Boyne Burnett Inland Rail Trail – Horse Trekking Dawes Range

Kalpowar to Builyan

We decided an exploratory trip of the Dawes Range section of the BBIRT was in order. It also offered a good opportunity to gauge horse/rider fitness progress and packing skills for saddlebags and support vehicle. I always recommend doing a couple “fun runs” with all your gear before you go on a longer adventure, just to work out any kinks in advance and refine your packing list.

Starting at Barrimoon, within Kalpowar State Forest we rode to Builyan and then got a lift to Ubobo to camp at the Discovery Centre grounds, with a return trip the following day. A couple hundred metres from the entry, there is a State Forest camp area with toilets, picnic tables and an undercover entertaining area. However this camp area only has cattle grid entry and exit with no gates from what we could see. We drove right up to the Barrimoon entry instead of riding from Kalpowar along the forest roads, because of these cattle grids. Except for a cattle trough near some portable cattle yards not far from the camp grounds, there is no water available at this end. But this end is the closest to the tunnels and you’re going downhill to Builyan.

Creek near Golembil Siding

To Golembil Siding

The first 11km, downhill, winding section passes through tunnels and beautiful scenery like grass trees, valley views and bridges on the way to Golembil Siding. Near Golembil Siding is where there are some creeks to water horses during wet periods also. There is opportunity to camp at Golembil Siding which can be booked through HipCamp but there was no facilities at this site. This section can also be accessed from the road, so you’ll see caravaners, cyclists, walkers and other horse riders. This was the perfect spot for lunch and a grazing session and they’ve begun planting some trees so there will be some shade in no time.

Between Golembil Siding and Builyan it flattens out, with a few gates, couple road crossings and cattle along this section. We were able to increase our travel speed along this section (much to Glory’s delight!). It was amazing to see the infrastructure they’ve retained, like the 12000 gal tank fed by Many Peaks Dam to replenish the boilers of the steam engines. Apparently this tank is still in use and it’d be great if it was hooked up to a trough, because there is no water for the horses between Golembil and Many Peaks. The trail deviates off the rail trail due to bridges and at the road culverts there was seasonal water supply, but you need a bucket.

Jevan and Glory: The automatic gate opening system

There is facilities just off the rail trail at Many Peaks dam (23km) and there is camping available through HipCamp at Builyan Siding (25km). This is where we ended our first day and met up with our support vehicle for a lift to camp at Ubobo Discovery Centre. At the time the trail wasn’t open past Builyan and we’d left to late to ride along the main road. At the Discovery Centre we were treated to a newly installed horse trough and great facilities for campers at a very reasonable price.

Many Peaks to Barrimoon

The return trip was just as beautiful and everything you missed coming down, catches your eye on the way back up the range (like mango trees – what?!).

I will forewarn, our support vehicle had a heck of a time getting up the mountains to meet us at Golembil and Builyan. Some sections of Gladstone-Monto Road have grades greater than 15%. Kalpowar Road is also a dirt road and very windy. I’d recommend ensuring you have a good tow vehicle and are confident. Thankfully our support vehicle driver was a Trucker in her previous life.

The rail trail was definitely the easiest part of the journey!

Monto-Gladstone Rd range crossing. Source: Mattinbgn Wikipedia

All in all, it’s a beautiful trail with variation in scenery and exquisite train tunnels (with bats!) to hold you in awe. There is only seasonal water supply at the creeks, so I don’t recommend doing this trail with horses during the dry season, without a backup.

We’ll keep coming back to it as we continue preparing for the Azadi Far Ride to the Murray in 2024.

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