Chapman River Regional Park ride
26" Hard tail, no luggage
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:
- The trail with the most tyre tracks!
- keeping the river on my left going out and coming back.
- an occasional blue reflective marker
- 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.
26" hard tail, no Luggage
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
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.