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The 2024 Kaimkillenbun Trailride was a great achievement for a small school P&C fundraiser and a brilliant memorial for John Nation.

The 2024 Kaimkillenbun State School P&C John Nation Memorial Trail Ride was based at Yamsion, nestled in the foothills of the Bunya Mountains. Views from the campsite of the 2024 Kaimkillenbun Trailride were spectacular but views from the track promised to be breath-taking. Yamsion had also been home to the wonderful man being memorialised by the trail ride, John Nation, for his entire life.

There won’t be too many people around who have been to a Kaimkillenbun Trail Ride who don’t remember John. He was one of the instigators of the very first Kaimkillenbun Trail Ride and had been to every ride since, usually as Trail Boss. He would deliver the morning briefings with his own style usually heralding laughter but more importantly helping keep everyone organised and safe.

The big bearded mountain man with a cheeky sense of humour and love of riding dirt bikes passed away suddenly in July 2023. A much loved family man and community member who has been greatly missed. Fittingly, the ride this year passed through most of Johns’ family properties at Yamsion as well as neighbouring properties. The campsite was located on his son Brendan’s block.

Preparation for the 2024 Kaimkillenbun Trailride had been underway for weeks. It was all set to go ahead the 4th and 5th of May. The Miles and Cooyar Trails Rides had already been washed out and cancelled half-way through but our forecast was looking OK with a 60% chance of 1-5mm for Saturday and Sunday.

Fingers were definitely crossed for good conditions. There had been a decent amount of rainfall in the period leading up to the weekend promising peak trail riding conditions with minimal dust.

Friday the third began with overcast, drizzly weather and a slightly uncertain forecast for more showers over the weekend. Organisers were nervous that the damp would result in a greasy drive uphill to the campsite and the last minute addition of a tractor on site was added just in case. At 3pm the campsite opened to the public and riders started to arrive and set up in anticipation of some good riding the next day.

The 2024 Kaimkillenbun Trailride campsite had been slashed in previous weeks, showers and toilets had arrived, food vans were on-site getting prepared and the registration tent was erected and ready. Many trips were done carting paperwork and equipment from Dalby or Kaimkillenbun to the site.

The marking out crew spent the day finalising the track and putting up miles of tape. Cattle are only moved from their paddock just prior to the ride and these inquisitive creatures are attracted to the flapping tape and will actually chew it and pull it down if it is put out too soon. The tape is important to help ensure the track is as safe and easy to follow as possible. The marking crew even arrived back at camp before it was completely dark, always a bonus.

Saturday started bright and early, sweep riders headed out at 6.30am to pre-ride the track and open gates. It was a cool, overcast morning with rain showers still threatening.

Briefing for the 2024 Kaimkillenbun Trailride started at 8.30am, just as the sun came out. Trail Boss for the weekend was John’s son Brendan Nation. The rules were read and warnings given, as well as a summary of John’s contribution to the trail riding community.

The medics arrived and the Saturday loop was opened on time, 9am. The drizzly showers had resulted in 2mm of rain overnight which made the track a little slippery initially. Luckily the trail riding gods smiled on us (or maybe it was John) and a little sunshine quickly resulted in ideal conditions for the day.

Saturday’s loop traversed many gullies and rolling hills along dozed cuttings on the sides of hills with awesome views of the countryside. Cattle pads and farm tracks were also used. There was even a section of old school track that was cut by hand into the scrub on the side of a steep hill, John Nation style.

Optional hard ways involved steep hill climbs. Hard ways are ranked out of 10 by difficulty, a lower number meaning more of the track markers could make it up when test riding. The most difficult hard option was ranked 9/10 and wasn’t for the faint hearted. It was a steep descent down into a gorge and a climb back out hard enduro style.

With the water truck positioned halfway around the loop, an optional shortcut was available for anyone that was a bit too tired to make the entire 42kms. They were warned that they would miss some pretty sweet riding though.

Road crossings were minimised by utilising concrete tunnels under the roads. Always fun to ride through but don’t forget to duck! There was plenty of water in the creeks to splash through and an old-fashioned wooden bridge to ride across. A slashed track went past John’s Memorial with a request from his grandkids to “Pop a wheelie for Pop” on the way past which made for a fitting farewell.

The Novice Track, a 7km loop with more gentle hills and no creeks and slashed for additional safety and visibility was open both days and kept busy with around 82 riders registered. This was originally made by John and is always popular. No injuries were reported from the novice track, even if there was the occasional crash.

The Pee-wee Track was also a hive of activity with seven little people zooming around keeping their parents busy. A slashed track through the grass on relatively level ground made a perfect learning environment.

A chilly Saturday night preceded a beautiful warm sunny Sunday, perfect for the loop up into the mountain country bordering the Bunya Mountains National Park. This is always a favourite for trail riding and this track did not disappoint. A 55km loop with a few shortcuts available for those who were running out of steam.

From camp, riders headed up a creek for about 5km with plenty of technical riding up and down the banks. Another tunnel under a road, larger this time, gave the opportunity for riders to make some noise as they passed through.

Then the track headed for the hills through open forest country along farm tracks and cuttings. There were more hard ways to test abilities and easier ways for those who just wanted to ride. As the track approached the top of the Great Dividing Range, the open forest gave way to rainforest. Riding under a full canopy of rainforest is a favourite section for most riders that can only be described as awesome!!

After descending from the range via a steep downhill, the track passed through some spring fed gullies producing plenty of wet socks. A quick loop back onto the ridges in the forest and then it was back through a tunnel onto the flatter country over ramps and back to camp.

All reports from riders were very positive, but how could they not be with such perfect track conditions? Many described the 2024 Kaimkillenbun Trailride as the best they had ever done. Organisers appreciated all of the feedback and votes of thanks. The campsite was left in great condition and behaviour over the weekend was top notch. Thank you to all of the participants for being so respectful.

Funds raised will support our small rural school. The P&C contribute funding towards excursions, both sporting and cultural, school camps, curriculum resources, school facilities and equipment. Every student benefits from this local community event.

John Nation – Trail Boss

This years’ ride was a memorial ride to honour the contribution of probably the longest serving volunteer our trail riding community has ever had. John was extremely dedicated to trail rides in general, but particularly to the Bell Bunya ride and our Kaimkillenbun ride.

In the mid 70’s there was an organised trail ride at Stanthorpe that John and many others used to go to called the Granite Grunt. John’s mother Dorris, a teacher at the Bell school, suggested that they should run their own trail ride. This was the beginning of the local trail rides. John and a few others organised the first Bunya trail ride in 1977.

Other rides started up and John started helping mark out the Quinalow and Cooyar rides, then in 1998 the Kaimkillenbun P & C approached him to see if he was interested in getting another started. He didn’t take much convincing. The first Kaimkillenbun ride took place in May 1999. At this stage the Dalby Moto trail ride series was well underway and there were approximately 15 rides on the calendar.

John would spend most weekends between February and November marking trail rides with his kids and in later years, his grandkids. They would start the year marking the Quinalow ride, then move onto Kaimkillenbun, then Bell and finish up helping mark the Cooyar ride. Spare weekends would be spent travelling to other trail rides, often going early to pre-ride and give hints and tips on marking the track.

About 20 years ago Craig Hartley and John were involved in negotiations with MQ to adapt their insurance to suit trail rides. The result of this was basically the same insurance that we still use today. Right up until last year John kept up his involvement in most of the local rides in the Dalby Moto series, even after his hip replacement. John Nation was definitely a dedicated trail rider.

Unfortunately John passed away suddenly in July last year aged 71. This was two months after our 25thKaimkillenbun ride and John was there for every one of them. It was also a month before the 47th Bell Bunya trail ride and he never missed one of those either.

He was and always will be the original Trail Boss.

Fast Facts – 2024 Kaimkillenbun Trail Ride

  • 8 weekends spent marking out tracks
  • 2 weeks spent slashing, setting up grids, ramps, tents, bunting and tape, etc.
  • 16 property owners donated use of their land
  • Over 100km of tracks marked
  • 24 Sweep Riders
  • 22 Volunteers and Property owners Riding
  • 35 Volunteers in camp, the water truck, road crossings and doing recovery
  • 319 Open Riders
  • 82 Novice Riders
  • 7 Pee-wee Riders
  • 3 recorded injuries and probably countless bumps and bruises but no broken bones!