Mundaring to Carinyah
Munda Biddi Trail
Directions - The Northern Terminus is located at Mundaring Sculpture Park on Jacoby Street in Mundaring. From Perth head along the Great Eastern Highway Bypass until you reach Roe Highway. Turn left and then right again at Great Eastern Highway, following this all the way up the hill until you reach Mundaring. Turn right onto Nichol St and the car park is located at the end of this road. The Northern Terminus sign is within the park right in front of the car park.
The Ride - The Munda Biddi Trail. This one was always a "one day" adventure, perhaps something I would do after a full E2E of the Bibbulmun Track but with my podcast partner completing his sectional E2E over the course of 2020 and inviting me on a couple of sections, I thought it would be fun to plan one for 2021. With no end to the global pandemic in sight and WA getting away relatively easily from the rolling lockdowns, I began planning this trip late in 2020 and thought it would be nice to do it with someone. I asked long time adventure buddy Aron aka 1A1R if he would like to ride from Mundaring to Albany and he said yes, I don't think fully appreciating what was involved at the time.
With a rough date set for spring 2021, we both set about researching gear, buying bits and pieces and developing a spreadsheet of the planned itinerary with what gear we would each carry. Over the summer I hopped back on the road bike to get the fitness up and fell back in love with cycling again, an activity that had been on the backburner since I started the website in 2014. Unfortunately training slowed down over the winter but Aron and I still got out every now and then along the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail (RRHT) and Kep Track. After an early August holiday to Exmouth, the last three weeks before our departure was spent getting gear ready and doing some last minute riding. The start date came around quickly and after handballing all my work projects off to my colleagues, I was happy to be off for three weeks and beginning a 1065km ride towards Albany through some really nice parts of WA. With a planned 77km first day complete with some of the biggest hills of the entire trail, an 8am start was decided so we had plenty of time to get through the day including a breakfast stop at Mundaring Weir Hotel (MWH). Joining us on this first leg to breakfast was my podcast partner and his wife, both on their e-bikes, with Caris (my shorty) and Jen (Aron's partner) driving from the Northern Terminus to breakfast after seeing us off.
Not helping our early start was an oversized truck trying to get up Great Eastern Highway, blocking both lanes and slowing everyone down to 20kmph all the way up the hill. Taking the backroads, we arrived to find everyone there and getting various bicycles ready for the day's journey. With plenty of faffing, securing bags to bikes and checking gear wasn't missing, we were ready to pose for photos at the trail head and get on the bikes. The old Chinese proverb "A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step" is a little different for bikepacking but the principle is the same, just replace step with pedal turn. Having done this first section a few times on a combination of the RRHT, Kep Track and Kattamordo HT, I knew it was going to be an enjoyable downhill run to the breakfast stop at the Mundaring Weir Hotel. Reaching the turnoff on the RRHT, I love this spot because I look at it and it feels like endless possibilities are down that path as you can literally ride all the way to Albany by taking that turn. Running either side of Mundaring Weir Rd, the forest through here is quite lovely and I was stopping often to take photos and enjoy the late winter wildflowers that were on display.
Covering the 7.5km downhill in a leisurely 30 minutes, this bikepacking malarkey was turning out to be a pretty easy pastime. Caris and Jen were waiting at Mundaring Weir Hotel and it appeared we were going to have the place to ourselves for breakfast, something I've found to be the case on weekends and very odd considering all the trails around the area. The mood was quite jovial as we tucked into a hearty breakfast that we would need to fuel our bodies up the hills that were coming. With full bellies, we said goodbye to our loved ones for the week (they would be meeting us in Nannup) and headed off from MWH. Following Mundaring Weir Rd for a short distance as it heads down into the valley, on the day we passed through there was a Munda Biddi crew there working on the realignment that takes you off the road so watch that space in the immediate future. At the bottom of the hill you turn right and follow the trail as it heads along the Helena River and pipeline feeding the lower dam. From here it's a really fun and scenic section of the trail and you switch between single track along the edge of the river and the wide vehicle tracks that service the water pipeline. There is a really nice series of granite boulders on the single track that I really enjoyed when I first came through here on the Golden Helena Valley Loop and I fell behind a bit as I stopped to photograph them.
With Donovan on his unloaded e-bike, I wasn't going to worry about keeping up on this first day as the expectation was that he would leave us at some point as his finishing spot for the day was Jarrahdale. With that in mind, we all went along at our different paces through here with Donovan and Aron riding together for the most part as I stopped to take photos before catching up. Crossing the Helena River, this was the highest I've seen the water here as most of the year there is nothing to worry about. It's a fun splash to get through and I stopped at the pool located here to get some photos of the character trees that line the edge of the water. This also marks the lowest point of the day at 104m ASL (elevation wise) and the start of the biggest climb of the entire trail up to the 388m ASL maximum. Having ridden this section last year with Donovan, I wasn't too worried about the climbing, we just had to pace ourselves and enjoy the scenery along the way. Passing through a lovely stand of Wandoo, you skirt the edge of a farm before tackling the new diversion that takes you off a steep vehicle track and along a series of much easier switchbacks. This is a far more pleasant way to travel through here and eliminates the risk of having a southbound rider barrel into you at high speed as they careen down the hill.
Donovan was at the top of the switchbacks and I parked up my bike as we waited for Aron to join us. As we were waiting, I enjoyed poking my head around the nearby bushes where I found some lovely Wattle, Donkey Orchids, Pink Fairy Orchids and a Leaping Spider Orchid. Being late winter, it was great to have early success like this and I'd hoped it would continue all the way through the northern Jarrah forests. Aron eventually arrived and we continued along the top of the ridge as the trail provides some fantastic views overlooking the valley below. Heading on a short downhill, Aron had a blowout of gear with one of his sandals coming off as he descended down the bumpy hill. This required another stop to faff about with gear but I enjoy this spot as it reminds me of the nearby Bibbulmun Track shelter, Hewett's Hill that is a short distance from this trail intersection. Getting going again, we headed along a familiar path that contains both the Munda Biddi and the Bibbulmun before we peeled off to continue along the one way northern route that takes you up to The Dell. I enjoy this twisty uphill section as the forest is really nice through here all the way to the Strava segment known as Highway to Dell that snakes through a collection of pines.
With a fully loaded bike I wasn't going to be setting PBs through here so just picked a gear and kept up a good rhythm. Like most of the first part of this day it was a case of Donovan waiting at the top of climbs then being joined by myself and then Aron. It was around this time that I started to catch on that Aron was going quite a bit slower than expected but this was the biggest climb we were going to face of the whole trip so that was understandable. Crossing Mundaring Weir Road for the final time, the next part gave us a bit of relief from the climbing as the gradient is a little gentler as it runs past all the various mountain bike trails in the area. It's a very pleasant spot with some nice grey Jarrah bordering the wide trail and there were plenty of wildflowers in bloom. Over the course of training for this trip I spent a bit of time out here and I really enjoy this stretch. Taking a sharp left to head up the final part of the big climb, I spotted another Spider Orchid hiding in the undergrowth along with what could be a Blue Lady Orchid or Morning Iris (leaning towards the latter). Again, this section leading up the hill is one of my favourite with the forest being spectacular and the trail a fun, winding single track.
It was a lovely day to be out riding and I was very happy at how easy the bike felt to manoeuvre given it probably weighed about 25-30kg (didn't weigh it fully loaded before setting off). As we continued along the ups and downs (but mainly ups), we passed through a section of pea gravel that I remember disliking because no matter what time of year it is, your tyres sink into the orange abyss. Reaching Gunjin Road, I remembered this being towards the end of the climb and it was a relief to be near the top, although it had not been as bad as I thought it would be with a fully loaded bike. Reaching the top where the trail intersects Walnut Road, from here until just before Carinyah Campsite would be an all new experience for me on the bike. I had come through here on the Kattamordo but as we reached Walnut Road it became clear that some recent prescribed burns would provide some different scenery for the next section. I had to get a shot of Donovan riding through his favourite forest type after a recent burn because it was too fitting (have a listen to every Real Trail Talk episode to understand why that is the case). Luckily the burnt bit didn't last too long and it was the Lockwood Road crossing where things returned to normal. I was waiting for Aron at this spot while Donovan went on ahead and after what seemed like a longer time than it should have been, Aron emerged from the blackened mess.
Hoping to enjoy a bit more downhill or at the very least, some flatter terrain, we soldiered on and through a new diversion that avoids going up a small hill just for the sake of it. Coming across the first of a couple of orchards for the day, we found Donovan waiting on the edge of the barren looking plantation that was just starting to spring back into life with new flower blossoms. We came across a large flock of Black Cockatoos here and I slowed right down to photograph them going about their cheeky business. This started a long streak of seeing/photographing at least one Black Cockatoo each day and every encounter with these birds brings me joy. The wildflowers through here were spectacular with new varieties popping up including some Bitter Peas that look fantastic when there is a mass of them all in one spot. At the top of a small climb I found Donovan waiting next to a large hollowed out Jarrah tree that he loved a great deal on his E2E last year. While there are walks in Korung National Park like the Carmel Walk and Channel 10 Tower Walk, they don't showcase the kind of beauty that can be found along the Munda Biddi. It was around this point while waiting for Aron again that it started to become apparent that making Wungong Campsite might not be a possibility. We had only covered 31km in about four hours of riding time and that included the first 7.5km of downhill at that start that was over in half an hour.