29"er soft tail, no luggage
Today is a ride from the Denmark River to Parker Rd, a distance of about 35 km, plus a few km to ride to our start point. Ed and I left at our accommodation at 7.30am and were at the Denmark River bridge by 8am. The weather was warm, and forecast to be about 28 degrees. Initially a light breeze was behind us.
Most of the trail is car width old form, and is reasonable solid, although some later sandy sections saw us pushing a little. Some sections could do with a mow, but were easy enough to ride.
The trail goes through a mix of bush and farmland. The flies in pasture areas were very bad, but unnoticeable in the bush sections.
Ed saw a 2 metre snake on the Trail while I was taking photos, so I missed seeing it.
After crossing McLeod Rd, the Trail and Munda Biddi use the same road. But once the Munda Biddi turns off, the DNHT enters a less used and reasonable isolated section. It was also starting to warm up, and we were both flagging a bit.
We got to the Parker Road/South Coastal highway junction about 11am. The Old Kent River winery is about 500m away on the highway (head West, i.e. turn right at the highway from Parker Rd and you will see a sign for it very quickly). Look for the giant cobalt blue marron on the road side. It is the ideal place to meet our wives as they sold cold drinks, ice creams and snacks. We ended up staying for lunch - we had marron of course, and a glass of wine, before the quick drive home.
29"er soft tail, no luggage
Denmark River to the Hay River:
Today is a ride from the Denmark River to the Hay River. I actually did this a few times while we were in Denmark. This 11 km section is shared by the Munda Biddi and the Denmark Heritage Trail. For the Munda Biddi, I also included the ride from Denmark.
If riding from Denmark there is a DNHT sign near the road. The Munda Biddi marker is still on the Mokare Trail - about 20 m to the left of Hollings Road. At this point the relocated post office with some rail history (including some goods carriages and a turntable for turning trains around) is visible on your right - have a look. Straight forward takes you to the river mouth, where the Denmark River enters Wilson Inlet, so it too is worth the 500 m round trip for a photo.
The rest of the ride to Hay River is now on old form, and in parts right next to the water's edge (Wilson Inlet). There are several huts or shelters along the way - they are usually picnic tables and chairs in a three sided hut, with no other facilities. Some have very scenic outlooks, such as Springdale Beach and Minung shelter. There is also the Springdale Tunnel, which is a culvert for water to flow under the old rail line.
Once we entered into Rudyard Place, the Munda Biddi and the DNHT both used to go along the wide gravel road for 1 km before heading off into the bush again. Now the original form that follows the fence line on the left of the road has been mown, and is clearly marked the DNHT. The Munda Biddi markers still take you along the road, but I expect that the Munda Biddi will be shifted over onto the old form as well. The old form is a little softer and harder to ride than the gravel road, but they are both through nice bush. The only downside with the road is that if a car comes along, you will have to ride through its dust cloud.
We stopped at Hay River, as this is the end of the DNHT. You can still see a couple of old posts for the rail bridge in the river. We turned around and headed back to Denmark via the same route for coffee. And cake. Because I am worth it.
Denmark to Gully Road:
I will start the New Year with the way I finished the last one - another ride! Today is the Denmark Nornalup Heritage Trail from Gully Rd near Nornalup, into Denmark. I tracked Walpole to Gully Rd on the Munda Biddi in Map 8, so you can use that to help you ride from Walpole to Denmark via mainly rail trail. The weather was about 26 degrees, which is great when riding under the trees, but was quite warm when riding open gravel roads in the sun when running low on water - read on for details.
The ride from Gully Road to Nornalup and onto Station Rd is on the highway, although the maximum speed is 70 km. Station Road is a gravel road, then it goes into cycle only rail trail at Conspicuous Beach Rd. I drove all the way to the start of the trail, tracking on GPS as I went.
The first kilometre of the trail is very sandy and I couldn't ride it in parts. However after a kilometre, it gets a lot better. It is clear that this end of the Trail does not get a lot of riders through, so is not as well maintained or marked as we are used to on the Munda Biddi. The track is quite overgrown in parts and the section along the gravel road ( Benson Rd?) under the karri trees is littered with big sticks that have not been ridden over for a long time. We need more riders through to open this trail up bit more - come on people! I am sure my track notes will make navigation easy as I have got lost for you in my research!
There is a nice board walk (ride?) in this section, and the ride along the embankment under the karri is spectacular - please see the photos in the gallery. The Bib track joins the trail near Nuts Rd, but turns off soon after. All the riding was on old form, so flat. This section goes all the way to Peaceful Bay Rd, so there I turned up to Bow Bridge for a snack ( a couple of km away on sealed road). Bow Bridge is a service station (air for tyres), general store (supplies), takeaway (burgers, cakes, drinks etc) and liquor shop ( a couple of cold 6 packs please!). It is 16?? km on rail trail.
There is 2 km of rail trail shown after Bow Bridge on the southern side of the South Coast Highway that joins the highway near Quarram Siding. We had a look for it but could not find it. If it is there, I am sure it will be incorporated into the trail, as it gets the rider off the highway for 2 of the 10 km.
Presently, from Bow Bridge until Parker Rd there is no option but to ride on the highway. At least the speed limit is 80 km as you cross Kent River. From Parker Road it is 33 km of rail trail to the Denmark River Bridge.
I got dropped at the corner of Parker Rd and South Coast Highway at about 12. I thought the turn off was about 600m up the road (it was actually 300m). But I missed it. 6 km later I knew I had really stuffed up. I turned around and 300m from my start point I found it! The sign is facing the wrong way, so when you come up from the highway it is facing away from you. Coming the opposite way, it stood out as clear as day. Doh! It was quite warm, so the extra 12 km and nearly 0.75 hour of lost time also meant my water supply was lower than I was comfortable with. I rationed my water, so instead of guzzling when ever I felt thirsty, I took sips every 10 mins instead. This reduces water consumption, but increases the risk of dehydration, which starts out by making the ride feel harder. But I have been short of water before and managed consumption versus performance.
Anyway, onto the trail. This section is better used than the Nornalup to Bow Bridge section, but still could do with a bit of maintenance. There are a couple of farm access paddocks to cross, so that means gates about 15m apart. They are usually closed, but leave them as you found them. The trail is generally firm, but occasional sandier sections, although I only had to push twice. I think gravel has been laid on some of the sandier sections since I last rode through. It helps, but it is not as good as a solid gravel trail.
Once we cross Happy Valley Road, the Munda Biddi diversion soon joins on, and the trail is really well maintained and signposted to Denmark. There is a fantastic curving embankment built under the karri trees that is very pretty. Once we cross the South Coast Highway (caution there) the speed times really improved as the farmers seem to use the trail for paddock access, and this seems to compact it a little better and squash out any growing plants. A breeze had come in, so although I was riding into it, it cooled me down and made the ride more pleasant.
Soon I was crossing Ocean Beach Rd and the Munda Biddi (you can follow it to Denmark on the cycleway if you wish), and a short distance later I was at the end of todays's ride at the Denmark River. It was 2.30pm, and I still had 1/3 of a water bottle left out of the two I started with. That was a little too close. A lesson learnt from today is always carry a map ( I didn't as I thought I knew this trail well - familiarity breeds contempt!) and carry extra water - you never know if you will need it.
I was soon back at our accommodation eating my lefty over curry for lunch with huge glasses of ice cold water (with hops and yeast added for flavour!).
29"er soft tail, no luggage
After riding from Swarbrick to Walpole first thing this morning, I had a break and then started Walpole to Middle Rd. While having a break I noticed at the Munda Biddi info shelter a diversion for Spring 2014 saying that Booner hut would be closed due to a burn off and an alternative site was at Kent River - with no accommodation! I had checked the website last week and nothing was posted about this. I asked in the tourist bureau, and they checked the website, but nothing was up on DPaW website. I can only assume they will burn off when conditions are right, and if that means you can't use the hut for a couple of days, it is unlucky. I carry a tarp in case I have to sleep out, but I am sure I would not be happy if I was caught out.
The map I have shows the route goes through the Walpole townsite, which is what I thought I took last year. The markers clearly direct you behind the tourist bureau along old form to turn South to cross the highway at the edge of town. It is no drama - the trail is clearly marked, so I assume the constant stream of cyclists through town at all hours of the day and night was disturbing the locals.
The first section goes through a conservation area, then joins the Coalmine Beach Rd. This road is 50 km/hr and mainly services the caravan park, so all is good on it. There is a shelter with views across the Inlet which is worth a stop.
After crossing the South Coast Highway, the track soon enters karri forest and zig zags its way up towards Hilltop Rd. It doesn't go as high as you can go in a car, and there are no views because of the trees ( fantastic view in their own right of course). The ride up is ok - but coming down would be sensational.
The trail now follows next to, and above, the highway. It is a roller coast ride - get enough speed up going down hill, and you can get up the next one. But that does not encourage you to enjoy the trees - there were some fabulous tingle trees along here. Occasionally the trail leaves the karri/tingle forest and heads out into open jarrah type bush with sandier sections, but most is under good shade.