Munda Biddi Map 7 Northcliffe to Walpole
Dual suspension, no luggage
This was another trip down on the Munda Biddi with a back up team. The only catch to riding these sections that are over 300km from Perth is it means a half day drive at the start and the end of the trip. Because of the distance from Perth there are not many riders are in this section - just a few hardy end-to-enders. In fact, like most of my trips, I did not see another rider all weekend! We got an early finish from work and got into Northcliffe about 5 pm after a nice drive down from Perth. A highlight was seeing a small two man mill still working in Kirup. The things you find when you get off the highway are great!
We stayed at the motel and had dinner and a couple of drinks as well, but still had an early night. We were up about 6am, and I was ready to go at 7.15 am. The weather was forecast with 8 degree minimums and 20 degree maximums for the next 3 days - that is pretty cool for this time of year, but ideal for riding.
The ride to Yirra from Northcliffe is mainly on roads and is, according to the map profile, pretty flat. Only the last few kilometres are on old form (the roads might be old form, but they are roads now). The karri trees are spectacular though - I hope the photos show that. There are long stretches without markers, some up to a couple of km. They are long enough to make you worry you missed a turn. One change of direction had a marker missing, and I only saw it by looking up the track and caught a glimpse of the very hidden KSO marker.
At Boorara Brook is an old railway bridge next to the road bridge - it was a nice discovery to make.
Once you turn off Nelson Rd, the trail is abit more fun- it more old form than gravel road. Yirra hut does not have a road in/out of the hut like most other huts as the Munda Biddi trail goes right through the campsite. The big loop around the hut made me feel like I was going in circles, but I didn't get lost and reached the hut without dramas by 11 am. The hut is a half sized set up. There is a granite dome next to the hut that has significancy to the local Aborigines.
After Yirra hut, the trail often goes through low heath type scrub, with few trees and most bushes under 2 m tall. This also occurred a lot after Fernhook Falls on Pitcher Plant Rd and Easter Rd. After the South West highway, the trail is often on form - long, straight and narrow. Some small sections were also quite sandy.
Like all good Munda Biddi riders I had checked the website for diversions and the only one in place was the Ordnance Rd - the Summer crossing was closed so I planned on crossing at Fernhook Falls. However, when I go to the "decision" spot, there was a sign and map saying the route was open. I had already arranged to meet the back up team at the Falls - Oh well, not to worry - at least I got to see the falls and the huts there.
As I already mentioned, the open heath land followed next. Then the hills stated up to Mt Frankland. There was a little zig zag in one section and then the trail was narrow, bit over grown and with quite a few branches and saplings down. But I was soon at the top, puffed but satisfied.
The next section was some long straight forms under the karri trees, then old form to the Kwokralup Hut. This is a full size hut, and has some rapids at the nearby river that are significant to the local Aborigines.
From Kwokralup hut I rode the 6 km to North Walpole road. It is a sealed road that heads up to Swarbrick Art installation. It is mainly uphill, so I utilised my back up team to get a lift along North Walpole road. Sorry, you are most probably going to have to ride up it. It is not fun.
We were in Swarbrick about 5pm. I had ridden 90 km over 10 hours - I was fairly tired. Our accommodation was 20 km away at Walpole Lodge, so we high tailed it there for a shower, dinner and a beer - in that order!
The ride from Swarbrick to Walpole was done the next day. We drove up there and I was on the trail by 8.20 am. As the map indicates, it is mainly down hill, which it was. There was one intersection with no marker - I took an educated guess and found out a few hundred metres later I was right route. Once I hit Quinn Rd, the down hill section under the Karri was over, and it started a more undulating sandy trail under open bush. As it was a sunny day, that meant it was quite warm, and the sandy sections certainly slowed me down a bit. However I was in at the tourist bureau by 9 am, having completed Map 7. Now to start Map 8 after a pie!
Hard tail and BOB Trailer
Woke up in Walpole Lodge at 6.30am but stayed in bed till 7am as not far to go today. There was 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 in Denmark because the power was off - and it was my last chance 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 the 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, and slightly uphill track that took longer than I expected. Angove Road was good - no cars came passed at all. 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 500m, but even an art philistine like me can recommend it!).
The 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, an undulating gravel road. I saw Base Rd that on the map seems to go straight to the hut, but it 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 my phone. 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 Munda Biddi 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 Munda Biddi soon after. Followed the Munda Biddi 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 Rd 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 bacon and pork chops! I stayed on Boorara Road when it turned off at Mottram Rd (unreadable on the Munda Biddi map, as it is half hidden) 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 - I ma sure it was the temperature of plasma. 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 have weighed 3 kgs, and had steak, chops, bacon (hopefully from the wild pig that threatened me earlier today), 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.