It’s a familiar 17km (10 miles) to the train station. I am beginning to thing of Qld Rail as my Portal to Adventure. Since Mum sold her second car, I’ve been more reliant on my bike and trains to get to places. It’s almost as if the forced creativity is part of the adventure itself. There’s a slight hitch though. When I arrive in the city to change trains, I discover that the train like I wanted to take is closed so I can’t get to my intended start point, Caboolture. It’s 65km (40 miles) to Caboolture, which is too far to ride if I want to explore the Glass House Mountains because I’d spend most of my day riding through the northern suburbs.
I don’t have a plan B. But I do have a smart phone, internet connection and local knowledge. The Ipswich train line is running so I call the Captain Logan Camp at Wivenhoe Dam, confirm they have space for me and catch the next train out to The Switch. At about 11:30am I am wheeling my bike out onto the main street of Ipswich.
From Ipswich I need to cross the busy Warego Highway. There’s no safe way to do it without and over- or under-pass. My Google Maps app directs me to a non-existent road and I find myself in a new suburban estate with no means of getting where I need to be. I remember that an Audax ride I did last year used Pine Mountain Road to cross the highway so I turn off the app and follow my instinct.
It pays off and I am soon enjoying my immersion in the Australian bush. I ride through dry scrub and open farmlands where cattle are fattened for market. There’s few cars and those that do pass are courteous. I give the camera I’ve borrowed from Dad a good workout and make slow but steady progress.
By the time I turn onto the Brisbane Valley Highway I’m totally relaxed and at ease with this touring gig. My average speed is hovering around 20kph (12mph) and I don’t even care. I’m not running Strava and I’m not plugged into the internet. I see things I’ve never noticed on this route before: I’m riding along a ridge line, there’s stunning views west over the flat farmlands, the wind is rustling through the long grasses along the road, and the mountains start to encroach on the highway north of Fernvale.
The kilometers disappear and I find myself at Cormorant Bay picnic area where I stop for lunch. I feel like I”m on holidays as I watch families fishing and picnicking on the soft green grasses beside Wivenhoe Dam. It’s difficult to believe that the water didn’t even come within 100m of this shore line during the drought of the mid-2000s. I eat some tuna on a bread roll washed down with water.
After just 12km (7 miles) of post-lunch spinning, I’m checking in at Captain Logan Camp. The camp sits directly on the banks of Wivenhoe Dam and is laid out in the style of a national park. The rate is $18 a nigth but I’m only charged $8 due to my being alone on a bicycle. Not bad given the location, hot showers, flush toilets, rubbish bins, electric barbecues and drinking water. I can camp anywhere but site 33 comes highly recommended due to it’s absolute waterfront position. It is indeed a great side and my tent is pitched in minutes.
A swim in the dam, a hot chocolate and lots of photos pass the afternoon until I have a feed and watch the sun set in the west. I eat satay noodles with peas and fish, and a date cake that I “bake” in my billy. As I lay on the grass relaxing a young boy no more than 8 years old sits on the water’s edge fishing, a flock of rosellas do their nightly Punch and Judy routine in the trees, families play cricket while others bond around campfires, and friendly muffled voices drift across the campground. It’s a happy place to be.