Tucked away in the hills behind Grandchester about an hour’s drive west of Brisbane is a Luxury Retreat with a difference.
Tucked away in the hills behind Grandchester about an hour’s drive west of Brisbane is a Luxury Retreat with a difference. More than crisp linen and infinity pools, Spicers Hidden Vale has been the epicentre of one of Australia’s best loved marathon events, the Flight Centre Epic – and looks set to become a new focus for mountain biking in south-east Queensland.
Previously a point-to-point race that finished on the Retreat's lawn, the Flight Centre Epic relocated to Hidden Vale after the 2011 floods devastated its old route and property owners pushed to expand the enormous, 12,000 acre property’s network of trails. Since then, singletrack development has mushroomed, and today World Trail have teams of trail builders toiling to construct 100 kilometres of flowing trail in the red clay and rocks that define this Ipswich and Lockyer Valley bushland.
Hidden Vale has always been known as a tough place to ride, largely because its hand-built trails and working farm roads had always been rough and rocky. With the arrival of World Trail and a $2 million investment, 100km of green- to blue-rated flowly, bermed, fast singletrack is being added to the mix. By the end of the year, it’s likely there’ll be about 120km of fantastic riding on offer combining the physical and technical challenge of the old with the style and ease of the new.
Some current favourites like Plain Sailing and Rock Bottom have been re-worked and are a blast to ride, not to mention trails like Dances with Dingoes and Almost There, which are a little further out.
GETTING TO HIDDEN VALE ADVENTURE PARK
By far the easiest way to get to Hidden Vale Adventure Park is by car – it’s about a one-hour drive from Brisbane’s CBD and about an hour-twenty from the airport. From the Gold Coast you’ll need two hours. If you want to take public transport, Rosewood is the nearest rail station, and it’s about a 20km ride from there.
With the exception of a couple of black diamond and double black diamond-rated obstacles, plus a couple of handy skills parks with ramps, planks, and jumps, the trails at Hidden Vale sit comfortably in the green to blue spectrum, albeit with plenty of berms to rail and a million bumps to pump or launch. While the newer trails will challenge riders who choose to take their flowing corners and pump lines at speed, the older trails still provide plenty of physical and mental challenges for line choice, traction, smoothness, and efficiency.
The usual really – there’s plenty of water at the Retreat but take a whole lot with you if you’re going riding all day. Even in winter temperatures can climb pretty high at Hidden Vale, so sunscreen is also a must. Otherwise, your spares, phone, sunnies, and Hidden Vale map – pick it up from reception when you arrive. Riding used to cost a small fee of $10 to contribute to trail maintenance, but is now free – property owners just ask that you visit reception on arrival to sign in so they know who’s out there and when to expect them back – a great safety measure, especially if you’re riding alone.
You can ride all day at Hidden Vale Adventure Park and still have plenty left to do tomorrow. At the time we go to print there are about 60 kilometres of trail, plus a lot of farm roads, but by year’s end it’s expected that there’ll be another 60 again.
Spicers Hidden Vale’s hatted restaurant Homage serves up incredible lunches and many of the ingredients are foraged from the Retreat’s own veggie garden. For your post-ride fill there are casual dining options on the lawn or in the rustic barn. If you’re after something more knockabout, visit Rosewood about 20km away on your way home. The local bakery has been looking after hungry bikers for a decade or more.
BEST TIME OF YEAR
Anytime between March and November – although the closer you ride to summer, the hotter it will be – temperatures regularly top 30 degrees in spring and autumn, and in winter reach the mid-twenties. It doesn’t rain a whole lot out at Hidden Vale, but when it does, the heavy clay trails can become quite unpleasant to ride – plan your visit for a dry day (south-east Queensland is typically dryer in winter), and if unsure check the Adventure Park’s Facebook page, where managers post regular updates.
WHILE IN THE AREA
You’re not far from the dramatically-beautiful Scenic Rim area which is perfect for a Sunday drive – you could even Sunday drive yourself for an hour or so to Mt Joyce and ride more rocky, technical trails if you had not yet got it out of your system at Hidden Vale (unlikely).
LOCAL BIKE SHOPS
Not a lot that are truly ‘local’ – your best bet would be Ipswich, which has some large bike shops and is about 30-minutes away by car, or Brisbane.
Hidden Vale hosts a number of local - to national-level MTB events during the year, and many offer distances and activities for all ages and abilities. The jewel in the crown is the Flight Centre Epic, which has become something of a weekend-long cycling festival that offers eight different events, each with several categories, including trail running and a free family fun ride.
Hidden Vale also hosts 24-hour racing and a 3 plus 3 events. Look up Hidden Vale Adventure Park on Facebook and visit the Events tab for details.
Toilets: Yes – at the Retreat near reception
Drinking Water: Yes – at the Retreat
Parking: Yes – at the Retreat
Trails Signposted: Yes – trails are excellently signposted and the trail map, available at reception, includes some great itineraries, which are also signposted.
Mobile Reception: Telstra – y, Optus - y
Shelter: Yes – some, and plenty of trees.
BBQ Facilities: No – only those privately-owned by the Retreat.
Accommodation: Yes – four-and-a-half stars of it. Camping is only available during events.
All photos by Lachlan Ryan/Element Photos