As I’ve said before, bikes and trains go together like gin and tonic (if you fancy a tipple; even if you don’t, it’s still a good analogy). It’s a method of conveyance that, on one hand, comes as close to freedom as anyone alive today is likely to get and, on the other hand, can project you far from home quickly and efficiently. But it’s a piecemeal affair that requires a little knowledge, a little thinking, a little planning. Only a little but that’s what makes it so good – it’s the adventure of it, the detachment from the status quo, the pushing away of unthinking predictability, comfort, convenience and reliance. So simple, so cheap yet so satisfying.

The freedom comes partly from the lack of ownership (and therefore responsibility). The train is a public asset. It’s yours to use as a citizen or visitor of the state and your only obligations to do so are to pay the fare and abide by the rules of use. The maintenance, the insurance, the energy used to power it are all somebody else’s responsibilities. Once you step off it, you can forget about it.

The bike requires so little reliance on a private company once purchased that you become beholden to almost nothing once you purchase it. Except if you buy the kind of bike that has those obligations and reliances built in by design but that’s for another blog post.

And that’s the other part of freedom – avoidance (or at least severe minimisation) of being beholden to another entity to keep you going. Sure, your bike will need tyres, chain lubricant, tubes, a new chain every so often but those things are so cheap, seldom required and so simple that they barely warrant a mention. Plus with bike repairs and maintenance you can often improvise if push comes to shove. Got a small slash in your tyre? Stuff a piece of cardboard or plastic inside the tyre before you put a new tube back in to get you home. Break a chain? Punch out a link or two with a chain tool and join it back together or insert a quick link. Break a spoke? Often you’ll still have enough left to get you home (or to the train). Run out of chain lube? Use sewing machine oil or one of a myriad of other substitutes available at any hardware or department store.

Contrast that with car ownership.

Bike plus train to the Sunshine Coast Queensland

As the train speeds along through the hinterland, the view from the window quickly flickers between thick rainforest almost against the window to open fields revealing vistas of the Glasshouse Mountains, orchards and farmlands. I hold my phone up to the window with the video recording in the hope of later pulling out some stills of the fog over the top of Tibrogargan and Crookneck.

It’s the first train of the day. My new-to-me Specialized Sirrus flatbar is velco strapped to a handrail on the almost empty train and doesn’t so much as budge with the occasional bumps the train hits. The weather is cooling off at this time of year and, according to the weather report, I give myself a fifty-fifty chance of staying completely dry by the end of the day but my pannier bags contain some wet weather gear and a change of clothes plus I have my riding sandals on my feet so getting wet is of no concern.

Dularcha Tunnel between Landsborough and Mooloolah Valley

I feel fortunate to live so close to the Sunshine Coast, to know people who live there and to be availed of the infrastructure required to make today’s trip. I’m getting off at Landsborough station, taking a small off road shortcut through Dularcha National Park into Mooloolah Valley and then making my way into the heart of the Sunshine Coast. This write-up is actually a conflation of two such trips that I’ve done over the past couple of months highlighting the best of both.

On a few other bikes, on other occasions, I’ve done trips similar to this one but the Sirrus is probably the least suitable for the Dularcha Tunnel Trail. When I got off the train at Landsborough, it wasn’t raining but I could quickly tell that I had not missed it by much. I rolled through the back streets of Landsborough and into the Dularcha National Park and soon discovered sloshy puddles of muddy water in various places along the double fire trail. The road-ish tyres on the Sirrus were definitely out of their depth but I wasn’t in a hurry so I took it very slowly and walked where I needed to to make it through the tunnel and into Mooloolah Valley. No biggie, the tunnel trail is only about two kilometres. On the second one of these trips, I stayed on the train that one extra station and got off at Mooloolah station thus avoiding the short off road section through Dularcha NP. The rest of the ride is on sealed surfaces.

Mooloolah Valley train station

From Mooloolah Valley, I followed the familiar concrete path along Connection Rd to the Ewen Maddock Dam, up Stevens Rd past the Glenview State School and along Glenview Rd to the Bruce Hwy. Since my last bike trip through this area, the bikeway parallel to the Bruce Hwy past Aussie World has been completed and I have to say that it’s really impressive. Since its completion the new bikeway provides a completely protected, off road route from Aussie World right into the Sunshine Coast University at Sippy Downs.

Path along Connection Rd, Mooloolah Valley

From the uni, there are more concrete paths to Karawatha Dve which has some nice wide shoulders right to the end and then you’re quite close to the waterfront and have several options of more concrete paths and back streets to get you to wherever you’re going. There’s plenty of paths marked on Google Maps and probably other mapping applications to help you build your route.

Stevens Rd, Glenview

My destination today would be at Bli Bli where a shower and a good meal awaited before I headed back toward the train line in the afternoon. The journey back would be a shorter one though as I headed out along Paynters Creek Rd and Upper Rosemount Rd toward Nambour.

Buderim Mountain. I strayed to this spot on my first attempt at this trip. It’s a nice view but I don’t recommend doing this climb unless you’re specifically looking to do some hill training.

There aren’t any more concrete paths between Bli Bli and Nambour but I’ve ridden the roads I mentioned above several times now and have always found them to be relatively safe and quiet. Once I hit Petrie Creek Rd and ducked under the Bruce Hwy again closer to Nambour, the traffic did increase a bit but the shoulder is quite good on the climb into Nambour and once you’re in town things slow right down.

The skies did open up for me somewhat on the way into Nambour but not enough to bother getting my wet weather gear out of my pannier and with the combination of waiting for the train on the platform at Nambour station and the air conditioning inside the carriage, my clothes dried out very quickly.

Upper Rosemount Rd, Nambour

Nambour has a pretty unique vibe when you have the time to slow down a bit and notice it like you can from the seat of a bike. You can definitely tell you’re in the sub-tropics here with no shortage of foliage everywhere accentuated with palm trees and lots of older style Queenslander houses especially on the hill coming into town. Once you’re in town, there’s no mistake that you’re in country Queensland but the train station is also this nexus of locals as well as Sunshine Coast tourists heading south into Brisbane. There’s places to eat and drink if you have the time before your train arrives and it’s a good launch pad for other bike plus train adventures sans motor vehicle as I have done before.

For now though, the only thing left for me to do was velcro my bike to the handrail of the train carriage again and wait for my home station in Brisbane.

Ride safe and see you out there sometime.

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The producer of the Velo Moda website acknowledges the Traditional Owners of the land where I create and publish content from, the Turrbal and Jagera people, and pay my respect to Elders past, present and emerging. I recognise their continued connection to the land and waters of this beautiful place.
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