Dec 13 Day ride Albany to Denmark

I started riding at the old Woolstores, about 3km along the Munda Biddi route- I had to change into my cycling gear and the terminus car park on a busy holiday weekend didn't seem to be the best spot! I started riding just after lunch before heading into undulating rural back roads of Robinson Rd. However the last bit into Elleker was on the Lower Denmark Rd, sharing with cars at 90km/hr. It was fairly busy because of the holiday period. I didn't stop at Elleker as I was still quiet fresh. Started the Torbay Heritage trail, which is excellent - narrow, straight, good surface and flat, but close to the main road. Met & chatted with another day rider who was riding from Cosy Corner to Albany. I followed the M unda Biddi trail up the hills around Horton, although I had contemplated sticking on the Lower Denmark Rd. I enjoyed the deviation around Tennessee once you turn off the sealed road - it is a narrow trail, quite flat and enjoyable. Saw another MTB rider but he didnt stop. Had a snack and drinks at Youngs Siding for half an hour. More cyclists coming & going. No Telstra signal here. After Youngs Sidings I continued on, following the roads & rail trails as per the track. Headed up Sleeman Rd which was farm land. Turned left into Hunwick Rd which was in jarrah bush, and the gravel road was dusty. When I turned left along Hay River you could see lots of people camping & fishing in little camp spots along the river. That was a nice section - windy, abit sandy and river glimpses. Cross the highway and soon on one of my favourite section of the M unda Biddi - the Denmark Nornalup Heritage Trail. It is shady, well compacted trail with lots of views across the Inlet. I stopped at some of the huts for photos. Part of the trail had gates closed and cattle were grazing on it - I should have taken a photo as a hazard on the trail, but I forgot. When crossing the Denmark River I turned right towards Denmark along the cycleway under the karri trees - another very beautiful section of the M unda Biddi. I rode straight to the caravan park for a wheel earned beer.

Sept/Oct 2013: Albany to Dwellingup

Rode from Amity Motel about 7.30 am and joined Munda Biddi about 1 km after the start just behind town hall ( I recced it last night and rode the first 1-2 km. I didn't want to have to ride down Stirling street to the start, then up the hill again). At Elleker at 8.45 am (19.2 km, average 16.4 km/hr). Bit of rain and cold and windy, but all pretty flat. Had a coffee at the Elleker shop while it poured outside - good range of food , drinks, snacks etc.

Rode down the Torbay rail trail which is mainly old railway line. This was excellent- very narrow, abit overgrown but straight, flat and fun. After that the track goes on the Lower Denmark Rd, which is sealed and sign posted at 90 km/ hr. Gravel shoulder, but with the bad weather the traffic was light. Followed the Trail around Hortons, which is a climb of about 75m. It started off as a gravel road in farm land, but a few more trees and a view of Mount Lindsay in the distance made it more enjoyable. Stopped at one point and saw these really big earthworms coming out of the ground, perhaps trying to avoid drowning from the rain. They were 20cm long and about 5mm thick - a lot bigger than in my garden!). Also saw on the ride rabbnits, emus, kangaroos, a splendid wren, 13 pelicans flying in formation, plus lots of herrons on the farmland.

The Trail south of the Lower Denmark Rd takes you to an area called Tennessee. Initially it is on sealed road, but then turns off to a track, which is good riding. You then come back on a sealed road a few km short of a Youngs Siding. Arrived there at 11.30 pm having ridden 50 km in 3hrs 17 mins, an average of 15.2 km /hr. Good small shop with all the basic food & drink, but didn't see a toilet and no mobile serice. Rain stopped, but wind still bad.
Soon after Youngs Siding it is on to a track next to the Denmark Albany main road. However at Sleeman Rd I elected to stay on the highway, even thought it was 110km/hr zone. The MB diverted you up a gravel road through farm land for 6 or so km, turned West for 5 km, then, back to the highway along the Hay River. I estimated the route was about 15 km in total to bypass about 5 km of highway. It was not school holidays, so traffic was light so I stayed on the highway without incident. Just after crossing the Hay river, the MB follows the old train line of the Denmark Nornalup Heritage Trail. It follows the Wilson Inlet all the way into Denmark. It was wide, smooth and flat with glimpses and occasional views of the Inlet- some of the nicest scenery along the MB. There were even 3 or 4 slab huts with a table and chairs off the trail right next to the water if you wanted a place to stop- I would recommend them.

By now my bike and trailer were filthy with mud, so when I crossed the Denmark River I turned left and found a fish cleaning hut a couple of hundred metres down which had a hose pipe. I cleaned up the bike and trailer then rode the last couple of km to town along the Denmark River on the dual use path. Got to the Denmark Hotel about 2pm after riding 71.2km total, average of 15.4 km. Now time to wash and dry all my gear! Time for shopping( 2 nights in huts coming up), then dinner at the the pub.

Awoken about 5.30am in the Denmark Hotel by door slamming workers. Realized the power was off due to the bad weather, so made breakfast in my room rather than the cooked breakfast I was looking forward to in the hotel. Left Denmark at 7.30am and followed the cycleway through the Denmark town along the side of Ocean Beach Road to the Lights Beach turn off. Now riding on a quiet road, which then turned to gravel. At Lights Beach at 8.45am. Very windy and occasional showers, so didn't go to the beach. The track from Lights Beach to almost Greens Pool is sensational - it was a windy track through the coastal heath land on a newly cut trailthat in many places had matting laid down to give the track stability. Around her the Munda Biddi is very close to the Biblimum track. Good coastal views at spots, but the last 1~2 km into Green Pool was on the corrugated dirt road - no fun there. Didn't stop at Greens Pool either- the weather was poor, plus I come here every year for a weeks holidays at Christmas, so I know the area well.
The Munda Biddi follows William Bay road North from the coast, so it is a narrow, windy, sealed road, signposted at 60km/hr - nothing special here. The Biblimum track crosses this road. As you get close to the South Coastal hway, the trail turns right into Byleveld Close, then turns left into Private Road. You then follow a narrow track along the SC Hway that keeps you off the main road. You cross the highway and go up Mount Macleod Road (not named on the MB map) and turn right into the Denmark Nornalup Heritage trail. But there was a diversion for me, so it sent me left up the DN Heritage trail instead to Limbourne Road. After that it was all up hill on a very quiet sealed road (Mt Mcleod road from memory). The hill was huge (250m?), long and in 3 stages, so just when I thought it was over, I came round another corner and went up again. I imagine View/Roberts/Osborne Rd will be the same. I then turned right and rejoined the MB near Osborne Rd.

From Osborne Rd to Scotsdale rd was on Fred's Rd (unnamed on map), which was a dirt road through rolling hills and farm land. It was mainly down hill, so you watch the road more than the view, When I got to Scotsdale Rd there was a sign with another diversion - I later found out the Kent River had flooded the crossing point and was impassable. That meant that I could go into the Jinung Hut (about 5km ahead), but couldn't continue on the MB trail. I would have to back track to this point and then follow the diversion to the next hut (Booner) 60 km away. It was now 11.30am, the weather was clearing, so I decided to head straight to Booner. The route was along Scotsdale Rd, a sealed road that was signposted at 80km/hr, but traffic was very light. About halfway along Scotsdale, I tried to be smart and turned North up Fernley Rd as that hit Break Rd (MB trail). I got about 8 km up it and almost to Break Rd when I met a local coming the other way. He said the Kent River was flooded after where I was heading & I had no way of getting through. My only option was to go back to where I came from, but he chucked my bike & BOB trailer in his ute & gave me a lift back to Scotsdale, so it was not too bad. (Lesson learnt - do not try to outsmart the Department of Parks & Wildlife, who put in the diversion). It was now gravel and swung around into Parker Rd and headed South to SC Hway. I was now low on water (I had drank 3 water bottles so far, as I was only planning on doing 42km from Denmark to the hut) but found an old school building with rain water tanks and managed to find some water there. I just hope there was not too many dead rats in the tank! I Steripen'd the water just to be on the safe side. Still windy, but only occassional shower.

Turn right into South Coastal H'way, cross the Kent River on the highway bridge (the river was looking pretty full compared to Summer when I visit) and after 4 or 5 km (light traffic only) turn right up Nornalup Rd. This road goes over a bit of a hill, but the karri lined gravel road with great views to the side and behind you makes it worth it. Fortunately I have driven this road a couple of times and was comfortable being out here with no maps apart from the photo I took of the route diversion on my phone - see below.

Further up Nornalup Road, the karri disappear and gives way to jarrah, and track was a lot more sandy, but compacted by recent rains.. Rounded a corner on the trail and there was a lake across the trail! It extended well into the bush, so there was no way round it. Slipped my thongs on and walked it - It was about 50m long and 70cm at its deepest. So I just wheeled the bike through - the BOB has a dry bag in it and I hoped that worked (it did) and I just had to hope it didn't damage any bearings on the bike (I didn't - I checked them all after the trip and they were fine). Had about 3 of these crossings plus half a dozen that were shorter and not as deep ie rideable! Turned off into Boronia Rd, which now had smaller trees, more open countryside and the track was sandier. Middle Rd was very sandy - it was compact now, but it would be awful in drier months. Got into the hut about 5.30pm exhausted - i over did it today. About 6.30pm 2 guys turned up. They had ridden & used wives for lifts to get them from Albany to here today in about 70 km - I had done nearly 200km. They were tired too. They were from Eastern States and were going to use their car back up to help them do Albany to Perth in 10 days. However I didn't see there names in any more hut log books along the way, so I don't know how far they got.
No rain now but It was very windy - it was so strong it blew a bowl off the bed decking inside the hut! I managed to text home by walking around the site looking for a signal. Everyone was asleep by 8pm.

Very wet and windy overnight. The 2 guys were gone before 7am to meet their families at Valley of the Giants. Started today very flat - still tired from yesterday I presume. Middle Road was same as Boronia yesterday - a few flooded sections 70cm deep and up to 50 m long, but at least the sandy patches were rideable. Crossed Valley of the Giants Road, and waited in a hay shed on Vermeulen Rd while it rained again. Soon got lost justr after the right hand turn at Vermeullen. I retraced my steps but couldnt find a marker. Pushed on anyway, even though it was down a steep muddy road - feet and shoes now soaked. I just kept following trails West until I hit the sealed Valley of the Giants road again,, which I did about 1~2 km from where the track did (my watch strap compass velcroed to my handle bar saved the day again). Riding along the Valley of the Giants Road from the first crossing may have been easier and more scenic anyway.

Stayed on the MB and had to cross a fallen tree, but fortunately it had already be chainsawed so it was at leat easier to climb over. When I got to Boxhall Rd i was feeling pretty tired, so I headed South & hit the highway to go to Nornalup. That was a waste of time! There is nothing in Nornalup - no shop, just some toilets with a sign saying the tap water is undrinkable! Worse still, on the ride along the highway, I was riding into a very stiff breeze - so hard that coming over the crest of one hill it stopped me dead & I almost fell off! I crossed the Frankland River (that looked full) then rejoined the MB by turning North up one of the roads (Gully Road). This trail under the karri was very wet & muddy, and lots of hills to push up. My energy & motivation levels were now low, so I plodded on to Walpole. At Hilltop Road there was a nice down hill section, but it was spoilt by a few branches and saplings across the track, so I couldn't speed down it as much as I would like to.

The scenic last section seemed to take forever and i was too tired to really enjoy it. In Walpole about 1.30pm. I went straight to a cafe on the Main Street in Walpole and had a big burger and large coffee. Then went to the tourist bureau to find accommodation - it sounded like the Walpole Lodge was the best bet. It was just off the main strip, a youth hostel type set up with dorm rooms from $27, as well as more expensive private rooms. I grabbed a 4 bed dorm and ended up the only person in it overrnight. I really recommend this place - the owners are young & keen, it has a great central kitchen, all the Bib track walkers seem to stay here, it has free Wi Fi and it was a great price. Had some dinner in town then chatted with a Bib track walker - he said some of the stream crossings were over his head and he had to swim them! Did some washing and sat with it as it dries - the wind was strong but occassional showers had me grabbing it off the line before it got wet. Bed about 9.30pm. Only 51km, but it was a tough day.

Woke up in Walpole Lodge at 6.30 but stayed in bed till 7am as not far to go today. Hail and big winds last night so I was not surprised the power was off in Walpole this time. I couldn't get a final cooked breakfast before 3 days on the trail without anything on the way. Stocked up on food , texted my family, then followed the route out of town along residential streets and the highway for about a km. The trail then is parallel to the h'way for about 2km, but it was a wet, rutted, slightly uphill track that took longer than I expected. Angove Road was good - no traffic. Quinn Rd was sandy in patches, but again the overnight rain had compacted it nicely. I thought I lost the trail as there were no trail markers for about 2km and the track was deteriorating, but came out near a farm and turned left. The track was now uphill with lots of fallen saplings. Got to Swarbrick Recreation area about 12, so had a break and walked the art installation loop (only short, about 400m, but even an art philistine like me can recommend it!).

Day has been fine, and on some of the uphills I was getting hot. After Swarbrick, you turn left on the sealed road - North Walpole Rd. Now down hill, so on the sealed road with a BOB trailer pushing me, I hit over 60km/hr! There was about 8km on the road then turned left into Copeland Rd, and undulating gravel road. I saw Base Rd that on the map seems to go straight to the hut, but crosses a river, so after the Kent River crossing being flooded I followed the route! After a mainly dry route all day, the last few kms had puddles about 30cm deep by 10m wide, and the narrow track into the hut was a mud bath. At the hut by 1pm, so had cheese & crackers for lunch. standing on the still incomplete outside picnic table I managed to text home where I was. Had a very relaxing afternoon, drying shoes out in the sun, chain maintenance, dinner, and audio books on the iphone. Also went to the Falls nearby, but the river was so high all I could see was some white water! Finally asleep about 10pm. The moon came up and the hut had a lot more alsynite than the old huts, so there was a nice glow inside. Cool, clear night, but still over 10 degrees by my little thermometer.

Up at 6.30am, and the usual weetbix, powdered milk, fruit & coffee. Away by about 8am, and uphill. Started hitting karri forests. Lots of saplings down, so the first 10km took 85mins of ride time. One short section of a km or so near North Walpole to Beardmore was basically a walk as the saplings were down so close together, and the track was a winding single track.

Now raining and lots of water on the trail, so at Beardmore Road I stayed on the gravel road as it seemed easier going than Dawsons Rd. At Fernhook Falls at 11am. I stopped on the side of the road and watched a few cars stop in the "No stopping" section of the bridge to stop & take photos. It was flowing a lot and the noise was pretty loud too - not a typical WA waterfall that is dry 9 months of the year! Went across to the other side and ducked into the walkways arond the fall. Walking down some steps made of sleepers I slipped and fell heavily on my back. Recovered after a rest, and think it will bruise up nicely but nothing too serious. Lots of facilities at Fernbrook Falls a few metres off the road - a hut for picnicing with gas bbqs, toilets, camp sites, but no water or phone signal.

Just as I was leaving I met a cyclist heading South. He was doing day rides then meeting his wife at hotels, so he carried just a small back pack. He thought my next section from Fernhook to South West Hway up Ordance Rd (which he had just done) was dreadful, so he cut it out. He also said One Tree Bridge and Donnelly Mill area was bad for trees down on the track. As it turns out I found Ordance Rd was fine - occassional muddy section or tree down but all rideable. About 1.30pm (32km into the ride), my rear tyre went bang - first puncture of the trip. The bad news was my tyre had split about 100mm long along the bead. These were good quality tyres with little use and only a year old. I had some denium patches for a situation like this. Rode another 3 or 4 km, but the split had grown another 25mm, so I decided it was easier to walk to the highway pushing a bike with an inflated tyre than a flat one. Turned left at Wye Rd and got to the highway just over 1 km South of where the MB crossed. I thought the only option was to get a lift to the nearest town, Manjimup, about 50km away (Northcliffe is closer but no bike facilities there and it is not on the highway). Waited on the highway from 2.30 till 4.30, but only about 10 cars went passed and none would have been able to carry me, a bike and a trailer. Now getting late, so I walked North up the highway to Bull Rd, turned in and joined the MB soon after. Followed the MB to Yirra Kartta Hut, getting there at 5.45pm. Walked about 12~15 km all up, which was slow, but as the tyre was still up I was walking at about half cycling speed. Walked up to the nearby granite dome that had great views, especially as the sun was going down. I planned to walk back down Bull Rd, turn left into Nelson and get to the highway to hitch a lift.

Up at 6.30am, left at 8am, and after a 5 or 6km walk I was on the highway by 9am. During the night I hatched a plan - a few caravans went passed yesterday, and some have mountain bikes. I would flag down every passing caravan (most bikes are on the back so i can only see if they have a bike on board when it is too late) and ask if I could buy a tyre.3 or 4 caravans stopped, but couldn't assist. About 10.30am a couple from Newcastle came passed and were happy to help out. He said I could have it if i was desperate, but I said I would prefer to buy it. He wanted $20, but I gave him $30 as I was so pleased. It tuned out to be a Cheng Shin, a cheap "good tyre" or a good "cheap tyre" in my experience, where as I was expecting it to be a no-name brand. He was happy to get another tyre in Albany - the weather was bad enough that he most probably wouldn't ride much before then. I was on the trail by 11am. I headed straight up Nelson Rd again and crossed the trail but kept going straight. I re joined the trail near Dog Rd. This road is great as it goes through Shannon National Park - a quiet, undulating good gravel road under the Karri trees. Came over a hill and surprised 2 wild pigs with piglets. One pig ran off with the piglets, but the other pig stood its ground so I stopped and let them go - I didn't want to get charged by 60kg of angry pork! I stayed on Boorara Road when it turned off at Mottram Rd (unreadable on the MB map) and planned to rejoin it near the Northcliffe MTB trail. However it was closed due to a flooded culvert, so the diversion was along Boorara Rd into town. Went to the supermarket for milk and the hottest pie I have ever eaten. A lady had a raffle at the front door, so I bought a ticket to be friendly. The prize was a ute load of fire wood, just ideal to take home on the bike! Went to the pub - they had the original rooms upstairs for $70, or motel units for $120. Happy with the hotel room, even if I had to carry all my stuff up the stairs, and share a communal bathroom. Organised a spare folding tyre to come down next week with my brother in law. I had a mixed grill and vegetables in the pub. The plate must havce weighed 3 kgs, and had steak, chops, bacon, eggs, sausages, tomatoes, red cabbage, potatoes and more. Unbelievable, but ideal for carb loading! Sat in the upstairs lounge room catching up on tv news and chatting with a father daughter Bib track walkers.

Awoke at 5.50pm in the Northcliffe pub. Slept pretty well. I had ordered the breakfast which was 2 slices of bread, jam & vegimite, juice and a one serve box of cereal - a bit expensive at $8.50, but I didn't think there would be many other alternatives available in town early in the morning. I used the kitchenette near the room to make it and had a couple of coffees as well, so on the road by 8am. I had to cross a few puddles right opposite the pub, so my feet were wet by 8.05am! The first 10 km took about an hour, but then the next 2 km took 30 minutes as there were lots of fallen trees. Some were pretty big, so the trailer had to be unhooked and the bike lifted up, climb on to the tree, lower the bike, then do the same with the trailer - a slow process. There were also lots of fallen branches, sticks and mud as well that slowed me down on what would have otherwise been an easy ride on good gravel roads. Most of this was on River Road. There was a huge karri down on one down hill section, but it was close to the track and the deviation around the upturned roots was passable - otherwise the trunk was 1.5 metres high and it would have been very hard climbing over it! When I crossed Burma road I stayed on the sealed road - it is a steep climb around the Gloucester Tree area, but I had heard the switch backs up the steep hill had some very hard corners that maybe too difficult with the trailer. Burma road was tough, but at least rideable. I stopped at Gloucester Tree for a break, but didn't climb it. I followed the route into town and stayed at the Gloucester Motel. This was the start of a 26 hour break - I was in the hotel at 1pm and didn't meet the guys coming down on the Transwa bus till 3pm tomorrow. A day off means shower, washing, shopping, curry and red wine - in that order. The Dockers were in their first Grand Final so lay on a bed and watched that - oh so comfortable! Today was a long weekend, so there were a few day riders out on the trail - you could tell as they only had day packs at most. It has been 24 hours without rain - amazing.

It rained overnight and in the morning again. I slept in till 7am, then had a casual breakfast in my room. I packed slowly and gave the bike a good lube. I had arranged a late checkout at 12, so went in to town for lunch - it was packed due to the long weekend. It was a cool day. The cafe was very crowded and without newspapers & I couldn't buy a newspaper after lunch (same thing happened yesterday!), so I just went to the Transwa bus stop, unrolled my sleeping mat and chilled for 90 mins till the bus turned up. Their bus was on time, and so by 3.10pm we were leaving town, heading for Quinninup. Because of our late start, we headed out on the Vasse Highway and turned right into Browns Rd and joined the MB there - it saved us a few km and some big hills. We followed the MB to Emerald Rd, turned on to Grays Rd, but instead of following it down to Home Rd we continued on Grays Rd to South Western Highway. We had 4 more trees down, a few more branches to avoid and lots of mud. There were a few big hills on Grays Rd, but all were rideable. This was lush green rolling farm land, but the worst bit was riding down a big hill and coming across a cattle crossing - cow dung was flicked up everywhere, especially at the riders behind. It was now quite overcast, dark and drizzly, and by the time we got to Quinninup it was dark. We dropped into the pub to make sure they would still be open for dinner a bit later, then charged to our pre booked chalet at the caravan park ($90 for the night, which is $30 each). It was a great 2 bedroom cabin, with shower, kitchen and verandahs to keep the bikes on - I recommend staying here. We dropped our gear, had a quick shower and went to pub for dinner. It was very warm inside, and dinner, beers and a good catch up was great. We meet a group of 6 or 7 female cyclists who were heading South from Nannup to Albany. I showed them the photos of what they had to look forward to (flooded track, more trees down) and they stressed that there was a lot of trees down near One Tree Bridge. However they had a great view that the hard parts were all part of the fun.They were from Eastern States. The ride back from pub was very cold after such warmth, but luckily we left the heater on and the chalet was warm as toast. There are no facilities except at the pub, and no mobile phone service.

I got woken up a few times during the night by a possum in the roof - it was even sticking its nose and one eye through a hole to look at us. It was till drizzling and pretty cool in the morning. After breakfast we found it very hard to load the bikes with the local emu pecking at us. The girls from the pub turned out to be staying next door. We were on the road by 7.45am, but we stayed on the Wheatley Coast Road instead of following the trail. It was a sealed road, with some big hills, but all rideable (the MB would have been easier although longer - see 2014). By 10am it had warmed up to 10 degrees, and so had we. When we crossed the Warren River we re joined the MB trail. The last 6 or 8km on North South Road was old railway line, so really good. We were in Manjimup by 11am, and went to the cafe on the Main Street. We sat outside even though it was cold, especially with a breeze, but we were a bit sweaty. We all had a huge belated breakfast - bacon, eggs, sausages, toast, tomatoes, beans etc and a couple of coffees. Even got them to make up ham, cheese & egg rolls for afternoon tea as not much else open in town on the public holiday. I phoned home before leaving town about 1pm. We followed the rail trail to nearby Deanmill. It looked like a workers club was open but no other shops as such. Now it was quite sunny. There was more train line after that, but it was very cluttered by branches and fallen trees, so it slowed us down a lot. The last few kilometres were very hilly and one of the riders was lagging behind abit, so good thing we cut the planned 65km on the MB to 59km. Karta Burnu hut is on the side of a hill over looking a paddock, so it really looks like a Swiss Chalet! It is only a small sized hut, but plenty of room for us 3 - as usual, no-one else there. We went to bed early as tommorrow is a big day

We were up at 5.30 am with first light and ready to go by 6.45am. It is cloudy and warm (10 degrees Celsius). The first three km were down hill on some very cool switch backs - well it would have been if we didn't 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 9.7 km took us 2hrs 45 mins! With some 90 km planned for today it was just too slow. It looked like a tornado 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 along, just North West of Willow Springs. We missed out on a re supply at Donnelly 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 trees down would have slowed us enormously. 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 he 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 Jarrahwood 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. We rode into Nannup and stopped at the cafe on the Main Street for coffee and bacon & egg sarnies. I texted family at home. We left town at 3.30pm, crossing the Blackwood River at the walk bridge. We followed the MB/Sidings 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 a high speed even on a rail trail when carrying a load 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. Jarrahdwood 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 9.30pm.

We were up about 5.40am in the Community Hut ( book on 97562065). It was wonderful to have power, lights, kettle etc. We were ready to go about 8am. The first approximately 8km was a rough, flattish single track, then 10~15km of track, then on to a gravel road because of a logging diversion. The gravel roads were abit boring - jarrah, gravel & hills - we could have been anywhere on the MB between here and Perth. Riding three abreast along the gravel road we ran over a snake, which we didn't see until we were on top of it. We broke its back so we had to finish it off. We met 2 female cyclist heading South near Goodwood Rd. We were into Donnybrook about 1pm, so we hit the cafe next to the Auto 1. We used the car shop to get some bits and pieces we needed - more sunglasses, fasty straps to replace occy straps etc. We also stocked up on food at the IGA. It was now quite warm - mid 20s, but that can be hot when riding on open gravel roads. We followed the South West Highway out of Donneybrook to rejoin MB at Bendall Rd - we didn't follow the MB proper. The rest of today was on sealed, quiet back streets. At the turn off at Armstrong Street, we carried on into Boyanup and the Bull and Bush Tavern, a pretty old pub. We had pre booked a couple of rooms and got there about 3.30pm. We had a quick pint, then showered, cleaned up etc. A mate came over from Bunbury and dropped me in some extra rehydrated meals and snack bars. He stayed for tea as well. The restaurant was good, but typical Perth prices ie a bit expensive. We stayed for the quiz night, and had our arses whipped by smart locals. We were the only 3 staying in the rooms.

Boyanup: Up about 6am and had breakfast in the kitchenette - cereal, toast, coffee, included in the $70 per room price. On the road by 8am. Looks like it will be warm again. We were planning on heading straight to to Yarri Hut, as it is equal distance to Collie and we don't have to back track about 20km along the trail the next day. Joshua Creek Rd to Crooked Brook Forest was easy enough, but then it was into the Ferguson Valley. We had about 8km of up hill along Richards Rd, which was sealed for the first kilometre, but then went to a gravel road through the farm lands (with views to the coast), then tracks through the bush. As we hit the bush we had a chain break, but I had a chain breaker and a spare Whipperman link, so it didn't take long to fix. The down hill to the Nglang Boodja hut was fast, but abit rough. We didn't stop there, but kept going to Honeymoon Pool. The map indicates water is available, but all taps there were marked not for drinking. We were about to fill up water from the river when a visitor gave us 10 litres, which was very nice. By now my temperature gauge said 30 degrees. The "challenging" section was ahead of us, so we jumped on River Road ( gravel road) and stayed on it till Wellington Dam Road, a sealed road. It was hot on the open road with the hills but rideable. We turned off towards Dwellingup as it was about 20km to Yarri Hut, the same distance to Collie. As we crossed Mornington Rd, we stayed on the sealed road as the trail is full of gravel and abit boring, and we were now pretty tired - the last 20km were a struggle.There were a few trees down and a few puddles (just enough to soak my shoes) but nothing serious. At Yarri hut at 5pm. This hut is half a hut on the side of the trail over looking a small valley - very nice. No phone signal at the hut, so cleaned up, ate and bed at 8pm.

We were awoken at 5.20am by the most amazing bird chorus of my life. Got up about 5.40am. It was a pleasant night - warm, no wind but drizzling. It is my last full day on the trail - a bit exciting but a bit sad as well. We were ready to go by 7.30am. We enjoyed the forms around Yarri - it was another great bit of riding. My shoes didn't dry out from yesterday, and it is drizzling all the time today, so damp shoes are here for the day. There was a small bypass due to logging at Stromlo rd, and once we crossed Clarke rd ( a good gravel road) we followed that to Logue Brook Dam. The facilities had improved greatly from last time, so we had an all day breakfast and hot drinks to warm up. Its not cold, its just we are all damp. I texted my family, then we left about 1pm. We cut the red section out after Logue Brook Picnic area by staying on the road that follows the Lake, navigating through the tracks and hitting Scarp Rd. The roads were quite good - no big hills, some railway form and all rideable. We also all felt good after a good lunch, less hills and cooler weather.The weather cleared up after lunch and was even sunny. We followed the semi permanent mine detour, then on to King Jarrah Form for the last run into Bidjar hut at about 5pm. The falls near the hut are small but flowing really well. We had a look around then back to the hut for a wash, dinner and finally sleep.

Up about 6am. What a contrast to Yarri - hardly a bird to be heard, just some very distant rumbling in the middle of the night from the mine. It was drizzling again in the morning, then rain periods as we headed off about 8am. North Junction Form was great - it follows the river and often over looks it. Nanga was quite busy with campers. There was some decent hills, so it was too hot to ride in a rain coat, but too wet not too! At the spot were we got lost last time the entire area had been cleared so the track was easy to follow. I wonder why? When we got to the rangers station at the entrance to Lane Poole Reserve it poured hard for 15 mins so we stood under a tree. This time we followed the MB trail into Dwellingup rather than the road and found it much better. We were into Dwellingup at 11.07am, in time for a late breakfast at the cafe. One of our party was being collected in Dwellingup, so we left him about 12 to ride to Pinjarra. The rain came again, but worse still was the wind, which we were riding into. We only stopped for a quick moment in Pinjarra and headed straight to Mandurah. By now we were soaked from the constant drizzle. We got to the train station about 10 mins before a train so we dried off abit and put on dry clothes before the relaxing hour ride to Perth. The train was very quiet - I think the weather was keeping people in doors. I got off at the Esplanade stop and rode to the cycleway along the River to Bayswater. Wonderful to get home. I did 899 km in 16 days, 7 nights in huts and 8 in accommodation. I lost 3 kg on the ride, but lost another 3kg over the next few days as my metabolism was still in "burn fat" mode I guess (don't worry dear reader, it soon crept back on again!). It was a very tough ride in some dreadful weather, but I tolerated the rain more than I can tolerate heat, although the wind was very annoying. I felt a real sense of achievement after completing it.

May 2013: Mandurah to Brookton H'way

Day 1 Mandurah-Pinjarra-North Dandalup Hut.
I hooked up my BOB trailer to the hard tail MTB and left Bayswater at 8.45am. Rode to Esplanade train station and arrived at 9.25am (bikes are not allowed to go in to or travel on trains through this station until after 9.30am). I caught 9.35am train and was in Mandurah by 10.30am. I met Rod and we headed off to Pinjarra via the main road. The cycleway at either end was ok, the approximate 10 km sharing the road in the middle was not so fun, but it was over quickly. We had an obligatory pie & iced coffee at the Pinjarra Bakery before heading north up the South West Highway towards Perth at 12.30pm. A few km on the cycleway we turned right into the Alcoa road and followed that flat easy road to North Spur Road. We turned left and started up the Scarp. It was a tough climb over about 5km with a really steep section in the middle but it is a very quiet road compared to the main road into Dwellingup. I walked the really steep section, but spun up the rest in lowest gear. Rod rode it all and waited for me at the top. We hit the MB at Kessners Rd at 3pm. We had ridden about 18km from Pinjarra, and hit the MB at about 22km North of Dwellingup, with 26km to go to the hut. This means we will be riding 74km today, including riding up the Scarp (about 300m vertical climb) so it is a much more reasonable ride with fully loaded mountain bikes than riding to Dwellingup and on to the hut. The trail was in parts terrible with pea gravel, but mostly ok. One intersection was unmarked and we took the wrong way, but we turned back after 1km and saw a marker pretty quickly down the right route. We were at the Dandalup hut before 5pm and snacked as I was pretty tired for the last 15km ( the most riding I have done lately is a 40km road bike ride with no gravel or panniers on those rides!). There was good mobile phone reception at the hut so we texted home, then had a big dinner - a double serve of rehydrated mushroom risotto - which was very nice. The weather was good, with a bit of humidity to make me sweat on big hills. We were in bed about 9pm

Day 2 North Dandalup To Jarrahdale
Cit was a cool night but not too cold. We were up about 7.15am for weetbix & fruit. We rode up to the toilets at dam for a break. We stayed on Scarp Rd till Rowley Rd then did the touring route - even that was rocky & steep but we could ride up it in bottom gear. The standard route is even harder. I managed to ride most hills today, which is a benefit of not over doing it on first day like some previous rides. We were at Kingsbury Drive by 11am (19 km riding). The riding was abit easier after that, then a big down hill to Serpentine River. Now the big hill up to Jarrahdale - I rode MB from the river crossing, but jumped on Scarp Rd when the MB crossed it for second time. Scarp Rd is long and steep, but at least you can ride it when fully loaded. We were at the Jarrahdale Cafe by 12.30pm for a big burger, iced coffee, icecream & lollies (carbs!), as well as a Gatorade & caramel slice for later. We warmed up in the sun, but when the clouds came over at lunchtime we got cold as our clothes were damp with sweat.
We were a bit slower after lunch, but the trip to the Wungong is generally so much flatter. We met 2 riders from Carinyah coming the other way who were aiming for Albany, and had a good chat with them. Also had a good chat with the DEC Ranger who stopped for a brew at Balmoral POW camp. It was decidedly cool now. The Bulldozer Rd hill was tough but rideable. We were into the Wungong hut at 4.40pm with sore bum and legs. I had my caramel slice for a snack before starting the unpacking and cooking, and then had another rehydrated meal for dinner. Rod rides a lot faster than me, so I should travel lighter eg milk powder in zip lock bags instead of small UHT containers, less clothes, buy more meals on the way etc if I want to keep up with him - and train a lot more! It has cooled off a lot now, but rained a lot during the night so the cloud kept the temperatures up. There was intermittent phone signal at the hut and near Albany Highway.

Day 3 Wungong to Brookton Hway, home
There was a lot of rain overnight and heavy showers after sunrise so we stayed in bed till 7.30am listening to the rain on the roof - there is no point in rushing out to get wet! Got up for breakfast, then a work team turned up. It was obviously a DEC guy, a prison officer and 4~5 prisoners. All were quite nice and we chatted before they went to work and we left. Soon afterwards it started to rain, so we stayed on Kinsella Rd for 3km after crossing Albany Highway. We rejoined the MB at Canning River, just in time for the big hill. We saw a patch of burnt out bush - it was still burning and smoking even after all the rain. It looks like a prescribed burn. The trail flattened out afterwards. We ran into a group of school kids with a teacher heading to Wungong - we gave them the weather forecast of 2 degrees and hail! The teachers stay in the huts and the kids had to camp! Mind you, if it was that cold, then the tents would be warmer, but I don't like tents in the rain. It is now cool and dry, but the track is very wet and muddy as is bike and BOB. Rod, who is all skin, bone & muscle (hence his great riding ability) is very cold so at Brookton Hway (there at 11.50am) we headed towards Kelmscott. It is 4km to Karragullen, then another 4km to the big downhill as we head off the Scarp. We had a meal on the Highway near Roleystone about 1pm. The old cafe with sweeping views over the valley is now a resturant, so we felt abit out of place eating out steak sandwiches and huddling over hot coffees while the blue rinse set chowed down on their lunches. We rode to Kelmscott before washing bikes and jumping on a train at 2.45pm. I was off at Claisebrook and rode to Bayswater and home by 3.30pm. It is now sunny but very cool. I really enjoyed this trip as it was not too strenuous, and we did not over do it on first or last days, which is what I usually do.

May 2013 Waterous Loop

Had 6 riders with us on an overnight camping trip. Drove to Lake Navarino Forest Resort via Waroona to drop the vehicles but had to go back to Waroona for lunch as the kitchen was shut. Started riding about 1pm. There was a short section of trail riding, but then the rest was on Nanga Brook Rd, a sealed road. We were then diverted down Dawn Creek Road instead of going to Nanga as per the map, cutting over 10km out of our route ( this diversion is still in place as of May 14). As a result we were at the Bidjar hut by about 2.30pm! Went to the stream and waterfall and we all enjoyed that, before starting our night camping routine.

Next day, the trail was diverted because of mining so we spent abit of time on a gravel roads - not really what we came out here for. There was a nice section by Willowdale Road where we saw enormous tree ferns that were growing along the stream - they were sensational. Another section of single track was poorly maintained and had many trees down across it in the 1~2km - the trees made it a walk not a ride. (This area is subject to a diversion as of June 2014, so you get to see even less of the good stuff!) Back at the start point around lunch time. I forgot to record times & distances, but instead of the 41km I planned, I am sure it was only about 30km. About three quarters of it was on gravel or sealed roads. If you want a circuliar route with a hut in between, then this route would be ok if there was not so much gravel or sealed roads. The Bidjar hut was very nice as usual, the tree ferns were fantastic. This could be an ideal first overnight ride for novice Munda Biddi users.

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