The Trail

Overview

The Munda Biddi Trail is a 1000 km off-road cycling trail in WA, running from Mundaring to Albany. It is the longest track of its kind in the world. The name 'Munda Biddi' means "path through the forest" in the Noongar Aboriginal language. The Trail utilises many old timber harvesting rail lines (called forms) and existing trails and quiet back roads. It often travels through government owned state forest and water catchment bushland, generally has gentle terrain (the timber rail lines usually follow the contour lines), and is an ideal setting for an off-road cycle trail. However, some parts do have steep hills, loose gravel and single track, so it is not all easy riding. Forms were temporary train lines laid to collect timber and are not as compacted as permanent rail used for passengers. The Munda Biddi is not firm "rail trail" like you find on the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail near Mundaring, or rail trails throughout the rest of the world.

The Trail is managed by the  Department of Biodiversity, Conservation and Attractions (DBCA, but known as the Parks and Wildlife Service) and is run by the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation. The Foundation is staffed by one paid worker and managed by a board of enthusiastic cyclist volunteers. They derive their income from selling the official maps, memberships and other fund raising activities. It does not cost to use the Trail or the huts, so you can assist the Foundation by buying the maps and becoming a member, which is free.

National Geographic listed the Munda Biddi as one of their top 10 cycle rides in the world. See the article here.

The trail is accessible by car, and in some places, via public transport. There are occasional towns with accommodation as well as free campsites at different points along the trail, usually a day's ride apart (advanced planning is highly recommended).

See my video summary of the Trail here:

I updated my highlights video in 2017 of my ride here:

The route

I think the chances of riding the entire Munda Biddi as per the route on maps is pretty small, if not impossible. There are 2 long term diversions (map 2 & 3) in place plus there is always shorter term diversions due to logging, prescribed burns, road works or flooding. Most diversions are very close in length to the original, so if you want to do the 1000km you should still achieve that. Unfortunately, diversions often take you on gravel or sealed roads and are not as pleasant as the original track. (See more at "Diversions" below)

The Maps

You must use the official Munda Biddi maps when riding the Trail to avoid getting lost. My website is aimed at providing a more detailed trail guide than the maps alone provide as well as all essential information on what to take, when to ride, what you will see and lots of historical info to help you research your ride. The maps are available at many bike shops, visitors centres in towns along the route, or DPaW (https://shop.dpaw.wa.gov.au/maps/tracks-and-trails). As of August 2016, they are not available from the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation. They are made of a shower proof material that is virtually rip proof.

Over the last 10 years, the Munda Biddi trail has been realigned in the Northern half from its original route. As a result the maps have been updated. Make sure you ride with the current maps - the date is usually on the back under the bar code. Some of my maps just show an edition number and no date, and others I could not find anything at all, so I presume they are old. As of Dec 2014, the current maps are:
Map 1 - April 2013 (reprinted August 2015 to change DEC details to DPaW - no route changes)
Map 2 - April 2013 (reprinted August 2015 to change DEC details to DPaW - no route changes)
Map 3 - August 2015 to show very small Nanga realignment, as well as DEC/DPaW detail changes
Map 4 - April 2015 (reprinted May 2012 to change DEC details to DPaW - no route changes)
Map 5 - April 2013
Map 6 - March 2013
Map 7 - March 2013
Map 8 - March 2013
Map 9 - December 2013.

Markers

I have counted approximately 2500 markers along the entire 1000 km, although I did not include the "Keep straight on" markers that were less than 100 metres from the last marker. All of the markers are viewable on my website, although I offer a printable summary sheet that shows only the change in direction markers (they are the important ones!).

Munda Biddi markers are often affixed to trees on the older section (Map 1 and 2), and are usually 2 metres from the ground. Newer markers are usually affixed to 1 metre tall yellow marker posts in later maps. They are slightly different in design (see photos) but both feature an image from Aboriginal Dream time. The MBTF say it is a message stick, but I always thought it was the Wagyl (see more at "Aborigines" article in History) . Both types of marker are usually visible, and reflective. Occasionally (around Collie, Pemberton and Denmark) you will see the Bibbulmun Track marker - it is similar but not easily confused

Diversions

The Trail is sometimes closed in sections due to fires, logging, flooding, maintenance etc, and temporary realignments put in place. Get the diversions here a few days before you go. Sometimes small or temporary diversions will not be on the website, or the info will not be completely up to date. Print them out and draw them on your map (use a pen or chinagraph pencil). When you get to the diversion, there is usually a sign post with a map attached at the start & finish of the diversion. Some diversions are so simple to follow - DPaW rangers have covered the markers for the old route and installed new markers that you could follow even without a map e.g. Stromlo Rd logging diversion on map 3 in 2015 . Other times, both old and new markers are in situ, the map is poor (an example was Map 3 long term diversion down Nanga Rd - it showed 2 road names only, not the hut which is nearby, it doesn't name the cross road you need to follow etc. The diversion map was dated in June 2015). Similarly Map 8 diversion in Dec 2015 near Jinung Beigabup hut - there were several track junctions on the diversion with no markers indicating direction. Fortunately, that diversion was in place only for a short time due to a controlled burn.

If you come across a diversion you didn't know about, photograph the map with your phone so you have a copy with you. Proceed with caution and be very aware of where and when you last saw Munda Biddi markers. Ride abit slower and scan up trails and tracks. Some diversions are only signposted at the start & finish and at changes of direction eg Map 8 Oct 2014. Diversion maps usually do not have a "You are Here" indicator which would be useful. Not all diversions are on the website.

If you come to a diversion that is not on my route summary, you will need to navigate your way along it until you get to the other end, then rejoin my summary, allowing for any change in cumulative totals. The same occurs if my route took a deviation that is no longer in place. Keep in mind the more temporary deviations may not have as many markers as usual - they maybe at the start, the end and at any changes in direction only.

Diversions, like the Trail, are managed by Department of Parks and Wildlife. The link on the Munda Biddi Foundation website takes you to them, or you can go straight there on: www.dpaw.wa.gov.au/parks/alerts-and-updates

To get warnings and alerts on the trail, download the app from DPaW at parks.dpaw.wa.gov.au/alerts

The surface

I estimate the Trail is made up of:
50% form i.e. old temporary logging rail lines, characterised with gentle slopes and curves, usually 2 metres wide. It may have a solid or soft surface, or have pea gravel, but generally riding is easy or moderately easy. This is not the same as rail trail found in Europe, New Zealand or on the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail in Mundaring, as these have a firmer base due to the permanent nature of their passenger rail lines.
35% gravel road or track- possibly old rail form but is now a bit wider and more compacted. It is rare to see a car on these remote roads. Mainly on map 7 and 8. Generally riding is easy.
8% sealed back roads - mainly on map 4 and 9, but nearly every time you enter or exit a town. Generally riding is easy, and the roads are quiet.
4% single track, usually narrow, often windy and under the trees. Generally riding is fun, although it maybe hilly, so not as much fun if you are riding up compared to riding down.
3% rough 4 wheel drive track, very sandy or deep pea gravel - mainly on map 1 and 2. Generally riding is not fun - it can be a track up a steep, rough hill or a long stretch of deep sand or pea gravel. It is often safer to walk down steep hills when fully loaded, and they maybe nearly impossible to ride up.

To see what that looks like, see my updated video here:

If you have not encountered pea gravel before, it is loose and hard to ride, especially if you are carrying a load. Are you a first time Munda Biddi rider? Then I suggest following the Trail Foundation's recommendations on distances to ride (about 30-40km per day). Save the "double hutting" for after Dwellingup, when the trail is far more rideable (only if you have the strength and stamina).  It is generally firm in Winter and Spring, and softer in Autumn and Summer. If you are a local, I suggest riding map 1 over a long weekend, then ride map 2 over another long weekend, then you can ride map 3 onwards. Or you maybe able to break Map 1 and 2 into day rides (eg four day rides will cover most of the first two maps - Mundaring to Brookton Highway, Brookton Highway to Jarrahadale, Jarrahdale to Dandalup Dam, and finally the Dam to Dwellingup). I think a lot of cyclists ride on Map 1 & 2, then think the Munda Biddi is not for them. I think the pea gravel, combined with big hills, lack of experience  and fully loaded bikes, puts riders off. In the spirit of "forewarned is forearmed", I have made this video. I hope it is viewed as positive and realistic commentary, not critical and negative.  For more tips on riding pea gravel, see the article "What to ride, skills needed" in the side bar.

This page is the property of Follow My Ride, a website detailing off road cycle tracks near Perth and in Western Australia.