Category Archives: Cycling

STANNARY HILLS BIKE ADVENTURE

We were looking for a 40km loop in the dry back country close to the Tablelands and having heard about Stannary Hills a group of cyclists decided to check it out last weekend; what a find!! Less than an hour west lies a multitude of back road biking opportunities in a remote outback type environment defined by Australiana mining camps and history which reveals the story of the pioneers of this country.

We started the ride at Watsonville – the settlement with the windmill in the middle of the road!!, and headed toward Irvinebank before turning off onto the well marked Stannary Hills Road. We were pleasantly surprised at the good condition of the gravel road as it had recently been graded and rolled making for a firm, level surface. The countryside has never looked better after one of the best rainfall seasons on record; creeks were running strongly and herbage and trees were a flourishing verdant green.

About 6km along Stannary Hills Road we took a right and headed north through beautiful rolling hills, perfect for cycling. The support bus was waiting for us at Stannary Hills Pioneer Cemetery and we had a walk through the small enclosure and quickly appreciated the sacrifices made by the hardy early settlers. After a welcome smoko we continued north to the site of the former Stannary Hills mining settlement which sits on top of a knoll and offers excellent views of the surrounding ranges.

After tin was discovered in the region in the 1880′s Stannary Hills developed into a sizable township expanding to 725 souls by 1906. Records show that at its peak there were 8 hotels, a number of stores, a hospital, two butchers, two bakers and a teacher.

In 1902 a two foot gauge tramway was built from Stannary Hills to the Cairns-Chillagoe railway, following the Eureka Creek valley and joining the railway at Boonmoo to the north. The tramway lowered the costs of transporting tin out of Stannary Hills and in 1907 it was extended south to Irvinebank’s tin mines, making Stannary Hills and Irvinebank a major base-metal region.Ref; Centre for the Government of Queensland, 2011.

Today most of this former infrastructure has disappeared and a few stone middens, mining overburden and artefacts are all that remain of the township.

We heard that parts of the former railway alignment are accessible and that one can get from Stannary to Dimbulah via Boonmoo but that’s another day and perhaps another story.

We backtracked to Stannary Hills Road and enjoyed the freedom of a wide, gently undulating road under a brilliant blue sky before reaching Montalbion on the Irvinebank to Petford Road. An easy 6 km had us back in Irvinebank for a snack and drink by 12.30am.

A most enjoyable day with excellent cycling, beautiful fauna and abundant opportunities to appreciate our history.

IF YOU WOULD LIKE TO SPEND SOME TIME EXPLORING THIS REGION PLEASE CALL OR EMAIL TAG AND WE WILL TAILOR MAKE A TRIP TO SUIT YOUR GROUP’S NEEDS AND INTERESTS.

Lappa – the Rail Trail

We went out to the Lappa last weekend – we needed another fix of the remote beauty of the land, the azure blue sky contrasted against spindly Eucalypt and red earth.

Our group met in Yungaburra and drove – with animated discussion in the rear of the van, down to Irvinebank an hour away. We kitted up and rode supported for about 38km along the Petford Road. We chose our favourite grassy campsite along Emu Creek which has good swimming holes shaded by huge old Paperbark trees.

There is a remarkable rocky pinnacle that we had seen on previous trips but never explored, it must stand about 25metres above the surrounding land and is completely isolated from all other geological features like an obelisk placed in a park. Some of us took the opportunity to have a late afternoon walk to explore it.  It overlooks a rocky bar and pools in Emu Creek. We spied two large rock wallabies basking in the evening sun as if standing sentinel over the place as we approached, but they were soon gone. The attached pictures show the lovely outlook over Emu Creek from the top.

We were up early and after a quick breakfast and by 7 am we were on the road.. Lappa Junction was a small but busy railway siding in the past but now waits patiently to serve one train – the Gulflander,  on its weekly return journey from Cairns to Forsayth. The pub appears to have remained unchanged  for 100 years – its rustic charm is beguiling and no first time visitor goes away from it unmoved.

We were on the Lappa Trail by 7.30 and Jeff drove the van about 7 km ahead and prepared a welcome smoko before turning around and driving around to Mt. Garnet for the pick up.

The Lappa Trail never disappoints and this trip took on a different dimension as we were unsupported for about 30km. We had prepared for this and were equipped with adequate water, snacks, spare tyres and tubes and an EPIRB. The countryside was as majestic as ever and the beauty of the landscape was intensified by the isolation – we saw one ute during the whole trip and the photos depict the surreal isolation of the place. We were fortunate to have had no incidents along the Track and were pleased to see Jeff with a beautifully laid out lunch in a superbly positioned site overlooking the distant ranges at the end of the pass.

We had been on the track for 6 hours and as the sun was biting we all decided it was time to call off the cycling and retreat into the shaded comfort of the van for the trip back to Yungaburra.

Another successful Lappa Trail with many more to come – come and join us!!