Dwellingup to Bidjar Ngoulin
Munda Biddi Trail
Bidjar Ngoulin Hut
24th August 2021
The Ride - Waking up at the Dwellingup Forest Lodge to the sound of birds chirping and the feel of a crisp Djilba morning. Having covered 75km yesterday and another 65km to go today, I had a good stretch as I laid in bed in my toasty sleeping bag. No trip to Dwellingup would be complete without a breakfast at the Blue Wren Cafe and with a relaxed opening time of 8am, we could afford to take our time packing the bikes up this morning. It was a chilly ride down the hill into town but the allure of fresh coffee and a cooked breakfast made it much better. Unfortunately the new Trails & Visitor Centre didn't open until 9am so I'd assume most Bibb Hikers and MB Riders would not get the opportunity to sign the log books before leaving town.
The Blue Wren had a trails feel about it at opening with three other Munda Biddi riders there and several Bibbulmun walkers talking about the journey ahead. This brought a smile to my face as it's great to see these local businesses supported by trail users. After a good helping of smashed av and eggs, Aron and I both grabbed a sweet treat for the road and started our ride out of Dwellingup towards Lane Poole Reserve. With the Sanctuary of Py maintenance section on the Bibbulmun located near here, this area is a familiar haunt for me but I was looking forward to experiencing it riding on the Munda Biddi. Following the home crafted Munda Biddi logos created by the local primary school, we soon crossed the road and were heading into the stunning forests that surround Dwellingup. Unfortunately the morning light was a little harsh and so the photos were hard to get looking right. This first six kilometres out of town before you descend down towards the Murray River is a fun mix of ups and downs with the lush Jarrah forest making for an excellent companion as you saunter along. Spotting several wildflowers and fungi, I had good fun photographing what I could and soaking in the magic before we reached the middle part of the day that I wasn't looking forward to (see next post for the reason why).
We were passed by a couple of day riders that had Defence Force kit on and I envied their super light bikes. That didn't matter as we approached the long downhill section that is a blast to ride down. Reaching Nanga Road, Aron missed the turn to follow the trail as it runs parallel to the road and pine plantation, instead just riding down Nanga Road. We would eventually meet up later as I was stopping for many photos that slowed my progress. Reaching the Lane Poole entry gates, the track bypasses them and continues down towards the bridge over the Murray River. It looked much better in person as the photos I took looking down river are shocking thanks to the harsh lighting. From here you ascend up the road, passing Nanga Bush Camp until you reach the turn-off that takes you into Lane Poole Reserve and on towards the new Dwellingup Adventure Trails that have recently been constructed. Here we made our first major navigation error, not really checking out the new signage and instead of popping back into the forest and following the trail, we continued along the vehicle track.
Heading down a long hill, we got some distance away before realising our error. Looking at the maps, we figured we could follow this road along the river and then re-join the trail further along. I'll have to return to experience the proper trail as I ended up missing just over a third of the new single track alignment. It wasn't all bad with the river road providing some nice views and I got to see Bob's Crossing overflowing, something that caused a few headaches for car campers this winter. Reaching the point where we could join the proper trail, it required heading up a steep bank through the forest. Aron wasn't keen to push his bike through there and was more than happy to plod along the road all the way to Nanga. I was eager to ride the new trail so continued on and loved every second. It was a busy place this morning with several school groups and some other riders on the trail so that was nice to see. The single track was fun to ride and was one of the highlights of this first section. Reaching Nanga, I met up with Aron who was enjoying a snack by the stream that flows down to the river. I also took a break here before we headed off and along the same path shared by the King Jarrah Walk Trail. This is a trail I've done a couple of times and found it pleasant, if not a little tiresome on foot so was excited to see how it compared on the bike.
Travelling along the old rail formations, it was really enjoyable riding with the hills a gentle gradient and the wildflowers dotting the steep cuttings providing a splash of colour. We averaged a good pace through here and the wide track allowed us to ride together for long stretches. At certain points there are side trips down to the river and I took the opportunity to enjoy the connection to the Murray River. Arriving at a granite outcrop, a school group were stopping for a break here so I kept riding, feeling 20 or so sets of eyes watching me puff and pant on my heavy bike. From here the forest starts to transition into recovery mode from the 2015 bushfire that came through this area. The pleasant trees and nice undergrowth is replaced with an overgrown and scrappy vibe that would be with us for quite a while. At the bend in the track I knew that the Sanctuary of Py was just over the other side of the river and that was a comforting thought. Continuing along, I reach the King Jarrah Walk Trail sign where the trail pops out onto the vehicle track. Resting my bike against a tree, I set off along the walk trail and up towards the King Jarrah, a now burnt but still mighty tree that is upwards of 400 years old.
Having only done this trail in the opposite direction, I thought it was a lot shorter to reach the King Jarrah but after battling through the heavily overgrown trail and passing plenty of school kids, I finally reached it. Was it worth it for something I've already seen? Probably not but it was nice to be off the bike and stretching the legs. Back at my bike, this school group had stopped for a break and I got chatting to a couple of the teachers who were eyeing off my bike. We talked about my E2E plans and how I found it so far, with some of the kids listening in, a bit of disbelief that someone would ride that far in one go. Moving on, the campsite wasn't too far away and Aron was already there waiting for me. The scrappy, soapbush dominated landscape continued as I rode up the hill and followed the spur trail into camp. I believe this was a really magical spot before the 2015 fires and based on the forest on the King Jarrah that wasn't burnt, I can imagine it was a special place. Unfortunately the regrowth is quite thick and the canopy is still coming back so it will be a little ugly duckling for some time until it returns to normal. It's not a bad spot but compared to the other campsites along here, it doesn't rank very highly. We stopped here for a break, eating our Blue Wren goodies and filling up with water before departing.