A bit of Munda Biddi background
In the southwestern region of Western Australia lies the Munda Biddi trail. The name Munda Biddi translates to “path through the forest” in the local Noongar Aboriginal language. The bikepacking trail’s Northern terminus is the town of Mundaring, just outside of Perth, and runs for 1050 km (650 miles) to the Southern terminus of Albany. The path winds its way through an ever-changing forest and global biodiversity hot spot of flora and fauna with terrain that is comprised mostly of gravel roads, single track, dirt paths, and some paved sections near towns. Purpose built huts (maintained by volunteers from the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation) with water tanks and towns link the different trail sections. The towns are spaced typically within a two-day ride and provide additional options for shelter, shower, laundry, restocking of food, coffee and a good hot meal. The best time of year to ride the trail are during the Spring (October and November) and Autumn (March-May) seasons when conditions are not too hot and before the winter storms arrive.
As part of our annual Munda Biddi adventure, we planned another bikepacking trip on the trail in April 2023 (Autumn Down Under). After completing the trail in 2022, we decided to head North once again, this time starting in Walpole located on the coast of the Southern Ocean. We arrived on a warm day in late April at Coalmine Beach caravan park. After an enjoyable meal and an amazing sunset (courtesy of a bushfire near the Yirra Kartta Hut) we sorted through our gear and prepared for the morning. As a group we all use a different combination of kit, from the Aeroe bike bag set up to Bob trailers to classic paniers. As for bikes we ride a range from 29er hardtails (alloy and titanium), classic 26-inch MTB and a titanium gravel bike.
Day 1 Walpole to Kwokralup Beela (34km 600vm). Sun, sun and more sun. Bikes were packed and ready to go. A quick stop in town to pick up a forgotten deck of cards and we were off on the trail. The weather was warm but enjoyable and the trail was in good condition for the ride. The ride went from newly paved cycle path just outside Walpole to sand and then firm unsealed roads.
The climbs were good to remind the legs that bikepacking is not like a quick lap in the hills. After setting up camp at the hut, a quick soak in the cool waters of the Franklin River was great way to end the day.
Day 2 Kwokralup Beela to Yirra Kartta (45km 850vm). Rain, rain and more rain! We lost the sun and warmth from the previous day and endured non-stop rain. The branches along the trail were so soaked with water that they all seemed to sag over the trail at head-height to constantly drench our helmets with even more water. A brief lunch at Fernhook falls became an extended break as the full force of the storms passed over and we stayed undercover. Once back on the trail, we managed to keep the wheels turning and reached Yirra Kartta hut. The clouds started to break slightly and a quick walk up to the summit of the nearby granite dome to see the great views. Unfortunately, the rain picked up again so no stargazing from the dome summit.
Day 3 Yirra Kartta to Northcliffe (47km 700vm). Wet, wet, wet, again! A second day of constant rain and the ground became even softer, and our weighted down bikes sank that bit more along with an increase in the physical demands to keep the pedals turning. An additional challenge was lots of puddles covering the entire trail with no choice but to go through them. A stop for lunch with some friendly locals (cows) and off into the next storm front and stiff headwinds. The day took further physical tolls on us, but it also began to take a toll on the bikes. Some emergency chain repairs were completed with about 10km to go to Northcliffe and we limped our way into town for food and shelter.
Day 4 Northcliffe to Pemberton (45km 660vm). The constant rain finally stopped and the morning was spent doing some further chain repairs. Along the route from Northcliffe to Pemberton, the amazing beauty southern forest really presents itself for all to see. The trees are simply majestic and continue all the way to Pemberton itself. The Warren River bridge is always a highlight of this section and a great place to stop for lunch. The entire ride is one to savour as you enjoy all the scenery even on the 2km climb up to the Gloucester tree. Enjoyed a wonderful meal in town at Jaspers and a sound night’s sleep with a roof over our heads.
Day 5 Pemberton to Quinninup (42km 720vm). An early morning and a bit more bike repair to replace brake pads which were destroyed by the wet sand and grit earlier on the trip. Once on our way we got slightly confused with the trail signs going around the Pemberton pool and thankfully didn’t chose a route through the Pemberton Mountain Bike Park. The day was filled with fields and some sizeable hills. As we got closer to Quinninup the trees returned and we enjoyed a mostly dry day in the forest. Made it into town and set up our tents among the kangaroos and gnomes. Finally enjoyed our dinner at the Quinninup Tavern (extensive Parmi selection) as we missed this two years earlier due to arriving on a Tuesday, which is the only day the Tavern is closed.
Day 6 Quinninup to Manjimup (42km 700vm). Our final day of this trip and we enjoyed a solid day of climbing our way up to Manjimup. While the weather was mostly clear and sunny, we still had many challenges, with downed trees and large puddles to navigate. The bikes were a bit lighter due to less food and all the mechanical issues seemed to be behind us. Made our way into town and a last night of camping and playing cards before returning back to Perth and planning for next year’s adventure.
The trail is always an adventure, and the conditions change all the time, but the beauty never leaves and at cycle pace you really see, feel and smell it all.
Geoff and The Crank Brothers