Jarrahdale Railway Heritage Trail

Sept 2017

26" hard tail, no luggage

I had heard a little about this ride, but was not getting good info on exactly how long the Trail was, what it was like to ride etc. So on a cool Spring day I decided to find out. I got dropped at the trailhead at the corner of Nettleton and Jarrahdale roads. The notice board had some good info, but even that said the Trail was only 4 km long. The single track trail from the trailhead soon joins the train line. There was initially a good gravel track that followed the train line, and I chose to ride that because all the rail items were still in place- rails, sleepers and lists of ballast (large stones). The track is far more undulating, and at times you are below the train line and other times below it.

After 3.4 km, I crossed Jubb Road (unmarked). The train line looked like the better option, as the track was definitely much more up and down, and it was now fairly rough. But 50 meters of riding down the sleepers had me trying the ballast next to the train lines. That was still too hard, so the rough track was the best option. All the hills were rideable unloaded, but could be tough with luggage.

The Trail often has sweeping views off the Scarp and can be very scenic in parts. I saw a small party of walkers and, unfortunately, a pack of 4-5 unlicensed off road bikes who were doing their best to tear up the Trail.

At the 6.5 km I could see the de constructed bridge across the South West Highway. Cross here with caution- the traffic on the highway is doing 90-110km/hr.

The next section was very sandy, and often unrideable. But it was only about 1 km to Watkins road (unmarked). The train line continues along to the South of Mundijong, but I decided to follow Watkins road by the more direct route into Mundijong. There is a footpath along Watkins road, although it does swap sides of the road, and in some parts it was very windy as it weaved through the trees. By the time I got to Mundijong, this ride was just under 10 km. I stopped there at the train station, and used the public toilets, got some food at the shops and  then got picked up for the ride home.

From Mundijong to the Freeway (and a cycleway to Perth) is about 15km ride, most of it along Mundijong rd (continues on from Watkins Rd). But It is a road with mainly 90km/hr speeds and not much room for cyclists, so try to avoid it unless you really need to get to the Freeway.

Kalamunda Heritage Trail

July 2017

29" Softtail, no luggage

It was an overcast and cool July Sunday morning, so ideal for a quick Hills ride that was close to home. I started at the Northern end near Lascelles Drive. The first section in to Kalamunda was solid form with a slight uphill. The Trail is well marked with marker posts or white topped posts. The upgrade in Kalamunda (due to be completed in Aug 2017) made this part a little messy, but it was easy enough to follow. I still followed the route shown on the map by turning up Elizabeth st to William st, then back onto Railway Pde at Spring St. This is because the historic village and Zig Zag cultural centre have been built on the site of the old rail line, so you simply need to move on street over for a couple of hundred meters, then back again.

Just after crossing Mundaring Weir Road there is a short section with two routes, both with the white topped marker posts, but they joined each up together within a couple of hundred meters later, so either option is good.

The gravel Gladstone road section was a slightly rougher gravel road. Occasionally I could see some form on the Western side, which may have been the original route or a siding. It was a bit over grown, narrow and unmaintained, so stay on the designated route.

Stopped just after crossing Grove Road at the Walliston station. The trail continues along Palmeeter Rd, which is obviously old form, but is now gravel road, and not technically part of the heritage trail.

I then turned around and rode back. The parrot bush and wattle were just starting to flower, so Spring is not far away. The slight downward slope on the ride back was noticeable, and I flew along fairly fast. When I got to the end of the rail trail I jumped on Lascelles Parade (all sealed to the end) and followed the old train route. There are a couple of spots with fantastic views over the Perth coastal plain to the City, so do stop to enjoy the view. The road then becomes one way down the Zig Zags, riding off the Scarp. The speed limit is low and traffic is light, so no cars over took me. It was a great ride downhill, and the hairpin bends are cool- but be careful as there is a little bit of gravel on the corners. I got picked up at Ridge Road, and was home less than 30 mins later. How cool is that?

Munda Biddi Map 1 and 2

April 2017

29" Softtail, with Extrawheel Trailer, 3 day ride:

I learnt something important on this ride- I am too old to double hut (riding twice the "suggested" ride distances) while riding with my camping gear in the pea gravel of Map 1 and 2.

Our plan was to catch a train to Mandurah, ride the 20km to Pinjarra, then ride 17 km (including a 300m ascent up the Scarp) on North Spur Rd to the Trail. From there it was 22km to Dandalup Hut. The next day was planned as 35 km to Jarrahdale for lunch, then a gentle 30 km to Wungong Hut for another overnight. The last day was 35km to Carinyah hut, 10 km to Pickering Brook, then about 18km down the Mason and Bird Trail to Maddington Train station for a train home. But I forgot how tough the Trail was, especially combined with warm April weather and dry, loose pea gravel.

The three of us met at my place around 8.30 am and rode the 10 km to Elizabeth Quay station. Saturday morning at this station is pretty quiet, but trains are every 15 mins. It cost about $8 for the hour long trip to Mandurah, and we were there just after 10am. The 20 km to Pinjarra is flat and fast although half of it is shared with cars doing 80-100km/hr on a dual carriage way with 1 meter shoulder. This ride took us about 90 mins, so we stopped at the park by the suspension for an early lunch.

About 12.30pm, we rode up the cycleway towards Alcoa. We turned off, and rode the quiet road towards to refinery, then turned left up North Spur Rd. The road started rising straight away, but we hit a 2km long "wall", which had us walking. It also coincided with the breeze dropping on the 28 degree day, so we were soon soaked in sweat. Just on top of the hill, we got a flat tyre, most probably caused by a  double gee prickle. But at least we had time to cool off.

About 2.30pm we turned up Kesners Road, the start of the Munda Biddi. At first it was good form (temporary rail line), but it soon had some sections of pea gravel. Combined with a gentle hill, it was impossible to ride whilst loaded up. Not to worry, we only had 22km to get to Dandalup hut. But it was a slow, hot, sweaty push, especially the first 10 km. The second 10 km were definitely easier, but we were all starting to fade. It was interesting to watch one of our tired riders ride passed a clearly visible marker indicating a change in direction - his area of focus was now only directly in front of his wheel.  Another puncture (a pinch flat this time) meant it was just getting fully dark when we rode into the hut just after 6.00pm.

There was already a Dad with his two kids (5 and 7 years old). They had ridden from a Jarrahdale- about 35km! They all seemed to be having a great time. Good on 'em. This proves that map 1 and 2 are conquerable as long as you don't try to ride too far in one day - 30-40 km is the recommended distances. Save the double hutting for the later, easier, parts of the Trail.

I had filled up my water in Pinjarra (3.5 litres), but after dinner it was all gone. That was only 40km, but it was warm. I drank the water straight from the tank, with no ill effects.

We started the usual night routine- start with updating Facebook (the hut has a great phone signal), then unpack, some food, a change of clothes, then fix our tube punctures. About 9pm, two guys on CX bikes (drop handlebars, skinny tyres) turned up. They had ridden from Brookton highway, about 90km, and they looked shattered! We offered them space in the hut, but they wanted to camp. We didn't see them again till the morning.

It was quiet, pleasant over night - maybe down to about 10 degrees. Dad was reading the kids stories, and that helped us nod off! But I think we all had the usual first night's sleep on the Trail - mattress too hard or soft, sleeping bag too hot or cold, who is that snoring....then suddenly it is first light. Morning routine was usual - breakfast, packing etc. I didn't fill my water up, as it is about 2km to the dam toilets and scheme water. But it is a rough first km, so even though we left the hut about 8.15 am, it was nearly 9.30am by the time we finished our stop at the dam toilets for a water refill and a comfort break on real porcelain!

We cut a small section of the Trail out by staying on Scarp Road, but by now one of our group was struggling. He is a great rock climber, and built for scaling verticals, not cranking through deep gravel. At Rowley Road, where the Trail heads back into the rough stuff again, he called it quits. He could continue along Boyd Rd for a couple of clicks, riding off the Scarp and get picked up on the South West highway. We had phone signal, so he could confirm the pick up. It was a wise move, because in 2 hours we had come less than 10km, and at this stage, had 55km to go.

The next 15km was a mix of good tracks and more deep pea gravel, with hills chucked in. We rode the touring route, and even that was tough in parts. It was slow, dusty, but at least a bit cooler - forecast was for 26 today. When you come out on a Scarp Rd at the top of the valley, we thought it was all downhill for 5km into Serpentine River, then 5 km up again to Jarrahdale. But the trail turns off into a steep, rough downhill, before another steep uphill! After we turned back onto Scarp Rd, we meet two cyclists riding uphill, and we suggested they stay on the road, even though they were walking up it - the alternative is really tough.

The ride out of the Serpentine River valley was tough - that first 200m next to a small pipeline seemed vertical, and the pipeline just went straight up the hill. But the trail zig zags its way up, following the old train lines, so we rode about half of it and pushed for the rest. We were at the Jarrahdale General store about 1.30pm, and started to think about not riding on to Wungong hut. We were feeling ok, but our slow first 10km meant we faced a likely prospect of riding the last section in the dark. Plus, we were happy to have a relaxed and enjoyable afternoon rather than push on just to stick to a schedule.

So at 2.30pm, we finished lunch and rode the 1000m to the Post Office to get the key to the Environmental Centre, the old hospital, which is next to the general store. It cost us $17.50 each, so we unpacked onto the bunk beds and enjoyed a relaxing ale from the pub. We got our bike chains cleaned, caught up on social media, contacted our loved ones, and then headed to the pub for dinner. We were back at the hospital by 8.30pm, and soon in bed. We had heard the hospital had a resident rat and ghost (I don't believe in ghosts, but I have that generations-old dislike of rats), and unfortunately we saw the former and not the later.

Next morning was cool and crisp and we were away by 8am. After the ride into Jarrahdale, the ride out was bliss - mainly old railway line initially. We stopped at Balmoral prisoner of war camp for about 30 mins, and soon after the trail leaves the dense jarrah bush and enters more sparse forest, usually on dirt roads. There was one major hill, and though we could have been ridden it, we didn't as we didn't want to over do it. At the top, we got a phone signal, so did a bit of messaging.

Once we crossed Jarrahdale road, it was lovely form all the way to Wungong hut. We only stopped for 10 mins to sign the visitors log, and were soon out again, rejoining the main trail to get to Gleneagles. We were there about 11.45am, so it had taken us nearly 4 hours ( I am always stopping for photos and video!). I reckon it would have taken us about the same time if we had ridden in last night (we wouldn't have stopped for photos, but would have been slower at the end of a tough day). That would have meant about an hours ride in the dark, at the end of a tough day. That is when accidents happen or markers get missed, compounding our fatigue. So I was glad we stayed in Jarrahdale.

Our lift had been waiting for us for 10 minutes at Gleneagles, so we had a quick bite to eat, loaded up and headed back home. 60 minutes later, I was hosing the bike off, thinking about a hot shower and Anzac Day tomorrow. Thanks Luan and Nigel for coming along.

Chapman River Regional Park ride

26" Hard tail, no luggage

April 2017

I drove North on Chapman Road, and turned right into the carpark of the Chapman River Regional Park – it is  just after the roundabout ( if you cross the river you have gone too far). Head as far from Chapman road in the carpark and you should see the old rail bridge – my starting point. It was a perfect morning for an early ride in April 2017. I was at the old rail bridge about 7 am, and there were already kayakers and walkers there. It was a bit humid, but a cool start to what would be a warm sunny day.

I rode out on the South side first. There is an obvious gravel track about 50m from the river, and also numerous single tracks weaving between this track and the river. I took the single track, as they looked undulating and smooth, although sandy in parts. It got a lot tougher pretty quick! There were some short, steep drop offs, some tough lime stone filled rock gardens, and some sand all thrown. I am mainly a XC rider, plus I had all my cameras with me, so I showed a bit of caution and rode carefully. But I still got caught out on a really easy section – a sticking up boulder snagged my pedal. My bike stopped dead, but I kept going! Old blokes like me don't bounce too well, but I was going slow and the tumble just banged up my knee a bit and destroyed my bell and ego (I think I also lost my toolkit there as well). As bike prangs go, it was a gentle one.

There are no obvious route markers, so I was navigating by following:

  1. The trail with the most tyre tracks!
  2. keeping the river on my left going out and coming back.
  3. an occasional blue reflective marker
  4. some yellow marker tape tied to bushes

but I still think I went all over the place on various trails.

After about 4km, I was starting to get worried that I had missed the river crossing. The Chapman is only water filled  for the first kilometre or so of this ride, then it turns into a dry river bed (it was Autumn, so it was still dry). But it didn't look easy to cross. Eventually I did see the bridge and crossed to the north side of the river, heading back to my start point.

Again, there seemed to be a track following a fence line, with lots of other tracks running between the track and the river. Again, they looked inviting, but they weren't always. However, the North side was shorter, generally easier riding, and had some really nice spots overlooking the river. The last kilometre or so in particular was very nice – sweet compacted trail right next to the river filled with water, surrounded by shady trees and with birds everywhere – nice!

I got back to my start point about 8am – my ride times are always slow when I am taking heaps of photos and video. I was a bit sweaty with the high humidity and the exertion, but I was pleased I had ridden a very scenic little ride that was new to me.

Wadandi Trail

26" hard tail, no Luggage

March 2017

I was in Busselton and wanted to try the first section of this Trail. The first section of the Track is about 11 km long, and is presently unmarked (as of March 2017) -  I hope my GPX file helps you follow it.  The track leaves the Busselton jetty precinct (make sure you drop into the visitors centre and see the train "Ballaraat") and follows the foreshore west. The foreshore path soon finishes and you join the cycleway next to Geographe Bay rd. After crossing a small bridge it turns left on to a residential street, crossing the busier Busselton Road. The next short section is on old form (for a very short distance) under peppermint tress and is very nice. But it soon crosses the road and joins a paved cycle way. After the golf course, the trail turns right and follows near the Busselton Bypass road - cars doing 100km/hr are visible through the bush. It is nearly all paved to the Vasse roundabout, and crosses Kangaroo Gully on an old rail bridge. I thought this first section of the Trail was nothing special if you are used to proper rail trail. However if you are based in Busselton and not going any further, it is a pleasant ride.

Warby Rail Trail

Ride on hard tails with no luggage

Feb 2017

We planned a day ride on the Warby Trail on a recent trip to Melbourne. We booked a package (pick up, drop off, food and bike hire) online through Kerrie at Pedals Australia (pedalsbikes.com.au) 3 or 4 days before the trip. On the morning of our ride, Kerry texted to suggest we hold off for another day - there was a fair bit of rain in the Valley even though Melbourne was generally fine. We could fit that in, so we went the next day.

Tuesday's weather was perfect - 26 degrees and hardly a cloud in the sky. We caught a Lilydale train from Flinders Street station - that takes about an hour and cost us $9.50 each for an all day pass. Kerry met us at the cafe opposite the train station and drove us back into the carpark to the start of the trail. Well, she did have to get our bikes and helmets - nice Treks "comforts" (mountain bikes with skinner road type tyres). One of the bikes also had a rear bag and rack, so that was really handy. She arranged to meet us in Warburton in 4 hours ( we ride slowly with all the video and photos we take). The package price was very reasonable for such a customised service - we highly recommend them.

As the trail leaves Lilydale it skirted the usual suburban area scenry - schools, houses, earthworks etc. The slope was a gentle upwards gradient, and before too long the houses had disappeared and we were in the bush. We stopped briefly at First Aid Post, as it is just off the Trail, but soon kept going to Mount Evelyn railway station. We had a decent break there, refilled water bottles, used the toilets etc. All the facilities of the town were within a stone's throw of the Trail, but we didn't need anything.

Leaving Mount Evelyn, Kerrie had warned us about the only section the Trail could be missed - the rail line clearly crosses the road near the bakery, but the path continues along down the road. Coming from Perth, I was used to looking for the form, so it was clear to me, but I see how riders could follow the path and lose the Trail.

The Trail now heads downhill, and cycling is easy. The Trail also enters a beautiful part of bush with the white barked gum trees (mountain ash?) and tree ferns lining the sides. This was my favourite section of the ride - so lush and green. We saw the Carriage Cafe right next to the trail, but we didn't have time to stop.

Around Woori Yallock , the trail enters open farmland on the valley floor. We had already crossed the long bridge used to manage the flooding.  The station has has one of the many water points along the Trail, so again we stopped for a water top up.

The Trail now starts a very gentle upwards gradient. It feels weird - you feel like you are riding up into the alpine area, but it doesn't seem steep at all. I was pleased to see lots of riders outs, and even a few horses, enjoying the perfect weather. It is not unusual to ride similar trails in Perth on week days and not see anyone.

Unfortunately, the Upper Yarra Museum was closed (it is open Wed & Sun 11am- 4pm), but we took a few pics over the fence. I really wanted to see some of the train stuff, but maybe next time. Again, there were lots of small shops close to the Trail if you needed anything.

Millgrove Saw Mill is clearly visible from the Trail, and we also saw Alpine Mill - they are the reason the trail is here, and are important reminders from the past. The trail is now sealed into Warburton from here.

The road and the Yarra River sometimes drop away steeply from the Trail, which continues along fairly flatly. It feels strange - suddenly the drop off is quite steep and the views very nice, but you feel like you have been riding on the flat.

Warburton is very picturesque. The trail head is straight a head as you enter town, but we followed the rail trail a bit further on looking for the La La Train turn table. We couldn't find it, so when we reached the other end of town, we followed the Warburton River Walk back into town. It was very pretty.

We got to our cafe about 15 mins before Kerrie was due to pick us up. But it was almost 3pm, so our food and drink came quickly. Kerrie picked us up as promised, and drove us back to Lilydale train station. The busy, hilly drive back was such a contrast to the quiet, relaxing ride up. We did get a few glimpses of the trail as we drove. Suddenly, at 5pm, we were back in the hustle and bustle of Melbourne, well satisfied by a truly memorable ride.