North Stradbroke Island is perfect for fat bikes. If you’re now scratching your head, ‘fat’ means 4 inch wide tyres or wider. These treadles with their wide contact patch to the ground, glide over even the soft sand. With Straddies sandy white beaches that span kilometres long and the island reachable from home in less than two hours by bike (+ one gorgeous boat trip across Moreton bay), one owner of one said fat bike cannot resist the temptation. I originally got the inspiration from a good riding friend Neil Ennis. You can read his blog on his visit to the Island here.
The Quandamooka people are the traditional owners of North Stradbroke island. The Quandamooka people are an Aboriginal Australian group that live around Moreton Bay in Southeastern Queensland. They are composed of three distinct tribes, the Nunukul, the Koenpul and the Nguhi, and they live primarily on Moreton and North Stradbroke Islands, that form the eastern side of the bay. The Quandamooka people first encountered Europeans in 1799, when the English navigator and cartographer Matthew Flinders entered Moreton Bay. The area was settled by the English colonists in 1824, with the establishment of a penal colony there. Studies by archaeologists have found that indigenous peoples have lived on Stradbroke island for at least 21,000 years.
(Taken from Wikipedia)
The ride from home to Cleveland where the ferries leave from, is a nice stress free one. By that I mean, no pesky motor vehicles to dodge, or crowds of people to play chicken with, oops did I just say that? Seriously, it’s a mixture of rural farm land and lots of bike paths.
It’s a pretty flat ride, so doesn’t take long before you get a hint of Moreton bay, you can even smell it!
As soon as I turned up at Cleveland, cars were being loaded onto the ferry. I quickly paid my $10 at the office and was literally boarded in a matter of minutes. Bonza!
On the other side of the bay, a quick visit to the local bakery was in order. I didn’t stop to eat though, I packed my salad roll and hedge-hog slice into the rear bag and got going while the morning was young and cool. The first destination I had envisioned was ‘Brown Lake‘ and this meant climbing up the hills heading across the island. It would also be nice too enjoy the bakery treats at the lake.
Before long I turned off the sealed road for Brown Lake. It was fabulous to hear the crunching sound of gravel under the big fat tyres again.
The lake had its own little beach. This place is just divine! Like most lakes on the island, Brown lake is known as a perched lake because it retains its water due to the layer of leaves lining the floor. It is particularly obvious at this lake because of the tannin leached from the leaves that are dropped from the surrounding Paperbark and Tea-trees.
After munching down my bakery delights, I then headed north-west towards Amity point along Brown Lake Drive and some other tracks I had seen on maps and google earth. Most of it was very rideable and quite enjoyable except two climbs I had to walk due to the sand just being too soft for climbing.
Here is a short 9 second video I made of a nice part of the track and a picture of one of the climbs I had to walk.
The ride into Amity was uneventful. It was only 10:30am and I was not hungry at all so I continued down the main street and followed the beach access signs bringing the fat bike into its element.
After playing around I had a rest and enjoyed some fruit. It was a bit early for lunch so I decided to scout for a prospective camp site. I pushed hard along Flinder’s Beach into a head wind until I found a site and then had a lie down in the shade using the tent ground sheet to lie on and enjoyed the sounds of the ocean. This is the life!
Flinder’s beach is named after the English navigator and Captain, Mathew Flinders. In 1803 Mathew was running low on fresh water and pulled his ship up here in search. This was the first documented contact between Europeans and the local aborigines. The next documented contact was between shipwreck survivorsThomas Pamphlett, Richard Parsons and John Finnegan landed on Moreton Island in April 1823, before being taken to Stradbroke Island by the natives where they were helped and provided with food, shelter and a canoe by the local Aborigines.
(Taken from Wikipedia)
I had plenty of time to burn this afternoon, I had done about 60 odd kilometres and for my first outing with a 36kg laden bike, I was unsure how my body/legs would pull up for the following day. After a beach cruise, steak sandwich at the local watering hole followed by another beach cruise, I set up camp.
The handle bar roll bag you might have spotted on my bike is basically my shelter and sleeping gear. That one bag has a two-man tent, 3″ thick 6′ long inflatable sleeping mattress, duck/goose down sleeping bag, sleeping bag liner, inflatable pillow and tent ground sheet. It’s a water proof bag designed to anchor off the handle bars. Skillfully manufactured by Kedan and Katherine at Bike Bag Dude.
The remainder of the afternoon was spent resting. A small storm cell hit late in the afternoon followed by a few more showers throughout the night making things a little more interesting but a good test of the gear.
I also had an early dinner taking advantage of a break in the rain.
For my very first day bikepacking, I was pretty happy with how it went. 🙂