Yirra Kartta to Kwokralup Beela
Munda Biddi Trail
Yirra Kartta Hut
Kwokralup Beela Hut
5th September 2021
The Ride - Staying in our first campsite since just before Donnybrook (Nglang Boodja), the afternoon at Yirra Kartta was a refreshing return to the camping aspect of the Munda Biddi Trail. The granite dome here is one of the highlights of the whole track and we enjoyed a few trips up and down over the course of the evening and night (see last post for many photos). It was my plan to wake up early and get up there for sunrise but getting out of my sleeping bag once my alarm went off was a challenge after a late night trip to shoot the Milky Way. After debating with myself about leaving the comfort of my little cocoon, I came to the conclusion that I might not be here for a while so I would make the most of the time that is given to me.
Scrambling up the side of the granite, still yawning, the sun had been up for just under an hour and the skies were starting to turn a vivid blue. While it wasn't Mount Chance levels of fairy floss beauty, there was the tail end of a slight fog rolling around the forest that looked pretty cool when the morning god rays streamed through. I sat on the cool granite for a while, reflecting on the experience so far and thinking about the day ahead that would involve a bit of climbing but through an area that I absolutely adore from all my previous visits to the South West. Feeling a bit chilly, I headed back down to see if Aron was awake yet and to get back into my sleeping bag to warm up. Based on the time stamps on my photos and our leaving time, I think I must have stayed in bed for a good amount of time as we didn't end up leaving camp until just before 9am. I had mapped this day out as being about 56km (with the optional side trip included) and a lot of climbing so with our typical average speed so far plus breaks, it would be another late arrival into camp.
Enjoying a brew and Clif Bar for breakfast, we eventually got going and my morning weather check revealed that perhaps for one day we weren't going to get rained on. Leaving camp via the single trail that Aron had come in on the previous afternoon, we soon joined Bull Road as it continues through the forest. While not overly pleased to be riding on similar roads that we experienced for most of the previous day, this stretch did allow for a different perspective of the granite dome as we rode by. These first few kilometres weren't anything to write home about with wide vehicle tracks at least allowing for a faster pace when I wasn't stopping to photograph the various wildflowers along the edge of the trail. Arriving at the end of the vehicle track riding, you enter the forest and start cycling along some single track that thanks to the vegetation cover, provided a cool change. It isn't long before things open up again and you are presented with these glorious vistas as the trail enters the Munda Biddi equivalent of the Pingerup Plains.
The infamous Pingerup Plains on the Bibbulmun Track is an area of low lying ground that gets seasonally flooded in winter and spring but is a unique landscape to experience. The naturally occurring grassy plains provide this vast expanse that is wonderful to walk through for days on end with the trail linking with small islands of forest. I understand why the Munda Biddi avoids the bulk of the plains to the south as the flooding can reach thigh to waist deep for some walkers and this would be a disaster for Munda Biddi riders (may have to pack the snorkel). It's nice that we get at least a little taster of this terrain type and the raised single track meant that the bike stayed relatively dry. I love the big sky feeling you get here and was hoping that it would last for longer than it did but after turning to the left, I could see the forest ahead and knew it would be coming to an end. While riding through it wasn't obvious but checking the map later on, to your left as you ride along is a small airstrip.
Entering the forest once again, there is a short ride through the thick vegetation before you reach the South Western Highway crossing. This is really the only way to reach Walpole from the Pemberton/Manjimup direction and I imagine it would be a bit of a shock to passing travellers to see someone pop out of the bush on their bike. After enjoying a few metres of paved road, you head back into the forest for a 15km section of riding leading to what I had planned as the lunch stop at Fernhook Falls. Initially riding along some pleasant single trail, the regrowth forest through here was quite enjoyable. Always watching out for different wildflowers and fungi, I was a bit spoilt for choice as you can see in the gallery above (not everything made the cut). The forest type kept changing as we tootled along with the mixed Marri/Jarrah being replaced with the smoothed bark Karri. With the undergrowth being pretty thick in places, I was happy when I spotted out of the corner of my eye some Snail Orchids loving life on a fallen log.