The following correspondence was received from one of our guests who joined a TAG North Queensland Rail Trails tour in August. It is an interesting perspective from a retired gentleman who was formerly a locomotive driver;
“My initial communication with TAG convener & guide Peter Tuck was very simple. Peter described what he had to offer and I explained what our interest was. From this Peter designed a four day mountain bike ride that turned out to be immensely enjoyable and rewarding.
Our first day’s ride was on the Stannary Hills road and the Stannary Hills Tramway. All points of interest were explained to us by Peter in an easy to understand oratory. All of our meals were prepared by Peter’s wife Trixie and the meals were planned around good healthy food, exactly what was required for four days of bike riding. The Stannary Hills road was mostly gentle hills with long downhill runs surrounded by virgin bush; we enjoyed riding every meter of it. Riding the Stannary Hills Tramway formation was both exciting and astounding. We couldn’t believe how those early builders constructed this track through such challenging country, especially through Eureka Creek Gorge. All in all this was a great introduction for what was in store over the following days.
The bike ride for day two was along the Silver Valley road. The extended down-hill runs, beautiful bush scenery complimented by attractive mountains and hills, the remains of old tin mining activity, sharing conversation with Main road workers, admiring old aboriginal rock art and lunch on the bank of beautiful Wild River made this ride one to remember for us and one we didn’t want to end. However, like all good things it had to end but what a way to end, a gentle ride to Woodleigh Station Homestead paddock on the bank of the Wild River. The enticing water holes in the River extended an invitation that we couldn’t resist so it was a refreshing swim before our evening meal. Our evening meal was a tasty kangaroo stew with vegetables and billy tea while sitting comfortably around a friendly camp fire. When the fire burnt through, Trixie cooked a damper in the coals to be consumed the following day.
On day three we looked for and found the remains of the rail bridge over Return Creek at Mt Garnet. The bike ride for day two began on the outskirts of Mt Garnett. The first section was particularly enjoyable as it wasn’t part of the actual four wheel drive rail trail as advertised. On this well-constructed rail formation we came across all types of rail infrastructure as well as pieces of ore that had fallen off wagons and lumps of coal that would have fallen off coal hoppers and steam locomotives, this coal would have originated in Mt Mulligan.
This initial ride was followed by a bus ride to the top of the Lappa Range where our bikes were unloaded to begin the ride to Lappa Junction on the Cairns to Forsayth Rail Corridor which initially was the main attraction for our interest in this particular tour. We weren’t disappointed, mile after mile of downhill riding surrounded by spectacular mountain scenery, views for as far as we could see and most of it covered in virgin bush. Plenty of curved cuttings, drop offs, remains of bridges and very attractive stone pitched culverts constructed by expert stone masons makes this corridor an excellent one for riding on.
From Lappa Junction we travelled by bus to our camp-site on Emu Creek right next to a huge rock monolith populated by rock wallabies. A swim in Emu creek followed by our evening meal around the camp-fire was accompanied by friendly conversation followed by a good night’s sleep.
Before departure the next day we viewed the antics of a Giant Bower Bird in his bower. All in all, it was another great choice for a camp-site.
On our final day we returned to Lappa Junction to board the Savannahlander for a railmotor ride to Boonmoo. We encountered more captivating scenery during this rail trip, especially as we wound our way along Death- Adder Gorge. Boonmoo as mentioned earlier was the terminating station for the Stannary Hills Tramway. We had lunch on arrival there and then made our way by bus for the start of our bike ride over the section of tramway we couldn’t complete on day one. Once again we were struck by the ingenuity of those early builders as we encountered old bridge remains, sleepers, dog spikes, telephone poles, ore bins, cuttings, two to three chain curves and surrounded the whole time by bush scenery along the picturesque Eureka Creek. We returned to Yungaburra a lot of the time in silence contemplating what our TAG hosts had revealed to us over the four days. We loved what we had achieved during this time period and we both agreed that if the opportunity ever presented itself again, we most definitely would return for another dose of this district under the professional guidance and care of the good people from TAG.”