In a section of soft sand on the track ahead, I see them – animal prints. Hitting the brakes I pull up and shut the engine on my dual-sport bike. Silence washes over me like a wave, closely followed by a blast of stifling air! It’s 11:30 am and I’m riding along an unnamed track with Toolara State Forest on my left and the Cooloola Section of Great Sandy National Park to my right – the closest human well over 20km away.
Getting off the bike I check out the tracks…there are 2 large sets of dingo paw prints heading in the same direction, then suddenly wild horse hooves appear jumbled up in the sand – almost as if startled by the dogs. A bit further along emu and goanna tracks criss-cross the sand. Together they all continue along the track before eventually disappearing their separate ways into the bush…I wonder about the events of the night before laid out in the sand.
My focus shifts to the silence, or rather the sounds now landing gently on my ears. The pine forest on my left combine with the gum trees, xanthorrhoeas and tea tree brush to my right to emit their unique psithurism in the breeze. The steady rhythm of cicadas and the occasional bird call add to the mood.
Naturalist author W.H. Hudson wrote the following in 1901,
Listening to the wind is an experience worth going far to seek. It is very restorative. That is a mysterious voice which the forest has: it speaks to us, and somehow the life it expresses seems nearer, more intimate, than that of the sea.
A century later his reflections seem even more relevant with the distractions of our modern age.
I continue down the track. The ride is fantastic! A perfect mix of smooth clay, soft sand, loose rocks, washouts and technical sections that keep me engaged with the bike and the terrain passing beneath my wheels.
Climbing up a rocky hill I come to a stop looking out over 54,000 hectares of national park stretching from Noosa in the south to Rainbow Beach in the north. Hard to imagine that Brisbane, the third most populous city in Australia, is only 2 hours drive south. In the distance, I can see the Cooloola Sandpatch, then out of sight beneath it Teewah Beach and the Pacific Ocean.
Descending down I head into the park and soon pass a billabong amidst paperbark swamp and wildflower heath. Despite no real rain for months, there’s still water here – a boon for the local wildlife!
The track stretches out in front of me now, hard packed clay and sand. I ride on, letting the bush envelop me as the steady thump of my 250cc bike provides the perfect backdrop to get lost in thought. Yes, this is a Sunday adventure I will remember.
Thanks for sharing the journey!
Questions, praise, criticism? I’d love to know your thoughts in the comments below. ??