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On the Land

9 December, 2021

SAO's committed to FNQ rail trails

IT’S six years ago now since a small group of people around Atherton got together for a bike ride spawning the Sixty and Overs Club (SAO), which went on to become one of the most easy going, community-minded groups in the area.

By Sally Turley

The SAO's have spent the last three years beautifying rail trails around the Atherton area, when their not busy belting down some dirt track or sipping drinks in a local pub or cafe.

Their Facebook membership now stands at over 150 members and around 80 of those turn up on a regular basis to go for rides along trails, back roads and farm tracks with the group. 

They do a weekly 30km circuit out to Kairi and back, stopping for a cuppa along the way. 

If 30km sounds daunting, apparently speed is not the priority and everyone is free to poke along at their own pace and recently the group's mountain bikes have even become cross-pollinated with e-bikers. 

The SAO's were founded on a shared love of cycling and even let under 60's join in the fun. But three years ago, the group decided riding bikes together just wasn't enough and they began work upgrading the rail trail environs under the leadership of voluntary coordinator Peter Tuck. 

The former South African and farm manager, with the help of his family, grows upward of 1000 trees at his Atherton home, which are donated to the beautification of the trails. 

“We collaborate with TREAT (Trees for the Evelyn and Atherton Tablelands), TORA (Tableland Outdoor Recreation Association) and more recently, Tablelands Regional Council,” Mr Tuck said. 

“TREAT helped identify the best trees for the situation and pre-drilled the holes for us, making it much easier to plant. 

TORA very generously helped us with the irrigation systems and the fertiliser and the council allows us to access their Winfield Creek nursery in Malanda. 

“We have also received help from local business, NQ Land Management Services, who supplied us with discounted plants, Ratch Australia, who own the Collector Wind Farm and the Queensland Gambling Community Benefit Group. 

“We needed trees that could tolerate the lower lying, nondraining soils along the railway line and that could limit soil loss during overland flow events. 

But we also wanted to create a shady wildlife corridor that benefited the birds, animals and humans who used the trails. 

The trees also provide a great privacy screen for locals who live along the line,” he said. 

The SAO's – AKA, Sexy and Overweights – did their last planting along the railway line on Herberton Road for 2021 earlier this month and will plant 500 trees on the rail trail near Cairns Hardware in the near future. 

Hosts of walkers and riders enjoy the beauty of the groves of Casuarinas, Lophostemons, Red Gums and suitable eucalypts that quietly go about their business of holding our ancient soils in place, hosting our native animals and providing luxuriant shade during summer. 

The SAO's meet every Thursday and welcome new arrivals.

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