Day 11 – Donnybrook to Sleeper Hewer’s Hut

Day 11 marks the half way point for our trip, at least in terms of days on the bike. We’re a little behind the 8-ball in terms of kms as the northern section is the most difficult; we plan to make this up in the final week where the trail flattens off.

There was a thick fog over Donnybrook this morning which left the tents pretty damp, it kinda felt like rain was threatening – thankfully this lifted.


We grabbed a little breakfast at the bakery and got riding by 7:30am. We’d been anticipating this day since Pop-up told us about the trail diversion with the axe in the tree (refer earlier blog).  

We somehow managed to take a wrong turn out of town, instead of taking the flat single trail we ended up on the hilly sealed road and did about 45 min worth of unnecessary climbing.

The trail joined back up with the main road and bombed down towards the Capel River a few km later. From there it heads up a dirt road to the Harrington Pine Farms.

Tennis’ right knee started playing up and he got a bit stroppy, so I helped him lighten his load a little and we plod on through some sections of thick sand. 

The trail pops out of the forest at Jarrahwood – the site of an old mill during the hey day of the timber industry in WA.

There’s only about 10 residents and apparently they all hate each other. They are very nice to cyclists however, and from all reports they do their best to look after riders who are staying in the local hut, which is right in the middle of town.

I’ve heard that riders have been tempted to slag off the locals in the trail book; this is a big no no, apparently they read it regularly.

We cooked up a bit of lunch here, and had a quick nap on the shady lawn. Tennis also gave his knee a good lathering of voltaren.
The trail from Jarrahwood to Nannup follows the Sidings Rail Trail, another converted railway line with gentle grades, we sat on about 20km/hr. 

There’s still a lot of evidence of the old timber rail lines which covered this area, old jarrah sleepers and rail spikes still cover the track. 

There’s also a number of old rail bridges which have had a bit of a facelift to be safe for riders and walkers.


We found the Cambray siding, the site where they loaded all the timber trains for transportation to the Jarrahwood or Nannup mills. This was also the place Pop-up (that random drifter we met back on day 2) had told us to look for the axe in the tree as this would signify the start of the diversion we should take.  

We were picturing a secret trail that wasn’t on any maps, and only those who knew to look up for the axe in the tree could find it. To our surprise, the diversion was in fact the very well known Timberline Rail Trail, a popular and well signposted walking/cycling trail between Nannup and Jarrahwood. 

An axe was the symbol used to mark this trail, and it was nailed to several trees. It kinda felt like some of the adventure had been taken away, but then again it was also nice to know we weren’t trudging off into the bush on an unused trail based on advice we got from a homeless guy on a bike.


As Pop-up had told us, the trail was fantastic…old Jarrah forest, huge trees, hard packed trail, really nice riding.  

We followed Pop-up’s directions almost exactly to the tee and found the hut he was talking about. It was magnificent, a small jarrah hut with bunk beds, rainwater tank and outdoor table.  


Shaun was already there and had staked his claim on a spot outside (he prefers to camp than to share a hut with snorers). We’ve since looked it up on the internet, and the directions for the Timberline Rail Trail and Sleeper Hewer’s hut are both available online. 


We cooked up a nice trangia puttanesca and got an early night. Two big days of climbing ahead of us….can’t wait.

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