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Donnelly River Village to Karta Burnu Campsite on the Munda Biddi Trail

Donnelly River to Karta Burnu

Munda Biddi Trail

Start

Donnelly River

Time

2-3 Hours

Finish

Karta Burnu Hut

Date Ridden

31st August 2021

Length

24.2km

Elevation

567m

Traditional Custodians

Bibbulman People

The Ride - There are certain spots along the Munda Biddi and Bibbulmun Track that you mark down as places to really enjoy when you're there and Donnelly River is one of those for me. Enjoying a couple of gentle riding days either side of our stay in this idyllic little holiday hamlet, I was quite happy to have a lazy morning enjoying the ambiance. Making this an easy decision was a light drizzle that was hanging around as we woke up. Steph and Leigh, who were sharing our Bunkhouse dorm room, were already off and away before it was light as they were covering big daily distances on the Bibb Track.

While some people may not like cold and drizzly weather, I absolutely love it so was quite happy to spend the morning lounging around on the deck. With the General Store not open for breakfast until after 8am from memory, we took our time packing the bikes up and photographing the wildlife. The other Bibb walkers who weren't on a busy schedule were also up and about, saying hello to the birds, kangaroos and emus that call this place home. One of the simple delights of this spot is seeing the wildlife up close and some are quite cheeky as they know humans mean food (which you can buy at the General Store so please don't feed them anything else). The emus always have a smug look on their faces knowing that they are undefeated in war against Australia, something they are all too happy to tell you about with their death stares. The highlight of the morning was seeing the baby emus running around, following their dad and trying to not get trampled on by all the other emus and kangaroos.

 

Walking our bikes to the General Store to return our bedding and see if they were open for breakfast, the clouds certainly looked like they were going to be hanging around for the morning. With the forecast not showing any significant rain on the horizon, I was happy to enjoy a long breakfast and get going when the drizzle stopped. Sitting inside, the small fireplace was doing a great job at warming us up on this cold morning while we ordered some food and coffee. With some warm food in our tanks and a moderate 47km to ride today to get to Manjimup, we had one last look at the commotion going on outside with all the animals getting fed before saddling up. On the cards this morning was a leisurely ride through some excellent Karri forest, glimpses of the Donnelly River and then a climb up to the campsite at Karta Burnu. The drizzle had eased slightly and I knew once we were in the forest, the trees would provide some protection for my camera lens. Heading out of town the same way the Bibbulmun Track leaves, it brought back some memories of my first multiday section way back in 2017.

Criss-crossing with the Bibbulmun Track for the first little section to Yanmah Brook, you get some mixed forest with just the hint of Karri goodness. The moist conditions were perfect after a mostly sunny journey through the northern Jarrah forests and I think that the Karri forest is always best when there is overhead cloud and the threat of rain. Riding along vehicle tracks, I was sticking mostly to the side of the trail trying to spot different wildflowers and was in luck with some Wattle and what looked like Tea Tree flowers. Reaching Yanmah Brook, the Bibbulmun departs to the right for a meeting with the Donnelly River, while the Munda Biddi continues to follow Yanmah Brook south. Crossing over Yanmah Brook to ride on the southern side, the trail passes over a gauging station that made me a little sad given the battle brewing in this area over the idiotic idea to dam the Donnelly River. In one of the wettest parts of the state, a small group of greedy farmers is trying to destroy the forests around here so they can get access to a bit more water, to the cost of the farmers not included in the scheme and the environment.

 

At the time of writing the plan seems to have stalled because the CSIRO called them out on their rainfall/streamflow figures being based on data from the 1970s but common sense never takes precedence when politics and money are involved so the fight isn't over. On the south side of the brook there is a reminder of what makes this area so special with a really nice patch of mature forest that I took great joy in stopping and photographing. Aron provided a nice foreground object for the photos as he did so well over the course of the trip, until he got too far away and I had to catch up. This section was one of many pleasurable sections of the morning and is why doing these activities is so enriching for the soul. Doing nothing but riding through these stunning swathes of forest and admiring their beauty really leaves a mark on you that just seeing pictures on the interwebs doesn't quite match. Spotting the markers pointing us up a small hill, we had to check the map as the way was clearly blocked but Aron confirmed this is the way. We were getting used to carrying our bikes over trees in the past week so this was just another upper body workout on the Munda Biddi.