Monday, 11 June 2012


This is the place to come for the weekend if you are seeking a picturesque ride in the countryside.

Clifton on the Darling Downs

Clifton is situated approximately half way between Toowoomba and Warwick just off the New England highway. There are a number of rides of varying distances and the majority are on good quality sealed roads. There are a few hills but generally the terrain is flat and depending on the season, there are a multitude of excellent views, some of which are depicted in the photographs.

The town itself has three hotels, one of which is an Irish hotel, having Irish publicans. Each hotel serves meals and one has take-away pizzas. There is an excellent Foodworks store which also supplies take-away as well as a couple of cafes. I personally have eaten at two of the hotels and found the meals to be very good. As an example, on my last ride my friend and I dined at the the Pink Pub (Club Hotel), where we both chose lamb shanks accompanied by a bottle of Pepperjack Cabernet Sauvigion.  Having just consumed a couple of cold VB's in the bar and running an eagle eye over the menu, we decided to eat in the dining room,  where we had the added pleasure of an open fire. Not being an expert in the matter of food, I would rate the meal 4 out of 5 stars. Unfortunately, I neglected to take my camera with me. There is also accommodation available at the hotels.

As it was my friend Murray's first visit to this part of the Darling Downs I decided that we would ride Clifton to Pilton and then west to Nobby and back to Clifton. The weather, although overcast, was ideal for riding and indeed for landscape photography.

Reaching the crest of the hill before reaching Pilton

Looking west from the top of the hill

We left Clifton early and took the Heifer Creek road. The quality of the road as depicted in the above photograph was excellent with the traffic being light to moderate. Even though we had a long climb to reach the summit it was well worth it as the decent down the other side was awesome. I don't know whether I was enjoying the exhilarating fast decent or whether my attention was diverted to a shudder coming from my front wheel but I completely missed the Pilton Hall where we were to turn to head west on Manapouri Road to Nobby and it wasn't until we climbed another hill that we were confronted with a sign stating we were at the top of the Great Dividing Range.

Murray wasn't too keen to go over the top as he said "Jimmy, if you've got this wrong and if we were supposed to have turned somewhere back there - indicating where we had come from, we're going to glide all the way to Gatton (at the end of Heifer Creek Road) and it's going to be one hell of a climb back". The decision was made and we retraced our ride back 5km where we came across the Pilton Hall and a road running west, signposted "Manapouri Road". It was here whilst we were taking in some refreshment that Murray exclaimed "I don't know how we missed this place it's bigger than Myers!" I muttered something like "It was probably obscured by that tree." He didn't reply....the look was enough.

Views from Pilton to Nobby

The ride from Pilton to Nobby was uneventful but never boring, not on a beautiful autumn day, sucking in cool clean air and taking in the majestic views that this part of the Darling Downs has to offer.

By the time we arrived at Nobby, we were both feeling slightly peckish and pulled into the general store, come service station come take-away. This clean and efficiently run little establishment was well and truly up to the task of satisfying our hunger. Whilst consuming our lunch, we sat outside and watched the world go by and took in some of the historical sites within our vision.

Nobby has a couple of well known claims to fame, The Rudd Pub named after the legendary author of the "Dad & Dave "stories and "On our Selection", Steele Rudd. If you choose to have a meal in the pub, you will not regret it. Not only will you be pleased with the meal but you will have the added pleasure of eating in a local museum, reminding a lot of the older generation of memories many would rather regret, the era of The Great Depression. The other claim to fame, is a memorial in honour of Sister Elizabeth Kenny, an Australian bush nurse who promoted the need to exercise muscles instead of immobilising them when treating poliomyelitis (polio).This treatment was prior to vaccination.  Her principles of muscle rehabilitation, became the foundation of physical therapy or physiotherapy.  My father in law was one of many such sufferers living in the district that benefited from her work.

Having had our energy levels replenished, I decided to take an alternate dirt route the remaining 11 km back to Clifton just to add an element of difficulty.

Distance: 60km
Surface: Sealed road all but the last 11km
Traffic: Light to moderate
Difficulty: Easy/medium. You do need a suitable level of fitness to ride some of the hills.
Bicycle suited: All types. The last 11km can also be made on a sealed road.


Jimmy  Bee

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