Gravel Crunching Rides on the Atherton Tablelands

by | Apr 20, 2021 | Atherton Tablelands

Gravel crunching rides on the Atherton Tablelands

Australia’s cycling boom has seen more gravel-crunchers taking to the trails. The Atherton Tablelands can accommodate these new cyclists with the variety of trails from rail trails, farm road loops, and mountain bike parks in the area. Rail trails are great to start with because they are mildly undulating trails and have limited interaction with vehicle traffic, and the scenery is amazing too.

I suggest the following two entry-level/scenic rides to kick off your riding experience. These short rides are ideal for riders who want to establish some cycling fitness while seeing our beautiful region. Also, kids who are competent on two wheels can also ride these trails. I recently rode these trails with my family and friends and would like to share them with you.

Platypus Park – Atherton to Hasties Swamp

This ‘easy’ 8km return trip is an ideal starter ride for fun and fitness. The trail is almost entirely flat. The ride starts at Platypus Park, Atherton where there is car parking and public toilets. The ride starts on the other side of the Railway Cafe and heads south east alongside the rail trail. Along one side of the trail, there rich green pastures with cattle grazing. The cattle are quite a novelty. They stare curiously at our chattering kids and are not fazed by their energy. Next, the trail steps down into bushland and meanders amongst the trees next to the railway line. There is plenty of shade in this middle section of the journey and a good place to rest if needed. The trail meets Hastie Road where you turn left. Ride for about 300m on Hasties Road before turning right onto Koci Road. Take care here, it isn’t a busy road, however; it is a 100km zone. There is a sign here to Hasties Swamp. If taking kids, I find bunching them together and then walking/riding across as a pack directly across the road is the shortest and safest way to get the kids across. The Hasties Swamp two-story bird hide is about 1km down the gravel road. We enjoyed finding the birds labelled on the information boards. There are so many types of birds in these wetlands throughout the year. Once rested, follow your same way back to the start. Platypus Park is a good place to end the ride. I would recommend a take-away coffee from Railway Café while the kids burn off the rest of their energy in the park.

Tolga Racecourse (Tolga Market Day) to Old Hospital Ruins return

This ‘easy’ 14km return trip has one small hill climb. I suggest doing this ride on the 1st Sunday of the month when the Tolga Markets are on. A small reward from the markets may entice you to complete the ride.

The ride starts on the north end of the Tolga Racecourse and head north along the rail trail. About 1km along, the trail drops beside an old railway bridge then continues for another 1.5 km. Turn left off the rail trail at Banchio road (opposite to the Me2U café). Head up the rise (this is where you may need to give some encouragement) then turn right onto Rocco Road. Rocco Road is a fun downhill gradient next to the power line. Check out the impressive view of the northern Atherton Tablelands. You can see as far as Dinden National Park on a sunny day. The road finishes at Frazer road. Turn right. This is the only section of the ride that is bitumen road and there usually isn’t much traffic. About 400m down the road on the left, you will come to the ruins of a WWII hospital. There is an information sign explaining this WWII history in the area. There are cement structures and a chimney. It is nice and shady and a good place to rest, have a snack and explore some Atherton Tablelands recent history. Roll on down Frazer Road to the Rocky Creek WWII Igloo. The Igloo was recently renovated and is now a beautiful old building which can take you back in time. Next to the Igloo is an entry to the rail trail. Head back south on the rail trail to the Tolga Racecourse. Once you are back at the Tolga Market stock up on your fresh fruit and vegetables and, sourdough bread. Oh, don’t forget to give the kids the treat if you bribed them to pedal up that hill.

Article published in the What’s On & Where To Go magazine – April 2021 Edition

by | Apr 20, 2021 | Atherton Tablelands

Leah Stevenson

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