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Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Mullum Wanderings part II

Rainforest near Minyon Falls

This was to be the culmination of the whole weekend, and what I'd been planning since my first visit to Minyon Falls over a year ago. The early part of the ride passed through Mullumbimby and Repentance Creek, passing the Crystal Castle along the way. Those names indicate the type of area it is, a series of 2-4km climbs and descents, with stunning scenery all the way.





It's at Coopers Creek that the climb to Minyon Falls begins. The early part of this climb is the steepest, averaging around 11% for the first kilometre before settling down into a slightly more civilised pattern. It's only upon reaching Minyon Grass that the falls come into view. I was a little disappointed at the volume of water coming over the falls -- given the early rainfall this year. One assumes more is needed.

Minyon Falls

I opted for the walk to the base of the falls and back. Doing the full loop was an option I considered, but I had a lot to cram into this day as it was. The track passed through pretty rainforest virutally all the way, followed by a climb over some rocks to reach the falls. Typically, this was when the rain started. I managed to evade any mishaps on the rock climbs, and returned to Minyon Grass for the ride across to the top of the falls, to take in a different view.

The base of Minyon Falls

The top of Minyon Falls



Now the real ride began, I started with the climb to the summit of Peates Mountain, around 640 above sea level. The road was "officially" closed, but apparently few people pay any attention to this, if the tracks through the mud were any indication. The climb passed through some of the oldest rainforest in Australia, and the speed I was riding left plenty of time to take it in. There are also views to be had at the very summit if you take a short detour out on North Rocks Road.

Rainforest on the Nightcap Range

Peates Mountain

Next came the long descent on Gibbergunyah Range Road. This is quite an interesting descent, 18km in total, passing first through the rainforest, then more open country at the bottom. A strange problem arose here -- lantana. This is a spiky weed that grows in former farming areas and tends to take over everything in it's path. When you're riding down a narrow dirt road with lantana closing in on both sides, it's possible to lose some skin without crashing. Taking one hand of the handlebars at the right time is one possible defence, but beware of having handlebars caught in the vines.





With this descent out of the way, I had a couple of options for returning home. I opted for one more ride in the rainforest, climbing the plateau again on Nightcap Range Road (probably the easiest climb of all the different approaches), before a screaming descent back to Coopers Creek, and a ride home over the rolling hills. There was, of course, the obligatory spectacular save on the descent to avoid a spectacular injury, and a nice, relaxing, pretty ride "home". 108km and over 1,900 metres of climing is all in day's work.



* * * * * * * *

I made a rather interesting discovery during the weekend. The climb that I had previously been referring to as Mt Jerusalem, isn't actually Mt Jerusalem. It passes through the Mt Jerusalem National Park, but the real climb of Mt Jerusalem is somewhere off to the South West. I will, of course, be riding the real one before the year is out, but to get back to the Gold Coast, I had to deal with the impostor.





There's something about the fourth day of a tour that makes the legs grow stronger, and makes climbs like this easier. I've actually taken longer to climb this on days when I wasn't carrying a load. I had been told I'd find a waterfall with a slight detour from the saddle at the top of the range, so being the inquisitive sort that I am, I opted to look for it. South Chowan Road plummets 100 metres in little more than a kilometre -- a nice short detour, but it would take a little longer to come back. The waterfall was easy to find, not of the spectacular "Minyon Falls" type, but very pretty nevertheless.





There is a campsite here that has potential for a few nights away later in the year. I could base myself here overnight, and spend time exploring the whole area -- assuming my back has healed sufficiently to transport a Camelbak by then. In the meantime, I had to contend with a screaming descent on wearing brake pads, a descent made more vicious by the load I still carried. The normally spectacular views to Mt Warning were obscured, but there was still plenty to see.



After this, it was all straightforward. Uki, Murwillumbah, Urliup, Bilambil and home. I absolutely scorched the section between Uki and Murwillumbah, producing the sort of performance that will probably be impossible to replicate ever again, covering it in 30 minutes with a full touring load. The ride through Urliup was pleasant as usual -- even climbing over Bilambil seemed tolerable. The 'Coast was it's usual combination of Road rage and general stupidity, but that just made me even more glad to have escaped for the weekend.



One would think that after the third "tour" in three different states throughout the year, I would be satisfied. Not so, in fact, I've already "noted" a long weekend in late April that I can use for the next adventure. That said, the images of this weekend will stay with me for a long time, a reminder that this truly is a special part of the world. Hopefully I'll find time to fully explore some of the other places I've discovered later this year.

8 Comments:

Anonymous Tweed Coast Treadly said...

Very impressive ride Chris.
You should drop in when you go by even if it is only to top up your water bottle.
This ride on your hybrid? makes anything I atempt pale into insignificance.

If you are interested in a little 1/2 day sunday jaunt. Mark, Myself and another bloke, Jeff are thinking of doing the burringbah railway tunnel via waba rd - stokers in a few of weekends time.

Dave

11:21 am  
Blogger Chris L said...

Hi Dave,

The Sunday Jaunt sounds good. I've got a few things on over the next few weeks, staring with an Audax 300k next week. Probably the 13th or 20th of April are the best for me.

8:37 pm  
Anonymous Tweed Coast Treadly said...

Chris;
looks like the 20th might be the day. But will get back to you after talking to Mark and Jeff.

Dave

12:37 pm  
Blogger Chris L said...

I can do the 20th. Just let me know either way.

7:17 am  
Anonymous Tweed Coast Ttreadly said...

Hi Chris;
Sorry for not getting back sooner....

I have finally got around to checking Marks availability. He says he can come out to play tat day but even if he cant make it I will be going rain or shine. So you are most welcome. You might also ask your riding buddy Martin if you care to. Others have shown interest but no confirmations... wait nd see. The tunnel is supposed to be home to some glow worms!
Dave
Tweed Coast treadly

5:56 pm  
Blogger Chris L said...

Dave, do you have a time for Sunday? I spoke to Martin but he may not be able to make it (flying back from Melbourne the night before). I'll definitely be there.

The glow worms sound interesting.

1:44 pm  
Anonymous Tweed Coast treadly said...

Chris;
It may be just you and me as everyone else has got a note from mum. At this stage Mark might stil be coming but he has not contacted me since last Friday when I managed to ask him and he said he should be right to come. Jeff from CabaCycles has family business and the other couple of guys I asked never got back to me so....
Anyway I was thinking/hoping around 9:00am ?? this too late for you?
If it just yourself and I we might be able to try a detour along Upper Burringbar Road, if time permits.....

Hells hole was a lifetime ago for me! Spending time in the pools above the falls in summer of '74-5 with a couple of mates... even managing the "walk" down to the base of the falls below. One of the amazing experiences that helped me fall for this region...

I'll check back tomorrow for your reply.
Dave

9:57 pm  
Blogger Chris L said...

I can do 9am. I probably need a sleep in here anyway. See you tomorrow.

5:24 pm  

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