Map Five visits two historic mill towns (Jarrahwood and Donnelly Mill), as well as Nannup (the start of karri country), before finishing in Manjimup. There is only one Munda Biddi hut along this map. The rail trail from Jarrahwood to Nannup is packed with railway history, and the rail trail makes for easy riding. The rest of the ride is more form, gravel roads and a couple of big hills.

There are approximately 85 changes of directions on Map 5. I counted 4 markers currently missing, and there are a three spots where the directions are not clear. I hope my route sheets and .gpx files stop you getting lost. To get the full ride gpx or the ride route summary, select the "Route Sheets" tab above, and click on the download buttons for each.

This is my 2 minute summary of my ride, made in September 2016:

Jarrahwood is named for the Jarrah Wood and Sawmills Company which operated in the area and operated a private railway from the district to Wonnerup, which was purchased by the Government in 1906. The town was gazetted in 1932, but the Mill closed in 1983. There are no shops or services in town, including mobile phone service. At a guess, the town would have a population of about 30 people scattered over 15 cottages. But a huge bonus is the Jarrahwood Community house at 15 Middle Rd, a fully furnished mill cottage available at $20 per head per night. Details and a map are at the Munda Biddi hut and on a small sign on the trail as you ride into town. If you are at the "back verandah" area, the house is the nearest house to the hut. I have stayed in the house for 4 nights now, and it maybe a bit basic if you compare it to commercially available chalets, but it is a bargain price and absolute luxury if you were planning on another night in a hut. Just please be considerate that the hit is run by volunteers. To access the Jarrahwood Community hut, visit Dora at 12 Old School Rd, or Helen and Mark at 6 Jarrahwood Mill Road.
The hut at Jarrahwood is called "Nala Mia", which means "our place" in Aboriginal. More info on the hut is available here. Read more about the huts and campsites here.

In 1909, a WAGR railway (now the Sidings Trail & Munda Biddi trail) was built from Jarrahwood, linking to the South Western Railway and allowing the export of Nannup timber. Nannup Mill was established in 1926 as the Kauri Timber Company. The mill is now operated by Nannup Timber Processing Pty Ltd, an associated company of M&B Sales Pty Ltd. Nannup Mill is designed to mill jarrah which is harvested from state managed forests. Areas set aside for timber supply are logged on a sustained yield basis, meaning that there are always more trees being grown than harvested. These sustainable forests are managed by the Forests Products Commission. In 2007/2008 the old railway lines were transformed into cycle paths by removing the sleepers. You will see more old rail sleepers, line, rivets and spikes on the Sidings Trail than you will see on the rest of the Munda Biddi! There is even a picnic table and chairs made from railway sleepers along side the trail.

The 20 km Old Timberline Trail follows follows a disused railway line along St John Brook Creek and passes many beautiful locations. It starts or finishes at the same point as the Sidings Trail in Nannup and starts/finishes at Cambray Siding on the Munda Biddi/ Sidings Rail Trail (the road into Cambray is narrow and may not be passable by 2WD vehicles after wet weather). See my separate route for additional information here.

Nannup is on the Blackwood River at the cross roads of Vasse Highway and Brockman Highway, linking Nannup to most of the Lower South West's regional centres. The population of 1262 (2011 census) is spread throughout the Shire district with about half of the population residing in the townsite. The word Nannup comes from the Noongyar people who used to occupy the area and means place of rest or meeting place. It has a general store and several options for eating out. I am unsure if any shops carry bike spares but try the hardware.

The land around Nannup, known in the early days as the Lower Blackwood, was first taken up in the 1850s by settlers. During the early days of settlement, Nannup was the point where people making their way to and from the coast and their farms on the Warren and Donnelly Rivers, crossed the Blackwood River. The isolated settlement grew gradually as timber mill workers, farmers and those who supplied these people with their needs moved into the district.

Nannup has kept that old country town image, and even today it is untouched by the developments that are dominating the coastal towns. The timber and cattle industries continue to dominate Nannup's economy, however tourism and floriculture are beginning to establish a presence in the town. Nannup has numerous bed and breakfast accommodations, cottage and chalet establishments. We ride across the old railroad bridge beside the Nannup Amphitheatre and near the arboretum. The arboretum was was planted in 1926 and it is amazing to see how the trees have grown in that time. This is our first glimpse of the majestic karri - see notes under "What you will see".

The Nannup Visitors centre is located in the old police station on Brockman St (just off the South West Highway) - the Munda Biddi rides right passed it. The old police station is worth a visit.

Marinko Tomas (1945-1966), a farmer originally from Nannup, was WA's first national serviceman killed in the Vietnam War. A memorial with a statue and plaque was erected in 1988 in Nannup's Bicentennial Park. Lance Corporal Tomas died on 8 July 1966, aged only 21 years old, after being hit by shrapnel from "friendly artillery forces". I cannot imagine the anguish his family went through, having their boy forced to go to war, and then killed by the same side. As we ride within 50m of the statue when heading out of town, it is worth stopping.

Nannup to Willow Springs (camping allowed but there are no facilities) is often on old form built by the Kauri Timber Co, although a lot of it is now road - some sealed and some gravel, but all quiet. Donnelly Mill to Deanmill and then into Manjimup is often on old form as well - more info later.

The Kauri Timber Company was established in 1888 by businessmen to exploit native timber forests in New Zealand, Western Australia and the Solomon Islands. It had it's headquarters in Melbourne and a branch in Sydney, as well as sixteen branches in New Zealand. Kauri is a type of New Zealand pine that grows on the North Island. It lives for up to a thousand years and can reach 50m tall with huge diameters. It is an excellent timber and heavily used in buildings and boats, so it was utilised in NZ in the 19th century the same way WA exploited the jarrah and the karri. The magnificent forests owned by the company form a most valuable asset, and assured steady supplies for its mills for many years.

Riding under the karri starts after Willow Springs. These majestic trees are a feature of the south west corner of WA, and riding under them on old rail line is a wonderful experience. There is a King Karri tree near Donnelly Mill - it is only 400m off the Munda Biddi, it is well marked on a flat good path and is worth the detour.

The half-way point of the Munda Biddi is the historic mill town of Donnelly River Village. This Mill is special because when it closed down the mill machinery was considered too old to take to other mills so it was left behind. The Donnelly River site was first used as a timber mill by the Wheatley family in 1912 to cut cross arms and telegraph poles, but it closed after two years. In 1947, Bunnings made plans to build a new mill on the Wheatley site to work timber in new permit areas held by the company, officially opening in 1951. The Mill was one of several mills established in the late 1940s by Bunning Brothers to harvest the karri forest timber. The mill and town subsequently provided employment and family homes for a large community for nearly 30 years. Situated some twenty-seven kilometres from Manjimup, the Mill was isolated from nearby towns by rough roads. Aside from the mill, there were cottages for workers with families, and single men's quarters. A general store, butcher's shop, social club and school were all built after the Mill opened.

One of the trains used by Bunnings at Donnelly River mill was Y86, which is similar to the WA G class locos. It started work in South Australia in 1888, and helped build the Oodnadatta to Alice Springs railway. It saw service at Donnellly Mill from 1944 to 1969. It has been restored and can be viewed at the Railway Museum in Bassendean. Another locomotive, Y176, was built by James Martin & Co, Gawler SA in 1898 and received by the South Australian Railways. It was withdrawn by South Australian Railways in 1929 and condemned in 1936. The SAR Y-class / WAGR G-class was popular with WA timber concerns for use on their timber tramways, with many units obtained second hand from the Government railway systems. Among these was Y 176, which was sold to Bunning Brothers for use at the Donnelly River Mill. Bunnings rebuilt Y 176 to Yx specification in 1956 by replacing the round-top boiler with a larger, higher pitched Belpaire boiler. Yx 176 is now located at the Yarloop Steam Workshop and displayed together with an good collection of static and operating steam machinery.

Initially, only men worked at Donnelly mill. Bunnings' policy changed with Charles Bunning supporting the inclusion of women in the mill work force, adding that they needed an interest close to home. It is not known how many women started working as a result of this initiative. Women's tasks involved, "working on the sorting tables, pulling the wood off the sorting tables, also with the planing machines, tailing out behind the flooring machines and the moulding tables." This was an interesting development for the time, and perhaps is still evident by the number of female employees at Bunnings Warehouses today. Conditions at Donnelly River Mill were basic. There were shared water taps situated throughout the single men's quarters. In the cottage accommodation, there was a wash house shared between every two houses. There were no showers or baths in the early years and septic toilets were not installed until 1968, replacing the old pan toilets. When the Mill closed in 1978, Bunnings donated the land and the mill to the Crown, "for so long as they remained for public benefit." The usual practice when timber mills closed down was to reassemble the equipment at new sites. However, when Donnelly River Mill closed, the mill equipment was out of date, with the transition from steam to power from the State electrical grid. So most of the equipment remained in situ following the mill's closure. The Yornup Donnelly Mill line was the last private timber railway to operate in WA. The rails were lifted in 1970, and the Mill closed in 1978. In the early 1980's Donnelly mill cottages commenced its new life as a holiday destination. The mill and town was heritage listed in 2006. Unfortunately the Mill itself is in terrible condition - it is fenced off as it collapsing and too dangerous to explore. I wonder when heritage listed buildings like these will be restored to their previous standard.

There is no camping permitted within the Village. Riders have several accommodation options:
· Bunk accommodation in the old school with access to a communal kitchen and shower (with a towel) at $25 per person per night (as of Dec 2016). No bookings required.
· Shelter accommodation (the basic shelter at the Village was originally the lunch shelter for the school) free of charge, but it is simply a 3 sided shed with no bunks. $5 for a shower.  No bookings required.
· Bed & Breakfast is now available at the nearby Loco Shed.
. Or get a timber cottage (sleeps 6 or more) at $145 per night (as of Sept 2016). This is a great option if in a group. 
The General Store (8.30am to 5pm) is the focal point of the village and offers a range of services including a café with homemade cakes, a lunch menu, basic groceries and locally made giftware. This is where you also arrange your accommadation. The store stocks many items just for riders. There is a public phone at the store as there is only intermittent Telstra mobile reception at the Village.

See it all here:

The ride from Donnelly River Village to One Tree Bridge has a couple of kilometres on gravel roads, but then follows the river along a narrow track. This section was a bit tougher (very undulating) and worthy of its intermediate rating but great fun and pretty - the hill side was quite a steep drop to the river, as well as steep up the hill l. I did not see any signs indicating on how to get to Greens Island, which is on the MBTF map.

The One Tree Bridge Conservation Park is mainly regrowth karri forest, but about 500 m from One Tree Bridge, four massive, old-growth karri trees were left standing. They are called the Four Aces, and are 75 metres tall and over 400 years old. They can be accessed by a marked path at the back of the One Tree Bridge area. Under the bridge is a walkway to allow access to the other side of the road. There is a walk trail, info hut, picnic area, toilets and Glenoran Pool, a popular swimming pool.

In 1904, one single huge tree was skilfully felled by Hugo and Walter Gibblet (Manjimup district pioneers, who had one of the main streets named after the family) so it dropped across the 25 metre wide Donnelly River to form the basis of a bridge. This bridge was strong enough for bullock teams and their wagons to cross on their way to the new Donnelly River graphite mine (see more below). Previously, the only way to cross the river was a dangerous rocky ford about half a kilometre upstream from the bridge. The bridge was in constant use until 1943, even surviving several bush fires. During the winter of 1964 the old log bridge broke and fell into the river. The Forest's Departments Glenoran work gang pulled the old bridge onto the west bank in 1971 where they faithfully rebuilt the structure. The rebuilt section is only 17 metres long because of the break.

As of Oct 2015, a suspension bridge has been opened at One Tree Bridge for Munda Biddi trail and Bibbulmun track users. This bridge is parallel to the Graphite road bridge, but means riders can cross the Donnelly River without using the road bridge with the cars.

Graphite was first found near the Donnelly River by a shepherd. In 1904 the mine was opened and the first 65 tons of ore was shipped to New York. All companies that tested it declared it commercially useless. That didn't stop a glowing prospectus being circulated amongst investors in London in 1916. For an investment of £8000, investors could expect an estimated profit of £1.5 million. The prospectus was basically full of lies. It said there was 70 000 tons of finest quality graphite, it was 95% pure carbon (in fact the average carbon content was 29%), it was situated only three miles from the nearest railhead (it was in fact 30 miles through dense karri), and that the WA government had been buying from this deposit for years (it had never bought any though it tested a sample once and found it useless). The consulting engineers on the exploration report denied having written it. The graphite lease has changed hands many times since then and no one has had any success with it.

Karta Burnu, means 'hill of trees' in the Noongar language, and is the only Munda Biddi hut on this Map (use town accommodation otherwise). The zig zags up the hill side to the hut are tough but the hut is a huge reward. The view from it is spectacular - it overlooks the valley, and the hut looks like a Swiss chalet perched on a hillside. It is a half sized hut. I had Telstra phone signal here. See more about it here.

The hut is located in Foresters Wood, which features famous trees of Commerce, Culture, Legend and Literature. It was planted between 1987 and 1993, and features 50 species over 9 hectares. The centerpiece of the Wood is marked by four species planted as spokes of a wheel:
Commerce represented by the English Oak; Culture by the Cedar of Lebanon; Legend in the European ash and Literature is represented by the Laurel.
The wood is mainly at the bottom of the hill and is an ideal afternoon walk. There are some old building ruins (1951) there as well.

The State Saw Mills were set up by the WA government to combat the large millers of WA who refused to bid on supplying sleepers for the Trans Australia rail line. 2.3 million were needed in 1912, but only 165,000 were bid for, and by the smaller independent millers. Millars, the biggest company at the time, claimed they were fully occupied, but really wanted to dictate the price. So the WA government won a contract to supply 1.4 million Karri and 100,00 jarrah sleepers, and set up the State Saw Mills to supply them. Construction of the State Saw Mills Number 1 saw mill began in 1913, and was later called Deanmill. Number 2 and 3 mills were at Big Brook, now called Pemberton. The mill's sleepers were all for the Trans Australian railway line. A single room primary school was built in 1914 at Deanmill by the Public Works Department in conjunction with the State Saw Mills. There are no retail shops in Deanmill, but there is a worker's club, football oval as well as the saw mill and houses. Deanmill was rebuilt in 1976 as the most modern hardwood mill in Australia. A fire caused an estimated $2 million damage to a timber mill in 2012.

One of the trains that operated at Deanmill is now in Pemberton. SSM No.2 is currently with the Pemberton Tramway Company. In 1910 the South West Timber Hewer's Co- Operative Society (the only producers of hewn railway sleepers in WA at the time - all other sleepers were being sawn) of Collie and Holyoake, placed an order for a "G" class loco from the UK. A kit of parts arrived in Fremantle in 1911 and was assembled at Midland Junction Workshops. The locomotive was named "The Hewer" and sent to work at the Lucknow Mill near Collie. In 1912 "The Hewer" was moved to Holyoake, just east of Dwellingup where the SWTH had 3 concessions operating. When the Lucknow Mill was destroyed by fire in 1912, all operations were then concentrated on Holyoake.
The State Saw Mills eventually took over the SWTH operation at Holyoake in 1920 and the "The Hewer" was taken in to SSM stock. Whilst in for repairs at Midland Junction Workshops in 1942, "The Hewer" was numbered SSM No.2. No.2 was transferred to Deanmill in 1943 where it worked up until 1952 when it was transferred to Pemberton. After a short stint in Pemberton, No.2 returned to Holyoake, then back to Pemberton until being transferred back to Deanmill in 1960. No.2 remained at Deanmill where it worked until 1967, when it retired from service to Manjimup. It stood on an unused siding there until it was put on display at what is now known as the Manjimup Forest Products Centre. In the late 1980's the Pemberton Tramway Company registered an interest in SSM No.2 with the then current owners, Bunnings Ltd. In 2004 Sotico (Bunnings timber division) donated SSM No.2 to the Pemberton Tram Company, where it is waiting for restoration.

There is some beautiful form between Karta Burnu hut and Deanmill - flat solid trail, under big karri trees with streams nearby - perfect riding. It is really hard to capture in photos, but I guarantee you will want to stop and take some, and enjoy this magnificent forest. The 6 km of old form from Deanmill into Manjimup was built in 1912. It was closed in 1966, and in was dismantled in the 1980's, leaving just the reserve. It is a firm, flat, fast ride into town as a result.

Manjimup is one of the largest towns the Munda Biddi passes through, and has a population of over 4000. Facilities include pubs, hotels, cafes, restaurants, super market, sports store and Alexander's Outdoor & Leisure, (36 Rose Street) which offers bike services. Also try Ezi Rider Bikes on Giblett St for bike spares. Manjimup was named the Noongar Aboriginal words "Manjin" (an edible reed) and "up" (meaning place of).

Manjimup was first settled by timber cutter Thomas Muir, who took up land near the present town site in 1856. It was declared a town in 1910, and a railway from Perth was completed in 1911. The population expanded when Manjimup became part of the post-World War I Group Settlement Scheme. The Group Settlement Scheme was largely unsuccessful because the land was difficult to clear and many of the new settlers were not experienced farmers. The settlers who stayed became dairy farmers, which ended during the 1930s Great Depression when the price of butterfat collapsed.

Timber is the town's major industry, but it has been joined by fruit and vegetable farms, dairy farms, wool, grain and vineyards. The Pink Lady apple was created there in 1973. Manjimup used to produce frozen French fries, and had a lucrative tobacco industry that ended in the 1960s. Manjimup exports include marri flooring; apples, primarily to India, and spring water to Saudi Arabia, Singapore and India. Manjimup is the leading Australian-mainland producer of black truffles. Since 2001, an annual cherry festival has been held in December.

The decline in the local timber industry commenced in 1970. The last steam-driven timber mills were closed in the late '70s with the location of large mills rationalised to Deanmill (jarrah), Diamond Mill (woodchips) and Pemberton (karri). The 1996 Regional Forest Agreement and 2001 ban on old growth logging resulted in over a 50% reduction in the volume of timber harvested and a large increase in areas of protected from harvesting. The downscale of native timber production has been partly offset by the creation of the plantation timber industry. Although not as dominant as previously, timber production was a major employer and economic generator for Manjimup. However, in December 2016, the mills at Manjimup, Pemberton and Deanmill finally closed down with the loss of 140 jobs.

The Manjimup visitors centre is in the heart of town on Gibblett St in Manjin Park - the Munda Biddi rides right passed the front door. It has all the usual info on what to see and do, accommodation etc. All the facilities of Manjimup are basically across the road. See: www.manjimupwa.com

Manjimup Timber Park is a timber museum situated right in Manjimup itself. The Timber Park features historical static displays relating to the early era of timber and steam, and also hosts the State Timber Museum, Age of Steam Museum, an historical hamlet with period buildings and exhibits, and a full-size replica fire lookout tower. The "Snorting Liz" traction engine and the Saw Pit provides a insight into the techniques of days past, while a Timber Museum is filled with memorabilia, and there is a local blacksmith. "Snorting Liz" was built in 1906 and was converted for rail operations in 1921. It was withdrawn from service in the 1940's. You can see one of the trains used to haul timber in Northcliffe as well. Y class 109 was built in the UK in 1907, and was originality used to haul passenger carriages between Perth and Fremantle. It was then used by Bunnings from 1958 to 1962 in Northcliffe.

The King Jarrah tree is part of the King Jarrah Heritage trail, which is located 3 km from Manjimup. This tree is estimated to be about 500 years old, is 45 m high and the girth is 2.6 m wide. A 650 m sealed trail meanders through the jarrah understory and explores some of the tactics that plants of the jarrah forest use to survive and reproduce.

The Bennett Brook Railway at Whiteman Park has the loco "Ruston". A diesel mechanical loco, it left the Ruston & Horsnby works in 1957 having been sold to Christiani & Neilsen and then later to Bunnings Bros in 1961, for use at Manjimup. This unit was donated to W.A.L.R.P.A by Bunnings Bros from their Manjimup Mill in 1984.

Here is a short video of my ride in this area from Dec 2015. The trip started as a maintenance day with Ron to check his section of the Trail near Karta Burnu hut on Map 5. At 5.30 pm on Saturday, I started riding from Nannup to Jarrahwood , overnighting at the Community House. Sunday is my ride from Jarrahwood to Donnybrook, then on to Boyanup on the Munda Biddi. The last 20 km into Bunbury was on the road. I caught the 2.45pm Australind train, in Perth by 5.15pm, home by 5.45pm Sunday. Asleep by 8.30pm! I rode 109 km from Nannup to Bunbury, with 81 km on the Munda Biddi Trail, in 24 hours.

Note: I rode and drove nearly all of Map 5 in one day (I drove up East Nannup Rd, with my GPS on my bike on the bike rack, still tracking - see my diary for further details). My bike computer, on board GPS (Cyclometer app) and online GPS (Ride with GPS) were all pretty close to each other on all legs except the Donnelly Mill to Karta Burnu Hut leg. I rode all of this leg, so I am at a loss to explain the difference. Needless to say, I am using the bike computer figures that were backed up by the on board GPS. However, the online GPS is 1.6 km out over a distance of 22 km. Sorry, I can't explain it.

Distances:
Jarrahwood to Nannup 26 km
Nannup To Donnelly Mill 39 km
Donnelly Mill to Karta Burnu hut 24 km
Karta Burnu hut to Manjimup 24 km
Total Map Distance: 113 km

GPX files I have available:

Jarrahwood to Manjimup (all map 5)
Jarrahwood to Nannup (June 2014)
Nannup to Willow Springs (Sept 2014)
Willow Springs to Donnelly Mill (Sept 2014)
Donnelly Mill to Karta Burnu hut (Sept 2014)
Karta Burnu hut to Manjimup (Sept 2014)
Nannup to Jarrahwood (Dec 2015)

This page is the property of Follow My Ride, a website detailing off road cycle tracks near Perth and in Western Australia. This page is on the Munda Biddi Map 5 bike trail.