Adventure takes different forms along the newly opened Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail.

Story + Photos Mandy McKeesick

There is a kid on a mountain bike crashing through puddles, jumping obstacles and doing wheelies. The kid is Kevin Roth and he is 52 years old. After 20 years of running a retail store, Kevin is living his best life. Now selling experiences rather than products, he guides cyclists through hoop pine forests and 100-year-old rail tunnels on the newly opened Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail, running between Gayndah and Taragoola, near Gladstone, in Central Queensland.

Kevin and his wife Jennifer operate Packs N Pedals, a tourism venture created to service the growing demand the rail trail is bringing to the region. Today, as a soft summer twilight falls, they are leading a group through the Dawes Range. 

The cycling is easy, starting from the Barrimoon Siding, 4km from the village of Kalpowar, and winding down the range. “You probably have to pedal only 3 or 4 times,” Jennifer quips to a guest asking for an electric bike. “Actually I’m going to take electric bikes off the menu.”

Within 750m of the track’s siding, the trail runs through the first of 6 tunnels. “It’s our first tunnel, but it’s actually Tunnel 6 and here the rail line and hogback sleepers have been left in place for posterity, but they’ve been removed in the other tunnels to facilitate ease of cycling,” Kevin says. Bike lights switch on and cast eerie shadows along curved walls as the group moves along the 100m tunnel. “The rail line was built in the 1920s for copper and gold mining in the area, and later it carried cattle, timber, general goods and passengers,” Kevin continues, as microbats sweep above his head.

This story excerpt is from Issue #149

Outback Magazine: June/July 2023