Northcliffe to Yirra Kartta
Munda Biddi Trail
Yirra Kartta Hut
4th September 2021
The Ride - With a thoroughly enjoyable town to town section of riding over, stretching way back to Donnybrook, we treated ourselves to a cosy stay at PipinnVale BnB as a last hurrah before two nights roughing it in the wild. Pippa was an excellent host and as I said in my previous post, the food was the best we'd had on the whole trail. Waking up and getting out of the comfy bed was a challenge with the cold temperatures not helping but the allure of a cooked breakfast and Tilley pats was good motivation. Enjoying fresh bread, eggs, beans, mushrooms and coffee, this was everything you'd expect from a country BnB and made leaving much harder. With 50km to ride today to Yirra Kartta, we eventually got going and said goodbye to Pippa just after 9:30am.
With PipinnVale being a short ride out of Northcliffe, it was decided that we would head back into town for some snack supplies for the next two nights and it also meant I could start my Strava at the Visitor Centre. Northcliffe is a small town with no supermarket so the closest thing you'll get is the General Store located within the Petrol Station, although it is very well stocked. With my dehydrated meals already packed, I was looking for something sweet to enjoy for dessert so settled on a couple of blocks of chocolate and a box of BBQ Shapes. With supplies secured, it was already getting quite late in the morning and our regular pace over the last couple of weeks would see us arrive an hour or so before sunset. Given Yirra Kartta was one of the campsites I was looking forward to staying at, I really wanted to get a hurry on. I left Aron to re-pack his bags with extra goodies and set off for the Visitor Centre to officially start the day. As luck would have it, I would spot Steph and Leigh at one of the picnic tables sorting through their drop box. We had met them at Donnelly River as they passed through on the Bibb Track and it was a nice surprise to see them here.
We weren't exactly setting the world on fire with our daily distances so it was about right that we would intersect again. They had stayed the night at Schafer Campsite and confirmed that it was Pack Animal that we saw when we popped in for lunch the previous day. As they sorted out their gear we had a chat about their last few days and the different routes we had taken to get to Northcliffe. Wishing them well for the rest of their journey, Aron and I headed off to find our way out of Northcliffe. While the Bibb Track takes a pretty convoluted path our of town, criss-crossing major roads several times before disappearing into the forest, the Munda Biddi follows Windy Harbour Road for a short section before taking a left and heading off into the farmland. Crossing the old railway tracks, you head along some single track before reaching Boorara Road and a creek crossing that I had to stop at for photos. Leaving Boorara Road, you turn left onto Old Mill Road for some riding through the back lanes of the surrounding farmland. With some large trees bordering the road, this was a pleasant ride up a gentle hill that takes you towards the first forested section of the day.
Entering the forest is nice as it felt nice to be enclosed under the canopy but the feeling doesn't last long as you make a right turn and one side of the vehicle track opens up to more farmland. This is no bad thing with the pretty green hills and small dam providing some idyllic scenes to shoot. The re-emergence of the Karri forest through here was a delight as I wasn't sure what the scenery would be like today given the horrific 2015 fires that devastated the area surrounding Northcliffe. This particular spot seems to have escaped the worst of the burns with no skeleton trees to be found, only lush and beautiful forest. I was happy to see a large clumping of Old Mans Beard growing at the base of a thick Karri trunk and it felt like proper Karri country. On a small pinch climb leading to some of the best forest of the whole day (albeit very brief), I tried to power up and dropped down one too many gears and my entire chain came off. This had been a recurring problem on the trip and required a messy fix every time it happened.
The nice forest didn't last very long as we were greeted with a hardwood plantation off to the right but I spotted something here that made me halt to a stop. An emu was wandering around among the matchsticks and didn't seem to notice me as it hadn't run away in panic. These not so bright birds are fun to watch and as Aron glided up behind me, I pointed into the plantation where it was and spotted another one hanging about. We watched them for a while before continuing on towards our next turn at Jackson Road. This led us along a sandy track that was nice and compact, eventually reaching another section of farmland. It was nice country riding up to now and it never felt like you were slogging through the kilometres given the constant change of terrain. The wildflowers through here were impressive with the swampy Paperbark areas providing some new varieties including a Grevillea. Making another turn, the wooden National Park sign was promising but this was just the fringes of Boorara-Gardner National Park. The sandy road had more of an open plains feel about it and it became an exercise in dodging puddles where we could.