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Gold on the Sunshine Coast

22 August 2023

Words & Photos: Jamie Nicoll & Anja Foley

Jamie Nicoll and Anja Foley embark on a three month overland adventure from Brisbane - crossing west then north through three major deserts in the 'Red Centre', before looping back via the Kimberleys and Cape York in the Northern Territory. With their Jamie-customised Toyota 4WD as the mothership there's plenty of classic Oz outback camping and exploring new, unusual and just damn good places to ride. This first instalment is around the Queensland Coast before they head inland to Birdsville and then across the Simpson Desert.

Cooloola Beach near Tewantin bike park on the Sunshine Coast.

Traversing and exploring the Australian outback has been a long held dream... and several years in the making. Covid interruptions and extensive preparation (mostly customisation of the Land Cruiser for Australian outback terrain and camping) consumed a lot of time and energy. What a buzz to finally arrive in Brisbane, reunite with our vehicle/home for the next few months after its boat ride across the Tasman Sea, and to decompress into adventure mode. Outta Brisbane, we headed up the coast for a touch of beach life, a wee shakedown to test the camping systems and final modifications to the wagon.

Sunshine Coast

Near Kin Kin we biked part of the Noosa Trail Network and enjoyed the classic Australian landscape of rolling hills, beautiful old eucalyptus trees, macadamia nut farms and plenty of bouncy kangaroos. As dusk approached screeching white cockatoos showed us the way back to the car park. Unfortunately, Anja had come off her bike earlier and hurt her shoulder and knee. It made for an uncomfortable night's camping and a tentative start to the next day.

Driving back towards the coast we checked out Tewantin National Park near Noosa Heads. A great location with a stunning white sandy beach nearby to cool down after our ride. Access to the bike park is via a track used for stock car racing. Every corner is numbered with bright red and white colouring. Lots of bike trails branch off this. We had fun blind flying down the two black runs, 'Snake' and 'Turn 10'.

Rainbow Beach, north of Tewantin.

Gold Coast

Cory, a very friendly Gold Coast Mtb Club member, met us at the start of the Nerang Mtb Trails in Nerang National Park. The trails are just 12 km from the mayhem of Surfers Paradise. Cory delivered an informative brief history of the park and a few of his favourite tracks. We duly set off to tick off his list of recommended trails. Five hours and 25 undulating kms later we arrived back at the car park - covered in sweat and dust, thirsty and happy. It was so cool to be pedalling around, meeting half metre tall goannas hanging out on the track, crossing little streams, and jumping different rock features. Our favourite trails were 'Lost World' and 'Taipan'.

Tewantin National Park.

Cotton Hill

A few clicks off the Pacific Motorway between Brisbane and the GC are a bunch of mtbing areas - the best known being Daisy Hill. We decided to check out a wee bike park just east of there called Cotton Hill. Located near a quarry in the Eastern Escarpment Conservation Area it boasts some nice steep descents. We rode up 'Escalade', zoomed down 'Westy’s', up another fire break sweating like hell and finally descended via 'Shenanigans' and 'Rise over Run'. A fun little park with particularly dry and dusty tracks.

Tewantin National Park, Sunshine Coast. 

Nerang National Park, Gold Coast.

Cotton Hill bike park, Gold Coast.


As we ventured west we hit the super cute hill top city of Toowoomba, 111 km out of Brisbane with some great riding on its doorstep. We started our exploration of the Jubilee Park Trail System from Harvey Street right on the edge of town. We loved the fast-flowing rocky DH trails ‘Frenzy’ and ‘Hot Rod’ that start at about 600 m elevation with beautiful views over this vast landscape. The heat was definitely getting to us. We even worked up a sweat going down hill! Fun.

Now we're off to Birdsville - home of the famous Birdsville Hotel, where we had promised our friends Bob and Chris that we would  enjoy a pint in the cool of the verandah before going it alone for 1000 km across the Simpson Desert to Alice. Stay tuned.

Nitty Gritty


Nerang National Park, Gold Coast.

Due west on the Warrego Highway for 1500 km to Birdsville.