Munda Biddi Map 5 Jarrahwood to Manjimup
Soft tail 29"er no luggage
This was a 3 day/3 night trip with a "back up team" who were going to drop me and pick me from the Munda Biddi while they enjoyed the sights. So instead of the cheaper and more basic accommodation (but perfectible acceptable) at the Quinninup caravan park cabins, we opted for Clover Cottages. These 4 cottages are very nice, with a verandah over looking their 2 dams and the river. These cottages are spacious, luxurious, historic (the original house was built in 1875) and also priced accordingly. They contain jarrah logs from the property holding the roof up, polished jarrah floor boards, blackbutt kitchen cabinets, karri beams and rafters and pine ceiling. When I am based in the same place for 3 nights with my wife, Mum and Mother in law, the extra expense was worth it to keep me in the good books. The caravan park is great, especially if I am in just for the one night passing through, but this is a lot nicer.
We got in to the Cottage by 5 pm as planned. After a good dinner, a couple of drinks on the verandah and a good night's sleep, day 1 dawned cool but foggy, with a forecast maximum of around 24 degrees. We drove to Manjimup, then Nannup to start the ride. I had checked the MBF website and there were no deviations in place. We were there about 9am and I rode from the Blackwood River starting point to the turn off for East Nannup Rd, a couple of kilometres out of town. After that I threw my bike on the back of the car, and got a lift up the hill. I am not ashamed of cheating - the Munda Biddi follows the road exactly, not even on the side of it - I believe it maybe the route of an old railway. It is uphill on a sealed road for 10 km, then goes to dirt road for another 13 km. It is a lovely road, with pasture and karri trees, but it is a long up hill road. Having ridden down it previously, and established that the Munda Biddi is totally drivable to Willow Springs, I took the easy option. You may not have this luxury. I did and I used it.
We drove all the way to Willow Springs, which was my starting point for actually riding. The 13 km ride to Donnelly Mill was often old form with some gradual slopes - all pretty easy (without a load). I dropped in to see the King Karri near Donnelly Mill - it is only 400m off the Munda Biddi on a flat good path and is worth a look.
I was soon at Donnelly Mill, and met my back up team for lunch. Tip - do not eat your food outside the General store - the kangaroos are quite annoying, but the emus are down right aggressive. But it does make for great photos.
The ride to One Tree Bridge from Donnelly Mill was too hard for us last September with the amount of fallen trees and saplings after a major storm. This time, there were a few more trees and samplings down compared to other sections of the trail, but nothing unrideable. The ride next to the river was a bit tough (very undulating) and worthy of its intermediate rating but great - the hill side was quite a steep drop to the river, as well as steep up the hill as well.
I had a quick break at One Tree Bridge, then I started the ride to the Karta Burnu hut. The zig zags up the hill side are pretty tough - it is all rideable, but it pushed me into the red zone. It was my own little Alp D'Huez, just with out the cheering crowds. Though it was only 22 degrees, I was soaked in sweat by the top. But the hut was a huge reward. The view from it is fantastic.
At 3 pm I headed off for Manjimup. Most of it is good gravel road or forms, and some of it is very scenic. It didn't take me long to get to Deanmill - I was there about 4.15pm. I had a very quick look around, then hit the rail trail into Manji - I was there 30 mins later. After the first 1km it was all super smooth, firm and flat, like a good form should be. I waited at the visitors centre till 5pm, when the support crew with food and drink collected me and took me back to Clover Cottages for a relaxing night.
Soft tail 29"er no luggage
I was up bright and early on the public holiday Monday, the last day of a three day trip. 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 9 & 10 of 14 day ride:
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. I even got the cafe 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. It is now sunny. We were riding on 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 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! 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 9.30am.
Softtail with BOB
Day 2 off 7 day Ride Soft tail with Bob Trailer
Perry & I recently did the "bottom" 400k of the Munda Biddi from Nannup to Jarrahdale in 6 days in December 2008. We chose to head from South to North as we could get ourselves to Nannup and then we planned to ride home even if we did not use the Munda Biddi. We were both fairly strong riders so we planned to combine two days suggested riding into each day. We both had BOB trailers that weighed 30 kgs all up with 7 days worth of food, water, camping equipment etc, so that is a hefty load. Perry was into big km - he recently did 470 km in a day with Audax, but my planned preparation for this ride fell into a heap really!
We started by catching a coach to Donnybrook on Friday afternoon. The coaches are reasonably priced (about $30 per person) & only charge $10 to take your bike & BOB trailers. We had pre booked. However they are slow & often late. After leaving East Perth train station at 12.20 pm, we didn't arrive in Donnybrook until 4.30 (about 30 mins late) and we still had a 60 km ride to Nannup. Thank goodness for daylight savings and a booking at the Blue House B & B. Perry had planned the route on Bikely (www.bikely.com) to keep us off major roads as much as possible. There was about 15 km of dirt, but it was easy compared to the Munda Biddi!
We got to the Blue House at about 8pm. It is about 1 km out of Nannup on the Trail, so the perfect spot. Sue & Mike are great hosts - they phoned Nannup to see where we could eat. The Pub restaurant was shut, but the barmaid suggested "Grub in the Hub", a caravan that does great takeaways and she said it was OK to eat it in the pub. The food was fabulous - two huge steak burgers with the lot, plus a couple of beers fixed us up. But by the time we got back to the Blue House, showered, unpacked etc, it was a late night to bed.
Perry had a late night the night before packing, so he slept in, as breakfast wasn't till 8.30am anyway. Mike did a great breakfast of porridge, cereal, toast, bacon, eggs & sausages. They are very bike friendly, so they make the ideal overnighter before you start heading North, or a night of luxury at the end of your trip (in 2008 the MB finished in Nannup). We eventually left at about 10.30 am and opted for the more scenic Old Timberline Trail. I get the impression the Sidings Trail was straighter, easier riding, but far less scenic. We got a little lost at the start, but we were soon on track. The Old Timberline Trail was often windy, hilly single track, which was very exhilarating. We stopped at Barrabup Pool for a look (very pretty) but as I rode in I heard a spoke break. Luckily I had just purchased 2 FiberFixs - an American emergency spoke repair that you don't need any tools to use. I had the wheel fixed in about 20 mins, and although it wasn't perfectly trued it was close enough, and more importantly the damaged spoke was replaced so extra load doesn't break other spokes. I was confident it would get me to Collie. Can I suggest you don't leave home without them!!
Once we rejoined the Sidings trail, the track was more undulating, wider and easier as it was the old rail line, but a lot less scenic. We were at Jarrahwood by 1 pm for lunch. The only facilities there are the MB hut - ie hut, toilet & water - no shop or anything else. Soon after Jarrahwood the trail was obviously brand new freshly cut trail - it was rocky, twisty & in places it was very hard to see. It needs more cyclists over it please!! Also some sandy sections which seemed to drag the BOB trailers backwards. It was classed as easy, but I would disagree. It got easier later as we hit wider, more used trails. We got into Donnybrook about 6.30pm, went to the IGA to get some dinner (it closes at 7pm) and went to the Donnybrook Motel (pre booked). We did 82.3 km in exactly 6 hours riding. Again, by the time you eat, shower unload, clean bike chains etc it was 10.30 pm before we got to bed.