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Smedley's Hill Pallarenda

Smedley’s Hill on track

TheGo was fortunate to get an exclusive tour of the region’s latest mountain bike track in the making – Smedley’s Hill – last week, which is nearing 50% complete and on-track to be finished by October (woot woot!).

This new Pallarenda-based track will ultimately add 6.6km to the popular 10.1km Under the Radar MTB trail and is designed for an intermediate level (the same as UTR); but there are some more advanced B lines in there for more experienced riders. Being a National Parks’ track, it’s also going to provide another nice challenging route for local trail runners to tackle (in addition to the neighbouring 5.7km Many Peaks/Mount Marlow track).

QPWS principal ranger Marty McLaughlin

QPWS principal ranger Marty McLaughlin

The first thing that strikes me is the view. Getting out of principal ranger Marty McLaughlin’s car at the top of the ridge above Shelley Beach, you can see the northern beaches one way (now christened ‘Bohlewood’) and Magnetic Island the other – it’s close to a 360 degree vista of twinkling tropical ocean. Not a bad place to ride and definitely a must-do for visiting rider/runner friends.

Also, another notable aspect is the history. If anyone reading this has more information on the use of Pallarenda during WWII give us a buzz and we’ll expand on these details; but the trail builders (a team led by principal contractor TM-Payne Contractors, including Rockwheelers president Peter McLean) have encountered lots of war-time sangars (different from a foxhole as they are built out of the ground using loose rocks). They are designed to be camouflaged, but you won’t be able to miss the six or so of them as you ride around Smedley’s – some have trees growing out of them, while others provide spectacular views from their cliff-side watch. We understand the plan is to install informative signage around the track eventually, which would be great for satisfying curiosity.

Now onto the trail features…

Here are some photos that we took on Friday, September 5 of the work in progress (plus a couple that were supplied):

Smedley's Hill trail featureThis dual line rock feature (choose either the upper B line or lower A line) actually has a third line. Check out this pic for the other side of this feature:

Smedley's Hill drop-offIf you don’t want to come off the rock on the A or B lines, you can take a detour to continue a bit further and come down this steep rock feature (or ride up it coming the other way if you’re good enough!). Trail building contractor Tim Payne says it’s nearly a black diamond feature to give advanced riders a challenge, but the intermediates and beginners can admire it safely pedalling past.

Rock feature channelThis rock ramp weaves an interesting course after a rest area. Admire the views and check out the cliff-top sangar, then pedal through this rocky channel.

Rock armoured trackIt took four guys two-and-a-half days to sculpt these rock-armoured corners: one day to collect the 40 tonne of rock from the hill and transport it in with a little dumper and one-and-a-half days to construct.

SwitchbackA nice climbing corner, or downhill switchback on the east side.

Bridge from UTR to Smedley's HillMade from fibreglass and recycled plastics, this bridge means riders can still get from Under The Radar to Smedley’s Hill even during king tides and following wet season downpours (once the track reopens).

Smedley's Hill viewHere is just one of the breathtaking views you can expect on the ride. There are plenty of places to pull-up to admire the serenity… or give an appreciative glance as you keep powering…

WWII SangarThis is just one of the many WWII sangars. These have been incorporated into the trail as much as possible as a unique feature and a significant part of Townsville’s history.

Smedley’s Hill will be opened to the public on October 20, 2014. We can’t wait to get out and ride it! Let us know when you do and what your thoughts are in the comments section below. See the track first-hand here in Rockwheelers’ YouTube video.

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Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz

Carly Lubicz is combining two of her great loves — writing and getting active. Previously working as a journalist, sub-editor, and editor in newspapers and magazines; she is editor and co-founder of TheGo Townsville. She stays active with the staples of road cycling and yoga, but has recently discovered triathlon. And become addicted (apart from the swimming part). She also has a Cert III in Fitness and is passionate about improving mental health through physical activity.


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  1. Haydn 12 September, 2014 at 15:55 Reply

    Outstanding work with apparently lots of variety. Thank you to QPWS and the local guys doing the hard yards. Fantastic addition to UTR

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