I have been meaning to do this ride for probably two years and finally got round to it today. The Linville to Blackbutt Rail Trail is part of the Brisbane Valley Rail Trail that will follow the old railway line for about 148 km between West Ipswich and Blackbutt. At the moment only some sections of the trail have been opened and the section I rode today was 22.6 km between Linville and Blackbutt.
I had decided on a loop ride which is very similar to the Google map above except that I didn’t head south of Blackbutt and link up to Rohlmanns Rd via the Benarkin Forest trails. Instead I rode the rail trail from Linville to Blackbutt then returned via the rail trail until just after the D’Aguilar overpass where I rode to the top the range via the Tarong water pipeline track then linked up to Rohlmanns Rd which I followed down into Linville. This made for a more interesting loop ride.
The rail trail climbs gently out of Linville to Benarkin before the slight downhill run for the final few kilometers into Blackbutt. The scenery for the first 8-10kms out of Linville was fantastic with rolling green hills and views of the Blackbutt Range. From their, the bush closes in around the trail and the view diminishes to pretty much the trail in front of you and the bush either side. About 7kms out of Linville I had to stop at one of the railway cuttings to allow a herd of cattle to be mustered through the cutting by horseman. Unfortunately, the herd spooked and some headed for the gully while others climbed the route over the side of the cutting and down the embankment where I was standing supposedly out of there way, Luckily, they spooked at the last moment and just avoided trampling me as I nowhere to move. The dogs herding the cattle did a brilliant job of quickly rounding them up out of the gully and getting them back on the trail.
After a pancake and ice cream lunch in Blackbutt and being informed that I must have a permit to ride the rail trail I returned back along the trail until just after it passes under the D'Aguilar highway. From there I turned right up a a hike a bike section to the Tarong water pipeline maintenance track and the top of the D'Aguilar Range. My plan was to link up with the optimistically named Rohlmanns Road which would eventually lead me down into a valley and back into the Linville. I only had a Google satellite map for directions and landmarks which made it difficult because some of the tracks I was riding were unmarked. After following the Tarong track I came to a place that was obviously the top of the range and the point where I should start descending however, the direction I wanted was blocked by gates only evidence of a track was a cow path across a paddock. Nearby (in the middle of nowhere) some workmen were working on part of the water pipeline so I asked them for directions. They didn't know Rohlmanns Rd but said there was a very rough track that descended through private property down into the valley but they were unsure if it went to Linville.
After getting over the shock that someone had biked up to the top of the range and wanted to follow the rough trck down the valley they suggested I try it and just speak to any of the property owners I saw about access. So with that I headed across the path at the top of the range surrounded by acres of green fields and 360 degree views of the surrounding ranges. The cow path eventually turned into two wheel tracks and it was at that point I came across some farmers coming out of a muster yard. They indicated that I was not on private property as long as I stayed on the track which would eventually become Rohlmanns Rd as it winds its way down the valley into Linville.
This part of the ride was by far the best ride I have ever done. Following a ridge line down from the top of the D'Aguilar Range you follow a cow path that becomes two wheel tracks in the grass. Eventually the wheel tracks turn into a very rough and steep down hill four wheel drive track and really requires you to get your backside behind the bike seat and down on the rear wheel. As you descend the ridge line the track becomes less steep and the landcsape turns from the rolling green hills at the top of the range with its view to the surrounding Brisbane Valley Ranges to the flatter cattle grazing lands at the base of the range. Finally the track turns into a dirt road that follows the valley floor and deposits you just outside of Linville.
So that was it, about a seven hour ride but a lot of that was spent out of the saddle enjoying the views and having lunch in Blackbutt. It was a two hour trip back to Brisbane and I found myself nearly dropping of too sleep as I drove. I decided for the sake of safety stop at Lake Wivenhoe for a half hour rest. The water level at Wivenhow was considerably higher than when I was last out this way in 2005/2006.