North Stradbroke Island by Overnight Mountain Bike Adventure
We had a rough plan – Take our Mountain Bikes to North Stradbroke Island, camp overnight at Cylinder Beach and catch ferry back the next day at 2:30 to get home in time to celebrate my birthday with the family. It was basically – no plan as we didn’t even have a good map – we nailed it….it couldn’t of gone better. North Stradbroke (Straddie to the locals) by bike is not all road, or soft sand riding and is heaps of fun on a mountain bike.
We rocked up to ferry terminal at Toondah Harbour Cleveland at 9:30 to catch the 10am ferry. We allowed a fair bit of time to sort out our new set up for carting our goodies around on the bikes. We bought new seat post racks and a decent sized dry bag and we occy strapped them to the rack, also a front bag each and a couple of other small attachments. A quick spin around the car park and all was well so we rode up to the ticket office, bought our tickets and when the ferry came, we rode our bikes on….how good was this.
It takes an hour to cross Moreton Bay to reach Dunwich. We spent the time formulating a plan. First stop at the Tourist info for intel and a map and next stop at the bakery for a pie and a ponder over the map.
The tourist information lady was extremely helpful. She had a map for us (big tick) and also what roads you could take a bike on and not be pushing it on soft sand for most of it. She also told us about the tracks that looked lovely on the map but actually went up and over big sucker sand hills (mountains).
For Christmas I’d been given a Garmin 800 – a fabulous little bit of kit. It has maps and can navigate you while on the bike with a beep indicating when you need to turn. So we set it for Brown Lake and took off out of Dunwich. The Garmin 800 also knows that you are not a car, so if it sees a little fire trail that is quicker it ups the adventure factor for you. I love that about the Garmin, it saved us from road riding all the way to Brown Lake.
Brown Lake is brown, no surprises there, something to do with the leaves and the tannin makes it that colour. We sat and looked and admired it for a suitable amount of time and then took the main road out along Tazi Rd towards Blue Lake. Tazi road (Alfred Martin Way) is undulating with at least one big hill to climb. If you think it’s hard to hill climb normally try doing it with a fully loaded bike. Climbing it was the safe bit though, descending down the other side you just felt so unstable, I definitely didn’t go too fast.
At the Blue Lake car park we found out that Blue Lake was not just beside the road like Brown Lake was, it was 2.1km along a walking track. We had the bikes so thought we’d see how far we could ride them along the track. Turns out all the way bar a couple of bits actually. We reached Blue Lake in no time at all. Blue Lake is much bigger then Brown lake and blue surprisingly. The track to Blue Lake seemed to be all down hill, so instead of going back up to the road again, we continued along the track that now looked like old fire roads for an adventure. We had the garmin, how lost could we get? We didn’t get lost we just spent a lot of time negotiating the back sand tracks edging our way closer to the beach or a road – whichever we found first. We kept coming up to intersections and just hoped that we’d chose the correct way.
What we didn’t expect though was the worlds most untouched spiders webs ever!!! Those spiders had worked for years spinning their webs across entire fire trails, it wasn’t the sand that slowed us down it was the spiders webs. The whole time we spent negotiating those tracks we only had to walk the bikes a couple of times because the sand was too soft, the rest was easy enough to ride on. Somehow, we eventually came out on the road again and it was just a short ride down to Main Beach and once again we got lucky as it was low tide. Pretty lucky really, as we hadn’t check out the tide times, we just figured we’d turn around it the waves were too close. Fair bit of soft sand to walk over at first but once down on the hard sand it was real easy to ride on.
We had 8km of beach to ride before arriving at Point Lookout. We also could see a big storm cloud out to sea, so the race was on. One funny thing that happened along the way as we neared Point Lookout – a 4WD came screaming along beside us at one point going heaps faster then us. We soon caught up to them and waved at them as we walked our bike past their now bogged 4WD in the soft sand leading up to the road.
Riding along the beach was an amazing experience, apart from the 4WD’s closer to Point Lookout we were all alone and just enjoying the moment, while keeping a close eye on that storm cloud. It was a long time since that pie so we high tailed it to the closest coffee shop just making it inside to order before the heavens opened up. Another lucky break, sitting high and dry sipping on a hot chocolate and watching a summer storm at Point Lookout. Life is great.
Was just a summer storm so we watched it pass over before heading down hill to the most fabulous Cylinder Beach Camp Ground, our home for the night. We set about setting up camp as fellow campers watched on wondering firstly how we carried all that and also were did it all come from – “you didn’t look like you had much stuff?”
We did a little clean of the bikes and then enjoyed a lovely hot shower and jazzed ourselves up (as best we could) for our walk up the 100 or so stairs from the camp ground to the equally fabulous and extremely handy famous Point Lookout Pub. Drinks to celebrate a successful day and also my birthday and then a yummy meal – all very wonderful.
I was looking forward to waking up on my birthday at Cylinder beach and enjoying breakfast and a cuppa tea on the beach. I’d packed in some cereal for each of us with pre mixed in powdered milk and then tea and coffee and a little bag of powdered milk for that. Here is where the problem began, new powdered milk was used for the cereal, old powdered milk I’d found a little bag in the camping food box in my pantry is what I bought for the tea/coffee. All went well, I boiled the pot, made the tea and cereal up, took off to a suitable bit of sand to sit on. John starts sipping his coffee thinking this is the worst thing he’s ever tasted. Polite boy is John, not wanting to wreak my birthday moment he just shut up about it and ate his cereal. I like my tea to not burn my mouth, so when I eventually got to it and took a sip – I spat it out ASAP. John was so relieved he tossed his too. The tea tasted like it was infused with mince and dehydrated peas, ewwwww, lesson learnt. It couldn’t wreak the moment though, just have a look at the picture and well, what could be better.
It gave us an excuse to spend some time checking out the shops at Point Lookout and also the local coffee shop! Yesterday we had seen a walk way leading to the headland, so today we decided to check it out. It was the Scenic Walk, note the key word we overlooked here – WALK. We took our bikes on it….initially seemed a good idea until we hauled those bikes up and down a zillion stairs. Lucky we hadn’t loaded them up yet (our tent was still up at Cylinder Beach). It was worth it, the views – amazing.
We eventually finished the Scenic Walk and packed up camp and took off towards Amity Point. Just outside of Point Lookout is an old vehicle track that is now for walking and riding. Brilliant, we have hardly seen the tarmac so far. It was a bit sandy/muddy in parts but otherwise pretty good.
Finally arrived at Amity – someone stopped their car next to us say hi along the way. Said they’d seen us at Dunwich yesterday, Point Lookout today and now here on the back roads of Amity – I’m guessing there weren’t too many people bikepacking on Straddie and also not many wearing brightly coloured stripped socks too! Famous for a day!
Stopped in Amity for a breather and to eat at the little shop and then garmin found a back road that led us to Flinders Beach. No one about so time for a quick skinny dip – very refreshing.
Not so much fun was riding the tarmac along the main access road (Coast Rd) for 11km with sand and salt in your riding pants. No regrets.
In Dunwich we thankfully happened upon a groovy vegetarian café (I did not want another pie) and we made a couple of quick take away lunch and dessert purchases. Held them in a bag off our handle bars and rode down to the port and straight onto the barge to head home. It’s all in the timing and a little bit of luck too. We also had the posh ferry home which had table and chairs and air conditioning and a lovely scenic outlook of the bay as we chomped on our gourmet lunch and reminisced about a great couple of days mountain biking on North Stradbroke Island.