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Munda Biddi Trail – Albany to Donnybrook – July 2013

Munda Biddi Trail end-to-end once again not to be.  Now that the Munda Biddi Trail is “completed” from Mundaring to Albany the opportunity was there for me to tick off an end-to-end by completing the Albany to Collie section and hence I headed off in July 2013 with this in mind. Alas the Munda Biddi Trail was to once again foil my plans at Donnybrook and I still have yet to complete the last two days of riding between Donnybrook and Collie. I completed the Mundaring to Collie section in April 2008 and previously rode from Nannup to Donnybrook in July 2011 but still have this short section between Donnybrook and Collie to complete.

(Updated July 25, 2014)

Munda Biddi Trail - Southern Terminus

This blog post is about my ride of the Munda Biddi Trail from Albany to Donnybrook in July 2013 and is also a bit of an overview of the Trail in this area.

I chose to ride from Albany to Collie because I thought this would be the more sociable direction to ride. I based this on my experience walking the Bibbulmun Track where the north – south option was the more popular. Interestingly going by the camp registers the more popular option on the Munda Biddi Trail seems to be south – north so I got that wrong!

Day 1 – Fremantle to Albany – To the Southern Trailhead of the Munda Biddi Trail – July 6, 2013

Department of Sport and Recreation Albany Window Display

Department of Sport and Recreation Albany Window Display

Not much riding today, in fact a total of 25.5 km being the ride into East Perth to catch the Transwa bus service to Albany and the short ride at the Albany end to the Albany Bayview YHA backpackers.

I nearly missed the bus as despite allowing “two hours” to get there. I arrived about 20 minutes before departure, allowing me just enough time to get organised to get on board.

It turns out there are two services to Albany and I managed to book on the slow one via Narrogin (arrives about an hour later) and the one with a grumpy coach driver, Richard. It seems Richard wasn’t to impressed with the bike and Extrawheel Voyager trailer. He had the foresight to tell me as I loaded the bike and trailer (a) that it should be boxed (never had an issue before nor is there any suggesting of boxing on the Transwa website) and (b) he needed to make allowance for the other passengers luggage (there was about 10 passengers of which at least two had no luggage). I think Richard was not having the best of days 🙂

After all the that the bike arrived in Albany along with me and three other passengers all safe and sound. The bus terminus in Albany is at the Albany Visitor Centre which is also the southern terminus for the Munda Biddi Trail.

Bike Parking at Albany Bayview Backpackers

Bike Parking at Albany Bayview Backpackers

My accommodation for the night, the Albany Bayview Backpackers (YHA) (and it really does have glimpses of the bay) is a short ride from the trailhead (1 km). It is classified by the Munda Biddi Foundation as a trail friendly business as it does cater for Munda Biddi Trail riders. With the Bayview this means that you can secure your bike in the storage room (no access till 9:00 AM) or lock it up to a railing that has been bolted to the wall in the downstairs corridor. There is room for one bike to be locked up and this is what I used.

Other than that this is all about all there is to report on getting to Albany. The adventure starts tomorrow.

Day 2 Albany to Denmark on the Munda Biddi Trail – July 7, 2013

Mountain bike trail? Not today. The riding was pretty much all bitumen through to Elleker and then mainly secondary roads (dirt and bitumen) with a little bit of single track and rail trails from Elleker to Denmark. In all honesty I think this section was a rush job … little thought even went into making use of the existing roads net alone actually trying to build a mountain bike trail.

I note that the Munda Biddi 1000 riders camped at Cosy Corner East and maybe that is an option worth considering but the current track alignment does not go to Cosy Corner which seems on the face of it to be a rather odd decision so if one wants to make use of that option, there is a diversion to take into consideration.

I chose to push through to Denmark and whilst it made it a longer day for me with less time for taking it all in, I am sure younger and/or fitter riders could complete it easily. Personally and with hindsight I should have gone to Cosy Corner East and taken a more relaxed approach.

Munda Biddi Trail - Lockyer Bay Rail Crossing

Munda Biddi Trail – Lockyer Bay Rail Crossing

Munda Biddi Trail - Lockyer Bay - Private Property Restrictions

Munda Biddi Trail – Lockyer Bay – Private Property Restrictions

Anyway back to the ride. The first bit of “excitement” for the day was for me initially missing the Trail going across the railway line just before Freshman Bay Road at Lockyer Bay. The map is not very detailed here and I assumed the Trail was heading down Freshman Bay Road. I was wrong. Instead the Trail crosses the railway line and then negotiates a gate and fence (some issue with a land owner I believe) before continuing on to Elleker. Well actually there was another issue in Albany and that is the map no longer matches the alignment on the ground. Thankfully the Munda Biddi Trail here is pretty well signed so not a big issue getting out of town.

Mooru Wooragalign - Munda Biddi Trail

Mooru Wooragalign – Munda Biddi Trail

Once clear of Albany, the Trail passes a registered aboriginal burial site, Mooru Wooragalign. If you stop here please respect the site. Moving on the Trail reaches Elleker a small settlement which has a general store.

Torbay Rail Trail - Munda Biddi Trail

Torbay Rail Trail – Munda Biddi Trail

Torbay Rail Trail - Munda Biddi Trail

Torbay Rail Trail – Munda Biddi Trail

Morning Tea Break - Torbay Rail Trail - Munda Biddi Trail

Morning Tea Break at the Marbelup Brook – Torbay Rail Trail – Munda Biddi Trail

Torbay Hall - Torbay Rail Trail - Munda Biddi Trail

Torbay Hall – Torbay Rail Trail – Munda Biddi Trail

I didn’t actually stop at Elleker and instead continued riding the Torbay Rail Trail. The Torbay Rail Trail is a compacted earth trail which runs between the Torbay hall and Elleker. It is actually quite pleasant riding which is shared with walkers and horses. The rail trail ends at Torbay or more specifically the Torbay Hall where there is a couple of local walk trails and a bit of historical information on the area.

View of the road - Torbay Rail

View of the road – Torbay Rail – Munda Biddi Trail

From old to ... Torbay Rail Trail - Munda Biddi Trail

From old to … Torbay Rail Trail – Munda Biddi Trail

... to new - Torbay Rail Trail - Munda Biddi Trail

… to new – Torbay Rail Trail – Munda Biddi Trail

Sleeman Road - Munda Biddi Trail

Sleeman Road – Munda Biddi Trail

From Torbay the Trail runs parallel to the Lower Denmark Road for a short period before heading into farming country. Sleeman Road is pretty typical of the road riding in this area. Whilst I made some comments reflecting on the alignment this section impressed me in that some effort and expense was incurred, including bridges to keep Trail riders off the bitumen.

Couch anyone? Denmark Normalup Hertiage Trail - Munda Biddi Trail

Couch anyone? Denmark Nornalup Heritage Trail – Munda Biddi Trail

From Torbay the Trail eventually passes through Youngs Siding where there is a small shop, water, picnic tables and toilets. Again there is more farming country road riding before the Trail drops down to join the Denmark Nornalup Heritage Trail which takes riders through to Denmark. There are numerous heritage spots on this section so if this is your thing it is worth allowing time for a bit of exploring.

At Denmark I stayed at the Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park which is very nice. From a re-supply perspective, Denmark has a Supa IGA which is pretty decent and open was open to around 6:30 PM when I went through.

Day 3 Denmark to Jinung Beigabup Campsite – July 8, 2013

The Munda Biddi Trail from Denmark to the next campsite north, Jinung Beigabup Campsite is 42 km of mainly road riding with around 660 metres of climbing.  There is Telstra 3G phone coverage at the campsite.

I had a late start this morning, getting away around 9:00 AM as I slept in … combination of a full on day before, warm bed and not setting the alarm. Still it worked out okay as I arrived at Jinung Beigabup around 2:45 PM.

Denmark River Trail - Munda Biddi Trail

Walking and riding trail that runs alongside the Denmark River – Munda Biddi Trail

I picked up the Trail along the Denmark River as I was coming from the Denmark Rivermouth Caravan Park, however once the river crossing is open again the Trail crosses the river very close the Caravan Park anyway. From the bridge the Trail actually follows a narrow path along the Denmark River, which is quite a nice ride … just watch for pedestrians and other cyclists. There is not much space here to share.

Ocean Beach Road Path, Denmark - Munda Biddi Trail

Ocean Beach Road Path, Denmark – Munda Biddi Trail

From the river the trail joins the traffic through Denmark before turning on to Ocean Beach Road. I missed it initially, but the Trail actually runs on the “footpath” which becomes a wider shared path through to the point it turns on to Lights Road. I think the shared path is a better option as the road does get a bit of traffic and the 4WD rule around here.  From Denmark through to Lights Beach the riding is all bitumen roads or shared paths.

Lights Beach - Munda Biddi Trail

Lights Beach – Munda Biddi Trail

Giant XTC 2 - Extrawheel Voyager @ Lights Beach, Munda Biddi Trail

Giant XTC 2 – Extrawheel Voyager @ Lights Beach, Munda Biddi Trail

A bit of fun starts at Lights Beach with the Munda Biddi Trail becoming purpose built wide single track through to Greens Pool: a sweet section of around five kilometres. The Trail here is hard pack and in the sandy sections a plastic grid material has been laid to reduce erosion and to make the riding pretty good fun.  All up a lot of effort seems to have gone in here and so far at least it has paid off.

Lights Beach to Greens Pool, Munda Biddi Trail

Lights Beach to Greens Pool, Munda Biddi Trail

Grid embedded in the Trail - Munda Biddi Trail

Grid embedded in the Trail – Munda Biddi Trail

Breaking out at Greens Pool - Munda Biddi Trail

Breaking out at Greens Pool – Munda Biddi Trail

When I road this section of the Trail from Lights Beach to Greens Pool there was still work going on the Trail and I had to “break out” at the Greens Pool end 🙂  From Greens Pool it was back on a mix of dirt roads and bitumen roads to Champion Lane where it eventually becomes single track and a nice climb for the final ride into the Jinung Beigabup campsite.

Scotsdale Road Diversion - Munda Biddi Trail

Scotsdale Road Diversion – Munda Biddi Trail

Penny Farthing Mailbox - Champion Lane - Munda Biddi Trail

Penny Farthing Mailbox – Champion Lane – Munda Biddi Trail

When I rode the Trail here in July 2013 the Scottsdale Road diversion was in place from South Coast Highway to Osborne Road which meant more more bitumen riding and climbing before coming out on Champion Lane and then on to Jinung Beigabup campsite.

Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Bench Seat - Still waiting to be installed at Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi

Bench Seat – Still waiting to be installed at Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Maintenance area (incomplete) at Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi

Maintenance area (incomplete) at Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Jinung Beigabup, which translates “looking towards Mt Lindsay” is one of the larger campsites on this southern section of the Trail. When I visited in July it was not complete and from what I have heard may not get completed.  There where frames for bench seating to be installed and no maintenance repair stand. As it turns out none of the campsites through to Donnybrook have repair stands unlike the ones north of Collie.

Tent site 0 Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi

Tent site at Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi

Tarptent Scarp 1 pitched at the rear of the Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Tarptent Scarp 1 pitched at the rear of the Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Camping wise at Jinung Beigabup is nothing to write home about.  There are only four official tent sites but there is plenty of space here to pitch a tent. I chose to pitch my tent behind the shelter out of the northerly wind … worked well. Way to cold here for me to sleep in the shelter.  The following should give you an idea of what to expect at Jinung Beigabup.

Bike parking at Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi

Bike parking at Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi

Side view of the Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi

Side view of the Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi

Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Sleeping platforms at Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Sleeping platforms at Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Looking inside - Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Looking inside – Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

 

Tables - Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Tables – Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi Tral

View out to Mt Lindesay from the Jinung Beigabup Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

View out to Mt Lindesay from the Jinung Beigabup Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Day 3 Jinung Beigabup Campsite to Booner Mundak Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail – July 9, 2013

I woke up with the sun and hence got a late start, leaving around 9:40 AM. I didn’t think it would be a big issue given the day was only about 55 km of riding. I got that wrong. I missed the creeks on Break Road showing on the map. The undulations that come with creeks just don’t work for me.  Adding to this was that it rained all afternoon so the nice hard pack road surface of Break and Nornalup Roads became a nice (not) soft and often muddy road surface. At least the bike looks like a mountain bike now 🙂

A short diversion - Mount Lindesay Road - Munda Biddi Trail

A short diversion – Mount Lindesay Road – Munda Biddi Trail

Getting back to the Trail, from Jinung Beigabup there is a fun single track descent to the Mt Lindesay Road and the Mt Lindesay Road is nice riding as well.  Apparently there is a picnic area at the base of Mt Lindesay but I didn’t check it out… thankfully with hindsight. From Mt Lindesay the Trail is all dirt road with the exception of a short diversion around a plantation.

Group 101 State School site - Munda Biddi Trail

Group 101 State School site – Munda Biddi Trail

There is a historical point on this section, the Group 101 State School site. Just a plinth there now.

Break Road, Munda Biddi Trail

Break Road, Munda Biddi Trail

Kent River Crossing - Break Road - Munda Biddi Trail

Kent River Crossing – Break Road – Munda Biddi Trail

The only other moment of excitement on the ride of this section was the crossing of the Kent River (Break Road). The river was flowing across the road, but neither fast nor deep so crossing was a pretty simple walk across along one edge.

Booner Mundak Campsite Register - Munda Biddi Trail

Booner Mundak Campsite Register – Munda Biddi Trail

Other than that there is some sand on Middle Road which gets a mention or three in the Booner Mundak comments book register. It wasn’t too bad for me but then it had been raining.

Booner Mundak Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Booner Mundak Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Booner Mundak Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Booner Mundak Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail 

Booner Mundak Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Booner Mundak Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Dropbox - Booner Mundak Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Dropbox – Booner Mundak Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

The Booner Mundak campsite is pretty similar in design to the others but the rear “repair area” is closed off at one end. Not sure why.  At the time of my stay here there where no park benches installed and no repair stand which is a bit frustrating as I really needed to oil the chain before moving on tomorrow.

Tent sites wise, I found five sites which look pretty good but could get a bit flooded with heavy rain (there where puddles in some tent sites).  There is also a reasonable amount of cleared space for more tents if needed.

Oh in case you are wondering, Booner Mundak means wild country or bush and is apt for the campsite location.

Day 4 on the Munda Biddi Trail – Booner Mundak Campsite to  Walpole – July 10, 2013

The Munda Biddi Trail from Booner Mundak Campsite to Walpole is 53 km with around 993 metres of climbing.  There is Telstra 3G and Optus phone coverage in Walpole.

I woke earlier this morning (setting the phone to flight mode and then turning on the alarm works a treat as an alarm as it uses minimal phone battery) so after giving the bike’s chain some tender loving care (chain lube) I managed to get away around 8:30 AM. My Garmin Oregon 600 is on drugs at the moment so I cannot get reliable times or distances so I think my total ride time was eight hours today. Really not a good time at all … seemed to be endlessly stopping to play with the GPS and/or to walk yet another hill or steep climb that I couldn’t get up due to the back wheel spinning out. All the rain yesterday had turned the hard-pack road surface to a soft often a muddy road surface. Not so much fun to play on.

Getting into Tall Timber Country - Munda Biddi Trail - Booner Mundak Campsite to  Walpole

Getting into Tall Timber Country – Munda Biddi Trail – Booner Mundak Campsite to Walpole

Also not helping today with my motivation was the Trail, I am glad they didn’t call it a track. as it was just endless roads, forestry roads for sure, but roads. The single track which was really fun, particularly the ride down towards Coalmine Beach (fast and furious and whoops missed a corner stuff) but it was only two or three kilometres out of the day’s ride 🙁

As I noted early, there were a few comments in the Comments Book about the sand on Middle Road but I didn’t find it too bad but there is sand and mud spots along this section for sure. Nothing a decent road touring bike with wide tyres or mountain bike couldn’t handle for sure.

Lunch Break - Munda Biddi Trail - Booner Mundak Campsite to  Walpole

Lunch Break – Munda Biddi Trail – Booner Mundak Campsite to Walpole

The ride northbound is pretty uneventful until the Valley of Giants area through to Sappers Bridge. [1] There are some serious climbs here for northbound riders (and southbound riders) but I reckon those of us heading north get the short straw for sure. Spent a lot time walking in this area.

Sappers Bridge - Munda Biddi Trail - Booner Mundak Campsite to  Walpole

Sappers Bridge – Munda Biddi Trail – Booner Mundak Campsite to Walpole

After Sappers Bridge you get the short sharp climbs one expects riding alongside a river. Oh it is well worth stopping at the Monastery Landing recreation site (officially no camping but I reckon if you are riding or walking in the area you could get away with a night here … well worth considering for sure). Oh the name hasn’t nothing to do with religion or a monastery in the area [2] 🙂

Monastery Landing - Munda Biddi Trail - Booner Mundak Campsite to  Walpole

Monastery Landing – Munda Biddi Trail – Booner Mundak Campsite to Walpole 

Aushiker @ Monastery Landing - Munda Biddi Trail - Booner Mundak Campsite to  Walpole

Aushiker @ Monastery Landing – Munda Biddi Trail – Booner Mundak Campsite to Walpole

Coming into Walpole past Coalmine Beach the Trail has been realigned onto a purpose built trail which bypasses the town to the east coming in on the northern side of the South Coast Highway. This is not as shown on the current map.

I re-supplied at the IGA Supermarket which had a winter closing time of 5:30 PM (4:30 PM Sundays) and is expensive but reasonably stocked. Heck they even had Shotz electrolyte tablets and gas canisters for gas stoves! I did find the pricing scary but.

Oh I stayed at the Walpole YHA, Tingle all Over. Hasn’t changed much from my previous visits but it does offer a nice warm and clean bed at a reasonable price.

[1] Sappers Bridge was re-built in October 1982 for the National Parks Authority by the 22nd Construction Squadron RAE following flood damage January 1982. Source: Sign at the bridge.

[2] “When the settlers were looking at the land around Walpole and Nornalup, a team of surveyors rowed up the Frankland River to this point.  Overawed by the majestic beauty and solitude of the river and surrounding forest, a surveyor’s assistant grasped and said “It’s as quiet as a monastery.” And “Monastery Landing” it has been called ever since.” Source: Interpretative sign at Monastery Landing.

Day 5 on the Munda Biddi Trail – Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite – July 11, 2013

Giant XTC 2 with Extrawheel Trailer @ Munda Biddi Trail Walpole Trailhead

Giant XTC 2 with Extrawheel Trailer @ Munda Biddi Trail Walpole Trailhead

Another day on the Munda Biddi Trail, another day of riding forestry roads and one section of bitumen road, North Walpole Road, which was in fact a very fast fun descent. I do feel sorry for the southbound riders who have to climb the hill to Swarbrick recreation site; it cannot be fun.

The Trail starts in Walpole at the Walpole-Nornalup Visitors’ Centre and heads out of town behind the Centre as per Map 7 Northcliffe to Walpole. Leaving town the Trail follows a power-line for awhile and then swings on to Angrove Road. Angrove Road is pretty reflective of the day’s riding conditions.

Angrove Road - Munda Biddi Trail - Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

Angrove Road – Munda Biddi Trail – Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

All was going smoothly for me until Buster Road of all places. I got a little cocky on a descent, got going too fast for the gravel, missed a rut in the road too late and lost the front wheel. Down I went … thankfully all good with the bike and myself. So dusted off, got the panniers and trailer back on properly and continued on my merry way.

Aftermath of coming down on Buster Road of all places - Munda Biddi Trail - Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

Aftermath of coming down on Buster Road of all places – Munda Biddi Trail – Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

Aftermath of coming down on Buster Road of all places - Munda Biddi Trail - Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

Aftermath of coming down on Buster Road of all places – Munda Biddi Trail – Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

Oh saw my first emu for the ride to on Buster Road. Adds to the half-dozen kangaroos I saw the day before. One thing about riding this area is that there is bird life! So different from closer to Perth. I guess the water helps.

Entering the Art Walk at Swarbrick Recreation Site -  Munda Biddi Trail - Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

Entering the Art Walk at Swarbrick Recreation Site – Munda Biddi Trail – Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

Wall of Perceptions - Swarbrick Recreation Site -  Munda Biddi Trail - Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

Wall of Perceptions – Swarbrick Recreation Site – Munda Biddi Trail – Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

The Ghost Feather -  Swarbrick Recreation Site - Munda Biddi Trail - Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

The Ghost Feather [1] – Swarbrick Recreation Site – Munda Biddi Trail – Walpole to Kwokralup Beela Campsite

The highlight of the ride today was Swarbrick Recreation Site. It is well worth taking a little time out from the ride and checking out the Wall of Perceptions and the art work on the short walking/riding loop. Oh there is a water tank here as well (not shown on the map) but it catches water of the roof of the toilet block.

Frankland River - Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Frankland River – Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup Beela Campsite, one of those hidden gems on the Munda Biddi Trail which it seems is bypassed a lot in the “rush” to and from Walpole. Pity really as it is a great spot on the Frankland River. There is a walking trail down to some rapids on the river … great opportunity for a swim if the weather warrants.

Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Hanging around at Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Hanging around at Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup Beela Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Kwokralup is the local name for the area and Beela means river. Kwokralup Beela is a similar design to the campsite at Booner Mundak and has a closed end to the “repair section.” As is the practice it seems down here, there is no maintenance rack here and no benches.  There was no Telstra 3G coverage at Kwokralup Beela campsite when I visited.

[1] “The Ghost Feather began in reference to an endangered species, but evolved to encapsulate a universal perception amongst human communities that there is a consciousness of loss.  Ghost Feather evokes associations of the ephemeral (erratic) nature of all things” – Lorenna Grant & Alan Clark” – Interpretative sign at Swarbrick Recreation Site.

Day 6 on the Munda Biddi Trail – Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite – July 12, 2013

Single tracking into the mist just off Mt Frankland Road - Munda Biddi Trail - Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite

Single tracking into the mist just off Mt Frankland Road – Munda Biddi Trail – Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite

For me today’s ride has been the best section so far on this southern tour of the Munda Biddi Trail. There has been more single track which has made it more enjoyable and the campsites at either end have bookend the section nicely … river at Kwokralup Beela and granite dome at Yirra Karrta.

Deep River Crossing warning sign - Munda Biddi Trail - Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite

Deep River Crossing warning sign – Munda Biddi Trail – Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite

There is a river crossing at Deep River which may or may not be crossable. The Department of Parks and Wildlife do put up signage at the diversion point six kilometres to the south and there is a similar sign about the same distance to the north.

Deep River crossing - Munda Biddi Trail - Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite

Deep River crossing – Munda Biddi Trail – Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite

Deep River - Munda Biddi Trail - Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite

Deep River – Munda Biddi Trail – Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite

Deep River Crossing - Munda Biddi Trail - Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite

Deep River Crossing – Munda Biddi Trail – Kwokralup Beela Campsite to Yirra Karrta Campsite

Deep River turned out to not being that deep and crossing wasn’t exactly an issue. Had lunch here and decided not to call into Fern Falls as had previously visited on a walk of the Bibbulmun Track.

From Deep River the riding is pretty nice, a mix of roads and single track as the Munda Biddi Trail passes through similar terrain to the Pingerup Flats of Bibbulmun Track fame before dropping out or rather up at Yirra Karrta campsite.

Yirra Karrta Campsite - moss and flowers  - Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta Campsite – moss and flowers – Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta "high mountain" - Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta “high mountain” – Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta Campsite - View from the granite outcrop behind the campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta Campsite – View from the granite outcrop behind the campsite – Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta campsite which means “high mountain”  and which I guess refers to the large granite dome behind the campsite, is similar to the Mt Chance campsite on the Bibbulmun Track. There is a walk track up to the granite outcrop,  so well worth a wonder in my view. This was the only night on the ride where I shared the campsite with other riders.

Yirra Karrta Campsite - Tracks and Trails Log Book - Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta Campsite – Tracks and Trails Log Book – Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta Campsite - Front Perspective - Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta Campsite – Front Perspective – Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail 

Yirra Karrta Campsite - Mainteance Area - Munda Biddi Trail

Yirra Karrta Campsite – Maintenance Area – Munda Biddi Trail

The Yirra Karrta campsite itself is of similar design to other campsite south of here with a closed in end to the maintenance area (which is lacking a maintenance rack) but is smaller, I estimate sleeping 12 on the platforms and three tent sites. There is a reasonable amount of space for more tents if needed. There is no Telstra 3G at here.

Day 7 on the Munda Biddi Trail – Yirra Karrta Campsite to Northcliffe – Saturday July 13, 2013

Having shared the Yirra Karrta campsite with five easy going riders including two from the Fremantle Bicycle User Group and enjoyed their yoga session (I watched) in the morning I left them to continue heading north whereas they where heading south. It was nice to have company at a campsite; the first time since leaving Albany.

Shannon River Bridge - Munda Biddi Trail - Yirra Karrta to Northcliffe

Shannon River Bridge – Munda Biddi Trail – Yirra Karrta to Northcliffe

The Munda Biddi Trail from Yirra Karrta campsite is now becoming pretty standard fare for me … mainly dirt roads with a bit a bit single track thrown in. The only change really is that pea-gravel is becoming more noticeable now. Whilst the responsible persons (Department of Parks and Wildlife?) rate this section of the track mainly easy, they really fail to take into consideration road surfaces or the impact of endless creeks (read up and down and up and down on it goes) on the loaded touring cyclist, well old overweight ones like me 🙂

Welcome to Northcliffe - Munda Biddi Trail

Welcome to Northcliffe – Munda Biddi Trail

Still it was nice to get into town nice and early today, just after the rain of course had arrived. I called into the local supermarket to re-supply (it was open to 7:00 PM which is great) and considered staying at the Aroundtu-it Caravan Park but it was either tenting there in the rain or paying $175 for a chalet; the backpackers room at the caravan park was taken. I would prefer to stay at the caravan park as they do support mountain biking in WA (e.g., Karri Cup) but they lost out this time to the Bibbulmun Breaks Motel which is a nice option at $99 per night including continental breakfast. The hotel also puts on a huge dinner with salad bar if you are interested. For the phone and Internet deprived there is Telstra 3G range at Northcliffe.

The “highlight” of the day was dropping by the Boorara Tree recreation site for lunch. Informative and they have a replica fire tree tower hut … I think I would pass on that career!

Boorara Tree - Munda Biddi Trail - Yirra Karrta to Northcliffe

Boorara Tree – Munda Biddi Trail – Yirra Karrta to Northcliffe

On to Pemberton tomorrow; another day on the Munda Biddi Trail but no campsite.

 Day 8 on the Munda Biddi Trail – Northcliffe to Bush Camp Gloucester National Park – Sunday July 14, 2013

Sharing the Bibbulmun Track - Munda Biddi Trail - Northcliffe to Pemberton

Sharing the Bibbulmun Track – Munda Biddi Trail – Northcliffe to Pemberton

Most enjoyable days riding today, even with my mishap with one of my Ortlieb panniers on the Extrawheel trailer going missing after crossing the Warren River Bridge. Ortlieb panniers are very secure as long as the rider actually clips them in properly … that little error cost me a good six kilometres. Thankfully a tree across the track caught me unawares on a zig-zag descent and I crashed. At that point I realised the pannier was missing. Unloaded the remaining panniers and did the dash back to find the missing one.

Lost Pannier  - Warren River Bridge - Munda Biddi Trail - Northcliffe to Pemberton

Lost Pannier – Warren River Bridge – Munda Biddi Trail – Northcliffe to Pemberton

Getting back to Munda Biddi Trail. There is a noticeable difference in the Trail alignment philosophy in this section with a lot more use of single track including a lovely (not) zig-zag up the Gloucester Tree hill into Pemberton. That is one mean climb but I made it with only a very short section of walking! 🙂

Overall a section worth doing in my view if you are looking for shorter rides on the Munda Biddi Trail.

Storm damage - Munda Biddi Trail - Northcliffe to Pemberton

Storm damage – Munda Biddi Trail – Northcliffe to Pemberton

With tomorrow’s ride between Pemberton and Manjimup 80 km and there being no campsite on this section but a campsite 23 km to the north of Manjimup (go figure) I decided to push through Pemberton after grabbing some supplies at the IGA Pemberton and to camp out in the bush, reducing the next day’s milage. I had hoped to get 20 km out of Pemberton but that didn’t work out to plan and as dark was closing in I camped out in the Gloucester National Park. Still I got the nasty climb out of Pemberton done.

Day 9 on the Munda Biddi Trail – Bush Camp Gloucester National Park to Manjimup – Monday July 15, 2013

A day of trees down, rain and cold - Munda Biddi Trail - Pemberton to Manjimpup

A day of trees down, rain and cold – Munda Biddi Trail – Pemberton to Manjimpup

What a day! I got away at 7:30 AM and all was going well and then the rain started and boy did it rain!  The rain basically didn’t stop for the next eight hours. After four to five hours of rain I was cold and soaked through. Add to this 77 kilometres of the Munda Biddi Trail and it was one big day. I got into Manjimup after dark, cold and wet. Couldn’t find the Manjimup Central Caravan Park  (saw the signs but) and decided a motel was better option so headed off about one kilometre out of the town centre to the Kingsley Motel which turned out to be a very friendly place.

With regards to the Munda Biddi Trail it was another day of forestry roads, some odd alignment decisions and a bit of single track as one gets closer to Manjimup.

The Trail does go through Quinninup but there is no longer much there besides the hotel; there is no shop or other services. I did stop and have an early lunch here, making use of a bus stop to get out of the rain so there is something going for Quinninup 🙂

Oh the highlight for today was another tree down causing a Trail blockage. In such circumstances I have to remove the panniers and the trailer to portage the bike and gear over the tree. 

 Day 10 on the Munda Biddi Trail – Manjimup to Karta Burnu Campsite – Tuesday July 16, 2013

Karta Burnu Tracks and Trails Log Book - Munda Biddi Trail - Manjimpup to Karta Burnu Campsite

Karta Burnu Tracks and Trails Log Book – Munda Biddi Trail – Manjimpup to Karta Burnu Campsite

My original plan today was to try and beat the severe weather storm that was coming in and get to Donnelly Mill Village before it hit. However, not long after passing through Deanmill the rain started to bucket down and the wind picked up (winds speeds of up to 100 km/h had been predicted) and by the time I got to Kartu Burnu campsite I was cold and wet and I was having problems with the bikes brakes so I decided to make it short day with the intention of pushing through to Nannup tomorrow (61 km). Thus today has to hold the record of my shortest backpacking ride on the Munda Biddi Trail.

Of course once I got settled in the sun came out but not for long before the rain was back in vengeance with the winds picking up. I think I made the right decision.

Sheltering out of the rain - Karta Burnu Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail - Manjimpup to Karta Burnu

Sheltering out of the rain – Karta Burnu Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail – Manjimpup to Karta Burnu

My bikes problems turned out to be a little more serious than I initially thought with pretty much all the brake fluid leaking out of the crappy low end Shimano M485 hydraulic disc brakes that came standard on the bike. Stupid me didn’t check the brake fluid levels on the bike before I left Perth nor did I bring any brake fluid. The brakes where of course fine when I left Perth and where working okay until today. Thankfully I was able to contact the Nannup motor mechanic and found out that he had brake fluid, just not mineral brake fluid which is what I should use, but at least what he has got should get to me Collie.  The big question was whether I could make Nannup with my front brake okay. A timely reminder why simple mechanical disk brakes are the way to go for touring and to make sure I carry spares for ALL the relevant parts of the bike!

View from Karta Burnu Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail - Manjimpup to Karta Burnu

View from Karta Burnu Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail – Manjimpup to Karta Burnu

Back to the Trail. The Munda Biddi Manjimup Trail Head is outside the Tourist Centre and from there the Trail heads south for a little bit before picking up the Deanmill Heritage Trail, a rail trail. Once the Trail reaches Deanmill (I didn’t see a shop or anything here besides houses) it follows the usual mix of forestry roads and a bit of single track to climb up to the Karta Burnu Campsite (the climb is rated “challenging” which is located in a open area overlooking a valley. Quite a nice location.

Front View - Karta Burnu Campsite - Munda Biddi Trail - Manjimpup to Karta Burnu

Front View – Karta Burnu Campsite – Munda Biddi Trail – Manjimpup to Karta Burnu

Karta Burnu means “hill of trees” which is sort of funny given the very open space of the campsite location. The campsite itself is a modified design with sleeping for about 12, benches on either side of the centre sleeping area, a bike parking area but no covered maintenance area nor is there a repair stand. There is plenty of space for tents but not much flat space. In summary Karta Burnu is a baby campsite for sure; more of day visit campsite going by the logbook.  It also probably the least protected from the rain and one of the windest and coldest campsites on the Trail. There is marginal Telstra 3G range here.

Day 11 on the Munda Biddi Trail – Karta Burnu Campsite to Nannup – Wednesday July 17, 2013

What a day! Probably the best section of the Munda Biddi Trail in the southern half if not overall, particularly between Karta Burnu Campsite and Willow Springs and for northbound riders even though it is dirt roads and bitumen the leg from Willow Springs to Nannup is pretty much all downhill … nice 🙂 Between Karta Burnu Campsite and Willow Springs it is mainly beaut single track. Well done to the Department of Parks and Wildlife for the alignment.

However for me it turned out to be a long painful day for a couple of reasons: one was the endless mechanical issues with the bike and the other was the amount of debris and tree falls on the single track sections. I think I cleared the track about 10 times and had to “climb” over about the same number of unmovable tree fells. The Department of Parks and Wildlife really needs to put some effort into maintenance … all this money (Royalties for Regions) on Trail development is pretty pointless if there is no ongoing maintenance budget. There where times I thought I was back on Bibbulmun Track with all the walking I was doing between debris falls.

Okay so that rant out of the way, my bike just didn’t make my day at all. I completely lost all front braking and the back brake was about 50% and “screaming its head off” every time I went to it. Thankfully even though I walked some steep downhill, I only crashed once. Add to this neither the front brake nor the rear one would release fully so I had a touch of brake drag all day. Never again will I run hydraulic disc brakes on a bike used for touring.

I eventually got enough olive oil into the front brake to get it working sort of and at Willow Springs had the brain wave to use some Kleenex Anti-Bacterial Wet Wipes to clean the brake discs  and bugger me, they significantly reduced the level of noise when I applied the brakes.

Now in Nannup I have got some brake fluid (not mineral but) which I will replace the olive oil with (there is a repair stand at the Trailhead) and hopefully get some decent brake operation for the remainder of the ride.

Back to the Trail, the Trail passes through Donnelly River Mill where one can stay in the two school shelters (Bibbulmun Track shelters) for free or pay for other options. The shop here appears to no longer offer much in the way of supplies and is much more focused on those staying in the cottages which is probably fair enough.

Willow Springs - Munda Biddi Trail - Karta Burnu Campsite to Nannup

Willow Springs – Munda Biddi Trail – Karta Burnu Campsite to Nannup

Willow Springs didn’t look very inviting to me but there is free camping here. No water or toilets from what I could see.

Nannup has a council caravan park (camping) as well as motel units at the Hotel and a backpackers. There are re-supply options if you get into town before 5:00 PM.

Day 12 on the Munda Biddi Trail – Nannup to Donnybrook – Thursday July 18, 2013

Nannup - Halfway There - Munda Biddi Trail - Karta Burnu Campsite to Nannup

Nannup – Halfway There – Munda Biddi Trail – Karta Burnu Campsite to Nannup

There is something about Donnybrook that I seem to not be able to ride past it! My previous attempt at riding from Nannup to Collie ended here at Donnybrook and now this ride from Albany to Collie is doing the same. I think I will ride Collie to Donnybrook next time to tick off this Trail!

My ride has ended as this so called experienced cycle tourist failed the most simplest of preparation tasks: to properly check the status of the brake pads on the bike! Whilst I was able to sort out the loss of brake fluid (olive oil actually works quite well) and a could put up with bent rear disc (but should carry an adjustable spanner that would allow me to try and bend it back – sticks really don’t work that well) and got away without bringing a six millimetre spanner for the bleed valve on the brakes, burning a hole right through a front disc pad was pushing my luck (no front brake). This along with the rear disc pads heading in the same direction (down to 25% stopping power if that) brought it all to an end. I was not keen on taking on the steep Collie valleys without brakes.

I learnt two lessons or rather was reminded of how important it is to carry spares and to check the brakes properly! I will also convert the bike to mechanical disc brakes (Avid BB7) to provide me with the ability to make adjustments etc on the road.

Sidings Rail Trail - Munda Biddi Trail - Nannup to Donnybrook

Sidings Rail Trail – Munda Biddi Trail – Nannup to Donnybrook

Anyway, back to the Trail. Nannup marks the halfway point on the Munda Biddi Trail. Five hundred kilometres to go either way 🙂 Heading north the Trail leaves Nannup making use of the Sidings Rail Trail through to Jarrahwood and the Nala Mia Campsite. This section is a gentle climb to about the seven kilometre mark and then settles down to continue on to Nala Mia Campsite. If time/skills allow I would suggest getting to Nala Mia Campsite via the Old Timberline Trail, which includes a nice campsite (and warmer hut). From Jarrahwood the Trail follows a little bit of single track but mostly fire trails and forestry roads and even some bitumen. There is a diversion in place which was there in 2011. This diversion has been simplified since my earlier ride but still means lots of road riding.

Nala Mia Campsite Tracks and Trails Log Book - Munda Biddi Trail

Nala Mia Campsite Tracks and Trails Log Book – Munda Biddi Trail

I see this section as one of these that you need to just tick off to move on to more interesting riding areas on the Trail.  So there ends my attempt to tick off an end to end of the Munda Biddi Trail. Hopefully will back soon to finish off the last two days that I need to ride, the Collie to Donnybrook section.  Oh there is both Telstra 3G and Vodafone range at Donnybrook and I guess Optus as well.

Donnybrook Post Office - Munda Biddi Trail

Donnybrook Post Office – Munda Biddi Trail

Munda Biddi Trail Resources

6 Responses to Munda Biddi Trail – Albany to Donnybrook – July 2013

  1. Marty April 18, 2014 at 1:22 AM #

    A good article! You should be able to do the Donnybrook to Collie section in half a day. I’d suggest doing it Collie to Donnybrook as Collie is a higher altitude than Donnybrook and its a great ride from the Coalfields Highway down to Honeymoon Pool in the Collie River Valley. There is a section of zig zag with hair-pin bends which is great to go down, but is a walk up if you’re not reasonably fit and light. Heading to Donnybrook from Honeymoon Pool is a hut a few hundred metres off the track which is a good stop for a lunch break. I live in Collie and will offer assistance and a place to park/dump stuff if required.

    • Aushiker April 18, 2014 at 10:50 AM #

      Thanks Marty and thanks for the offer of assistance. That is really great of you. I have actually completed this last section now. Rode it in November 2013 … just need to write it up 🙂 I am a bit slow so I took a couple of days enjoying a night out at the campsite. Got into Donnybrook just after lunch to meet up with Anne for a trip down south for a week. I skipped Honeymoon Pool this time round having visited it before and camped there but I do agree with your suggestion and I agree going Collie to Donnybrook is the way to go.

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