Kwokralup Beela to Walpole
Munda Biddi Trail
Kwokralup Beela Hut
6th September 2021
The Ride - With a big day of riding the previous day, which included a fair amount of climbing, this next stretch into Walpole I was treating as a bit of a rest day given the short distance and relative ease of riding in the second half of the section. With check-in not allowed until 3pm at the wonderful Tingle All Over accommodation that I had booked, we had the opportunity to lounge around the campsite in the morning after a bit of a sleep in. In hindsight, I should have made the effort to walk down to the river again but cosplaying a burrito in the hut was more appealing to me in the moment. Eventually we had all of our gear packed and were ready for lift-off at around 9:30am for a leisurely ride into Walpole.
Waiting for us in Walpole was Aron's mum and partner as our travel schedules lined up and would be in town on the same night. This meant arriving before 3pm wasn't a big issue as we could catch up with them and enjoy the hospitality of Walpole for the afternoon. It was forecast to be a warm and sunny day so I wanted to be finished around lunchtime so we could enjoy some relaxation in town while still having time to do chores like washing and shopping. The first half of the day would be the real killer with a medium puppa climb followed by the big puppa climb up North Walpole Road. From there we would be basically riding downhill all the way to sea level as Walpole is located right on the Walpole Inlet (which feeds into the bigger Nornalup Inlet). The map for the area around camp looks a bit silly with the Munda Biddi heading up a road running parallel to the one you came in on the previous day before looping back on itself to head south and then west.
There is a road that cuts out this unnecessary bit so I'm not sure why it isn't utilised as the long way doesn't add much interest (and as far as I can tell the long way isn't better). What we did encounter was some pleasant forest and a few puddles that required riding through. Given it was already getting to be a little bit warm, a cold soak of the shoes wasn't a bad thing. Riding parallel to a small creek, the hairpin bend is where the road provides a crossing point and here I spotted some cool Drosera vines just off the track. From here you have a bit of gentle riding through the forest, which was looking much better in person than the photos thanks to the harsh lighting conditions, eventually reaching the base of the medium puppa climb for the day. The gradients aren't too bad but the last little kicker is the toughest bit. Your reward is the end of one hill and a meetup with North Walpole Road, a lovely paved road that takes you downhill and towards the biggest climb of the day.
The tarmac was a sweet relief and the elevation drop was a nice way to increase the average speed but the looming hill was visible in the background. Given this was the last challenge of the day, it wasn't such a big deal, especially after tackling much worse the previous day, so I concentrated on enjoying the downhill and keeping an ear out for passing traffic. After spending the morning in the forests, the scenery had changed to mostly farmland with a decent amount of shade provided by the trees lining the road. As we hit the bottom of the downhill and started the 140m vertical gain, it was a case of getting into a rhythm to sustain an effort all the way to the top. This of course meant going at a different pace to Aron so I left him to the climb while I forged on. Stopping every now and then to photograph the landscape, this provided a nice opportunity for a breather before I tackled the steepest and most exposed section of the climb. With gradients reaching just over 17% and the sun beating down, this was a moment where I decided to cut my losses and hopped off.
I could see the top of the climb where it looked to flatten out significantly so walking my bike up this part was just part of the Munda Biddi experience (and good practice for the following day). Keeping a watchful eye on me as I walked all 30kg of bike and gear up the road were some nearby sheep so I took some photos as an excuse for another breather. A fun little sign along here is Underhill Road, a reference that fellow LOTR nerds will understand and indeed this area has a bit of The Shire about it (like most rolling farmland scenes). Hopping back on the bike as gradient flattened to acceptable levels, my aim was to get into the forest so I was at least in the shade. Once in the coolness of the forest, I checked the map while waiting for Aron and as it turned out, I wasn't too far away from the Swarbrick Art Loop so decided to press on and wait for my riding partner there. It wasn't long before I was at the empty car park so found a shaded spot on the nearby path and had a bit of a sit and rehydrate. As I was doing this, a small marsupial bounced out of the vegetation and had a long stare at me. Unfortunately my camera wasn't within reach but I enjoyed this chance encounter before it hopped back into the bushes.