Nglang Boodja to Donnybrook
Munda Biddi Trail
The Ride - Waking up on another beautiful morning, today would see us begin our journey through the farming heartland of the South West. Leaving the long stretches of Jarrah forests behind, this portion of the track sees you go from town to town (or small settlement), with the next official campsite we would stay at being after Northcliffe. Over the years I've developed a deep love for the South West with many happy memories formed in this stunning part of the world and I was confident of adding some more on this trip. I had calmed my farm a little bit after having thoughts of calling it quits the previous night and with a new dawn coming, I was excited to jump back on the bike after a liberal application of butt cream to my padded shorts.
This day would be split into two parts with the first section taking us through the stunning farmland of the Ferguson Valley and the second part would see The Dad of Py meet us at Crooked Brook Forest for the ride into Donnybrook. With my parental units now calling Funbury home and dad really getting into cycling in his autumn years, I invited him to join us for the last half of the day as it doesn't involve any technical riding. Eating breakfast and packing up our things, Aron went on a small mission to retrieve the dice he dropped through the shelter floorboards the previous night so our ongoing battles could continue. Leaving camp, we would have about 100m of climbing to get through over the first 5km before a long downhill through the farmland of the Ferguson Valley towards Crooked Brook. Unfortunately my camera was fogging up a bit in the humid morning conditions so the photos from the first couple of kilometres weren't very usable. Luckily it was just vehicle track riding along nice enough forest but nothing too "wow" worthy that I feel I missed out on.
At the top of the first part of the climb you reach the Wellington Forest Cottages, an alternative accommodation option if Nglang Boodja doesn't tickle your fancy. We didn't linger at the Forest Cottages as I felt like we were intruding somehow, so continued up the second part of the hill that sees you go to the highest point of the day. The riding through here was really nice as you're on narrow vehicle tracks through a mix of Jarrah, Marri and She-Oak. The She-Oaks I really enjoy as they give off a spooky vibe, plus the needle like leaves provide a softer surface to ride on. At the top of the hill you get some of the best Jarrah forest and the views start to open up just a little. The Balgas and wildflowers through here are fantastic and I never pass up an opportunity to photograph a brightly coloured Flame Pea. Starting to head downhill on a long stretch that sees you drop about 240m of vert (would hate to be riding the other way), this was where the fun really began for the day. Popping out of the forest, you are confronted with the vast rolling hills of the Ferguson Valley and it felt like we'd arrived on the borders of the Shire.
The first farm encounter we had was thanks to a large grouping of grass puppies that had gathered to welcome us to the Ferguson Valley and I tried to communicate with them in their own language with poor results. From this elevated position there were great views overlooking the surrounding farmland and I was happy to see plenty of remnant vegetation mixed in with the grassy paddocks. There was even a section of native vegetation on the edge of the gravel road that contained a flowering Hakea and a Zamia Palm. We were in no rush as I had set a time to meet mum and dad and we were well ahead of schedule given the long downhill. Starting to descend, the tree lined roads were a welcome sight and the small uphill sections were easily negotiated by picking up extra speed on the descents. I was stopping strategically to take photos with some views looking better than others thanks to some low, grey cloud to the north ruining the scene slightly. That was a minor inconvenience as the morning was certainly turning out alright and my mood had lifted significantly from the previous night.
Aron was well ahead, enjoying the free riding while I hung back to take photos and it wouldn't be until he stopped at the turnoff for Crooked Brook Forest that I would catch up to him. The gravel road turned into a paved road eventually and the descent became a bit steeper as I stopped at a picturesque little pond on the side of the road. The row of non-native flowers caught my eye and then I saw some Protea poking out before spotting the hidden bridge on the other side. This is exactly how I pictured riding through the Ferguson Valley would be like and was super happy it was every bit as good as I imagined. Reaching Ferguson Road you take a left and then another right, following the sign to Crooked Brook Forest along Ironstone Road. Originally the plan was to meet mum and dad at St Aidans Wines for lunch, a detour off the trail on Ferguson Road but given it was only an hours ride into the day, I changed plans to Crooked Brook Forest instead.