29"er Soft tail, no luggage
Sunday morning was a cool dry start, about 11 degrees minimum, and this was a nice change after a bit of rain. It stayed cool all day and never got over 16 degrees, which was ideal for riding. We packed up our accomadation at Wellington Forest and were on the road to Collie by about 8.30am. We were in Collie about 9am to refuel and the 18 km drive along Coalfields Rd to the Trail head only took us a few minutes. The road goes passed some of the open cut coal mines, which is amazing to see. They are enormous.
I started riding from the trail head at the junction of Buckingham rd and Coalfields Rd, and it is marked clearly- as soon as you cross the Collie River again, it is on the right. It is about 1 km to the trail start. The trail was pretty solid, very smooth and mainly through farm land or bush. The Coalfields Rd is usually only 100 or 200 m away, but sometimes it is only 20 m and other times it is 500m away. There is a lot of old railway sleepers piled up off the track, but none on the trail. There is also a lot of dog spikes and other hundred year old rail hardware.
I overtook a group of 10 horse riders on the my ride, who were heading in the same direction. I over took them with extreme caution- I let them tell me when it was ok to pass. Passing a skitish horse was a lirttle nerve wracking, but fine. They were a nice friendly bunch and I am sure they were enjoying the trail as much as me.
The trail was closed in two section due to road works. Being a Sunday, I progressed along the trail with caution. The crossings were simply roads being upgraded and as there was no construction vehicles in operation, it was safe and easy to cross. Your experience may not be the same, so exercise caution and common sense. Both times the Coalfields Rd was close by, so you could cut down to that and cross there.
The trail was generally flat, and I was sitting on about 18km/hr. The profile shows a gradual rise from the 30 km Mark (crossing the Coalfields Rd for the first time) and the next 10 km are a little steeper. I noticed my speed would drop to about 14 km/hr. However the last 6 or 7 km where downhill and I sat on nearly 30km/hr. There were a couple of small bridges over creeks. They often had table and chairs, so we're nice spots to stop.
The only water along the way was at Collie or Darkan, or at Bowelling station. Toilets are only in Collie and Darkan as well. I had Telstra phone service at some places along the Trail.
I got into Darkan about 1pm. The trail ends as you cross the sealed road into the park (another trail head sign there), but I weaved through the park (the rail trail has disappeared) to actually finish at the train station. The station masters house is behind it, and an old gantry crane nearby- it looks very historic. I met my ride home there and we used the toilets and picnic tables. The near by Gull service station had a good range of sandwiches, fruit salad and home made cakes- something that really surprised me from the usual deep fried fare. I can really recommend it.
We went home via the 6 Mile settlers hut. This hut is 8 km up the Darkan Quindanning Rd, and was built in the 1900's . It has been left as it was built with rough hewn sleepers, white washed hessian walls and is tiny. It is well worth a look.
We went home via the 6 Mile settlers hut. This hut is 8 km up the Darkan Quindanning Rd, and was built in xxxx. It has been left as it was built with rough hewn sleepers, white washed hessian walls and is tiny. It is well worth a look.