Australia has some of the most exciting and challenging mountain bike trails equal to some of the best in the world.
I have been riding for many years and would consider myself as an average mountain bike rider who just likes to get on my bike and escape .
I will also say that some of my best wildlife photos have been taken while on one of my rides.
I decided to take on the challenge of riding a pretty average Pipeline trail in Heathcote National Park to check out some of the pools affected by the heavy rainfalls we have encountered around Sydney. This is a non-technical trail that is graded as difficult due to some steep climbs along the way. My ride started at Heathcote, taking advantage of a closed Heathcote Rd getting me down to the start of the trail. This ride follows a pipeline access track through Heathcote National Park with many opportunities along the trail to access some of the beautiful pools, including Elbow Pool, Mirang Pool and one of the most popular for campers, Lake Eckersley. Pipeline trail is approx 10 km one way, however I did make a detour to Lower Pipeline trail getting me to the spillover for Woronora Dam. Having committed myself to this ride without much thought that it would end up being a gruelling 30 km loop, I will have to admit that on return I was pretty much wasted. ** Correction Lake Eckersley is one of a number of pools that are on the Woronora River. Elbow Pool and Mirang Pool are pools belonging to Heathcote Creek that eventually flow into Woronora River and are not fed by Woronora River/Dam.
Mill Creek MBT Park
Mill Creek MTB Trails, located in the bushland around Menai, is a dedicated mountain bike area hand built by volunteers in cooperation with Sutherland Shire Council. This bike park, rated medium to hard, is a 10km loop of challenging and somewhat technical trails for all standards. With runs named Methane Alley, Toxic Flow and Black Hawk Down, I can say you will certainly be in for a good cardio workout. Big THUMBS UP to all involved.
Woodford to Glenbrook
This 30km ride in the Blue Mountains begins at Woodford Station. Just a short 2km ride from here and you enter the Blue Mountain National Park onto a fire trail that leads to Glenbrook. Expect a fair bit of exciting uphill and downhill sections on fire trails until you eventually enter into some pretty interesting single tracks. We actually drove to Glenbrook station and hopped on the train to Woodford station but you can train this ride all the way
Mountain biking in the Shire
I find the bush trails around Sutherland Shire and the Royal National Park are up there with some of the best in Australia and have given me some of my most interesting experiences with our local native wildlife.
The area is common place to large Gymea Lillies, Grass trees and other amazing native flora yet it also give you a bit of an adrenalin kick with some of the scenic challenging bike rides.
Definately one of my favorites of the bush. The Echidna is one of those creatures that will always amaze me with their temperament and unusual looks. Even though the quills are needle sharp and can easily pierce your skin you still get the urge to want to pick one up and give it a big soft hug
On the ride I also came across this curious Water Dragon.
They are common in the Menai/Sutherland bushlands mosty located around creeks and waterways.
The thing I find interesting with water dragons is that they all seem to have their own personalities and most often have a distinctive difference in their facial features. Their colours range from a deep chocolate brown to a dark charcoal grey with a strong red underbelly.
Always a great photo opportunity with these reptiles because their curious nature allows you to get up close enough and long enough to get all the right shots.
Second to the Kookaburra in my books is the Sulpher Crested Cockatoo.
This bird is sometimes hated for its destructive nature around homes chewing through external timbers and the occassional pool solar matting.
For me if its not the sounds of a Kookaburra laughing then what else better than the screatching of Cockatoos to remind you that you are in Australia
The hotter days will quite often bring out the best in the bush, like this 2 metre Goanna.
I would go close to calling these powerful creatures "King of the Bush", with their massive claws and bodies built like a weight lifter on steroids. Watching a goanna climb a tree with such ease I soon get the feeling they have no fear that I am close by which makes me understand that in some cases close enough is good enough.
Swamp Wallabies are common around the Royal and Georges River National Parks. I spotted this wallaby while riding the tracks around Loftus and was lucky enough to get out my trusty Sony Cybershot to get a few good shots in the open. They tend to spring out of nowhere in front of you and disappear just as quick into thick bushland. If you move slow and quietly you will usually find that they are only just hidden nearby in the bush and you will get the chance to check them out in their natural enviroment.