Munda Biddi Map 4 Collie to Jarrahwood
29"er dual suspension with back pack
Ron invited me for a drive to help him do a bit of track maintenance on Map 5 in Dec 2015. I thought I would use his lift down to ride back to Bunbury, overnighting at Jarrahwood. My plan was originally to ride from the One Tree Bridge to Jarrahwood (85km) on Saturday arvo. But the weather forecast was pretty poor - thunderstorms and 40 or 50mm of rain. So I changed my plans to start at Nannup, which meant I only had 27km to ride.
We left early on Saturday morning and drove down to Manjimup in a few showers. We grabbed some lunch and headed to the campsite. The section of Trail Ron is responsible for covered the Karta Burnu hut and a couple of kilometres on both sides of it. Going into the hut, the Trail was drivable in the car and was already pretty clear. The other side of the hut is the series of switchbacks off the hill, so something we definitely had to walk. We were mainly trying to clear face-slapping bushes, spoke-snapping sticks, but most importantly any sharp branches poking into the Trail. It was a beautiful spot to work, zig zagging off the hill under the karri trees.
After a couple of hours of track maintenance we had some lunch at hut. We then drove to see the new One Tree suspension bridge on Graphite Road, and stopped to look around. Ron dropped me at Nannup at 5pm, and I got away on the Munda Biddi, which is also the Sidings Trail. This old railway line to Jarrahwood is flat and straight, which makes it a fast, easy ride. I took a bit of video and lots of photos on the way, so I was in Jarrahwood at 7.30pm.
I went straight to the hut, and it was already occupied by a couple of cyclists with a baby! They were on their seventh day on the Trail. It was getting dark, so I went and grabbed the key for the Community House, and went for a shower. The house was very clean, and ideal for me as I was travelling very light (no sleeping bag, mat etc). I had beef jerky and snack bars for dinner as there are no facilities in Jarrahwood.
Overnight it poured! Even when I was up at 5 am, it was raining. It had stopped by the time I left at 6am, but it did drizzle bit. But it was the positively drenched bushes hanging over the Trail that soaked me to my skin. It was not cold and the rain firmed up some of the sandier sections. I was at Vernon Road at 8.30am. Last time I did this section, Lidel Rd was closed due to logging, and I had to ride Vernon Rd, which was hilly and corrugated. Lidel Rd was so much nicer, although the last couple of km on single track was abit meandering and slow. I then rode the 4.5 km on the road, then the last 12km into Donnybrook.
Donnybrook on a wet Sunday morning was quiet, but the bakery was open and I enjoyed a pie and iced coffee. The bike was too filthy to take on the train so I washed off the dirt and cleaned the chain. I left about 10 and followed the highway North to join the Trail a couple of km away. I then rode the Trail to Boyanup along the quiet back roads, another 10km on. The last section into Bunbury was on the highway, but there is a 1 metre wide sealed shoulder and I felt safe enough.The breeze was coming slightly behind me, so I was cruising at about 25km/hr. As a result, I covered the 38 km Donnybrook-Bunbury ride in less than 2 hours. I was two hours early for the train, because I had allowed plenty of time for slow sections, breakdowns etc. I cleaned up, went and had some lunch, and was at the train station by 2pm. The train loaded quickly and we were under way by 2.45pm. The train is spacious and smooth, and I enjoyed the trip. The buffet even sold beers, so a couple of those along with some music from my phone, kept the journey pleasant. The train arrived in Perth on time at 5.15pm, and by 5.45 pm I was having a hot shower at home. What a great mini adventure weekend!
Softtail no luggage
I left Perth about 8am, and was dropped at where the MB crosses Mornington Rd near Wallis Form about 10.10 am. I unloaded and got ready, then rode the 3 km to the three way junction in about 15 mins. It is easy riding on the form with a gentle downward slope. I was at "3 Ways" at 10.30am and started to ride to Donnybrook. It was quite cool and overcast - I reckon about 15 degrees maximum, and cooler in the valleys and shade.The first section was pretty easy as it is on undulating form, short sections of single track or good quiet gravel roads. It is mainly in the bush, but there is some sections in farmland, and all the hills are gentle.
Once I crossed the Coalfields Highway, the track follows old form, but then moves onto a single track that undulates along a valley side, almost following the contour line. It is abit harder than riding on forms (it is rated as medium) as it has short steep up and down hills but it is interesting and has nice views in spots. It finishes near River Rd with a downhill section that includes a series of switchbacks. It was pretty tight going down- I often had to stop on the bends and walk around them. I remember pushing up these last time with the BoB trailer and that was hard! I had mobile signal for most of this section.
When you cross River Road for the first time, you will be entering a challenging section of the MB. Be warned- it is full on MTB'ing. This is ok if you are not carrying panniers or towing a trailer. If you are heading South without a load, as I am today, you have some steep gravel roads to ride up (they are mostly rideable) and then some windy, rocky, rough downhill that had me walking some sections (to err on safety's side). If you are heading North, it would be so steep and rough, I doubt most riders could ride it at all! So my advice to most riders is to create your own touring route down River Road to Honeymoon Pool, then on to rejoin the MB. There will still be hills on the road, but all are rideable. River Rd is a gravel road used to access Honeymoon Pool, so on school holidays or long weekends there will be some traffic, but most of the time it is very quiet. Your call, but you are warned! There is nothing on this bypassed section that you have not seen before, plus you will get a chance to stop at Honeymoon Pool. I rode for 100mins to get to Honeymoon Pool over 3 hrs and 40 mins - it seems slack, but I did stop for snacks, photos and often to catch my breath on the hills. I had 20 minute break there. There was occasional mobile signal in this area only.
After crossing the Collie River, there is a short, steep, rideable climb on the sealed road, and then some more switchbacks to ride down as you join the old form on Riches Road, a long gentle uphill road. It has Riches Gully on your left, and in some parts it is so green, mossy and moist it looks like temperate rain forest. The turn off for the Nglang Hut is along here - this hut is half sized hut on an old form over looking a small valley.
After the Hut, you return to Riches Road and keep riding upwards. The Trail then passes through a now drier, gravelly open jarrah forest- the change is quite noticeable. You get to the top of the hill and cross Pile Road. You then pass through the Wellington Discovery Centre, with a few old mill huts that have been restored as accommodation. Even during the day the lawns attract many kangaroos. The trail levels out abit, then starts a long downhill section. Firstly it is a rough road, then the gravel road improves as you leave the bush and enter farmland- look for the sweeping views of farmlands to the Coast. The last downhill section is sealed. There is good mobile signal around this section.
After a short section on Ferguson Rd, I then joined Ironstone Rd - all sealed roads. There was a section of single track cutting the corner off Crooked Brook Rd and Boyanup-Ferguson Rd, opposite Crooked Brook Forrest for a couple of kilometres. It was a bit rough but all rideable single track. Once that section was over, I joined the dirt Boyanup-Ferguson road, that joins Joshua Brook Rd, before becoming sealed. At the T junction with Hurst Rd, the MB turns left to Donnybrook, but I turned right towards Bridge St, then left into Boyanup. It is about 2 km from the trail to Boyanaup, and the end of my trip today. I sat inside the very nice bakery as I waited for my lift to arrive. We were staying the night at the Jarrahwood Community hut, so we drove to Donnybrook to get some dinner at the IGA supermarket, then drove directly to Jarrahwood. It is about 18 km of dirt road this way.
There was a bit of rain overnight, but it cleared up on Sunday morning. We drove to Boyanup from Jarrahwood. The bike got a bit dirty on the rear car rack from the muddy slurry flicked up by my car, so I gave it a quick wipe down in Boyanup. I was on the road by about 9.20am and at the MB by 9.30am. There was abit of drizzle between Boyanup and the South West Highway near Donnybrook, but it was fine after that. It is all sealed quiet back rural roads to the South West Highway, with no big hills, so easy riding.
After Crossing the South West Highway, the trail follows an undulating dirt road and gets to what I call the "Donnybrook 3 ways" - keep straight on for Donnybrook (you will have to back track this section on the way out), turn right for Jarrahwood, or back the way you came for Boyanup. I turned right for Jarrahwood. There were a few hills, but nothing unrideable, and mainly form. I got abit more drizzle, so I stopped and waited for it to pass - it was the last rain for the day. Some of the trail was narrow and a bit rough, others were good. I came out on the sealed Goodwood Rd and stayed on that for 4 km to Vernon Rd. There were a few big hills, but if you got abit of speed up going down, you got mostly up the other side.
The Vernon Rd deviation has been in place since March 2013 due to logging and is horrible. Instead of turning off Vernon Rd at the start and following forms, you got straight down Vernon Rd to Claymore Rd, then up Shearwater to rejoin the MB. Vernon Rd starts off ok, but the hills start getting steeper and the corrugations worse. I took a photo, but the corrugations don't really stand out much. Towards the middle I was walking up the hills and riding down them at walking pace as the road was so bad. And it is fairly boring as well. Remember - "This too shall pass". The only good things about it is I did see a few emus, kangaroos and wallabies in this section, and it is very easy to follow - there are maps at both ends, the old markers have been removed and the new markers are in place.
When you turn onto Claymore Rd you have one hill to get up, but it is all good after that, as was Shearwater Rd. Let's hope the diversion is not there for too much longer.
After rejoining the trail, there was lots of old form into Jarrahwood. I was starting to get tired now as I hadn't had much of a break and this last section did seem to drag on, but it was sunny, pretty and flat. I got to the hut about 2.30pm. According to the ride log, 90 riders had been through in last 12 months. I spent the afternoon at the community house with my wife, then drove into Nannup for dinner. It was cool at night, but not really cold (12 degrees I guess), so the slow combustion heater was nice.
I was up bright and early on the public holiday Monday. The temperature was about 12 degrees minimum, with a maximum of about 20 degrees. The forecast was for a few showers, but I completely missed them, whereas my wife caught a couple as she drove around in the morning (she went to Cambray Sheep cheese factory on the way to meeting me at Cambray Siding).
We packed up our gear and I rode out of Jarrahwood about 8.15am. You are on the MB or Old Sidings Trail as it is also known as soon as you cross the Vassse Hway. The track is solid, pretty well straight and only a slight rise then falls nearly all the way to Nannup. This makes for fast times even with luggage. I saw more old sleepers, rail spikes, rivets and even rail line lying on the track in this 25 km than on the rest of the MB. There was also a few old rail bridges - a couple you can ride over, and others that are unsafe and have a small galvanised bridge next to them. Most trees in the area are small - 30 cm in diameter, but you will see some bigger fallen logs and stumps near the trail, hinting at the size of trees in the past.
Less than 2 hours later I was in Nannup, crossing the old rail bridge over the Blackwood River. Makes sure you stop at the end to admire the leaf shaped bench made from bike parts, the stainless steel bike repair rack and the flood tree with markings of the depths of past floods. The MB continues across the car park and turns left - the marker is hidden behind a tree.
Hard tail with BOB
Day 11 & 12 of 14 day ride:
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.
We were up about 6am and had breakfast in the kitchenette - cereal, toast, coffee, included in the $70 per room price. We were on the road by 8am. It 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 a bit 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 local gave us 10 litres, which was very nice. By now our 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 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 a bit boring, and we were now pretty tired - the last 20km was a struggle. There were a few trees down and a few puddles but nothing serious. We were at the Yarri hut at about 5pm. This hut is half a hut on the side of the trail over looking a small valley - very nice. There is no phone signal at the hut, so cleaned up, ate and bed at 8pm.
Softtail with BOB
Donnybrook: Sunday morning saw us up at 6am and on the bikes by 8am. Instead of backtracking to rejoin the MB trail, we rode down the South West Hway towards Boyanup & rejoined it about 3 km out of town. The next 12 km on roads were easy, then it went to gravel roads. We rode around Crooked Brook - it is paved for wheelchair access and takes only a few minutes to ride around. The next 2km of single track were great fun. We were soon on roads again & climbing. As we rode up Richards Road the French owner of Carlaminda Wines invited us in for a drink. Perry even tasted some wines. As it was now about 11 am & her restaurant was opening for Sunday lunch we ordered a lovely French lunch off her light lunches menu and ate it in the gazebo overlooking the Ferguson Valley - fantastic! You can even see the Ocean. We were lulled into a false sense of security as we thought we were over most of the climbs, but it kept going after lunch and the roads kept getting narrower & rougher. But eventually we made it to the Nglang Boodja campsite for a quick look. It looks great, but better was still to come.
We decided to stay on River Road for about 3 km as it bypasses about 5km of "Challenging" riding, and if the freshly cut "Easy" section outside of Jarrahwood was anything to go by, we couldn't push bikes & trailers that far! I am sure that saved us an hour at least and although the weather had been very kind (mid to high 20s as a maximum each day) we both know how hard, hot & tiring extreme conditions can get. The trail was now very hilly, but the type where you could get a good run up and get ¾ of the way up the next hill. The last 20 km were classed as easy & they lived up to that. We rode into Collie & went straight to the Premier Hotel. After unloading I rode to the bike shop (Crank 'n Cycles) to see when he was opened. The owner Erik was there & sounded if he was happy to fix my broken spoke then and there - 6.30 pm on a Sunday night!! But I was happy to come back Monday morning if he'd fix me up first which he did. He also fixed Perry's gear selector lever that got damaged in a small spill. What great service, and he has a huge range of bikes, spares & accessories. He is a great resource to have on the Trail. We rode 88 km, 6 hrs 47 min ride time, 11 hours on the road.