The joy of twice-yearly cycling trips in Europe with friends got Jude and Graham Turner thinking. After cycle-touring in Spain, France, Italy and Croatia, they wondered if they could forge a similar path through their own backyard.
Two years ago the Brisbane-based couple, who own the Spicers Retreats hotel group and founded the global Flight Centre group, began plotting a mountain-bike trail through the volcanic remnants of the Great Dividing Range linking their luxe Spicers Peak Lodge in south-east Queensland's Scenic Rim region with sister lodge Hidden Vale. They envisaged it as a companion experience to the four-day Scenic Rim Trail, opened for lodge hikers in 2014.
The Hidden Peaks Trail, launched in August, is a four-day, 110-kilometre mountain-bike ride that offers "an adventurous and exclusive way for guests to connect with the natural wonders and heritage of south-east Queensland while getting a little exercise," says Jude Turner. The guided ride starts at Spicers Peak Lodge, where cyclists are equipped with mountain bikes, helmets and gloves, and a backpack for carrying water, cameras and wet-weather gear.
Along the trail
The path follows fire trails, farm tracks and purpose-built single tracks, and the first night is spent in safari-style tents at Spicers Canopy Eco-Lodge, looking towards double-humped Mount Mitchell in Main Range National Park. Subsequent nights are in customised, solar-powered timber cabins in bush and valley settings with filtered views of the surrounding peaks. The trail ends with lunch and the promise of spa treatments at Spicers Hidden Vale.
Riders need to be fit enough to handle long days in the saddle, with several bloodpumping climbs and steep descents. Otherwise the ride involves back-road touring through Gondwana rainforests, hidden gorges and open farmland. Picnics appear along the way, and there's lunch at a country pub.
Exclusivity is key, says the trail's general manager, James Pearce. "A large portion of the trail is actually on nature refuge or national park that's only accessible through private land," he says. The all-inclusive four-day ride costs $2,290 a person, twin share, with a maximum of 10 riders.