First Turkey Mountain Bike Reserve is Rockhampton’s home of mountain biking, both recreational and competitive.
Cradled between Moore’s Creek and Mount Archer National Park, First Turkey is comprised of around 40 kilometres of trails threading through tropical native bushland. In wet months, Moore’s Creek fills from the surrounding hills, creating dozens of cascades and swimming holes – the ideal end to a day of cycling.
All improvements and maintenance of the reserve are managed by the club. Both the club and Council actively promote First Turkey with a view to establishing Rockhampton as a major mountain biking destination.
Andrew loves XC. That’s it, nothing else. OK fat bikes too. And a bit of road cycling. And track. I mean, seriously, who doesn’t like a good sprint around a velodrome? And building trails. Gravel bikes are cool too. Sometimes he dabbles with enduro. But yeah, XC rules. Never doubt it.
Accessing First Turkey
The main trailhead is at 249 German Street, Norman Gardens. It has parking for around thirty cars in the carpark and along the street. Especially on weekends and holidays, early mornings and late afternoons can get very busy.
Two other access points can be found off Guthrie Street in Frenchville, and towards the end of Sunset Drive in Norman Gardens (just after the bridge).
Full map signs of the park are located at the main trail head and near the Guthrie Street entrance. You will also see them at each of the trail hubs throughout the network, so you can easily find your way around.
Drinkable water taps are located at the main German Street trailhead to refill your water bottles. A toilet is located inside the park alongside Moore’s Creek between Zamia Hub and the bottom of Cactus.
There are no shops on site so you will need to bring whatever supplies you need with you. If you want refreshments before or after riding, the nearest shops are on Dean Street about two kilometres from the German Street trail head.
Camping and vans are not permitted overnight at First Turkey. If you are looking for somewhere to stay, Big 4 is located on Yaamba Road. Rockhampton Regional Council also provide free overnight campervan parking at the High Street carpark in Kershaw Gardens. Both facilities are about five minutes from First Turkey.
A little history
Hand-made mountain bike trails have existed at First Turkey since the 1990s, and indeed some of the more resilient black trails such as Whitey, 1995, and Leper’s Leap are still in use today. Most of the trail network however is relatively new, having been completed since 2015 when Cyclone Marcia tore through the area and devastated most of the bushland.
An interesting piece of trivia is that First Turkey has a long association with cycling for sport, even before the age of mountain bikes, going back to at least as early as this 1952 newspaper article.
Dozens of trails cater for all classes from beginner to expert. Included in the details of each trail below is a symbol to indicate its degree of difficulty as per the IMBA Trail Difficulty Rating System.
(Green Circle) Easy
(Blue Square) Intermediate
(Black Diamond) Difficult
(Double Black Diamond) Extreme
DISCLAIMER: TRAIL CONDITIONS CAN AND DO CHANGE. THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION IS INTENDED AS A GUIDE ONLY.
Trail hubs @ First Turkey
At 214 metres elevation, Ant’s Nest is the highest altitude hub at First Turkey. It was opened in late 2017 and is a popular hub for riders to catch their breath before descending Megatron, Smokescreen or K-9.
Guthrie Hub is a secondary trail head off Guthrie Street. Climb Jackhammer to Ant’s Nest or Wundali, or descend Hanging Rock or Guthrie Link.
Climb to via Lower Wild Pig or descend to via Upper Wild Pig or Upper Whitey. Descend to Zamia Hub via Whip Snake or Cactus.
Rusty Bike is a popular pit-stop along Horseshoe trail for riders who’ve descended from Ant’s Nest, or to catch your breath before climbing Finley’s or Scrub Turkey. Megatron, K-9, and Smoke Screen all end at Rusty Bike.
Seesaw Hub, named for a feature in the adjacent attempt at a skills park, is a significant clearing where Horseshoe ends and Finley’s begins. Scrub Turkey and 1995 also come out at this hub, which also during XCC races, becomes a high speed overtaking section after exiting Hut Straight.
Turkey’s Nest is the original main hub at First Turkey and at 156 metres elevation is one of the highest, second only to Ant’s Nest. From Turkey’s Nest, you can get just about anywhere at First Turkey. The view is pretty special too. Access is via Finley’s, or if you’re feeling super fit, have a go at climbing Scrub Turkey.
Zamia Hub lies at the end of the Moore’s Creek Trail. From the hub you can climb to Lighthouse via Lower Wild Pig, or climb ‘Cannonball’ fire road to the top of Dirt Clowns. Whip Snake and Dirt Clowns both end at Zamia Hub.
Easy trails @ First Turkey
Bush Chook Donut
Bush Chook Donut (formerly Zamia Plateau) is one of the original green trails in First Turkey. Bush Chook Donut was rebuilt in 2017 and forms a loop which begins and ends on Horseshoe. A great trail for beginners.
Cannonball (fire road)
Technically not an official trail, Cannonball is an old section of steep fire road that runs up from Zamia Hub. After Lower Wild Pig was built in 2016, Cannonball fell into disuse, but is now super busy again as the default climb for Dirtclowns.
Creek Link is a cheeky and extremely popular cut-through from Moore’s Creek Trail up onto Finley’s and vice versa. If you want another minute of high-speed XC trail, throw a right onto Hut Sprint before you reach Finley’s.
Rising 93 metres over its 2.4 km length, Finley’s is an extremely popular trail with a 4% gradient that climbs from Moore’s Creek to the hub at Turkey’s Nest. It is a very good learning climb for novice riders.
Guthrie Link is a quick access trail connecting the main German Street trail-head with lower Jackhammer. It also connects with the access trail onto Guthrie Street, Frenchville.
Named for the ominous boulder that seems to hang impossibly off the side of a turn in the trail, Hanging Rock is a fast and twisty connector trail that links Horseshoe to the base of Guthrie Hub.
Horseshoe is a fun XC trail that runs above Moore’s Creek. Arguably the busiest trail in the whole First Turkey reserve, Horseshoe serves as a connector trail between the bottom of Finley’s and the trail head at German Street. Bush Chook Donut and Hanging Rock also fork off Horseshoe. Additionally, several enduro trails end on Horseshoe including Scrub Turkey and 1995 at Seesaw Hub, and Megatron, K-9 and Smoke Screen at Rusty Bike.
This track was hand-built in September 2021 for a special section of the new XCC race series. Two bikes wide for most of its length to allow for high speed overtaking, Hut Straight is named for the concrete house discovered there after burning off of Mount Archer revealed the mysterious old building. Hut Straight runs from Creek Link to Seesaw Hub and is meant to be raced in that direction.
Built in May 2017, Jackhammer is the longest and tallest climb at First Turkey, rising to 203 metres elevation over its 3.1 km length. Jackhammer begins at Guthrie Hub and climbs to Ant’s Nest. From the top you can descend three enduro trails, Megatron, K-9, or Smokescreen. If you want to keep to green trails, you can also take Wundali across to Turkey’s Nest.
Lower Wild Pig
Rebuilt in 2016, Lower Wild Pig is a flowing machine-built uphill trail. It runs through dense native bushland that rises from Zamia Hub to Lighthouse. Once at the top, you can descend Cactus or Whip Snake, or continue on to the somewhat more brutal Upper Wild Pig and climb to Turkey’s Nest.
Low Road is an old section of service road that sits right on the very edge of Moore’s Creek. It runs from where Horseshoe vees up into the hills from the creek all the way to the causeway where Sunset Trail meets Moore’s Creek Trail.
Moore’s Creek Trail (service road)
Technically not an official trail, Moore’s Creek Trail is a service road that runs along the creek and joins both ends of the trail network. It also provides direct access to the swimming holes when the creek is flowing. Three enduro trails end on the service road; Think Tank, Cactus and Leper’s Leap.
Sunset Trail starts at the trail head at German Street. Ideal for novices, Sunset Trail is an enjoyable five minute warm up ride alongside Moore’s Creek. A new concrete floodway in 2018 now crosses the creek.
‘Wundali’ is Darumbal meaning ‘Where to?” It is the high link track between Turkey’s Nest and Ant’s Nest. There is something about riding Wundali that just makes you smile, not the uphill switchbacks so much, but the changing landscape along its length. Smooth machine-built track through open bushland suddenly enters wetter jungle then back out again. And the view is unbelievable.
Technically a section of Horseshoe, Zara’s Crossing or ‘the lower crossing’ is a hand-built causeway across Moore’s Creek, and probably the most heavily trafficked entry into the park. Once across the creek, riders can turn right to head up the western side of the park via Guthrie Link and Jackhammer, or continue left along Horseshoe towards Hanging Rock, Turkey’s Nest or Lighthouse.
Intermediate trails @ First Turkey
Bush Chook – 95 Link
This old hand-built trail is not particularly technical but earns its honorary blue trail badge due to connecting a green trail, Bush Chook Donut, to the bottom of a black trail, 1995. If you take this trail, look right as you enter 1995 to make sure no one is descending, then pedal like hell to the bottom 🙂
Built in late 2016, Cactus is a popular blue flow trail. Named for an ominous crop of prickly pear on one of the berms, Cactus begins at Lighthouse and ends with a high speed right onto Moore’s Creek Trail.
Built in 2021, Dirtclowns is First Turkey’s showpiece jump track. Hugely popular with young riders and anyone who likes to grab some air, Dirtclowns is accessed via Moore’s Creek Trail then either Cannonball if you don’t mind steep climbs, or Lower Wild Pig if you enjoy the journey.
Enzo’s Link is a connector trail between Finley’s and Scrub Turkey. This shortcut has a couple of cool little trail features to challenge newer riders.
Rebuilt in 2022 and probably the most popular blue trail at First Turkey, Megatron starts at Ant’s Nest and is a 2 kilometre-long flow trail descending to Rusty Bike hub 190 metres below. Awesome fun!
Tight switchbacks, slippery corners and rocky outcrops make Scrub Turkey a fun filled ride. Scrub Turkey is a two-way trail, accessible from Seesaw Hub at the bottom and Turkey’s Nest from the top.
Pick a granny gear and suck it up. 800 metres long with 61 metres elevation, Two-Up is a steep one-way uphill track that ascends from Horseshoe to an intersection midway up Jackhammer. Two-Up cuts out a big chunk of the longer climb up Jackhammer but will leave your lungs and legs on fire. You choose – short and steep or long and slack.
Upper Wild Pig
Unlike its silky smooth lower green-trail section, Upper Wild Pig is a crazed but thoroughly enjoyable tangle of rocks and roots. A two-way blue, this hand-built hellscape can either be ridden as a torturous climb to Turkey’s Nest, or from said hub back down for five minutes of awesome descent to Lighthouse. An old school bit of jungle track you definitely shouldn’t miss.
Built in 2016, Whip Snake is a very cool flow trail with less descent and gnarl than its big brother, Megatron. Starting at Lighthouse and coming out at Zamia Hub, Whip Snake is an ideal first blue descent for riders progressing from green trails.
Difficult trails @ First Turkey
Mostly hand-built and one of the original downhill trails at First Turkey, 1995 is a black diamond trail with a rating of difficult. It is suited to very experienced riders only. Access via Turkey Nest.
K-9 is a hugely popular black trail. It begins at Ant’s Nest hub and descends to Rusty Bike hub on Horseshoe. You can reach reach K-9 via Jackhammer or ride across Wundali from Turkey’s Nest
Smoke Screen is seriously rough off-camber madness all the way to the bottom. Not for the faint hearted but a ton of fun! Access near the top of Jackhammer. Don’t even think about wearing clips.
A hardcore version of Upper Wild Pig, Upper Whitey is old-school gnarly rocks and roots that will have you grinning all the way. Whitey is a good first black trail for riders progressing up from blue. A timber drop was added in 2018 for an extra thrill but for the fainter of heart, you can B line around the side of it. Upper Whitey starts at Turkey’s Nest and joins onto Cactus (which replaced Lower Whitey). There is also a cut-through up to Lighthouse just before the Cactus intersection.
Extreme trails @ First Turkey
Leper’s Leap is a double black diamond downhill trail with a rating of Extreme. It is a thing of legend and fear, an absolute beast with huge rocky drops that demands your respect. Do not ride this trail unless you are an extremely competent downhill rider and definitely never ride it alone. To ride Leper’s Leap, ascend to Turkey’s Nest via Finley’s.
Another one for the advanced black trail rider, Think Tank is a hand-built trail finished in 2019 with tons of technical line choices. Machine-built finish includes some awesome jumps and berms.