Munda Biddi – Planning and riding it

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I first heard about the Munda Biddi Trail when I walked past a marker while walking the Bibbulmun track.  Now I love a bit of bushwalking – but your telling me I can ride my bike here instead!!!  Hell yeah.  So I joined the email list, liked it on Facebook and waited till I found the right time to head on over from Brisbane and check it out.   The right time came when I found some like-minded chicks and we set about planning and flying over to WA to ride it.  We had the maps and an itinerary from an organized trip to assist us in planning it, but really we were just going to wing as we went along.  It was hard to work out what a day would be like and how long it would take.

Munda Biddi Track –  South to North

Why did we choose to start down in Albany?  Because we caught the bus and it only allows two bikes on any bus at a time.  I didn’t want to have to worry about booking the bus back while enjoying myself or sticking to a schedule to get the bus on time.  Albany is at sea level, Mundaring is obviously high then that, but only by 300m and all hills must go up….and down!

Day 1 Albany to Denmark  77km

Elevation Gain – 638m, Elevation Loss – 624m, Elapsed Time – 8h 24m, Moving Time – 5h 14m, Calories 937

We aimed to get away at 7am, so allowed a good half and hour to put the panniers on the bike and sort everything out.  The first morning is always interesting as you are still working out the best place to pack everything.  Even though we had done a trial overnight back home there had a been a few tweaks to the set up since then so we burned up the whole 30 minutes just loading the bike before setting off.  We met a guy at the hostel who finished the trail yesterday, and asked him for any tips?  “Travel light, and looks like you guys are”  Cool.  He also commented on our very fine-looking home-made frame bags that Claire and I had.  His were from The Bike Bag dude and looked the goods, so we soaked up his praise and rode off towards Mundaring.  Rode in the wrong direction at first – but on purpose.  Had to get the start photo at the Southern Terminus!

The trail snakes along through the streets of Albany and a main back road for a while before turning off on to a dirt track and then the Torbay Rail Trail and other back tracks and single trails before arriving at our first little gem of a shop on the Munda Biddi.  Youngs Siding has a little general store and serves a yummy hot chocolate  in a “Lord of the Rings” Mug!  We stopped for lunch here and enjoyed just sitting on the verandah and relaxing.

Youngs Siding general store

Lunch at Youngs Siding General Store

After the relax of lunch it was a long slog up to the Hay river which we followed for a while before making the most of the hot weather and having a swim.    The trail crosses over the main road again and follows the Denmark-Nornalup Heritage Trail into Denmark.  It skirts along Wilsons Inlet which was very pretty but also a bit on the whiffy side.  Our thoughts of staying at one of the little huts along this trail got curtailed when we had a look at them so continued onto Denmark where we set up for the night at the Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park.  It is right on the trail and well presented.  The lady apologized she had to charge us the school holiday rate of $45 for the 3 of us to camp!

Denmark – Has a large IGA supermarket, plenty of coffee shops, a camping store (where Claire and I bought a map holder) and a fish and chip shop that does not open on a Tuesday night.  It was Tuesday night!   Lucky the pub next door does $12 takeaway fish and chips which saved the day and allowed us to eat dinner overlooking the sunset on Wilsons Inlet at the campground.

Day 2 Denmark to Jinung Beigabup Hut  53km

Elevation Gain – 677, Elevation loss – 518, Elapsed time – 5h 10min, Moving time 3h 30m, Calories burnt – 748

Had a lovely start to the day doing some extra km’s accidentally!  I had the map and missed the turn off to Lights Road, too busy enjoying the view.  The up side of this error was Claire and I rode all the way along Wilsons Inlet, having some fun riding over the drum bridge to the inlet and seeing Ocean Beach on a stunning morning.  When the road ran out the error was discovered and we high tailed it back down to the turnoff.  The only downside was Julie had left earlier than us this morning (possibly the reason we got lost!) and was now worrying about us while she waited at Green Pools.  Apparently we made it there 10 minutes before she thought she better head back.  Sorry Julie.   The Munda Biddi trail fairies have done a wonderful job of creating a trail you can ride with ease which is essentially on sand dunes.  A combo of gravel and plastic hexagon stuff made it lots of fun twisting our way from Lights Beach to a dirt road leading to Green Pools.

Wilsons Inlet

Going off Track and ending up at the end of Wilsons Inlet – oops.

Road riding after this up to the main highway and across were we had our first Munda Biddi Diversion.  We were thinking of missing the first hut and continuing to the second hut so took the road all the way up until the last diversion to the left.  There was a big hill in front of us on this road, but we just put our heads down and slowly peddled up it.  Thank goodness I can ride up this hill, as pushing this heavy bike up this hill would be harder.  Couple of false peaks to conquer but the view over the coast made it all worthwhile.  Harewood road marked the top of the climb and from here it was a sweet downhill which we well and truly earned.  Starving by now but pressed on to the hut to have lunch, which was up a decent bit of single track.  We stayed for so long eating lunch that the thought of adding another 50km onto today sounded absurd.  Besides we didn’t know it yet, but this hut is one of the best on the track and well worth spending the night.

What’s so great about this hut?  It was the only one with a floor in the hut made of wood and it had a raised balcony overlooking the trees.  No Telstra mobile phone service.

What we learnt about today – just because the notes say it is only 53 km and yesterday we did 77 with ease – we should respect the hut positions and realize it is days ride for us to enjoy.  We also discovered there is no mobile signal at Green Pools.

Day 3 Jinung Beigabup Hut to Booner Mundak Hut  56km

Elevation Gain – 611, Elevation Loss – 694, Elapsed Time – 6hr, Moving time 4h 10min, calories burnt – 721

Woke to a beautiful sunrise through the trees – I’m on holidays now – how good is this!  Nice misty morning to enjoy the single track up and then back down to Harewood road.  Julie took off early again to get a jump-start as she gets up and organized a lot quicker than me!  After missing a marker yesterday she wisely stopped at the turn off from Mount Lindsay Road to the scrub.  She’d nearly missed the marker and didn’t want to lose us or sit wait a long time for us again.

Followed an old fire trail for a while with the odd plastic dinosaur head on a star picket keeping the ride interesting.  The trail then wound back on to Mount Lindsay road and we started to call this bit of way wood trail – “Munda Biddi Fun”  Munda Biddi fun is where you leave a perfectly fine straight road to conquer a sometimes undulating challenging trail for anything from 20 meters to 30+km to then join that perfectly good road again.  I’m not complaining about the MBF though – it is much prettier and more adventurous.

We did spend quite a lot of time on Mount Lindsay road today and discovered it doesn’t see much traffic.   This was fortunate as I spent most of the day weaving all over the road trying to find the spot the corrugations weren’t.   The only traffic we saw was a rangers car parked in the middle of the road and two bikepackers who’d set up their stove also in the middle of the road for a cup a soup moment.

munda biddi hut

This is what we woke up to – pretty special if you ask me

Lunch and a swim were enjoyed in the sun at the Kent River swing bridge and then a steep climb out and some day dreaming cycling for a while until we turned off onto Middle Rd.  WHAT THE!!!!  Who makes a road out of sand and then churns it up with a tractor and says – “Ride that Sucker!”  The kms/hour decreased dramatically and so did our energy levels.  Fortunately only 3km of it today (I don’t even want to think about tomorrow) until the turn off to the hut and glorious single track into a lovely little hut.  No mobile phone service here.

Day 4 Booner Mundak Hut to Walpole  52km

Elevation Gain – 994, Elevation Loss – 1051, Elapsed time – 7 hours, Moving Time – 4.5hours, Calories burnt – 832

I enjoyed the single track out from the hut before enduring a whole lot of soft sand riding until we finally left Middle Rd.  Riding up all those hills and gliding down the other side while trying to warm up on a chilly morning.  Leaving Middle Rd was marvelous – Rose Rd had good solid dirt for us to ride on and cows watching us ride along.  We loved Rose Rd until we came to a tractor which was busy cutting up all the lovely solid dirt so once again it was slow going again for a while.  I didn’t mind so much as today we rode amongst all the massive Tingle trees which just make you and your big bike look kind of small in comparison.

Worth a detour today was to the “Tree Top Walk” I’ve done the walk before so didn’t do it today, but I did enjoy looking around the shop while the heater was on and checking out the displays on all the trees and animals in the region.  They also serve hot chocolates and ice creams, have a flushing toilet and a bin!  When we left the warmth of the gift shop I probably should have put on more clothes as I was like a frozen popsicle on a bike before the next hill finally appeared for me to climb.

Enjoyed a long lunch at Sappers Bridge over the Franklin River today and chatted to two more Munda Biddi riders near the bridge heading South. We swapped stories and info on what’s ahead of us both.  Not far to Walpole from here along a very pretty road with yet more Tingle trees towering over us.

Tingle Tree Munda Biddi

I love a Tingle Tree

Staying the night camping at Coal Mine Beach Camp Ground.  Very clean and spread out camp ground which had everything we needed.  Showers, washing machines and paper towels and hoses to clean our bikes.

Walpole has a small IGA which sells everything you’ll need to hike and bikepack.  It also has a hardware store were Julie managed to buy replacement screws for her pannier rack and we enjoyed dinner at the pub which starts serving dinner at 6.  Friday night is free pub snacks at the bar night!  After an enjoyable dinner the three of us rode back to Coal Mine Beach in a tight convoy with only our head torches for light!

Day 5 Walpole to Yirra Kartta Hut   74km

Elevation Gain – 1265, Elevation Loss – 1127, Elapsed Time – 9.5hours, Moving Time – 6hr 10mins  Calories – 1143

Lovely moderately easy riding on a beautiful wind free sunny day all the way to the Swarbrick Art Site where we stopped for morning tea and a look around.  This place seems to be in the middle of nowhere and has a massive mirror for you to “reflect” on the beauty of the surroundings as well as a short trail with some sculptures.  After the art lesson there was glorious quick km’s down hill on a tar road till we turned off onto Copeland Rd.  Bitumen roads are light relief for a while, but they also have cars on them which sneak up on you and zoom past – prefer the dirt actually.

We decided not to stay at Kwokralup Beela Hut tonight as it seemed too close to Walpole.  We didn’t even take the turnoff to it to ride past it. Did we make the right decision here in retrospect???  Probably not, as today turned into a very long day and because of that we didn’t do the Mt Franklin detour which we found out later was spectacular and shouldn’t be missed.   But….we didn’t know that at the time, so had a glorious day anyway.

Found ourselves on Beardmore Rd not much time later and this road goes straight up to Fernhook falls which we’d pegged for a lunch stop.  Julie took the road while Claire and I road the “Munda Biddi Fun” instead.  We decided to meet again where the Munda Biddi meets the road again half way along.  Wow – this bit of single track was fun, fun, fun.  Up for a bit and then switch back down hill and some tight foliage face slapping moments too.  Having so much fun riding along and the scenery was awesome, but looked down and checked the map I was making on the garmin when I thought the road should come up soon and saw we’d turned off it again.  So here is the trick – even though the map looks like the track meets the road – it doesn’t!  We back tracked and found the road about 5 meters off the track and then tried to find Julie.  She was doing laps of the road trying to find it!  By the time we found her we’d ridden up a fair bit of Beardmore Rd, so continued onto Fernhook falls for lunch.  I think the word “Falls” is a bit of false advertising here, the main attraction for me was the picturesque Rowell’s Pool.  We sat and enjoyed the serenity while cooling our feet in the water for probably too long here.  Only 20km to the hut from here and we underestimated how long that would take us.  3 hours!  For 20km!  Wasn’t a hard ride really, just really pretty and we didn’t factor in Claire breaking her chain/quick link about an hour in.  This should have been a quick fix, but the new quick link didn’t know it was called that for a reason.  That stubborn link finally came to the party and snapped in place after about 30 minutes of toil and we were right to ride again.  This bit of the track has had recent bush fires through it too, so lot of sad looking singed signs and a couple of massive trees down to negotiate.  Also a bridge missing which was not real problem for Julie and I as we just did the go around track.  Claire negotiated the hole left by the bridge and eventually managed to get across!  Bigger then it looked I think?!  Got into the hut at 5pm.

The hut is in a very pretty location and is in front of a huge granite rock.  Stunning sunset from the top of the rock tonight and mobile phone signal up there too.
Note – the sign to the hut from the trail was not marked when we rode it due to the recent fires.  Other bike packers had warned us to look out for the path and along with the map it wasn’t too difficult to find.

sunset

On the top of the rock

Day 6 Yirra Kartta Hut to Northcliffe  56km

Elevation Gain – 751, Elevation Lost – 775, Elapsed time – 8 hours (includes game of human snakes and ladders) , Moving Time – 4.5 hours  Calories – 765

Ride today out of the hut was a nice little path down hill and then back to Bull Road again.  Between yesterday and today we’d been on Bull Road, seen Cow Road and rode on Dog Road!   Also today there didn’t seem to be any massive hills to conquer, just short little ups and downs.  We found two more Munda Biddi riders heading towards us today on Deeside Rd.  Their bikes where fully loaded and we rode off wondering how this track could be done with so much weight on the bike?  Our bikes seemed heavy enough.

Major stops and sights today included the Boorara Tree where lunch was enjoyed.  We were chatting to some other tourists there and they asked us what we ate for lunch?!  um…peanut butter on a wrap and on the other one, vegemite.  He said his mate recommends Jam Sandwiches……..it is amazing what tips and questions you get asked along the way!!!

Boorara Tree site is worth the little detour up a hill for.  First it has a big tree with spokes sticking out of it and secondly it has a little hut telling you all about it.  It is part of a network of trees that were fire watch towers.  There was a hut on the top of the tree back in the day that was 2 meters square and on a windy day it could sway up to 5 meters….and you had to do a 12 hour shift in the tree with only an hour off for lunch!

The next detour we were looking forward to was the Boorara State Championship Mountain Bike Park.  Time to turn on Strava and have some fun sans panniers!  Not so, at the sign we turned off along a fire trail to check it out and could not find anything that looked recently ridden or a track.  Epic fail on that one.

Rode onto Northcliffe where the coffee shop was found and tasty treats eaten and drunk and a once over of the town done.  Checked out the visitors center and the museum and then rode up the road to “The Maze”  It was marked on our map and looked interesting so we checked it out.  Maze wasn’t that interesting but we did find a massive game of human Snakes and Ladders to play!!!  A game best played with your helmet still on your head for safety and after a slow start, Julie dodged the snakes and won.

day 6 action shot

Human Snakes and Ladders!

Filled up our water and continued on to camp uncomfortably at the Hollowbutt Picnic ground.   Two more Munda Biddi Riders arrived in just after us and the 5 of us had a squeezy night under a little shelter as the rain teamed down on the tin roof above us and also blew in over us!    The picnic ground had a bin and a loo, mobile service, but no water.

Day 7 Northcliffe to Pemperton

42km  Elevation Gain – 528, Elevation lost – 568  Elapsed time 5 hours 20 mins,  Moving time 3 hours 2o mins  calories – 573

Nice mix of back roads and some tar roads before turning off to a web of single track and old once were roads heading towards the Warren River Bridge.  I was really looking forward to visiting this bridge again – so mystic and rugged looking and it didn’t disappoint.   We took lots of photos on the bridge and also enjoyed our first lunch stop.

The up hill section after the bridge wasn’t too arduous and riding through some tight single track after that was fun and we even got a bath.  No rain from above, but plenty of shrubs on the track in need of a trim to give us a pure soaking.  Enjoyed second lunch at the base of the switch back climb up to the Pemberton Tree.  We needed to gather some strength for this climb.  We were all dreading it a bit, but actually I really enjoyed the challenge.  All 10 switchbacks accomplished….oh and the climb too.

warren bridge

Warren Bridge

Lots of people climbing the tree when we reached it.  I’ve done it before and had no intention of giving this “once in a life time experience” another shot, so we watched Claire have a go instead.  All ten rungs that is!

The rest of the afternoon was spent in the coffee shops, asking around for a bike mechanic and organizing accommodation.  We heard rain is on the way so are staying at the YHA cottage.  Don’t let the look of the YHA down the bottom of town put you off!  They also own a cottage and that is where the travelers and walkers stay and it is just like living in a house with friends and you have a lock on your room.  It has a hose to clean your trusty steed and a balcony out the back to lock up said steed or put it in the house. Also a washer/dryer and is located across the road from a sizable IGA!

Once the bikes where clean, Claire and I did a lap of  Pemberton Mountain bike Park and rode “Relentless Blue” and the pump track before the sun went down and headed home for dinner.

The bike guy had called around while we were riding, so Claire went up to his house and he re tuned her gears for $20.  Great service.

Pemberton – Beautiful little town with great coffee shops, an AMAZING bakery, big IGA store and a bike mechanic lives here (ask for him at the outdoor store opposite the grungy looking YHA)

Day 8 Pemberton Rest Day

When the forecast says rain and storms all day – have a rest day!  Also it was Julie’s Birthday.  We bought a Jigsaw puzzle from the post office and sat and did it all day.  Except for when we went out multiple times to buy treats from the bakery.  If you stay at the YHA cottage it will be there waiting for you!

Day 9 Pemberton to Quinninup  42km

Elevation Gain – 652, Elevation Lost – 630, Elapsed time – 6h 20min, Moving time 3h 30 min  Calories 625

No rain today at all, the rest day was worth it.  Cold though and stayed cold even for the climb out of Pemberton along the back roads and non roads to Quinninup.  Lots of pretty groves of grass trees today along the trail.  Black as black with their green leaves glistening in the sun made for a lovely ride.  We didn’t stop anywhere too notable for lunch today – more like for convenience sake.  Like first lunch was when we needed to turn the map over!  Coming into Quinninup we hadn’t studied the map enough as we got quite the surprise when a series of switchbacks up appeared! [always be wary of the squiggly lines on a map!]  They were tackled in style and we cruised into town at about 12pm.

Okay, you say only 42 km to Quinninup, should we stay here or ride past it?  STAY AT QUINNINUP.  There are millions of reasons I’m sure, but here are a couple.  The tavern serves lunch from 12pm and if it’s cold outside and you don’t want to leave play a round of darts next to the heater.  We did and Julie won, again!  The food was great and atmosphere very friendly.  With rain not due again until 6am the next morning we headed to the campground to pitch the tent.  Lady at the pub said she rents out a house if you’d rather as well.  The camp ground was an unexpected treat.  Nice and clean with a new modern toilet block it is otherwise a very basic country camp ground with a tin box as the camp kitchen and 1960 style cabins, but it does have loads of kangaroos jumping around and wanting pats and cuddles.  The resident country caretaker feeds them every afternoon and we got to hear their names.  There was Pocahontas as she had white markings all over her face, hopper, Clyde (twin with Bonnie) and Violet. Heaps more, but not all had names.  What an unexpected treat Quinninup turned out to be.

quinninup

Lunch at the pub.

What it doesn’t have though is a shop so make sure you have everything you need before arriving.  The visitor center and post office only open 3 days a week and only from 3-5pm.  I’ve never seen a smaller post office – it is one small room. Mobile service at the camp ground.

Day 10 Quinninup to Karta Burnu Hut 59km

Elevation Gain – 732, elevation loss – 576 Elapsed time – 6h 40min Moving time 4.5 hours Calories – 762

It had to happen eventually – today we got rained on for most of the day.  It was raining as we rolled out of the campground which was annoying as I wanted to take a picture of the “Welgnome to Quinninup” sign!  Such an odd and quaint place this was!

Had a diversion to ride which included 6km of scary road riding in the wet along the South Western Highway.  When we turned off it finally it was time for a celebratory hug!  Peppermint Road was also the diversion and it was a good quality dirt road with a couple of good climbs and I don’t think we saw a car.  Saw lots of rain though – can’t be perfect weather all the time and it gave us a chance to check how waterproof our set ups were.  (for the record…..very good)

Stopped raining a half hour outside of Manjinup and that was another scary ride.  Just the short little road ride along Muirs Highway into town was nail biting…..some very, very fast and huge trucks hurtled past us!!!!!!

Manjinup not only has a Coles and a bike shop at the back of the sports shop it also had our favorite café of the entire trail.  Deja Vu Café serves the most amazing hot chocolates, has a sweet array of goodies and we sat next to the fire-place drying out our gloves and stuff.

We could not go past a trip to Coles…..wow, the big smoke in supermarkets, but when we came out a storm cloud had appeared so it was 2 hours to the hut in the rain again.  Thank goodness for good panniers and gortex jackets that work!  Ride to the hut also left the roads behind and we were back on single track and old once were roads again.  The mountain bikes were handling this well even though they were loaded up.

The hut is set up on a grassy knoll with a terrific view off the balcony and one bar of Telstra service!

munda biddi hut

The day always seems a lot easier when the hut comes into view

Day 11 Karta Burnu to Nannup 66km

Elevation Gain – 1062, Elevation loss 1255, Elapsed time – 8hr 40 mins, Moving time – 5h 15m, Calories 942

Straight out of the hut to the switch backs downhill.  Too many to count but lots of fun to ride, and finally for us riding South to North…. downhill for once!  All down hill and delightful riding to One Tree Bridge – a very pretty picnic area with a serene lake and an ideal spot for a snack.   You’ll need that energy for some steady climbing and single track riding that includes manoeuvering your trusty steed over a couple of large fallen trees.  All adds to the adventure!  When we exited the single track to an old road we found Julie waiting for us, Garry our Munda Biddi travel companion we met in Quininup and another cyclist all having a chin wag.  This is what I love about the track, the unexpected characters you meet along the ride.  The bloke we ran into was riding the track in both directions at the same time.  So his day would consist of driving to the track, riding as far as he liked then turn around and ride back to the car.  Move car and ride again!  North to south and south to north and all the while staying in comfortable accommodation with a fireplace!  He was a character and Claire and I didn’t want to ride on without hearing all about his journey, and his bike and how dirty his clothes had got in all that rain a couple of days ago!  70 years old and new to cycling not long ago and loving it.  We finally left the champion to his quest and thanked Julie for waiting for us at the diversion that was no longer a diversion.  Single track and old roads and downhill to the absolutely delightful Donnelly River Village.  This place is like a step back in time – like you have walked into 1910.  There are also Emu’s and kangaroos just roaming around you checking you out and wanting a feed.  We parked our bikes in front of the Donnelly River General Store and went in for lunch.  This place might look small but the menu is large and the amount of stuff to do and see inside is as well.  If you plan on staying a couple of nights for a break they have every board game known to man and a fist full of jig saws as well.   We also picked up the parcel of dehydrated dinners we’d posted here.  This is the ideal place to post goodies to as it is open every day till 5pm.  Just allow enough time for it to arrive.  They have to collect the mail from Manjinup and they only do that once a week.

Donnelly River Village

Donnelly River Village

We ate plenty and patted the roos and the emus and rode on towards Nannup, over some lumpy bits (Garry’s word for hills) before finally finding the downhill to Nannup.  We hadn’t decided what to do when we arrived in Nannup yet – ride on to the hut or stay here?  Stopped at a coffee shop to mull it over and enjoy their treats and a massive rain storm rolled in so the decision was made.  That and Garry had secured us all a night at The Loose Goose helped seal the deal.  Owner said he’d put the fire on so off we rode in the pouring rain trying to locate the Timberline Trail which backs on to the cabin.  Got a little lost, but this only adds to the adventure.  Lovely little cabin.  We never saw that fireplace for all the clothes we hung in front of it.

Nannup has a little general store, pub, coffee shops and a very pretty street scape.

Day 12  Nannup to Donnybrook – 74km

Elevation Gain – 630m, Elevation Loss – 594, Elapsed Time – 8h 10min, Moving time 5hr 30min, 862 Calories

We rode the 5 km back out on the Timberline Trail today without getting lost, before picking up the Munda Biddi again and following the Sidings Rail Trail for 20km to Jarrahwood.  I’m sure people who aren’t on Mountain bikes would have loved the simplicity of the rail trail, but for me – 20km and only 2 corners and 2 bridges to go around – those 2 hours seemed very drawn out.  We also found for the first time in abundance the nasty hurty bush with the spiky leaves on the rail trail.  We eventually arrived at Jarrahwood, which has nothing there except a couple of old houses and a Munda Biddi Hut.  The hut hadn’t got a favorable wrap in the last hut book we read, but this hut was fine.  Nothing wrong with it in my opinion and a nice place to stop and relax for a while too.  The trail became more like a mountain bike park after that and I was loving all those rocks to roll over and if that wasn’t enough, there was also a couple of very sandy back roads too.  I was glad I bought my mountain bike on this trip.

munda biddi

My bike leaning against the nasty hurty scratchy bush

Lots of grass trees again today and some apple groves as well.  Thought we where getting shot at there, but I hope it was just the bird scaring guns going off.  People talk about the pea gravel on the Munda Biddi, but there is also another tricky feature and that is the gum nut.  Riding around that apple farm I have never seen so many gum nuts on the ground and it made for some interesting riding!

Donnybrook is the biggest town we’d been through since Manjinup.  We had reward treats at the bakery before picking up the key at the BP for the campground.  Staying the Donnybrook Transit Park tonight and it is clean and grassy and we have our own C block toilet and shower.  I can highly recommend it.  Giving the bikes a once over this afternoon, Julie discovered a broken spoke  So she phoned Barrie from Cycletrek at Lowden and he drove over and fixed it for her!  Such great service and all for $35.

Donnybrook has a very large IGA and a couple of pubs.  The locals recommended the Apple Tree Inn and so can I.

Day 13 Donnybrook to Nglang Boodja Hut  46km

Elevation gain – 687, Elevation Loss 551, Elapsed Time – 6hr 42 min, Moving Time – 3 hours, Calories – 761

What a great day this turned out to be with lots of stops and a beautiful sunny day.  We started out by taking a sneaky Munda Biddi short cut by just riding up the highway to Bendall Rd.  Nice wide verge on the road to ride on and then just powered along Hurst Rd setting km/hours normally unheard of on the Munda Biddi Trail.  Got to the turn off to Boyanup and a sign said only 2km to a coffee cup, so we decided to check it out.  Quaint little town with not much but a small shop, bakery and lots of antique and bric a brac shops.  Like the “Quirky Den” and “Quirky Too”

munda biddi trail

Went for a drive today…..took the turn a little too fast. Claire is a speed demon

After Boyanup was lots of up hill, but we just chugged along and they didn’t seem too bad actually.  Today was Sunday and we rode past Lyndondale Art Gallery which was pumping. A van had just pulled up and the place was packed.  I’m not usually an “Arty” person, but this gallery was great.  The artists where there too and some of the paintings were beautiful.  A lovely place to stop for a while and walk around in with your helmet on!

Big up hill section after this and a peanut butter wrap was needed at the top while we admired the view.  Dropped in down at Wellington Mill expecting just a little picnic table but found a gourmet café and some live music.  If I’d known this we would have eaten here instead.  Looked very flash!   Sat and enjoyed the ambience for a while before the final push up to the hut.  Lovely little hut with no mobile service.

Day 14 Nglang Boodja Hut to Yarri 54km

Elevation Gain – 909m, Elevation Lost – 792m, Elapsed time – 6hr 40min, Moving Time – 4hr 45 min, 755 Calories

Relaxing packing up and start to the day and then some nice downhill to enjoy before arriving at the creek where we didn’t read the map correctly and added a couple of switchback climbs up to the already big day ahead of us.  Nice way to warm us up, so not a total loss! We then rode along the creek for a while before a crazy vertical rock ledge suddenly appeared in front of us!!  What is this….where did the track go?  Leant the bikes up against a convenient tree to see if we’d missed a sign.  Apparently not!  This mega large “rock garden” was the trail so we hauled our heavy steeds up and over it and then found the switchbacks to climb up to the top. 200meter climb in 2km.  A couple of those switchbacks where impossible for me to ride and also there were trees down and logs to get over, but for the most part I enjoyed the climb and slowly chugged my way up to the top.  We had a break at the top!  From here we coasted along nicely till we came across yet more switchback climbs.  These were easier to do and at one particular one, I thought – this one looks easy at last and that was the one I stuffed up.  Never can tell, hey!   Lots and lots of grass trees again today which are beautiful to ride past.

munda biddi fun

What???? You can’t ride this Claire??

We decided to give Collie a miss, the only reason to ride into the town was to check out the bike shop everyone told us was fantastic.  We had bought more bike lube in Donneley River Village – this was a mistake, as it was the consistency of Molasses and had turned Claire and mine chains black and now picked up every bit of dirt from the track!  Riding an extra 20km into Collie just to buy more lube wasn’t on the cards, so we rode past the Collie turnoff and towards Yarri Hut thinking that “all the hard stuff” was done for the day!  NOT SO.

Those last 20km are a mental game after the tough morning.  I rate this day as the toughest on my tough-o-meter.  We crossed endless roads and under power lines and railway tracks that I thought I may have been going in circles. Then we entered the last bit of single track for the day which didn’t look that long but seemed to go on for ever and ever as it was sketchy downhill for a lot of it and although Claire had a grin from ear to ear I did not.  I also perhaps started “Hut Watch” about 2km too early…..this is always a mistake!

The hut did finally arrive and over the course of the next hour the rest of our Munda Biddi riding companions cycled in too.  Lovely little hut here.

 Day 15  Yarri to Nanga Campground 76km

Elevation Gain -965, Elevation Loss – 986, Elapsed time – 7hr 5omin, Moving Time – 5hr 45 min  Calories 1016

In January of this year a massive bushfire burnt for 17 days and wiped out towns, huge forest areas and also the next hut along the Munda Biddi trail.  No diversion was in place yet so we had to make up some of the route….it was going to be a long day.

The first bit of the day however was fun, fun single track fun.  The track out of the hut had none of the craziness of yesterday and when we entered the single track on the other side of the road we enjoyed the 40km of “Munda Biddi Fun”.   As we get closer to Perth now though we also see more Trail Bikes on the track.  Those bikes cut up the track and make it harder to ride in places, but they also create tracks around massive logs that we can now ride around, so that is a bonus. We saw 4 today and fortunately we could see each other about 300meters away as I’d hate to run into them on a bend.  I guess you’d hear them first though, and get the hell out of the road first!?

My map reading is questionable at times and today was no different.  I had the map today and we didn’t literally ride Stomlo Rd twice I just navigated us past us twice. The disadvantage to this is thinking you are further up the track then you actually are!  So we finally arrived at Clarke Rd and this was a mile stone worthy of a peanut butter wrap and conveniently some time in the outdoor office…..phone signal found!!!

munda biddi

Riding the Munda Biddi Fun bits.

What to do now……the trail was marked up ahead and we could have done the Munda Biddi single track through the burnt out scrub land for a while, or ride to the end of Clarke Rd and then follow Nanga Rd for 40km to the campsite.  Today was already a big day and we thought 40km of road riding would be the easiest to accomplish, so chose the latter. Easy….right!  All I can say is lucky we had Garry with us, our new Munda Biddi companion because Clarke Rd ends at Hoffman Mill campground and a closed bridge.  Garry said Nanga Rd is huge and you can’t miss it!  So after a bit of getting lost at Hoffman Mill, we just bush bashed our way through and popped out on a very wide dirt road and pointed the bikes north and pedaled.  Easy enough until logging put in a detour to go around but otherwise just rolling along till the bitumen road and then all sweet downhill for 10km to Nanga Campground.

It was a relief to finally arrive after nearly 8 hours out on the bike.  Nanga Campground is very long and has loads of sites, a lovely creek flowing through it for water, fire pits, tables and chairs and drop toilets.  After enjoying the fairly odourless toilets at the Munda Biddi Huts, this one post school holidays was a bit on the nose.

No mobile service here.

Day 16 Nanga to Dwellingup 18km

Elevation Gain – 510m, Elevation Loss – 333, Elapsed Time – 4hours. Moving Time – 1hr 40min  350 calories

We got lost getting out of Nanga Campsite!  Started to go around the gate and over all the Trail Closed signs and tape thinking that this was the way to Dwellingup.  It wasn’t!  If you just turn around at that closed gate and see the signs pointing the other way and follow them down over the river – then you are heading towards Dwellingup.  The ole “Lost in the Carpark” syndrome and it wasn’t the first time this would happen to us today either!

Heading in the correct direction we found a lot of hills.  This 16km was not an easy spin into flushing toilets and cafes.  We passed a few school groups out for the day and I got a hero’s cheer for making it up one hill which although wasn’t that steep I still lapped up the applause.  As we got closer to town the hills got steeper and  I didn’t back down and rode them all, which is a blessing actually because walking your fully loaded rig up a hill is a lot harder than riding it.

Finally made it into town and found a very cute little village.  The tourist info center is friendly and well stocked and has a charging station for your electronic goodies.  The town also has a small (read tiny) IGA which sold glitter hot pants but no flat bread for wraps!  It did however sell a kitchen brush to clean our very, very grubby chains with, and across the road at Dwellingup Adventures  we bought new and improved chain lube to get us home.   Before all this we spent a decent amount of time and money at The Blue Wren Café which rates as one of the best Cafes on the Munda Biddi, in my opinion.

Such a short days ride today that we felt we should check out Marinup Mountain Bike Park in the arvo.  It is 5km out of town along the Munda Biddi Trail and then an 8km loop.  The bloke at Dwellingup Adventures gave us a map and we got to the Camping and Picnic area without a problem, but then just rode in circles trying to find the trail head!  Lost in the carpark again.  A ranger pointed it out….Claire started Strava and off we went.  A fast and flowing track with no real climbs and lots of fun obstacles to ride. (If you are Claire, or like Claire).  We really enjoyed it and we also enjoyed riding without all the extra bikepacking weight.  So good and all up for the 18km loop from town, we had a Move Time of 1 hr 20 mins and overall time of 1hr 45 mins.

The sun is still out and shining high, so we stayed the night at the campgrounds. A very clean and expansive place opposite the logging mill where you pitch your tent on pea gravel.  As if I haven’t already seen enough of the pea gravel!   Dinner at the pub after our clothes and us where all clean and shiny again.

Dwellingup

Camping on pea gravel at Dwellingup

 

Day 17 Dwellingup to Dandalup Hut, 42km

Elevation Gain – 631m, Elevation Loss – 642m, Move time – 3hr 21min, Elapsed Time – 4hr 30min, 640 Calories

We said goodbye to Julie today,  she decided to stay behind and enjoy some time off the bike to get her mojo in order to complete the trail.

Today there were hills with mega thick pea gravel….this is what everyone talks about!  We finally found the thick stuff.  We had also left all the tall trees behind us – still lots of grass trees and Aussie bush to ride through.  On the map today it looked like you could take a short cut by riding under the powerlines – don’t do this!  There is a mining conveyer belt in the middle that you can’t get past.  We didn’t do this, but were thinking about it.  We also spent a bit of time at the diversion signs trying to work out which way it was to the hut.  Claire came to the rescue and we got to the hut with the best views on the Munda Biddi trail without getting lost.  Nice ride up to the hut too and it has a view for miles.  You can see the ocean and I think Rockingham and Freemantle.

When we got in we thought we’d go for a walk up the granite steps to hopefully get a better view.  Those steps lead to the old toilet site!  There is phone signal at this hut.

Dandalup Hut munda biddi trail

Dandalup Hut

Day 18 Dandalup to Wugong Hut, 60km

Elevation Gain-836, Elevation Lost – 798, Elapsed time – 7hr 30min, Moving Time 4hr 45min, 833 Calories

We got up very early to get past the construction site at the Dam before work began for the day.  Very speedy pack up and head torch on for the climb up to the Dam.  Lucky it was mostly up hill as I had to walk some of the down bits as it was hard to see.  The sign at the top says footpath closed!  So we rode on the road and had no problem, nothing wrong with the road and no cars on our side of the road at that time of the morning too.  We stopped at a picnic area for breakfast and that was worth getting up early for to see the sunrise over the dam and Indian Ocean.

xpot sea to summit

A watched pot never boils and I got sick of waiting! Our cup of tea was luke warm this morning……error!!!!

Flying down the road after breakfast had us nearly come unstuck again.  I had the map today and we missed a sign post and were busy riding down Hine Rd.  Hine Rd is the diversion…..we did 1km of down before I thought this doesn’t seem right.  Frostbite had set in too, so I was happy to climb the hill back up.

Once we found the track again and it turned off for some Munda Biddi Fun and we found the most un-fun bit of single track on the trail.  What was that!!!!  Thick pea gravel, sketchy descents and a climb that defeated us. Man, that was hard work.  After that little Munda Biddi zig zag off a perfectly good road the rest was hard, but ridable. Lots of pea gravel still and all through sort of scrubby bush which has a little bit of a pong to it actually.

Rode down to the Serpentine River (puddle) and then up, up, up to Jarrahdale.  Took it slow and steady and before I knew it (literally, I thought we had a while to go) we arrived in Jarrahdale and to the very quaint General Store/Café.  Time for lunch and a chat to two bike packers heading to Dandalup.   I love these chats and information gathering sessions on the track, and they are even better if done at a café.  Jarrahdale General Store doesn’t stock flat bread either – we bought Premium’s instead.  It has a limited range of goods to buy and luckily one of those was a family block of dark chocolate.

Ride to the hut was easy after the mornings shenanigans, the only trouble was we should have left the café 15 minutes earlier as the last bit of our day we got drenched.  After 7 days of no rain at all, we couldn’t complain really.

Mobile signal at tonight’s hut too.

Day 19. Last Day. Wugong Hut to Mundaring, 76km

Elevation Gain – 1032, Elevation Loss – 1020, Elapsed Time – 8hr 20min, Moving Time – 6hr 14 min, 1123 Calories

Set off in the rain this morning.  That was cold and we spent until 12pm taking our jackets off and on and off and on again.  We really have been very lucky with the weather so I am yet again, not complaining and luckily the Munda Biddi track has lots of hills to climb to warm you up.  The ride to the next hut was relatively easy, couple of climbs, some roads and still lots of pea gravel.  Those descents and pea gravel….you just kind of glide through it making a funny crunchy noise.  We also saw lots of people today, day MTB riders and two bike packers out for a training/testing gear ride.  One with all the goods sorted and another thinking his rig set up needed work. Travel light – that is my tip.

Enjoyed our last peanut butter wrap at Carinyah Hut (no mobile signal) for lunch and a break before deciding to press on to Mundaring and not stay the night here.  Nothing wrong with the hut, just it is in the middle of mountain bike park and so close to Mundaring and a shower and a real bed.  About 3 hours later I was starting to think otherwise!

The second half of today was harder, mentally and physically.  Lots of climbs on pea gravel and some big descents that went on and on for ever.  We didn’t take the touring route so gunned it down straight through the Kalamunda Mountain Bike Park.  Lots of people out riding and then us – fully loaded up and tackling the trails.  It was like being overdressed for a party.  There was yet more sketchy downhill after the MTB park, it went on and on and on and we found some pipes and there was hope and then we weaved away from them and close to them a hundred million times and I never thought we would ever make it to the dam. We did, and I needed more food.  Those Premium crackers we ate at The Dell did not fill the gap.

hills on the munda biddi trail

Lots and lots of hills today. Down hill and up hill

Looking at the map, it looked like we had a mega climb to do to get home.  My mood had dimmed – had we bit off more than we could cope with?  Started the climb up the road and then there was a very big hill and a pub! and a Café!  I just filled up on muesli bars (like I wanted another muesli bar!) so we rode on and up and before we’d even broken a sweat we arrived at Grevillea Reserve.  We got out the map again and realized we were done with the climbing and nearly home.

The mood instantly lifted and we just about flew into Mundaring – yeah, we had made it!!!!  So very exciting, yet exhausting and where is the Northern Terminus sign!!!!!!  We couldn’t find one, so made do with victory shots at a Munda Biddi info sign instead.

1023km done (+ 25km of Mountain bike riding), 14,110 meters of climbing, a move time of 79 hours and an Elapsed time of 125 hours and we were now off to the bakery for a final Hot Chocolate and treats to wait for our ride back to Perth.

Julie finished the ride a couple of days later. Garry had finished a couple of days before us as he bypassed a stay at Dwellingup.

Planning

The Munda Biddi trail combines all things I love in a holiday – riding my bike all day, using the camping gear I spend so much time and money accumulating and just being able to live the simple life.  Time to read a book, play cards and write a diary.  The “elapsed time” takes in the time spent in coffee shops and checking out a town when we arrive before making it to a camp site.

My fitness level on a mountain bike is good.  I ride a couple of times a week for about 2 hours at a time.  Although I am not a strong downhill or technical rider I do love riding up hill.  Claire holds her own on a hill and both Julie and her are great technical riders and enjoy a downhill spin the best. I would not recommend riding the Munda Biddi trail as a way to get fit.  Get yourself fit first and then ride it, you’ll enjoy it more that way.  Hiking fitness is different to biking fitness too, so get prepared and have a few practice goes with your set up before taking off.  We read stories in the hut books that read like horror stories…..pushing their bike up all the hills!!!  We also met people with way too much stuff on their rigs and posting stuff home after a couple of days!

Less is more and what you think you need and what you actually need can be tricky to work out.  As a guide my gear came to about 10kg (not including food). I’m sure it can be done lighter but I’m not giving up my exped7 down mat for a good nights sleep for quid’s.  One set of night gear and one set of day gear is all you need (two pairs of cycling knicks served me well too) You will be smelly – but so is everyone else!

munda biddi

What I took

We took a 1kg tent as well.  The freedom it affords and ease of accommodation in towns worked well for us.  There was a hut burnt out when we rode the trail so the tent was required for that day, otherwise it is up to your preference as to weather to bring one or not.

We made 13 dehydrated dinner meals for the trail and this was perfect as we had one left over as we “double hutted” the last day.  Of course you can buy food along the way, but some stretches between towns are 4 days and that’s a lot of food to carry.   We posted a box to Donneley River Village which was easy and meant we didn’t start riding with 13 meals. I also bought a X-Pot before I left and I rate it highly for squash factor and performance.

munda biddi food

Rehydrating the night’s dinner – this was the Mexican Dinner and was our favorite.

I like to ride with a garmin 810, but to keep it charged I took a solar battery pack so factor this in if you plan on taking and using yours too.

We did the ride in April/May and although chilly at times we didn’t freeze and we didn’t see any snakes either!

dehydrated food

Dinner – a hearty dinner will serve you well for the next days ride

 

Thanks to my riding buddies – Claire, Julie and later Garry (7 nights) for such and enjoyable holiday and for all the games of cards we played in the huts.

“Libby” my Giant Lust served me well too and although it was fully loaded it never felt like it handled any differently.  I have an Apidura Saddle bag, home made frame bag and a sea to summit dry bag strapped to the front handle bags.  I found it easier to ride with the front suspension locked out.

What do I wish I’d also bought….a tyre pressure gauge.  I did the “squeeze” test on the tyres everyday….when I got back to Perth they were both under 10 psi!

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25 Responses

  1. Cath says:

    Thanks for such an in depth and wonderfully readable account!

  2. Rod says:

    Great account with some very helpful tips. I’m going north south in October and fearing that I will take too much stuff! Your tips will help me re-think that! Glad you had such a good time

  3. Peter says:

    Hi, I found your experience on the Trail very helpful. I have been watching this site for some time and now that I have read your post I aim for a ride April May 2017. Your post was helpful ie. Garmin,Map’s, equipment,food,utensils and general observation’s on the track all things I found useful. I notice you had a gas stove, how did you find it as for gas consumption. Thanks. Peter.

    • The Outdoor Diaries says:

      Hi Peter, Glad you enjoyed the post and I hope it sets you on the right path for your own trip on the Munda Biddi. All up we used 3 gas cylinders for the 19 days. It seemed easy enough to find and buy along the way, but not taking the chance we started with 2, and never used any of them to completion. Didn’t want to carry a nearly empty cylinder for a 4 day stretch we disposed of it and started a new one. Little bit wasteful, but easier to carry.

  4. Phil says:

    Hi Kate, WOW what a great article. A small group of us are planning a 7 day ride from Boyanup to Albany trip late October and will be traveling very light (<15kg) with the intention of sleeping in pubs etc in towns.
    Our plans are ambitious (which means borderline insane) as our kms are 75, 75, 130, 130, Rest, 150, 75. Clearly the double 130 and the 150 we are incredibly worried about but as you know, there isn't exactly an opportunity to just stop if you don't have camping gear. The thought of 9-11 hours in the saddle isn't that appealing either!
    I would be keen to know how stupid you think we are and what training you did beforehand. We are under no illusion about the undertaking but its hard to gauge what is crazy and what is plain impossible.
    Appreciate anything you would like to share! Phil

    • The Outdoor Diaries says:

      Thank-you Phil. Have fun on your adventure on the Munda Biddi too.

    • The Outdoor Diaries says:

      Phil, I just read the rest of your comment, for some reason I only got the first paragraph. Wow, double 130 and a 150km day!!!! They are long days. I’m guessing you have less gear on the bike, but you might be wise to do a tester day at that distance to see what you think of 130km. That said, it’s not impossible and maybe you should take some lights for the bike. Or, take some road short cuts and miss some of the “Munda biddi fun” single track. Re fitness, I ride quite a bit and also race XCO.

      • Phil says:

        Thanks for the response. Definitely have the lights already fitted and we are getting set for very early mornings with late finishes under bad weather, mech failure or slight injury. Probably plan for 5am starts and not stopping to see the sights as such.
        We also find that stopping for lunch is great at first but an easy way to seize up which we cant risk. We may just slow or walk up hills while eating instead.
        Did you have any water crossings where you had to wade across? I heard that it can happen between Walpole and Northcliffe but not sure if its normal.
        I don’t have much doubt about our fitness to ride those distances but my butt may disagree after 11-12 hours in the saddle!

        • The Outdoor Diaries says:

          We didn’t wade across any creeks. Claire did get the knickname bow wave for her riding thru puddles technique though!

  5. Reg says:

    Kate, that is a great article and looks like you had a lot of fun. Phil 150K is too long a strecth (in my opinion) and whether you can achieve that will depend upon variables such as weather, trail conditions, breakdowns etc. It really would be the equivalent of doing 250+ on a road bike- doable but not always fun,,,

    • Phil says:

      Reg, thanks for your comment regarding my ride plan. I definitely agree with you but I cant see any other alternative as we will not be bringing camping equipment. I’ve been looking for a farmstay or B&B close to the track but so far no good. Would definitely appreciate any suggestions or information about those sections of the track.

    • The Outdoor Diaries says:

      Great advice Reg, I just saw all of Phil’s message. Somehow I only saw the first paragraph when I read it.

  6. Nina says:

    Hi Kate, I love your account of the Munda Biddi. It’s both entertaining and informative. I live in Perth and set myself the challenge of riding as much of the Munda Biddi as possible over the next few months. I’m a complete novice so it’s great to learn from a more seasoned pro. Will be checking out the rest of your blog too.

  7. Ashley says:

    Hi Kate, Thanks, I’m planning on doing the trail South to North in July and I found your article very helpful and inspiring.

  8. Annette says:

    Hi Kate, I am planning a South/North ride is August-September this year. It was great to read your article, it was really helpful. How much water did you carry? and where did you get your solar charger from?

    • The Outdoor Diaries says:

      Hi Annette, have fun on your ride. I have a 3l camel back and that worked well, didn’t always fill it up depending on the day. I also took two 1l fold up water containers and we used them to cook breakfast with and clean up at the dam and for extra water camping outside Northcliffe. The solar charger I bought on eBay for under $30. It worked well and I think it was a All powers one. It was orange with two USB ports and I stuck Velcro on the back of it so I could attach it to my bike during the day. Kate.

      • Annette says:

        Thanks Kate, I use a 3L camelback which I am happy with, so I will grab a couple of extra litre bottles. I got your message about travelling light. I recently did a trip and carried about 15kg, which felt fine. But that’s on the road so I think I can get it down to 10kg,do you think that’s light enough? Thanks for your journal, i am going to probably stick to your itinerary, except for the last day. That’s a big day, I live in the Mundaring area so I know that a 70 plus day on pea gravel is tough :)

        • The Outdoor Diaries says:

          I’m jealous Annette. I want to ride it again!!! Only take what you need and you’ll be as light as possible :)

          • Annette says:

            What a wonderful read. Lots of good advice. Live on South Africa (kids all in Perth – Mandurah ) and planning a North to South next year April/May.

  9. Lee says:

    Great read about your Munda Biddi experience and so many useful tips to take from this. I’m hoping to do the trail from south to north one day. We did Donnelly River to Manjimup with trailers last year and that was challenging, seeing your bike set up I think that’s the way I’ll go next time.

    • The Outdoor Diaries says:

      Well done with the trailer, it’s tough enough just riding it with the bike loaded. Do you know what you are going to “cull” from your set up to go lighter?

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