Last time I arrived in Australia, I didn’t stay long. I got there, spent a few days in quarantine, then decided this whole COVID situation was probably going to last longer than it would take me to ride across Australia. I flew home, just a few days before flights were cancelled. Hopefully this time will go better!
I packed up my tent and rode into Perth. There were cycle paths most of the way, and in that half hour I saw about as many cyclists as I’d seen in the preceding month.
I went to Aldi, then on to a bike shop to replace the bearings in my headset. The first place I tried were fully booked for the day. There was another bike shop just across the road so I tried there. They said they’d be able to get the work done this morning, so I left my bike and my contact details, and went to sit in a park.
After an hour or so I got an email saying my bike was ready. I collected it and set off cycling; it began to rain almost immediately. I made my way out of the city and began to climb towards the hills.
Up in the hills, I cycled through the forest. The road turned to gravel.
I turned onto a mountain bike track, the Munda Biddi. This trail stretches 1000km across the south of Western Australia. This section of it was mostly gravel roads through the forest, completely deserted – apart from me.
The track was empty of humans, at least. Occasionally I heard animals moving, startled by my presence. Once I saw one, bounding away like a kangaroo – but smaller. Perhaps a wallaby? At one point I found a snake sleeping on the trail. It moved off just as I went to take a picture.
Yellow signposts indicated the correct path whenever there was a choice. The trail was well maintained; it was possible to navigate entirely via these signposts.
I found the trail to be enjoyable. It had enough roots, rocks and gravel sections to be challenging; but so much as to be unpleasant. Crucially, there was no washboard!
There were a few sections of singletrack. One section in the afternoon was particularly long, a flowing series of switchbacks that took me down a hillside on a gentle gradient.
In the evening, I detoured from the trail to take a more direct route into a village. The trail seemed to be taking a very long detour just to avoid about 10km on a practically traffic free road. I took the road; besides, I needed water.
I reached the village at sunset. There was a shop, but it was closed. Thankfully there was a tap outside, so I topped up. I rejoined the trail and cycled until it got dark, then camped in the woods.
There were a few drops in the evening, so I got up to put on the outer tent. I was glad I did as it soon began to rain. This continued for most of the night, and persisted well into the morning.
During a gap in the rain, I packed up and started cycling. I was glad for the frequent signposts that enabled me to navigate with my phone in a bag out of the rain. For the first hour or two, the trail was quite rough.
After a couple of hours the rain lessened. There were a few breaks from the forest – I saw an orchard, a horse farm and then a nature reserve with lots of kangaroos (or wallabies?) bounding around.
The trail joined a road to cross a dam. There were toilets there, where I topped up on water. The sun made a brief appearance so I took a break, and hung my tent up to dry.
The trail brought me into the village of Dwellingup, where there was a small shop. Stock was low and prices high, but I bought what I needed and continued on.
There was an enjoyable stretch of singletrack which wound it’s way up a hill, switchbacking along. Toward the end I missed a turnoff, and rerouted to rejoin the trail as it followed an old rail line.
In the evening I stopped at a hut. There are several of these along the trail, providing shelter, toilets and (untreated) water for cyclists. This one was almost crowded: there were 6 cyclists. Besides myself there was an Aussie man (Chris), a Swiss couple (Michael and Jess) and an Australian man with his nine year old son. It was nice to chat to other cyclists, and to have a space to sleep where I was out of the rain.
I was first to set off in the morning. The trail was generally smooth and fast-flowing. The one exception was when it followed a wider dirt road that was quite corrugated. The road seemed to be there primarily to serve mining operations.
After a couple of hours I reached a lake. There were various campsites around and I stopped at a picnic bench for a break.
I’d been there a few minutes when Chris rolled up. He had an app for the Munda Biddi which said one of the campsites a few kilometres away had a cafe, and we decided to head over there. As we set off, the Swiss couple arrived too. They headed on while Chris and I rode around the lake to the cafe.
After some nice chips and a chat, we set off again. Our paces we’re quite different so I rode on ahead. The trail was enjoyable with lots of singletrack. In a few places trees blocked the trail; usually there were paths around them, otherwise I lifted the bike over.
I reached a sign saying there was a diversion due to logging in the area the trail traversed. It wasn’t clear which signs pointed to the original trail and which to the diversion, so I stopped to check it out. It turned out there were ants all over the ground and soon climbing up my feet and ankles.
The diversion followed a road alongside electrical lines. On the way up the next hill I could see a couple of cyclists so I sped up to try and catch them.
A couple of hills later I caught up to the Swiss couple. We chatted briefly and then I continued on. I reached another hut and stopped for a break.
As I was setting off the Swiss arrived. They’d hoped to make it to the next town but now felt they couldn’t make it before dark, so they were staying at the hut. I still thought I could make it, so off I went.
A while later I reached the paved road that would take me the last 25km to the town of Collie. I checked online and saw that the supermarket there closed at 6PM and, as the next day was a Sunday, wouldn’t reopen until 11 AM. Getting there by 6 was doable but I would need to speed up. I raced along and made it by 5.30.
After the supermarket I filled up my water at a petrol station and headed out of town via a different road. There was a cycle path alongside, so I followed that until sunset and then set up camp in the woods.
After about half an hour’s riding the following morning, I rejoined the Munda Biddi. The day started off fairly hilly and, having had less sleep than usual the night before, I felt quite tired.
After a few cloudy days, the sun finally made its triumphant return. The dense foliage meant the only time I actually saw much sunlight was when the path was perfectly in line with the sun.
In the afternoon there was a bit of a break in the forest as I cycled through an area with lots of farms. It made a nice change to be able to see out over the surrounding area.
After reaching the town of Boyanup, the trail joined a paved road for a little while. When I returned to mountain bike tracks, the ground was quite sandy which made for slow, sweaty progress. When I got the chance I swapped to a wide logging road. It was a little corrugated in places but still better than the sand.
As usual wild camping here was very easy. When it got dark I pushed the bike a few metres into the forest and set up the tent. There were no clouds in the sky so I only put up the inner part of the tent.
A few kilometres into the next day, I reached the end of the gravel road and joined a tarmac one. My legs were feeling pretty tired so I made slow progress through the usual forested hills.
I stopped in Nannup which, according to my map, had a bike shop. It was mostly a cafe with a few bike parts lying around, but no mirror, which I wanted to find for when I reach the Nullarbor with the infamous road trains. I bought some gorilla tape from a hardware store, to replace the duct tape that had been confiscated as I transited India. I realized my rear tyre pressure was low but wasn’t sure how long this had been the case for. I pumped it up and hoped it wasn’t a puncture.
I cycled for another few hours to reach Manjimup, a larger town. I went to Coles, a supermarket, and stocked up. It’d be about 600km to the next big supermarket, with only expensive village shops inbetween. Since I was feeling tired, I considered stopping early at the town’s campsite, but decided it against it after seeing the price. After a stop at the chip shop, I cycled out of town.
That was where I left the Munda Biddi route, which continues to the south, while I rode eastwards. An hour or so of quiet road finished off the day, and as usual I headed into the woods to camp.
Mar 30: 94 km
Mar 31: 82 km
Apr 1: 122 km
Apr 2: 97 km
Apr 3: 114 km
2 thoughts on “Munda Biddi”
Keep the posts coming, still enjoying keeping up with your adventures.
From your magnificent uncle Brendan.