Day 3 – Wungong Hut to Jarrahdale

We had a little rain overnight which made for a pretty nice (but cold) sleep.  We cooked a little leftover pasta and had a coffee and set off around 8:00am.

We got a few photos with the crew; here’s Matt and Di with their bikes, and Tennis and I with Ron.



The rain had seemed to bed in the pea gravel, and the first few kms were really fun weaving trails in quite narrow single track.

There’s a semi-permanent diversion on this section of trail that’s been in place for the last 18 months or so due to logging operations in the area – this takes you away from the single track and along a fire trail towards the Balmoral POW camp, which unfortunately is little more than a few ruins these days.


From Balmoral, the trail follows the old timber railway line into Jarrahdale, around 12km or so.  As you’ve probably gathered from the town name, this is Jarrah country.  It’s quite interesting to see the landscape change in the short distance we’ve gone so far.


There’s still remnants of the old rail sleepers, Jarrah no doubt.


The gentle gradients and packed down surface made this one of the best sections yet.


With rain threatening, we pressed on into Jarrahdale and caught up with Di, Matt and Shaun, who were grabbing a coffee at the general store.



As we were waiting for Ron, that drifter we met at Wungong dropped past for another chat. He must have been running a few errands in town as he seemed to appear, and disappear out of nowhere – we weren’t really sure of his name so we’ve been calling him Pop-up.

Pop-up gave us some good tips for tomorrow’s ride, and for later along the trail too.  He told us about another trail south of Collie which is apparently better than the Munda Biddi. It has its own log hut that no one really knows about; I promised him I wouldn’t tell anyone where it was, but he did tell us to “turn right at the tree that has an axe in it”.  I’m thinking the distant sound of banjo music might also give its location away.  Something tells me we haven’t see the last of Pop-up!

We asked around town and got a room at the old nurses quarters, not bad for $12.50 a night.  The shower alone made the price of entry worthwhile.


We spent the afternoon and evening at the Jarrahdale pub, a civilised way to spend a wet and windy afternoon.  I always thought I was a quick drinker, but Tennis and I both struggled to keep up with Matt – we’re gonna have keep an eye on this one!


We grabbed a few bottles of local wine for the following night, and hit the sack around 10:00pm.  It’ll be an interesting ride tomorrow on a six pint hangover.

Day 6 – Dwellingup to Lake Brockman

We woke up pretty early to try and beat the heat, 30 degrees forecast for our ride today. We managed to leave camp around 7:30am, but stopped off at one of the cafes in town for a cooked breakfast which set our departure back an hour or so.


The trail leaves town to the west and follows some unsealed roads towards the Murray River. We experienced something we haven’t had on the trail so far….traffic.

Soon enough, the trail ducks back into the forest and starts to climb….again. Tennis managed yet another flat tyre, this time on an uphill section.

We spent the next two hours climbing, and descending on both dirt roads and forest track, by which time the temperature was also climbing. This trail is relentless, as soon as you cool down on a descent, the route kicks back up with another steep climb, many of which you need to push your bike up due to the trailer pulling you back.



The trail passes Nanga Brook, a nice little campsite around a small cascading falls, then follows the North Junction Form 4WD track through Lane Poole Reserve.


The surface was magnificent, hard packed clayey sand…we sat on 15km/hr for a few kms, it felt like we were flying.

The large ruts and steep rocky faces would be tricky in a 4WD, but were easy enough to negotiate on a mountain bike. The several brook crossings were pretty cool too.

The Bidjar Ngoulin Hut is about 30km from Dwellingup and many choose to camp here. We decided to plod on to Lake Brockman Campsite, another 30km.  We stopped a few kms down the trail to check out the King Jarrah; the maps suggested this was only a few hundred metres off the trail….it didn’t really show that it was also 100m up. It was nice to see this massive Jarrah which they reckon is over 500 years old, but the hike really drained our legs – I was a little shaky when I got back on the bike.

The trail then has another diversion from its permanent alignment due to Alcoa’s mining operations. Sadly, this is a pretty garbage section of trail; it seems to have been recently constructed (I expect by one of Alcoa’s work experience kids to satisfy a condition of their mining lease) – the surface and scenery didn’t really impress me but perhaps it was all the additional unnecessary climbing that was the real source of my frustration!

We had lunch in a tunnel beneath a mining haul road which was a fair bit cooler than the ambient temperature outside, which was now over 30 degrees.

The afternoon session involved yet more climbing/pushing, pretty demoralising after a long day in the heat. The last few kms were flat and we rolled into the Lake Brockman Caravan park around 4:30pm after seven hours in the saddle.
A real tough day with another 920m of climbing to bring the total for the trip to over 4000m. To put that into perspective, the whole of the Mawson Trail was only 5000m….and we’re only six days in.

We caught up with Shaun, Matt and Di, cooked some pasta and had an early night. Exhausted.

Day 7 – Lake Brockman to Yarri Hut

We had a good night’s sleep after a tough previous day – it was also the first night we’ve had to use our tents in the last week. The ground around Lake Brockman is rock hard. I had some trouble getting my pegs to hold and had to get a little ghetto with my tie down.


We got away from the campsite at around 7:30am and tried to grab some breakfast at the park cafe. Unfortunately this didn’t open until 9:00am and we had to eat our lunch for breakfast.

The trail leaves Lake Brockman on a few unsealed haul roads and then heads off into the bush. We’re now a few hundred kms from Perth and the extensive network of single track and forest trail is quite amazing. The surface is much better than up north, although there are still localised areas of deep sand or pea gravel that can be quite frustrating.

  

The landscape is also changing, there’s still plenty of Jarrah trees around, but now we’re also seeing a few more Blackbutt trees as well.

There were a few steep climbs and a few longer grinders, but generally today was gently undulating. I think the climbs felt harder than they actually were because of the heat (another 30 degree day) and the previous week’s cycling.

There’s a number of small creeks in this area, and a number of small trail bridges to cross them. It is extraordinarily nice countryside and you have to keep reminding yourself to look around and absorb it all when you’re halfway up a hellish climb and wondering why you signed up for this in the first place!

The final stretch was mostly downhill and we covered the last 8km into camp in about half an hour. The final 2km downhill roll into Yarri Hut follows another old railway formation – I don’t think I actually had to pedal.

We arrived at the hut around lunch time which left the afternoon to potter around and do some washing. This is another free hut constructed and maintained by the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation and volunteers. The hut is nestled into the side of a hill and overlooks some pretty nice bushland. They’re a fantastic part of the trail which make touring and camping a lot more straightforward.


  

We were pretty tired from a full on first week, so we made some dinner and got to bed around 7:30pm. Apparently this area is known to have many wild pigs and they often venture past the hut. I’ve made sure I tuck the Ka-bar under the pillow tonight!