The Four Trails Ride is a 67 km off-road trail ride near Perth. It is made up of the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail, Kep Track, the Munda Biddi Trail and Mason and Bird trail.

It starts in Midland and finishes on the Armadale train line at Maddington, so it is easy to use Perth's cycle friendly trains to get to and from your start point. Using the train makes it a great loop, and better still, you leave your car at home.

To get the full ride gpx or the ride route summary, select the "Route Sheets" tab above, and click on the download buttons for each.

Here is my latest video of it, from September 2016:

Here is my first video, from March 2016:

Although I have detailed this ride as starting in Midland and finishing in Maddington, I rode Maddington to Midland in Septemberl 2016. I actually found this route easier - the ride up the Mason and Bird is a little bit hard, but the ride into Helena River is downhill on the rough stuff. The big climb out of Helena River is easy on the old permanent rail trail.

On the 3 km ride from Midland train station to the start of the Railway Heritage trail at Bellevue RSL we pass the Midland railway workshops. These workshops (1905 -1994) were involved with construction and maintenance of all WA Government Railroad trains and rolling stock. During the war years the workshops manufactured munitions, ships propellers & boilers, steering gear, winches and numerous other needs and spare parts for the Allied Forces. This railway workshop still have both machines and patterns as well as the buildings, something which is quite rare around the world.

At the western end of the Workshops is a 200m by 50m dam. It was initially created as a storage dam for water supplies in the late 1890s. It was increased in size in 1947 for coal storage. With the development of the Woodbridge Lakes housing estate near the site, the dam has been retained for its heritage value as a water feature, with some of the area comprising public open space.

The Darling Range started to form about 570 million years ago. The western edge is called the Darling Scarp, and it rises steeply over 200m from the Swan Coastal plain. It was a challenge for the early settlers to find a suitable route for rail to head East over the Scarp, and it took them 3 attempts to find the right route to suit modern railway requirements. The first two attempts are now unused and have been made into a cycle and walk track.

We will start by riding the the southern part of the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail from Bellevue to Mundaring. This was the old Eastern Railway that formerly linked Fremantle to York in the late 1880s, following Nyaania Creek (originally called Smiths Mill Brook). By the 1890s, the second route replaced it, following Jane Brook which joins the Swan River at Middle Swan. It is now used by walkers, cyclists and horse riders. The 200m climb up the Darling Scarp has never been easier, as trains cannot climb steep hills, so the rail trail is steady but gentle rise. The trail is generally compact and firm, with a little bit of gravel, and water, shops and toilets on the way.

The first two Eastern Railway formations were closed by an Act of Parliament in the 1960s, and were vested to the Mundaring Council. Most of the removable property was taken from the reserve - all the rails, sleepers and buildings have gone. The Mundaring and Darlington concrete railway platforms remain. The Koongamia platform, although in use for only about five years, has been re-built. The stationmaster's houses in Mundaring and Glen Forrest have been preserved and maintained. In 1988 the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail was developed by the Mundaring Bicentennial Community Committee, and a pamphlet and signage on the trail developed.

From a cyclist point of view, keep in mind that this Railway Heritage trail was on a permanent railway, whereas the Munda Biddi utilises a lot of temporary timber transport lines. The difference is that the permanent railways needed a more solid base for the heavier trains, meaning that the resultant rail trail is generally smooth, solid and firm. The temporary timber rail lines did not have such a solid base, so the rail trail left behind has more gravel, sand and is looser and softer. They were also in more of a bush setting, so were often neglected and more over grown than old permanent rail trail. As a result the Railway Heritage Trail is a lot easier to ride than most of the Munda Biddi.

Some of the features on the ride are described below. These notes track the Trail as it starts at Bellvue and goes up to Mundaring Via Greenmount.

Convict Creek is a tributary of the Helena River. It was named because of a convict depot on the slopes of Boya hill. Built in 1854, its construction was supervised by Edward Du Cane. In 1870s a government bluestone quarry was developed on the western slope of the hill. Just after crossing the Creek, the white gate on the left is the back entrance to the Goat Farm, a local mountain bike trail park.

As we head up hill from Bellvue a cutting was constructed near the bottom of Dalry Rd. The workers struck clay followed by an underground stream which flooded the clay and turned it into a seemingly bottomless bog. The locality earned the name in the Perth newspapers of the 1880s as "The Devil's Terror" and they cite the example of workers sinking in mud. That section of the railway had to be resurveyed and was shifted 100 meters south. This also meant building a channel along the railway line for Nyaania Creek, which you can see on the right. There is a sign indicating Dalry Rd, and I couldn't see much while exploring the area. The walk up to Dalry Rd is pretty steep, and perhaps the steam combined with the mud made Devil's Terror where the pipeline crosses the stream but it is not obvious to my untrained eye.

Boya Quarry is now used for rock climbing, abseiling and walking. The harbour and moles at Fremantle were built using stone from the nearby Government Quarry (on the south side of Coulston Rd, not visible).

Glen Forrest was known as Smiths Mill after a prominent founder citizen but it is currently named after the first Premier of Western Australia, Sir John Forrest. Stratham Wetlands was the site of the Stathams brickworks, which had its own siding, just east of the railway yard. The brickworks was located on a patch of white clay that is now a park and recreation area.

The Mundaring Sculpture park, at the Northern Terminus of the Munda Biddi trail, has sculptures set amidst Golden Wattles, gums, and wildflowers. It also has a playground, picnic area with electric BBQ's, a modified railway signal tower, amphitheatre and minor walk paths. The old Station Masters House and public toilets are nearby. In recent years the park has also been the home of the Mundaring Truffle Festival.

The Mundaring Visitor Centre is located at 7225 Great Eastern Highway, which is part of the local shopping centre. This is on the northern side of the highway, and the Sculpture Park is located on the southern side, 300m away. It is housed in the old School House and also has a district museum. They sell Munda Biddi Trail maps, as well as a great source of information on all local walk and cycle trails, including the Kep and Railway Reserves Heritage Trail. See www.mundaringtourism.com.au/Pages/Home.aspx

Mundaring is a Perth hills township on the out skirts of the metro area. It has most services including a supermarket, many eating out options but no bike shop. Mindah-lung means "high place on a high place" in the local Noongar language. Just after the Sculpture Park, the Railway Reserves Heritage Trail continues to Sawyers Valley, where as the Munda Biddi turns towards the Mundaring Weir. The Kep Track, from Northam, also joins here, and they continue together for 7km on the old rail line that was built in the 1890's to assist in the building of the Weir.

Commencement of construction of the Mundaring dam was in 1898, the same year as the town was gazetted. The engineer C. Y. O'Connor was involved the design of this scheme that pipes drinking water from the Dam to the booming, but dry, Goldfields, 600km away. We will pass the Mundaring Weir Hotel that was built at the same time and was where O'Connor stayed regularly during the construction of the weir. We will ride along the old train line that was built in the 1890's to assist with the building of the Weir. This line was closed in 1952. The Kep Track finishes at the Hotel, where as the Munda Biddi goes down Mundaring Weir Road and turns off opposite the No 1 pumping station. The trail is wedged between a water pipeline and the Helena River and is a very scenic section, with lots of single track.

The touring route is definitely an easier alternative, but you have ridden the worst of the hills by the time you get to it. After we turn off Mundaring Weir Road I think we will be riding sections of more old train line. In 1909, James Port & Richard Honey built a wooden railed tramway from the WAGR train line at Mundaring Weir to their saw mill 5 km South West, near Mt Gungin. It closed in 1913. The touring route bypasses the Dell, a picnic area with parking & toilets that is one of the local hubs for over 75km of MTB trails in the area. The Dell can be so popular that the carpark is full by 8am most weekend mornings. The Kalamunda Circuit passes through here, and is indicated by a blue triangle.

Edgar Dell (1901 - 2008) was a local painter best known for his watercolour paintings of WA's wildflowers. He emigrated to WA from England in 1924, where he bought and cleared a bush block in Paulls Valley, near Kalamunda, establishing an orchard there. The block came to be known as The Dell and this name has been extended to the recreation site that we ride through.

The ride goes close to Mount Gunjin (399 m), a high point between Mundaring Weir and Kalamunda. It was the location of a Western Australian Forestry Department fire-watching tower.

We come out of the bush into Pickering Brook on Holyroyd Road. It was named after the Holroyd brothers, who were World War 1 veterans. In 1925 they bought land and established their orchard. The road runs along the old formation of the railway and the brothers had a siding on the railway called "No.1 Siding". The Road was un-named for many years before officially named. Apparently they built their house where the train unloaded their building supplies, as the better locations on the property required the supplies to be moved!

Instead of following the Munda Biddi trail up Kingsmill Road and back into the bush, my ride turns right towards the small township of Pickering Brook. It was named after Captain Edward Picking (Pickering) (1781 - 1851) who arrived on the "Atwick" in 1829. The name was incorrectly spelt due to a clerical error. Captain Pickering farmed in several places in WA, then was the Postmaster in Perth in 1841. In 1844 he became Clerk of the Roads Trust and called tenders for Canning Bridge in 1846.

Originally known as Pickering and later as Pickering Junction, this railway station was renamed Pickering Brook Junction when the Government commenced operations in 1903. Prior to 1949, Pickering Brook was a stopping place on the Upper Darling Range Railway, but is now primarily made up of family run orchards. We will pass a small shop on our way to the Mason and Bird Heritage trail, which is about 7km from the Munda Biddi trail.

The Mason and Bird Heritage Trail follows the route of an 1870's tram way from Mason Mill to the Swan River. Mason Mill was the first sawmill in the Darling Range, built in the early 1860's, and was processing the abundant timber close to Perth. The tramway operated between 1872 and 1882 to transport the jarrah timber from Mason's Mill to the Canning River. From there, it was taken to Fremantle. The trail crosses an old wooden bridge which was part of the route of a 14.5 km wooden-railed horse-drawn tramway. The wooden bridge was built by convicts and ticket of leave men (ex convicts). It is believed to be Australia's oldest all wooden bridge. In more recent years the route was used as an access road to Victoria Reservoir.

Timber was needed for the new colony and the harvesting had reached out to the start of the Darling Range. Ben Mason had shown a lot of interest in the Yelverton saw pit, established in 1853 just 4 miles from Fremantle. At this mill, all the sawing was done by the pit saw method, with one sawyer on top and one at the bottom, which was prevalent at the time. In the 1860's he built his first timber mill at the corner of Welshpool Road and Lesmurdie Road. Sheoak shingles for roofs, posts and rails were produced with some timber going to make charcoal for use in Perth foundries. In 1864 Mason acquired a licences to cut timber over an area of 640 acres near the head of the Bickley Brook. Mason built a new mill to work this timber license, and it was known as Mason's Mill (along the existing Mason Mill Rd and in the vicinity of the Heritage Rose Gardens). Mason's Landing was the site of the State's first powered saw mill, that started production in 1868.

Originally, bullocks were used to cart the timber down to Mason's Landing on the Canning River near Cannington. Shallow-draught barges carried the timber down river. They were poled through the shallows to the deeper water near Salter's Point, there to be taken in tow by a steamer for transport to Fremantle. In summer time even the shallow-draught barges often grounded in the shallows and Mason found it difficult to meet export contracts.

The Mason Mill camp employed 138 men, all of whom resided at the Mill. Although 138 men does not sound much of a work force by today's standards, it represented over 1% of the total male population in WA at the time. To be in the same position today, a company would have to employ tens of thousands of men.

The workforce attached to the Mill had their own lives and stories. Arthur and Annie Gibbs, who lost two children to malnutrition, had a stillborn child and whose home on their nearby farm was burnt down in 1894 by a worker who threatened to murder them both. Hotelier Steven Gibbs, who was jailed for cattle theft, whose tin pub was later turned into a boarding house. Or Mary Weston, who lost her first born Francis at two days old in 1876. You can visit his small, hand-carved jarrah grave marker in the bush on this route. This grave with its jarrah headboard and surrounding jarrah picket fence is recognised as the last remaining timber headboard in the Perth Metro Area and a rare surviving example of a bush burial. Her husband, Richard, built the "Daisy Bell' whim, used to haul logs from the bush to Mason Mill. Incidentally, the Westons had 2 children who did reach adult hood - Frank, who was born in 1876 as well, and died in 1953, and Betha, who only died in 1964.

Mason entered into partnership with a young architect named Francis Bird and commenced trading as Mason Bird & Company. Together they worked to improve the productivity of the Mill and reliability of supply. By 1871, their timber concession had expanded to 100,000 acres, for a term of 14 years, in return for constructing a wooden railed tramway from the Darling Ranges to the Landing at Cannington. The tramway would reduce the drag damage on the logs and improve productivity. They built the tram way in 1872, including the bridge near Hardinge Rd. Horses pulled the wagons up to the mill, and they returned fully loaded under their own momentum with two brakeman controlling the speed. This Significant Site is recognised by permanent listing by the National Trust in 1989.

Bickley Reservoir was originally constructed in 1920-21 with the purpose of supplementing Perth's water supply. In 1936, the Reservoir was taken out of service and the water used for irrigation until 1944. Bickley Reservoir and the surrounding catchment area was set aside for recreational purposes. The Bickley Outdoor Recreation Camp (located adjacent to the reservoir), was established in 1948 and is managed by the Ministry for Sport and Recreation. Activities associated with the camp include canoeing, swimming, camping and orienteering. Recreational activities in the catchment include picnicking, bushwalking, mountain bike riding and horse riding. Facilities include barbecues, toilets, change rooms and water. There is plenty of shade available and the wildflowers are on show in the spring months from September through to November.

From Bickley Dam it is a 6 km ride to the Maddington Train station, and a short train trip back to Perth.

If you want to overnight along this Trail, accommodation can be found on Experience Perth . This website also has fabulous suggestions of things to do, attractions, activities and tours in the Perth region.

Getting there: It is a $4.50 train fare (March 2016) from Perth to Midland, and the same again from Maddington to Perth. Perth trains are cycle friendly, except in rush hour (see more here). This means you can leave the car at home and turn this ride into a loop. You can ride to Midland and back from Maddington - there is a cycleway next to the train line for most of both routes, and when it isn't, the train line follows quiet back streets.

Services: There are plenty of water, food and toilet options in Midland, Mundaring and Maddington, although they may be a few hundred metres from you. Along the Railway Reserves Trail, there are several small hamlets just off the Trail with food, drink and toilets. However, on the Munda Biddi section, there is nothing between Mundaring and Pickering Brook, except the Mundaring Weir Hotel, which may be closed.
In Pickering Brook, there is the general store and toilets, water and picnic table next to the school.
In Bickley Brook, there are toilets, water and picnic tables at the Dam

Mobile phone: I had Telstra mobile phone coverage when ever I looked at my phone on this ride. Be aware, you service may not be the same

GPX files I have available:
Entire loop via Munda Biddi Touring Route (start Midland, finish Maddington)
Entire route  (start Maddington, finish Midland)

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