Mountain Bike Morning – Mundaring Weir Hotel to Camel Farm
Watching the weather all week and hoping for a break of rain, we were super excited when that day came over the weekend. And so we loaded the bikes into the car and headed up to the Kalamunda Mountain Bike trails. We soon changed our plans thinking a cross country ride might be better given the rainfall and the chance of encountering slippery jumps. Fortunately Kalamunda and the surrounding Mundaring area offers plenty of excellent forest riding options. We settle on a section of the Munda Biddi Trail from Mundaring Weir Hotel to Calamunda Camel Farm.
Route: Mundaring Weir Hotel to Calamunda Camel Farm, return same route
Length: 20.5km approximately
Highlights: Riding the Munda Biddi trail, touring route, wildflowers (spring), possible kangaroo sightings, riding in the forest, mtb and xc trails at Kalamunda and a coffee opportunity at the end
Deviations: Mundaring Weir Dam and the 1st pump station, Mt Gunjun downhill mountain bike tracks
We arrive at Mundaring Weir Hotel to a crisp morning chill and grey skies, though from experience days like these in winter turn out to be perfect conditions for riding or hiking. We locate the hotel along Mundaring Weir Road quite easily, after the dam turn right onto Hall road.
The 1898 Mundaring Weir Hotel and nearby water dam offers significant history to Western Australia’s past. A water pipeline, designed by C.Y. O’Connor carries water all the way to Kalgoorlie some 557kms away. It was quite the idea and a bit surprising that it was widely condemned at the time. Perhaps it was too radical of an idea? There is a long time running joke that a large majority of West Aussies tend to complain about new changes and I say this with lighthearted humour. One thing is for sure, it helped the town during the economical gold rushes. Bill from Follow My Ride, extends a great run down of the surrounding area on his blog. Having frequented the mountain bike trails at The Dell, it was interesting to read about Edgar Dell and establish that historical connection. The hotel looks inviting and boasts a picturesque beer garden. If we planned our trip a little better we would have stopped by for breakfast and coffee. I make a side note for next time even thinking a glass of wine post ride would be even better!
Opposite the hotel, near the gallery you may see the Bibbulmun and Munda Biddi Trail marker, this heads north to Mundaring. In the car we spotted a marker off Mundaring Weir Road, shortly before we turned into the hotel, so we set off in the direction of that marker enjoying a decent length downhill.
The trail takes us alongside the pipeline and the Munda Biddi conveniently and cleverly diverts on and off the pipeline trail saving us from a couple of uphill climbs. This is very considerate and we thank the Munda Biddi however I have a feeling we are in for some hard work at some point during the ride.
The trail is compact to ride on, I imagine in the drier months pea gravel could be a challenge. The winter rains have resulted in some visible ruts, however they are easy to spot from far away giving us time to go around. Same with the odd puddle, I take the route around because I have a thing about getting my feet wet whilst having a dry body. Even though I enjoy riding in the rain.
The wildflowers have appeared early and as it was a grey day they couldn’t have come at a better time. They really brighten up the scene. I was intrigued with a purple flowering bush and I’m afraid I don’t know the name. Although I think I’m correct in saying it’ is of a lavender variety. The flowers contained a mixed aroma of lavender and eucalyptus – beautiful.
After we turn and progress away from the pipeline we come across a small river crossing, very small. There was no threat of being washed away, infact the sign of such a small crossing shows its been a good winter here in Perth. My Instagram feed is showing some lovely photos of the local rapids and waterfalls and the Avon Descent is expected to be a great race this year!
It’s noisy in this part of the forest and we find ourselves out numbered by forest Red-tailed Black-Cockatoos. They are THE bold and beautiful of the forest – loud, boisterous and messy eaters, shredding seeds off trees and discarding them all over the place. The existence of these not so common birds is dependent on native forests in Western Australia because they roam quite a bit. I’ve seen groups hang around older Perth areas like Bold Park and Perry Lakes where native trees haven’t been removed for landscape gardens and designer water thirsty trees. The cockatoos seem to follow us above, settling on a tree before moving to the next. While the attraction to the forest is the peaceful surroundings, we absolutely enjoy the wildlife encounter.
From Mundaring Weir we are riding into the lower Helena River Valley and this gives us a couple of good vistas across a couple of farms.
We reach a burnt out section of the forest and the silence becomes oddly eerie. The cockatoos are noticeably not around anymore and by the strong smell of smoldering ash, the prescribed burn off has recently been carried out. At some point two kangaroos cross the path ahead of us unfazed or possibly unaware by our presence because they don’t turn to look at us.The lack of scenic landscape makes the uphill climb out of the valley slow and we feel the leg burn. On the upside, I begin to think about the fun downhill for the return journey and this keeps me motivated and more importantly pedalling.
A couple of times we walk the bikes up the trail to conserve a little energy. It’s all part of the Munda Biddi experience, be content at taking the trail at your own pace. I haven’t worked out my strengths quite yet when it comes to tackling the Munda Biddi. All I know is I just keep going because how else am I going to return back to the car!
We reach a Munda Biddi marker with a second symbol for a touring route option – distinctly identifiable by the green symbol. At this point we have climbed 111 metres and feeling it all over.
The Munda Biddi Foundation website details the touring route to be an easier option than the Munda Biddi trail. It also heads towards the Camel Farm. Whereas the Munda Biddi trail cuts through the Dell and Mt Gunjin before continuing to the next hut. I’ve copied the map below for reference from the Kalamunda Collective website.
The touring route incorporates approximately 2.6km of Asher Road and the sealed road conditions definitely makes it an easier option compared to off road. However with that said, it is a constant uphill but not overly steep pedal. Before it becomes boring we spot the Kalamunda trail markers on both sides of the road. We take the trail marked ‘dugite’ which is a good flowing two way trail connecting straight onto ‘joeys line’ before spitting us out into the rear of the Camel Farm. It’s an interesting place at the Camel Farm. Background noises of goats and camels combined with mountain bikes rolling on the gravel. I have to say it’s a great place to break up the ride.
We sit on a log and pull out some banana and olive oil cake I made a few days ago. Unfortunately I only packed two slices and when that’s not enough we pull out some Cadbury chocolates which leads to a bit of debate over choices.
The return journey on the same trail…
The strongest benefit to this route and the direction from Mundaring Weir is the majority of the hill climbs are knocked out by the time the Camel Farm appears. The return journey contains less climbs and more downhill runs. On the way back I found I was enjoying more of the scenery because when climbing uphill, the attention is focused more on the trail and less on the surroundings. In saying this, it’s always good to break a couple of times and appreciate the surroundings. There are two steep sections marked with warning signs, please be careful. If you are a regular at the Kalamunda Mountain Bike trails you will thoroughly enjoy the steep wide run however if you are new to off road please proceed carefully or perhaps walk the bike down instead. Do the trail during the week and you’ll probably have it all to yourself.
This route is great training for the Munda Biddi as well as endurance MTB events. It’s short enough to regularly train on and hilly enough to really make you work those legs and basically every inch of body. Riding in the forest is incredibly relaxing and anything nagging in the mind simply disappears – I love it and hope you do too!