Yourka hosts CAFNEC Mountain Bike Rally

on 22 Oct 2013 
New BHA sign at stockcamp
Kitchen in the stockcamp

Sixty-five mad mountain-bikers, twelve support crew and a cassowary….sound like the recipe for a fun weekend at Yourka? It most certainly was!

In the September school holidays we had the pleasure of hosting the Cardwell to Cairns mountain bike rally which is the major, annual fundraising event for the Cairns and Far North Environment Centre (CAFNEC). This is the third time we have been a part of this event and it was like welcoming old friends when the string of dusty cyclists came rolling through the front gate on the 1st October.

We first hosted the bike rally in 2010 when the cyclists dropped in for morning tea on their way from Herbert River Gorge to the Innot Hot Springs pub. In 2011 we were approached to host a two-night stopover and again this year when we were apparently voted “best campground” by the participants at the end of the 8-day ride.

On what was meant to be a rest day, the cyclists joined us (on their bikes, of course) on a round trip to the gorge where we took interested folk on guided plant and birdwatching tours while others went for a dip in the milky, blue waters of the Yourka ‘lap pool’. That evening we all went up to the lookout for some drinks and nibblies. Paul didn’t manage to avoid the limelight and a quick “here you are on the map” talk turned into an hour-long Q&A session about reserve management. Our lycra-clad audience asked lots of discerning questions and, as Paul spoke, it reminded us of how far we’ve come in five years of managing the reserve.

After dinner we did our usual slideshow presentation with images of conservation values and management activities projected on the back wall of the shed. I finished with an impassioned plea for volunteers and we managed to ‘snaffle’ CAFNEC’s Pamper Pack Pete who is keen to volunteer as a campground host on our 2014 tag-along tour. Other volunteer recruits included a qualified builder who would like to bring his family up for a month-long working holiday in the cooler months of next year. We even managed to hand out a fistful of donor brochures thanks to a timely question from the back of the crowd. I couldn’t help but laugh when our Wet Tropics ally, Andrew Maclean, piped up with, “Leanne, you said Bush Heritage runs on donations…I am sure this audience is full of people who would love to provide financial support to the good work that you are doing. Can you tell us how?”  Nice one, Andrew!

We received lots of positive feedback from participants, especially those who have visited us in previous years and had noticed some changes around the reserve.  The support crew were most impressed with the newly refurbished stockmans’ camp. CAFNEC uses the old stockcamp as their kitchen and headquarters and this year some new concrete, a sink, window and skylights made it a much safer and more functional space. As a thank you gesture, CAFNEC donated the hardware and labour to install a solar lighting system. These improvements, combined with the donkey hot water system, flushing toilet and views out across the billabongs make this charming old building the perfect place to host visitors…and an increasingly sought-after venue for camping getaways.

Cyclists and organisers alike were also excited about this year’s exit route which took riders out along our Wedge Track, through Wooroora to the Red Road and treated them to stunning vistas back across wet sclerophyll gallery forests and a rare sighting of a juvenile cassowary just beside the track.

We are already looking forward to next year’s rally when we will be including a day trip out to Cameron and Dipyard Creek. Did we mention we saw a tree kangaroo out there the other day?!!!

New BHA sign at stockcamp
Kitchen in the stockcamp