A break from Covid … climbing O’Reilly’s in the southern ranges

We rode up to Green Mountain on Queensland’s Lamington Plateau yesterday. Fifty-three kilometers and one of Australia’s hardest climbs. My sister Pamela locked down in Melbourne, joked: Did we drive up or bike?

We did Alberto Contador proud … although I faltered on the final ascent but Graeme and Lachlan Hurse, up ahead, inspired me to go on to see the famous Stinson plane at the top and witness Currawongs chatter, a crimson rosella eating a chip and a pair of honeyeaters begging for food.

In 1937 Bernard O’Reilly found the Stinson wreck in nearby MacPherson Range and rescued the survivors, Joseph Binstead and John Proud.

“It (the Stinson) never actually quite got to New South Wales … it unfortunately missed New South Wales by about 500 metres.” – Bernard O’Reilly said at the time.

On descent, in the dusky light, paddy-melons and rock wallabies came out. The rock wallabies had beautiful light sensitive faces lined with yellow.

A few metres ahead one solid paddymelon jumped in front of a Mini Cooper and bounced off, scampering up the hill. The bonnet on the Mini popped up and, try as we might, we couldn’t get it back on.

A construction worker came by and taped it up so the couple driving it could get up to O’Reillys where they were staying the night.

On our way home from Canungra to Brisbane we discussed: “What is a real job?” Big topic. Near Yatala and Ormeau we could see warehouses, factories & industrial properties – signs of S-E Queensland’s hidden manufacturing industry.

What is Bernie Power up to these days? asked Lachlan. When Alan Bond took over Castlemaine Perkins at Milton, Bernie Power started up a brewery based at Yatala not far from Canungra and O’Reilly’s.

There is some real money on the approach to Green Mountain, AQUIS has set up three large acre properties along the valley, a big racing and thoroughbred operation.

Lach and I arrived home in the dark, inspired by the southern ranges still.

Here is a tune I played on my harmonica with Graeme and Trevor on theirs guitars, The Bim Bimbis, inspired by Lamington National Park.

Ian Curr
3 August 2020