Munda Biddi – The Trip.
Donnybrook (well Kirup) to Albany in 9 days with a mixture of relatively short days and warm showers to tough days and cold water tank rinses was the Munda Biddi journey for Star Physio’s Damian Oldmeadow in May this year. If you are interested in the bikepacking setup, equipment and preparation for the trip, read this article here!
Check out a short summary of Damo’s trip with a few hot tips and some do’s and don’ts!
Most importantly, even if you are just considering riding on the Munda Biddi, go to their webpage and download the app for masses of information! It is a paid app and membership but proceeds assist in managing and maintaining the trail. A worthy investment!
Days 1-4, luxury bikepacking!
Day 1. Kirup to Nannup. 70km, 400m climbing
Track to Nannup
We set off on a sunny morning with light breezes from Kirup after our overnight stay at Oldmeadow Orchard.
A largely downhill bitumen run before we hit the gravel and soon onto the Munda Biddi Trail.
Soon after leaving we realised that we should have done this a long time ago! The track wound through a mixture of jarrah and pine forests and brought us out at Jarrahwood, and old mill town with a nice historic display, but not much more on offer!
From there a beautiful ride along old rail lines with few climbs. Lots of wildlife including emus which ran along in from of us for a long time, seemingly unable to deviate off the track. They do have a small head! only and on to Nannup.
A couple of early climbs with the legs still feeling Seven but otherwise a very pleasant day.
We ended in Nannup with an Air BnB right in town, next door to the bottle shop and up the street from our dinner stop – the pub!
Day 2. Nannup to Donnelly River Village 37km, 634m climbing
A slow start with a fairly short day ahead suited all of us. Absolutely stunning riding despite a few nasty climbs, particularly straight out of town. Those familiar with the Tour of Margaret River will know these roads! I was beginning to learn climbing was very different on a fully laden bikepacking setup than on race day, but this was no race… it was about the journey!
Donnelly River Village is a very special place. An old wood mill town with a general store and tame kangaroos, emus and possums. Set in a beautiful location makes it a great place to relax. Note that the store shuts at 4.00pm but you can get supplies and pre-made meals for the evening.
There are no alcohol sales in Donnelly River, so for those who like “liquid carbohydrate recovery fuel” in the evening, stock up in Nannup!
Day 3. Donnelly River to Quinninup via Manjimup. 92km, 1600m climbing
We had been advised that due to the nearby mine, accommodation in Manjimup was hard to come by, so we set ourselves for a big day. There was beautiful riding out of Donnelly including a big climb to one of the Munda Biddi Huts then lunch in Manjimup.
We made it to the Quinninup Eco Retreat just on sunset. We had purchased supplies in Manjimup as we learned that the Quinninup pub/restaurant was closed on Wednesdays. Basic, but warm accommodation and hot showers hit the spot just fine! Dr Phil cooked up a fine Pasta washed down with wine that was worth the effort to carry from Manji! Phone ahead to book… email response was poor!
Day 4 Quinninup to Pemberton 40km, 742m climbing.
This was the riding I was really looking forward to – into the big tree country! The Munda Biddi trail did not disappoint!
A relatively short day had us in to Pemberton with plenty of time for great pub lunch then some giant tree exploring in the afternoon. Note, everything around Pemberton is hilly!
The iconic Gloucester Tree sits right at the Munda Biddi Trail exit out of Pemberton heading South. Unfortunately it was closed for maintenance, but it is a great climb with incredible views from the top for your efforts (and bravery!)
Our stay in one of the numerous Motels in Pemberton was cheap and comfortable, although the walk up and down the hill from the pub was tough on tired legs!
Day 5 onwards… Solo and into the bush!
Day 5 Pemberton to Northcliffe to Yirra Karta 93km, 1600m climbing
I said my goodbyes to my mates and set off early with cold but stunning weather. Back up to the Gloucester Tree then down the single track on my way South. The first few kilometers out of Pemberton are fantastic single track switchbacks down a long hill. This was fun riding in beautiful forest, but I am sure a tough climb coming from the other direction!
Stunning tracks, great weather and a real feeling of freedom being solo. I had downloaded music and podcasts but found the sound of tires on gravel to be meditative, and the view and changing scenery more than enough to keep my interest!
Amazing Karri forests in Pemberton, river crossings, kangaroos and stunning bushland opened up to more farm country and a lunch stop at Northcliffe. The general store certainly had adequate supplies and there was the option of the pub… but I thought better of it!
Heading out of Northcliffe the landscape changed to rolling hills and trails including some open low lying areas and floodways. The tracks were gravel and sand in places but overall fabulous. A few climbs eventually led me to my first “camp out” at the Yirra Kartta Hut.
The Munda Biddi is set out so that there is either a town or hut every 40-50km all the way from Mundaring to Albany. These distances are achievable for anyone with moderate fitness, but many people choose to do double this or more each day.
The Munda Biddi Huts are set up with good shelter in a big shed. There is a long drop toilet, water tank and benches with seats. Most are in beautiful locations, many with significant cultural significance to the local indigenous people.
The Yirra Kartta Hut sat at the base of an amazing granite outcrop with incredible views from the top.
Day 6 Yirra Kartta to Walpole 75kms 1050m climbing.
My initial plan was to stop at the next hut – Kwokralup Beela – for the next night. I was enjoying being on the bike and feeling good on longer days so I pushed on to Walpole but stopped at the hut for lunch.
The scenery and tracks were stunning again and weather almost too good to believe. A cold start warmed up to mid 20s where the shirt was off and climbing hills was hot work. The bike was tolerating the mixed terrain perfectly. Tyres were good, able to run nice low pressure for the sandy sections thanks to tubeless but still great fast rolling with the suspension locked out on the flat and faster gravel sections. Thankfully also a great “granny gear” which was used regularly, particularly with the 25kg total bike and gear weight. You can read more about my bike and setup here.
Further along the forests cleared with some wide open sections before the run down towards the coast into Walpole. I had been recommended to use a cheap and cheerful motel – “Tingle All Over”- a reference to the giant Tingle trees I would see the following day. Basic accomodation but a short walk in to town, hot shower and warm bed did the job perfectly!
Day 7 Walpole to Booner Mundak Hut 53km, 905m Climbing.
A day I had really been looking forward to, heading into the legendary Tingle forests and the Valley of the Giants. I had been warned not to underestimate this day… but I did anyway! Just 53kms, only 905m climbing. How hard could it be!
I enjoyed a sleep in and cooked brekky in town then cruised out late morning. I was heading for the Tree Top Walk that I had not done for many years. The ride started along the beautiful coastline South of Walpole and then headed inland.
From here the ride got significantly harder. Steep hills and slippery tracks heavy with leaf litter in some parts, and gravel in others with some unrideable (for me!) pinches. The reward was worth the effort and the tree top walk and entire Valley of the Giants Park was stunning. Don’t miss it if you are in the area.
The combination of a late start, tougher than expected riding and too much time enjoying the scenery suddenly meant that daylight was slipping away. I had to push hard to reach the hut before dark. Thankfully the riding was good except for a few sandy sections and rolling hills… and more perfect weather!
The hut was a similar set up but the night was very cold. I arrived hot, sweaty and dusty and tried to clean up with water from the tank tap but ended up freezing cold! A good camp cook up, custard dessert and warm drink sorted me out.
There was no one else around, no light pollution and a beautiful clear night to stargaze!
Day 8 Booner Mundak to Denmark (via Duckett’s Mill Winery!) 103km, 1100m Climbing.
My initial plan was to do a 55km day to the Jinung Beigabup Hut. Looking at the weather map I could see a cold front on the way. I was set up for wet weather but I had such perfect conditions so I decided to try and beat the rain to Albany.
With a solid day in front of me I set off early on a clear but brisk morning after a good feed of porridge and coffee. The riding and scenery was stunning. Along the Kent River in parts and a mixture of sand flats, forests and then opening into farmland as you get closer to Denmark.
A very important lunch stop at the highly recommended Duckett’s Mill Winery and Cheese Factory was a great morning motivator. The extra good news was that I had arrived when wine tasting had started! I can recommend the Shiraz with the Ploughman’s Lunch with extra bread for the hungry cyclist!
Whilst I thoroughly enjoyed a long slow lunch, I quickly regretted the wine on the long climb up Mt Shadforth not long after lunch. Over the crest and it was a magical descent down to Denmark hitting the coast near Green’s Pool for some of the best riding and scenery that you will get anywhere in the world!
The track winds through the dunes along the coast then up through the wind farm, before hitting the flats and cruising in to Denmark on bike paths. I was spent by the end of the day, but what a magical day it had been!
Day 9, Denmark to Albany. 83kms and 550m Climbing
A solid night’s sleep at 31 On The Terrace following a solid Chicken Parmi at the Denmark Hotel, now part owned by old friends Luc Longley and Anna Gare, set me up well for my last day on the Munda Biddi Trail.
After a great brekky at Raven’s Coffee I hit the track on another cool clear morning without a breath of wind! The track out of Denmark heads along the river before following the coast with amazing views all the way. The track is flat, smooth and relatively fast before heading slightly inland for my last bit of bush and forest mixed with farmland.
Through Torbay along a historic rail track and then a lunch stop at the Elleker General Store which had a good range of supplies.
Despite the temptation to push harder on these nice flat trails, I had been warned to keep a bit of “lead in the pencil” for the climb up to the Albany Wind Farm. This was a solid climb indeed, initially with well built switchbacks, but then out to slippery and steep gravel that my legs and tyres protested at!
Once at the top the views were incredible and it was a great downhill then coast cruise in to Albany, arriving early afternoon with the clouds building behind me.
Albany then back to the Big Smoke
I enjoyed the afternoon walking around Albany and the War Memorial on the Coast. The Tourist Bureau is right next to the Southern Terminus of the Munda Biddi and were very helpful sorting out cheap accommodation with bike parking.
I had booked my bike and bus ticket back North on Trans WA which was cheap and painless. You do need to phone them to arrange the bike but no box is needed, just front wheel off and seat down and under the bus it goes!
It was interesting taking the bus back up through many of the towns and roads I had crossed over the last 10 days. It made me aware of the distance that had been covered, but also of the incredible countryside that we have such easy access too.
Munda Biddi Summary
I don’t think I would have done things much differently as far as set-up and ride days and distances… although I maybe would not have the glass of Shiraz before climbing up towards Denmark!
The bike was flawless, my panniers and bags were perfect and the near new knicks and merino socks and shirts were perfect. I was pleased that I had prepared my fitness and also bikefit and saddle, particularly with back to back and long days on the bike. I underestimated how much more important my saddle support and comfort was at low power and long hours compared to lapping the river in Perth.
When calculating distances to cover each day on the Muda Biddi, a good guide is to halve what you could do on a road bike. Despite being in reasonable shape, most days on my well laiden bike I averaged around 15kph, and 6 hour days take their toll!
Most importantly I have learned that the Munda Biddi is an incredible opportunity for almost every level of cyclist, right in out backyard! There are loads of blogs of other people’s experiences, and social media groups for bikepacking and for the Munda Biddi where everyone is happy to share their knowledge and experience. Go to the website, buy and download the app and start planning your trip! You will never regret it!!!
I was astounded how few people I saw on the track in May! My weather was amazing. Spring is the most popular time due to the wildflowers and weather, but I would suggest April and May are also fantastic!
I hope you have enjoyed my musings about my experience of backpacking the Munda Biddi. For all of your injury management and prevention as well as bikefit needs for whatever cycling you love, you can trust the team at Star Physio. We live and breathe it!
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