Into the woods – Riding the Munda Biddi Trail

10th-30th October 2012 – 840km

Perth is located on a narrow coastal plain, about 30km wide. To the West, the vast Indian Ocean stretches out as far as the eye can see and to the East the Darling escarpment, known to Perthites as the Perth hills. The Munda Biddi trail starts up in the Perth hills and follows the escarpment down deep into the South West. Now these are not mountains by any stretch of the imagination, but they’re the biggest hills around (for a long, long way) and can make for some pretty challenging cycling. Especially if your starting at sea level and riding a fully loaded bike and trailer!

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

A not very good pic of the coastal plain that Perth sits

Start of the trail at Pickering Brook

Start of the trail at Pickering Brook

We joined the trail at a small village called Pickering Brook, (actually I think it’s classed as a suburb), so as to avoid the first 15km from Mundaring. This first section of the trail see’s the heaviest use due to it’s accessability from the city and was apparently in quite a damaged state. The trail from PB on the other hand was in good condition; a nice, easy going track winding its way through beautiful old Jarrah forest. The surface was pretty soft and sandy in places so progress wasnt very quick but we were able to make reasonably good time. The first hut was only 15km along the trail and we arrivied just as the light was beginning to fade. There’s a real magical feeling about riding through the forest in the early evening, with the sun just breaking through the trees in places, creating beautiful beams of light. I love the sound of our tyres on the dirt – especially after riding through the city.

Carinyah - our first trail hut where we met Randy and family. They were riding the first section to Jarrahdale. Impressive!

Carinyah – our first trail hut where we met Randy and family. They were riding the first section to Jarrahdale. Impressive!

Sleeping quaters! Just got to be sure to check for spiders before nodding off!

Sleeping quarters! Just got to be sure to check for spiders before nodding off!

A good use of prison labour if you ask me!

A good use of prison labour if you ask me!

Our first week on the trail was all about adjusting. It was great to be out there in the forest, riding everyday with no cars and few people, but it was hard work and the reason it was so hard was because we were too heavy. The amount of times I wanted to stop and throw my bags away, off the top of a cliff if possible, were many! The fact is we haden’t prepared well for this part of the trip. In hindsight I can say this. It’s difficult to pack for any bike trip. You have to be strict, allowing few luxuries. Riding a mountain bike trail though, albeit a fairly easy going one, you have to be severe in your packing and that we had not been. We were still carrying our lap-top, all of our electrical equipment, our tent (which although nice to have as it gave us more options we could have done without!) and lots of other things that over a long bike trip make sense and are nice to have but now felt cumbersome and useless.
Exif_JPEG_PICTUREThis mental challenge of not being able to ride at the pace we wanted  took a while to get through. There were definitly times when we thought about quitting and taking the road. But we didn’t quit. We kept plugging away and finally reached a point, some 2-300km down the trail that we really started enjoying ourselves. We never managed to get much lighter but our attitudes and goals changed. 30km became a good day where as before it felt not enough. By the time we reached Nannup we had been riding for 10 days straight and had covered over 400km. We were in giant Karri tree country and the trail had become very beautiful in places, especially as the wild flowers were in full bloom!

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE IMGP0069-001 Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Gnomesville - a little gnome town unbeknown to most except people who really like knomes and those, like us, who just happen to pass by it!

Gnomesville – a little gnome town unbeknown to most except people who really like knomes and those, like us, who just happen to pass by it!

Exif_JPEG_PICTUREExif_JPEG_PICTURE

Wild roo's grazing in small hamlet of Jarrahwood, where there is a MB hut.

Wild roo’s grazing in small hamlet of Jarrahwood, where there is a MB hut.

Rail trail into Nannup

Rail trail into Nannup

Camping under towering Karri trees in Nannup

Camping under towering Karri trees in Nannup

After a well-earned rest day in Nannup we took the trail over the hills to Donnelly Mill, a lovely but strange sort of resort village where roo’s and emu’s roam around, and camped in the village school yard. From here we rode to Manjimup via the newest and definitely most beautiful ‘Karta Burnu’ trail hut. Perched on top of a hill clad in Karri trees, with great views down the valley, it doesn’t get much better than this. Especially when you have it completely to yourself and it’s free!

Flood marks in Nannup

Flood marks in Nannup

Interesting town sculpture...

Interesting town sculpture…

The real thing! Woke up to find this large huntsman hovering over my face on the outside of the tent mesh - fortunately!

The real thing! Woke up to find this large huntsman hovering over my face on the outside of the tent mesh – fortunately!

On the way to Donnely Mill

On the way to Donnely Mill

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

 

Morning coffee with the Roo's at Donnelly Mill

Morning coffee with the Roo’s at Donnelly Mill

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Beautiful Karta Burnu hut

Beautiful Karta Burnu hut

With a great view!

With a great view!

Manjimup marked the end of the trail for us until the last section along the coast from Denmark to Albany, about 300km south by road. The trail linking these two sections is due to be completed sometime in April ’13.  We headed down to Pemberton, about 50km, on dirt roads and camped at the town campground. We had two reasons for visiting Pemberton. One was that a couple who had given us a lift across the croc infested Pentecost river up North lived there and we had promised to pop in for a cup of tea and two, Pemberton is home to a famous Karri tree called the Gloucester tree that we wanted to visit. This monster of a tree is almost 80m tall and was/is useful for spotting forest fires; that is if you climb up to its very top you can see above the forest for miles and miles!

So after catching up with Wayne, Natalie and there little baby we headed over to see what the fuss was all about and see if we had the guts to climb up the biggest tree in WA! Commonly referred to as ‘the nanny state’ for its controlling ‘we’ll decide what’s best’ government attitude, WA is not the kind of place you would expect to find an attraction like the Gloucester tree. Metal pins stuck into its giant trunk spiral up into the forest canopy above with no safety net or bar to prevent you falling to your death! A small sign at the bottom stating ‘climb at your own risk’ is the only warning of danger. No papers to sign, no harnesses or ropes. Just off you go and try not to slip!Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

So off I went, bold and courageous – a fire watchman at heart! Unfortunately, at about the 12th pin I made the mistake of looking down and came to a sudden halt. My palms began to sweat and as I looked back up I realized I still had a very long way to go. Tentatively, I climbed back down. ‘What’s wrong?’ Tami asked. ‘I need a chalk bag’ I replied. Tutting, she pushed me out of the way and proceeded to climb up. Right to the top! I couldn’t believe it, in fact I couldn’t watch.Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

As I was standing at the bottom, hoping that her return to ground level wouldn’t be with a crashing thud, an older couple came over and stood next to me. ‘Been up?’ they asked. ‘No, not yet’ I lied, trying to avoid eye contact and hoping that they would go away before Tami came back. They didn’t. The woman spotted her. ‘Look!’ she exclaimed. ‘Someone’s up there! Did you see someone climb up?’ she asked. ‘Err, yes. Yes that’s my girlfriend’. I said sheepishly. ‘ooh, she’s brave isn’t she’ the woman said, giving me a look that said’ lucky you’ve got such a brave girlfriend you big wimp!’ We all waited for her return in baited silence. As she descended the last few steps they burst into applause and I followed suit, my sweaty hands now positively clammy! A young family came over and joined us. ‘Have you been up?’ the father asked me. ‘No’, I replied sharply. ‘She has!’, the older woman piped up pointing at Tami who was beaming from ear to ear. I triedto muster a smile. ‘Didn’t fancy it yourself eh?’ he said, laughing.

Tami said the view from the top was amazing and well worth the terrifying climb down. Unfortunately in her rush to climb up she forgot to take the camera. That was still in my back pocket… Despite my pride I was/ am very proud of her. She is also very proud of herself and often reminds me of it!

Tami climbing the Gloucester Tree!

Tami climbing the Gloucester Tree!

From Pemberton we took the road South to Denmark, via North Cliff. This was actually a really nice ride, through ‘tingle tree’ forests and along some beautiful coast. In Denmark we met with Carl, a friend from Perth, who had driven to Albany and then rode his bike to Demark to meet us. We camped the night at a lovely campground down by the river and set off together the following day to ride the last section of the Munda Biddi trail, to Albany. The trail here was quite different to what we had already ridden. The trees were much smaller and we got some fantastic views of the coast, mountains in the distance and the farmland all around. It was fairly flat and easy going and we could have ridden it all (about 75km) in one day, but it was so nice that we really didn’t feel the need to. Instead we wild camped at a beautiful beach some 30km short of Albany, and rode into the town the following morning.

Camping in a peppermint grove en-route to Denmark

Camping in a peppermint tree grove en-route to Denmark

On the way to Denmark - First view of the coast since we left Perth.

On the way to Denmark – First view of the coast since we left Perth.

Nice roads through 'Tingle tree' forests

Nice roads through ‘Tingle tree’ forests

Camping with Carl - preparing some firewood for the fire!

Camping with Carl – preparing some firewood for the fire!

Carl was also riding with a Bob trailer. He was using a rack mounted on the trailer (made by Greenspeed I think) to carry some extra bags as his Specialized FSR could not

Carl was also riding with a Bob trailer. He was using a rack mounted on the trailer (made by Greenspeed I think) to carry some extra bags as his Specialized FSR could not

IMGP0123Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Cake stop!! Notice the fly on my forehead..

Cake stop!!

BBEach where we camped the night - got to hand it to WA, it has some of the best beaches in the world!

Beach where we camped the night – got to hand it to WA, it has some of the best beaches in the world!

The Biblimum track

The Biblimum track

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Albany feels like a bustling little port town. It’s WA’s oldest settlement and somehow feels it. Compared to Perth and even Fremantle it feels much older. It has a nice harbor, lots of steep and pretty little streets and some good pubs, one of which we spent the evening at. We would have happily spent a few more days there exploring, but our plan was to return to Perth with Carl, from where we planned to pick up another relocation car and drive out east. Our Munda Biddi experience was over, as was our riding in Western Australia.

Albany

Albany

Finished!

Finished!

Exif_JPEG_PICTURE

Good food, drink and company. A perfect finish!

Loading up - it was great to be able to get a lift back to Perth with Carl!

Loading up – it was great to be able to get a lift back to Perth with Carl!

And even better that he had a car big enough to fit everything in!!! 3 bikes, 2 trailers, 3 people and a lot of stuff!

And even better that he had a car big enough to fit everything in!!! 3 bikes, 2 trailers, 3 people and a lot of stuff! Thanks Carl!!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Gallery | This entry was posted in Australia and tagged , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Into the woods – Riding the Munda Biddi Trail

  1. Karl Kopinski says:

    absolutely amazing!! Great post, and well done to tami!! Take care both of you
    Karl

  2. Will says:

    Thanks Karl. It was an awesome trip!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s