Old Timberline Trail
29"er dual suspension with back pack
Ron invited me for a drive to help him do a bit of track maintenance on Map 5 in Dec 2015. I thought I would use his lift down to ride back to Bunbury, overnighting at Jarrahwood. My plan was originally to ride from the One Tree Bridge to Jarrahwood (85km) on Saturday arvo. But the weather forecast was pretty poor - thunderstorms and 40 or 50mm of rain. So I changed my plans to start at Nannup, which meant I only had 27km to ride.
We left early on Saturday morning and drove down to Manjimup in a few showers. We grabbed some lunch and headed to the campsite. The section of Trail Ron is responsible for covered the Karta Burnu hut and a couple of kilometres on both sides of it. Going into the hut, the Trail was drivable in the car and was already pretty clear. The other side of the hut is the series of switchbacks off the hill, so something we definitely had to walk. We were mainly trying to clear face-slapping bushes, spoke-snapping sticks, but most importantly any sharp branches poking into the Trail. It was a beautiful spot to work, zig zagging off the hill under the karri trees.
After a couple of hours of track maintenance we had some lunch at hut. We then drove to see the new One Tree suspension bridge on Graphite Road, and stopped to look around. Ron dropped me at Nannup at 5pm, and I got away on the Munda Biddi, which is also the Sidings Trail. This old railway line to Jarrahwood is flat and straight, which makes it a fast, easy ride. I took a bit of video and lots of photos on the way, so I was in Jarrahwood at 7.30pm.
I went straight to the hut, and it was already occupied by a couple of cyclists with a baby! They were on their seventh day on the Trail. It was getting dark, so I went and grabbed the key for the Community House, and went for a shower. The house was very clean, and ideal for me as I was travelling very light (no sleeping bag, mat etc). I had beef jerky and snack bars for dinner as there are no facilities in Jarrahwood.
Overnight it poured! Even when I was up at 5 am, it was raining. It had stopped by the time I left at 6am, but it did drizzle bit. But it was the positively drenched bushes hanging over the Trail that soaked me to my skin. It was not cold and the rain firmed up some of the sandier sections. I was at Vernon Road at 8.30am. Last time I did this section, Lidel Rd was closed due to logging, and I had to ride Vernon Rd, which was hilly and corrugated. Lidel Rd was so much nicer, although the last couple of km on single track was abit meandering and slow. I then rode the 4.5 km on the road, then the last 12km into Donnybrook.
Donnybrook on a wet Sunday morning was quiet, but the bakery was open and I enjoyed a pie and iced coffee. The bike was too filthy to take on the train so I washed off the dirt and cleaned the chain. I left about 10 and followed the highway North to join the Trail a couple of km away. I then rode the Trail to Boyanup along the quiet back roads, another 10km on. The last section into Bunbury was on the highway, but there is a 1 metre wide sealed shoulder and I felt safe enough.The breeze was coming slightly behind me, so I was cruising at about 25km/hr. As a result, I covered the 38 km Donnybrook-Bunbury ride in less than 2 hours. I was two hours early for the train, because I had allowed plenty of time for slow sections, breakdowns etc. I cleaned up, went and had some lunch, and was at the train station by 2pm. The train loaded quickly and we were under way by 2.45pm. The train is spacious and smooth, and I enjoyed the trip. The buffet even sold beers, so a couple of those along with some music from my phone, kept the journey pleasant. The train arrived in Perth on time at 5.15pm, and by 5.45 pm I was having a hot shower at home. What a great mini adventure weekend!
29"er dual suspension with no luggage
Up bright and early on the public holiday Monday. Temperatures were about 12 degrees minimum, maximum about 20 degrees. The forecast was for a few showers, but I completely missed them, whereas my wife caught a couple as she drove around in the morning (she went to Cambray Sheep cheese factory on the way to meeting me at Cambray Siding).
We packed up our gear and I rode out of Jarrahwood about 8.15am. You are on the MB or Old Sidings Trail as it is also known as soon as you cross the Vassse Hway. The track is solid, pretty well straight and only a slight rise then fall nearly all the way to Nannup. This makes for fast times even with luggage. I saw more old sleepers, rail spikes, rivets and even rail line lying on the track in this 25 km than on the rest of the MB. There was also a few old rail bridges - a couple you can ride over, and others that are unsafe and have a small galvanised bridge next to them. Most trees in the area are small - 30 cm in diameter, but you will see some bigger fallen logs and stumps near the trail, hinting at the size of trees in the past.
Less than 2 hours later I was in Nannup, crossing the old rail bridge over the Blackwood River. Makes ure you stop at the end to admire the leaf shaped bench made from bike parts, the stainless steel bike repair rack and the flood tree with markings of the depths of past floods. The MB continues across the car park and turns left - the marker is hidden behind a tree.
After a short break, I turned around and followed the Sidings Rail Trail/MB back across the old rail bridge, then turned left at the sign for the Old Timberline Trail. This trail is more windy, sandy and gravelly than the Sidings/MB trail, but it is also prettier, more fun to ride and has lots to see on the way. It will take you longer. The first 7 km took me about 45 mins as I walked some hills due to sand, lack of momentuem etc. The section after Mowen Road was great - windy single track heading down hill, so it was great fun on a bike without luggage.
My first stop was Workmen's Pool. I had a quick look, then followed the trail next to St John's Brook to Barrabup Pool. I stopped for a short break and took more photos before continuing over the wooden bridge on the form on the other side. Most of the rest of this leg is now on old form, so is faster and easier riding. The single track sections usually are short only. I admired the cutting coming into Sleeper Hewers Hut (it would have been hard work digging that out by hand), then I had a look at the hut and campsite. I was ok for water so I didn't top up my bidons. Keep an eye out for some nice views down on to the river. Now it was an easy ride into Cambray Siding along the old form. Right on the intersection of the Old Timberline Trail with the MB was a tree stump with the cut outs where the timber fellers had inserted their planks to cut the tree down. We don't have a lot of history, but I enjoyed seeing so much around here
Hardtail with Bob trailer
Karta Burnu: Up at 5.30 am with first light and ready to go by 6.45am. Cloudy and warm (10 degrees Celcius). The first three km were down hill on some very cool switch backs - well it would have been if we didnt have to stop so much for branches on the trail. The weather was perfect for riding, the trail under the karri trees was great, but the trees down meant the first 9.7km took us 2hrs 45 mins! With some 90 km today (check !!!!) it was just too slow. It looked like a tornardo had touched down along our route there were so many trees down. When we hit Gregory Rd, we stayed on the gravel road aiming for where it rejoined the MB just South of Donnelly Mill. Navigating off the MB with the MB maps is not good - we ended up at the corner of Gordon & Austin. Austin Road crossed the MB about 10km (check!!) along, just North West of Willow Springs. We missed out on a re supply at Donnely Mill, but we decided to follow this route. It was a boring gravel road, and by the time we got to the junction of Austin and Gold Gully Rd (the MB) we had ridden 34 km, and it would have been 38km on the trail - but those tress down would have slowed us enourmously. On Austin Rd, one of the guys "shot" himself in the head with an occy strap. Luckily it was near his eye brow and not his eye. Our other rider is a nurse, so patched him up, but it was scary when we saw all the blood and thought it had taken out his eye. No more occy straps, or at least wear safety glasses around them. While we were stopped at Gold Gully Rd re joining the trail a Tassie couple rode past. They said the road to Nannup was good gravel or black stuff for 24km, and the rail trail to Jarrahdale was easy too. Around East Nannup Road is the last karri trees for the MB as you head North. A few hills, but on the road in low gear they are all rideable. Rode into Nannup and stopped at the cafe on the Main Street for coffee and bacon & egg sarnies. Texted family at home. Left town at 3.30pm, crossing the Blackwood River at the walk bridge. We followed the rail trail, not the Old Timber Line Trail (see Nov 2008 for that route). There was a gentle slope upwards for the first 6km, but we sat on 15km/hr, then on the slight down hill we were hitting 20~25km/hr! This is very hard even on a rail trail and we were very tired by the end of today. Just as we crossed the Vasse Highway, we got a flat. I rode into town and located the community house we had heard about, so by the time the others walked in I had the keys. Jarrahdale is an old milling town with about 20 houses and no other facilities. The Nala Mia hut is on the edge of town, but the community house is a house almost next to the hut that is available at $20 per person per night. The caretakers address shown at the hut was incorrect, but I found it by asking around. The care takers house was close to the hut too - from the picnic table at the front of the hut they are both within 200m and visual distance. Two of us were happy to go to the hut , where as one wanted to camp again. The community house is fully furnished so we could have a hot shower, cook in a real kitchen, watch the news, sit on a real toilet and then sleep in a real bed - well worth the $20. In bed by 9.30am.
Soft tail with Bob trailer
Nannup: Perry had a late night the night before packing, so he slept in, as breakfast wasn't till 8.30am anyway. Mike at the Blue House B & B did a great breakfast of porridge, cereal, toast, bacon, eggs & sausages. They are very bike friendly, so they make the ideal overnighter before you start heading North, or a night of luxury on your trip. We eventually left at about 10.30 am and opted for the Old Timberline Trail. I get the impression the Sidings Trail was straighter, easier riding, but far less scenic. We got a little lost at the start, but we were soon on track. The Old Timberline Trail was often windy, hilly single track, which was very exhilarating. We stopped at Barrabup Pool for a look (very pretty) but as I rode in I heard a spoke break. Luckily I had just purchased two FiberFixs - an American emergency spoke repair that you don't need any tools to use. I had the wheel fixed in about 20 mins, and although it wasn't perfectly trued it was close enough, and more importantly the damaged spoke was replaced so extra load doesn't break other spokes. I was confident it would get me to Collie. Can I suggest you don't leave home without them!!
Once we rejoined the Sidings trail, the track was more undulating, wider and easier as it was the old rail line, but a lot less scenic. We were at Jarrahwood by 1 pm for lunch. The only facilities there are the MB hut - ie hut, toilet & water - no shop or anything else. Soon after Jarrahwood the trail was obviously brand new freshly cut trail - it was rocky, twisty & in places it was very hard to see. It needs more cyclists over it please!! Also some sandy sections which seemed to drag the BOB trailers backwards. It was classed as easy, but I would disagree. We got into Donnybrook about 6.30pm, went to the IGA to get some dinner (it closes at 7pm) and went to the Donnybrook Motel (pre booked). We did 82.3 km in exactly 6 hours riding. Again, by the time you eat, shower unload, clean bike chains etc it was 10.30 pm before we got to bed.