Munda Biddi Map 2 Jarrahdale to Nanga
Softtail, Day Ride
The weather forecast was good so I took a day off from work for a ride. I got a lift to Dandalup Dam and was there about 9.45am. I rode into the hut, then at 10am started the ride. 35 riders had been through over the last 4 months, of which 8 were from outside WA. That's 23% (don't start telling me my sample size is small - you get the idea), a figure that surprises me. The weather was perfect - not a cloud in the sky and 21 degrees.
I rode the touring route this time. This tends to be uphill then downhill, whereas the standard route is an undulating series of short steep hills that is OK to ride when unloaded, but tough when with panniers or a trailer.
I missed the Dirk Brook bridge and 100m of Trail, even though I was looking for it. There was a sign on Scarp Rd, so maybe the Trail bypasses it (I didn't stop) as it was always chopped up by motorbikes in the past. However it is a nice little spot to stop.
I found a few red tailed black cockatoo feathers on the track, which I stuck into the nearby Munda Biddi trail sign. I hope it looks ok - this is the limit of my artistic flair.
Karnet Brook was beautiful as usual. Just as I was about to stop to get some photos, some trail runners ran passed. I could ride through the ankle deep water, whereas they were going to get wet feet.
Soon after, I met two riders from NSW (more Eastern States riders!) near Scarp Rd. They were riding Mundaring to Albany. I spent a very pleasant 20 mins or so chatting with them. They promised to send me some photos and some feedback on the Trail when they got home.
There were a few gravelly sections, and I imagine they will be worse in Summer when it dries out. But it didn't last too long.
The ride out of Serpentine Valley to Jarrahdale was not as bad as I remember it. The Trail weaves across Scarp Rd several times as it zig zags up the hill. It is most is rideable (without luggage), but I certainly was pushing some sections. Scarp Rd is more solid, and a steady climb, but because it is boring it seems longer!
I got to Jarrahdale about 2pm and had a quick sandwich and drink at the cafe. It was busy with motorcyclists, and people enjoying the mild weather. I then rode to Byford via Nettleton Rd. It wasn't too bad - it started heading downhill after about 12 km. I rode through Byford, but parts of the old form into Armadale were being dug up to take a big water main, so it was little harder than last time. But I was soon at the Armadale train station and home within the hour.
Softtail, Day Ride
I made use of the fine Winter's day yesterday for a Munda Biddi ride. The 40 km ride from Dwellingup to Dandalup Dam was a perfect way to test my route summary sheet (RSS). It worked perfectly, so I navigated the whole ride just using the markers and my RSS. Of course I took the Munda Biddi map as back up, but just didn't need it. It was especially helpful in the permanent realignment area near Deer Rd, as the longest leg without a change in direction was 3 km, so I was glad to know this. This new section doesn't have many markers along the route, and you start wondering if you are on the right track.
I was dropped in Dwellingup about 9am, and the weather was fine but cool - the forecast was about 8-20 degrees. The first couple of km out of town were very nice, especially the old form after crossing the huge power lines.
But later the hills started, and there was a fair bit of gravel. I forgot how much pea gravel is on map 1 and 2, so I was pushing up some of the hills. It didn't help that some parts were chopped up by motorbikes. Many of the single track sections had surveyors tape on bushes, which I think directs the motor bikes down these tracks, so I spent time removing it from the bushes. You may want to do the same.
At Whittaker's Mill, the trail now diverts around the disused camping ground. This is a lot easier than passing through it as it is so overgrown. You can still see the mill foundations from the Trail, so you are not missing much
Also I got to drop in to Dandalup hut - the hut with a fantastic view off the Scarp onto the coastal plain. There are even ocean glimpses! Plus the hut has good mobile phone service.
The Trail then rides across the Dandalup Dam wall, so I had a look there. Once on the other side of the Dam, I rode the sealed road all the way to Dandalup, then into Mandurah train station. It is only 35 km from Dandalup Hut, or 30 km from the Trail! The ride is a bit boring in the middle but it means that you can make your own way home after being dropped on the Trail. Some parts were 100km/hr, but I had taken a tail light and reflective vest to slip on. The road was quiet until I crossed the freeway, and then there was usually a cycle lane, so all was good. 90 minutes after leaving the hut I was on a train home. How good is that?
Softtail, Day Ride Midland to Albany Highway
Good Friday was forecast as 28 degrees, and with most activities curtailed by the religious holiday I thought a days cycling was in order. I got a lift to Jarrahdale (unfortunately there is no bike friendly public transport to Jarrahdale, so you either get a lift or ride there from Armadale - see my "Getting there" notes). No suprises, but everything in town was shut, so I unloaded at the general store without a coffee and was on the trail just before 9am.
The ride down into the Serpentine River is okay to ride down but is very hard to ride up if you are coming the other way due to the slope and the pea gravel. I have used the Scarp Rd to get up to Jarrahdale in the past -it is a steep, long climb, but Scarp Rd is firm enough to be rideable where as the MB is very difficult. Scarp Rd crosses the MB three times from the river to Jarrahdale so you can jump from one to the other if you change your mind.
Coming out of the Serpentine River valley, the MB follows Scarp Rd for a few kilometres. The old route out of Serpentine River valley heading South was an amazing goat track just below Scarp Rd - you can glimpse it in places. It was incredibly steep and quite dangerous to ride down when loaded with panniers. Going up it was impossible if fully loaded, so the ride up Scarp Rd is tough, but far easier. In fact you cross Scarp Rd regularly on Map 2, so again you can make your own "Touring Route" by staying on Scarp Rd till the MB crosses again. Scarp Rd appears to cross more contour lines than the MB and is therefore hillier, but it is rideable in granny gear - but it is boring, and any cars going past may coat you in dust.
The first time I did this ride in 2004 on the old route in 38 degree heat, it took me 2 hours to do the first 10 km, pushing up the now disused goat track. Today is forecast 28 (I don't think it got hotter than 26), and on an unladen bike I did the first 10km in 1 hour exactly. Later in the day my average speed was abit better (about 13 km/hr), but there was still plenty of pea gravel and hills to over come. There is no rail trail until the 10 km mark - it is when the MB leaves Scarp Rd and there is a white gate blocking out cars & motorbikes that the fun starts.
The Karnet Brook crossing was quite damp considering it was the end of summer and Perth was still well behind in rainfalll. I noticed some different flora around the brook - it was very noticeable. Dirk Brook was not as big, but still a pleasant change from jarrah trees and gravel.
There was still plenty of pea gravel, but it was much better after North Dandalup Dam. It was great to top up my water at the "real" toilets at the Dam, and enjoy the views. The picnic area was starting to get very busy even before noon - it is Good Friday. It is a steep downhill to the picnic area, so I have never bother going down on a bike. I had a quick break and pushed on to the campsite, about 30 mins further on.
The campsite was spotless as usual, with both water tanks about 2/3 full. I had a break there as well - this time sitting at a table, not hanging around a toilet! Although the trail was generally easier to ride, I was abit fatigued after lunch so my average speed did not increase as much as I was hoping. It took me 2 hrs to get there. I had good mobile service at the hut.
Whittakers Mill was full of fallen trees and the MB was very hard to follow. Someone had put sand arrows on the ground but I still couldn't follow it around the trees so I cut around the Mill area as I outlined in my track notes. There were also a few markers missing after the hut, but my track notes means you will know when they are coming up.
The Alcoa conveyor was running so it was easy to hear when I got close. The ride alongside it is up hill through the arboretum and with the pea gravel I was pushing again. The top is marked with a big tower and mobile phone reception is good up there.
Soon after crossing the conveyor and rejoining Scarp Rd the new diversion is in place. Oakley Dam is straight on a couple of kilometres away, but I turned off on the realignment. It was easy to follow, although there were a few stretches of 800m without markers where you start wondering if you are on the right track. But it is all pretty easy riding and easy to navigate.
Because it was a long weekend and school holidays, Dwellingup was packed and the over flow of campers who hadn't booked a camp site at Lane Poole (yes you will need to book your campsite on line!) or the caravan park where being sent to the Marrinup campsite. There is no toilets or water there, and with a lot of campers and caravaners in a small area, I was glad I was passing though. I come out here for peace & quiet.
The ride into Dwellingup was now flat, often rail trail, and easy. My lovely wife was there to pick me up again as I was sure I was not up to a 3 hour ride into Mandurah then a 1 hour train ride home. Again, there is no bike friendly public transport to Dwellingup.
All up I drank about 3 litres of water today.
Hard tail with BOB
Day 14 & 15 of 15 day ride:
We were up at about 6am at Bidjar hut. What a contrast to Yarri it is - 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 and looked like drowned rats. This time we followed the MB trail into Dwellingup rather than the road and found it much better - who would have thought that? We were into Dwellingup at 11.07am, just in time for a late breakfast at the cafe. One of our party was being collected in Dwellingup, so we left him about noon as we rode to Pinjarra. The rain came again, but worse still was the wind, which we were riding straight 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 was departing 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. It was wonderful to get home. I did 899 km in 16 days (no, I was not interested in doing another 1 km round the block to crack 900 km!), 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.
Hard tail with BOB
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.
Soft tail with BOB
See Map 3 for Collie to Bidjar diary:
We were up at 5.30am at Bidjar and had breakfast by the waterfall, watching the little native fish. We were on the road by 7am. The forms were very slippery with the overnight rain, and I had my front wheel slip out from under me at about 20km/hr. I ended up abit muddy, but not a single scratch as the mud let me slide.
We got lost between Nanga and Baden Powel as there was a junction without a sign and we ended up on the wrong route. We rode for 3 kms before coming back onto the MB a km before we took the wrong route. We tried the other option and saw more signs within 500 m. Saw some massive tree ferns on the ride - as tall as small trees and something you'd expect in temperate rain forests, not here. Once we got to the Rangers station just beyond Baden Powel we stayed on Nanga Rd to Dwellingup - it is about a 70km/hr narrow, steep windy road, but we preferred in to go uphill on sealed road rather than the trail (see 2014 ride - MB trail is pretty good - stay with it). We were in Dwellingup by 10.30am for food & drink, then on the road to Mandurah. It was sunny now. The down hill section was ok as it was sign posted 80km/hr and we were moving fast, but on the flat to Pinjarra it was 110km/hr zone and we were doing 30km/hr tops, so cars whizzed by. We had a pie and a break at the Pinjarra bakery before doing the last 25km to Mandurah on cycleways & road. We jumped straight on a train, and we were in Perth an hour later. I rode the cycleway to Bayswater. I was very sore, muddy, tired and sun burnt, but satisfied. The trail highlight was the trail South & North of Yarri and Bidjar
Hardtail with panniers
4 of us met at Perth Underground train station at 6.45am on a Saturday (bikes are not allowed in central Perth stations before 9.30am on week days). I had ridden in from Bayswater along the cycleway next to the Midland line. We all jumped on a train and were at the Mandurah train station just before 8am. We rode along the cycleway by the Mandurah bypass road to get to Mandurah Pinjarra Rd. The first 10 km or so of the 23 km section is on cycleway, the last few kms are on a footpath, but the middle section is on the road (dual carrigeway, signposted about 90km/hr), so not the best fun. We went to the bakery for food, then on to Dwellingup via the direct route. On the flat section you are sharing the road with cars doing 110km/hr, which is not pleasant. The uphill section is a windy bit of road with double white lines and signposted about 80 km/hr, but the cars squeeze right past you as the bends are blind - not nice at all. (see "Getting There" section for two alternative routes - much easier and less cars, although you still have to climb up the Scarp on both routes). We were at Dwellingup by 11.30am, just in time for lunch. I bought a continental roll to take away for dinner tonight. We left town at 12.10pm. We stopped at Oakley Dam for second lunch, and forgot how long the down hill section in was (note - Map 2 Trail realignment no longer follows this route). 30km from the Dandalup hut we were tired, and last 15km to the hut was really hard for us. There are some really pretty spots around Del Park Rd - it doesn't look like Perth jarrah forest, but more like Tasmanian forest. There is now no camping at Whittakers mill, although the MB maps say you can. There is a small realignment of the track coming into the hut so you go up a single track instead of that short but very, very steep track right to the hut's door. Unfortunately the track had been chopped up by a motorbike, but was still rideable, whereas the former route was never rideable - I didn't even like riding down it. Got in about 6pm in darkness - a very long day. Cool but not cold night. Great hut with views over the plains & great mobile phone service.
Ww were up about 6.30am after the night got quite cold. My thermals in a down sleeping bag fixed that! We left around 8am after weetbix & fruit. Two of the guys went on ahead, but got lost, so we lost 1/2 hour in the first 2 km regrouping. Then we stopped at the real toilets on the dam wall - you ride right past them, so it was a really slow start to the day. The main Picnic area is down a big hill, so we were happy to just look down on it. We took the touring route near Rowley Rd, but otherwise followed MB all the way to Jarrahdale. The ride out of the Serpentine River valley is, as always, a killer! Recent rains had compacted the track nicely, but occasionally there was some washed out sections. We had Jarrah burgers all round at the Jarrahdale cafe and we had a decent break as it is only 25km to go to the hut, and it is all pretty good riding.
We left Jarrahdale at 2pm. Smooth gravel roads or rail trails saw good speeds in to Balmoral POW camp. The weather is fine and sunny but cool - perfect riding weather. We had a break at Balmoral then on to Wungong Hut via good gravel roads - no cars were seen at all. We were into hut at 4.45pm. A family on a short ride from Albany highway were there already, and they stayed the night.
It was very cold overnight - there was ice on toilet hand rail in the morning! We guessed it was about 0 degrees and we found out later Jarrahdale was -1degree overnight! We slept in because it was so cold, so we were not away till about 8.30am. We had 29km to Brookton Highway, which was all pretty good except for two big hills, one in particular being long, rough and would be a struggle to even ride down! We sat on a granite boulder in the sun for lunch. We were at Brookton Highway by 11.30am, and two of us rode the Highway home, while the other two rode to Pickering Brook and rode down Welshpool Rd to Vic Park. It was about 5km to Karragullen (110km/hr zone, gravel shoulder but light traffic), then downhill past Roleystone (70-80 km/hr, zone sealed shoulder) to Kelmscott, at speeds up to 60km/hr. We had a pie & a drink on the way, then jumped on a train to Claisebrook before I rode the last section back to Bayswater. I was home by 2pm, so plenty of time to unpack, sort my gear and get ready for work tomorrow.
Hardtail with panniers
See Map 1 for Mundaring to Jarrahdale diary notes:
We rode out of Jarrahdale on Scarp Rd, down to the River then stayed on it as we rode up the other side. The old route along the side of the road is gone. I had ridden down it a couple of times and it was full on, and impossible to ride up. It was so steep going down you had to slide your saddle forward between your legs to stop tipping over, and your arms would start to cramp from braking so much. Then about 20m from the bottom was a sign warning of a steep decent! It was there because right at the end of the last section was a steel pipeline about 1 metre in diameter so you had to pull up at the bottom of the hill in the width of a vehicle track. No wonder the MB is now on Scarp road now - it is so much easier. At the top we met Richard & Tenae, who had started in Jarrahdale and were up the top wondering how much more they could take of this. Luckily I knew they were over the worst of it, so we encouraged them to keep going with us. We took the touring route and stayed on Scarp Rd to avoid the fence line track near Sharp Rd. We stopped at Dandalup Dam, then into the hut about 4.30pm. Two other guys were already there from Dwellingup, and they kept to themselves abit. I had very sore legs - 2~3 hr road bike rides do not prepare you well for 7~8 hr days of riding on trail with panniers.
Next day when the trail was close to Pinjarra Williams Rd we cut along Scarp Rd to join it and rode down the hill to Dwellingup. This took about an hour. Going down is better than coming up - you are sitting on 30~40km/hr in a 90km/hr section, so cars don't crowd you out like they do when you are crawling up the hill and they fly past. We had a pie at the Pinjarra Bakery then followed the main road to Mandurah - it was footpath or cycleway for about 2/3 of the trip, but 1/3 on the road (about 90km/hr zone). We rode to the train station and jumped on a train to Perth Esplanade station, then followed the cycleway round the river and up the Midland train line to Bayswater. I timed it just right - I got rained on for the first time just as I left Perth.
Softtail with BOB
See Map 3 - 5 for Nannup to Dwellingup diary notes:
Wednesday night was in Dandalup Hut. It was another 10 hours on the road, but 6 ½ hours riding to cover the 76 km. The King Jarrah Form continued on pretty much the same as yesterday (undulating, easy riding on nice solid ground under a canopy of jarrah), except with some nice views of the river. However after Nanga the only way was up out of the valley and often the Trail went up & down. Perry stayed on the road and that did save him some time whereas I did the trail. We were in Dwellingup for lunch, so we feasted like kings there before filling up our water at the tourist bureau.
5 km out of Dwellingup I broke a spoke again, but fixed it again quickly with the Fibrefix spoke repair - I think my 95 kg weight, a trailer weighing 30 kg and some aggressive down hill riding contributed to the 2 broken spokes and also a bent rear axle. I cannot recommend these kevlar spokes enough - they are brilliant. Perry at 65 kg with a more cautious riding style had no such dramas. We did find heading North out of Dwellingup the MB was often poorly marked, but we presume most riders are heading North to South so this is not reported much. The ride to Dandalup was the usual mix of fun single track, gravel roads, or shocking rutted hills. And as for the hill up to the campsite - any chance of installing an escalator? (note - MB diverts around this hill now) But the hut is great - the "dining room" has views over the Scarp to the Ocean and is so well placed you can get great mobile service. Turns out I'd also bent my drop out, so Perry & I spent an hour or two stripping & reassembling that end of the bike to get the gear changes working better.
The MB beat us on Thursday. North of Gobby Rd the MB was flat but with 1~2 km of sand & deep pea gravel that spoilt our fun! We had both ridden the MB North of here at least twice before, so we knew the scenic stuff was behind us. We were also getting more tired earlier in the day from the pace we were riding at, and my lack of training was showing in a leaden feeling in my legs. So at the Jarrahdale shop over a huge hamburger we decided to quit while we were still enjoying it. We then rode down Nettleton Rd to Byford and I followed the South West Highway into Armadale. I got lazy & caught a train from Armadale to Perth and rode the last little bit home, whereas Perry rode all the way home. We ended up doing 500km in 7 days if you include our rides to & from the Trail.
So what did I learn for next time? BOB trailers are fantastic for load carrying, but they allow you to carry too much stuff. Cull, cull cull as if you only had panniers.
Hard tail with panniers
Jarrahdale -Sunday 38 degrees
Left Wungong Hut at 7am, at Jarrahdale just after 9am. Good fast ride along old railway line. Drank lots in town, and ate well too. Should be hot today but the easterly is strong so that has some cooling effect even though it is hot breeze. Only me in the hut last night.
Left Jarrahdale at 10am.Trail plunges into Scarp River, but MB in parts was so gravelly that I had to pedal to keep moving downhill! Took a wrong turn, but picked it up quickly and only did one extra km. Scarp Rd out of Serpentine River valley was long & steep. Had to push the bike for about 3km - walk 100m, stop, wipe off sweat, get breath back, repeat. Now very hot and first 8 km took nearly 2 hrs! Emptied hydration pack (3L) and 2 water bottles. (Note - new route from Serpentine River towards Dandalup Hut follows on Scarp Rd, which is just as steep, but is rideable, whereas original route was virtually unrideable)
5pm Lots of up and downs from Gobby Rd to Rowley Rd with lots of gravel. Very hard to drink my water now as it is air temperature ie about 38 degree C! Still forced it in as best I can. I ran out of water about 5km short of hut, but luckily there is water at the toilets on Dandalup Dam. Sat on the cool concrete guzzling cool water from the tap for a while before the last ride to the hut. I drank over 7 litres today. 5 riders in the hut in total. Good views off the Darling Scarp to Ocean. Good mobile phone coverage.
Oakley Dam Monday
Got an early start because of the heat. Nice ride - lots of nice tracks, good trees. Had a brief thundery shower when on top of the arboretum, which cooled me off for abit, but then made it humid. Caught up with 2 guys from the hut again.
1 big, washed out rutted hill, so steep I walked down it to be on the safe side! 2 of the guys from the hut rode past down it - heroic or stupid, I am not quite sure. Just better riders I assume. Road out of Oakley Dam was long steep gravel road, but rest was good. Last 5km into Dwellingup was tough - must be tired. In just before lunch, so a quick bite to eat then my ride turned up to take me home.