Christmas holidays – gotta love ’em. I found myself with a totally free day so got up early to beat the heat (it’s starting to crank up here now) and set off to go back to Mt Solus.
You may remember that I went there before with a group of friends – clicky here for the post – but this time I thought (a little unwisely as it urned out – keep reading) I’d go on my own.
Solus is right out in the middle of the forest along tracks that noone really go on (save for the odd dirt bike or two) and up a steep and narrow unused single-track to get to the old fire tower at the top of the hill. I should say that it’s also the highest peak in the area – topping even Mt Dale
Was a good start to the ride – no drama – went up to Scrivener road and left to the pipeline dam along the wide gravel roads. My skills are definitely rusty as i wasn’t sure at all about front end grip on the bone dry pea gravel. To be fair, it’s the shittiest surface, but I used to be a lot more confident. More on this later.
Heading out down the road that leads to Mt Solus, I was a bit nervous as it winds a long way out into the middle of nowhere, but it’s a pretty good road.
The Alcoa mining operations have closed the area even more than when I was there 6 months ago, so I had to squeeze around a gate that closed the road. I know that the roads I needed to take weren’t near the current mining, so I carried on and turned up Solus road and headed up the mountain, scrambling up the tricky steep overgrown rocky single track until I arrived at the red dirt covered summit.
Old and new – old shack and the radio antenna (which unlike Mt Dale, isn’t a mobile mast – so no signal)
Looking back down the access road to the summit. It’s steeper than it looks, but the bike hooks up well on the red dirt – much better than the stupid pea gravel on the forest roads.
This hut wasn’t boarded up the last time I was here *erk*
The view out to the East, it’s amazing with a blue tint to the air – possibly related to the emissions from the eucalyptus forest (much like the Blue Mountains in NSW). The best thing though – noone else around. No noise except the crickets. And the smell of the trees – fantastic.
I had to tramp around the back of the site to get these shots – all the time looking out for snakes. It’s the perfect time of year for them and a nip from a brown snake here would be very bad news indeed. Bloody wildlife. In the then, I just had the flies to contend with.
The fire tower from the other side of the site.
The view to the west is pretty much hidden by trees, which is is just as well, as it would reveal the true horror of the Alcoa bauxite operations, which have taken over a ridiculous amount of the forest. You can see the red sandy scars through the trees. As I said before – I have seen the plans for the mine and access to Mt Solus will be totally cut off to the public (it already is officially..). The unspoiled forest to the East will also be chewed up and will look like an industrial wasteland.
Yes, it’ll get ‘restored’, but the state forest, supposedly meant for everyone, will be off-limits for literally generations.
Here’s the view from google earth. Nice huh. Mt Solus is just safe for now, on the north eastern extremity of the mine operations. That area is about 300km². The amount thats off limits is about 500km² . The future scope of mining looks to be about 2x that. Thats a hell of a lot of environmental damage.
Better look back the other way then, before it’s ruined. Thats better.
on the way back I met with disaster – I came off on a gravelly washout (I was ok, but it did take me a little while to extract my left foot from under the bike) and bent my gear shifter under the crank case, meaning I was stuck in second gear (cue Friends theme tune). No amount of levering or pulling with my limited tools helped a damn and I had to ride the 30km back to Jarrahdale in 2nd. Max speed 50kmh. Bah!
I spied a couple of vintage bikes by the General Stores and one of the guys had a large tyre iron that did the job. All 5 gears restored to me, I braaaaped off home.