mum Dad. Send me an email this is my first attempt at email.

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