You want peace and quiet? Wanna get away from it all? You will find it on Map 7, as well as some lovely bush and karri trees, interesting art installations and waterfalls. This map will take you from Northcliffe to Walpole.

Plan on two nights and three days on the trail, and in that time you will not pass a single town, shop or anything except campsites and recreation sites. Act like a Scout and be prepared! There are two Munda Biddi huts on this map. I counted 2 missing direction change markers in November 2014 - my route sheets tell you the right way to go. 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.

In Janurary 2017, we rode and made our highlights video of this map. You can see it here:

For more info on Northcliffe see map 6 overview here.

We will often see a sign on the trail featuring a white bike icon with brown background and directional arrow. These are for the Northcliffe Mountain Bike Trail. This linkage trail joins the Boorara Conservation Park State Championship Trail (which we ride passed) to Northcliffe town. The 18 km one way journey is an easy ride with some moderate slopes and regularly overlaps the Munda Biddi.

The Boorara tree is 1km off the Munda Biddi trail. This tree was used as a fire look out from 1952 to 1972, but is not suitable for climbing. The 50m tall Karri is estimated to be 200 years old. There is a replica lookout next to the tree, and there is a drop toilet nearby, but no drinking water.

Yirra Kartta means "high mountains" in the traditional language, and at the hut is an impressive granite dome that has significance the the traditional owners. The fire that destroyed the hut in 2015 has left plenty of burnt out bush, but the hut is now repaired and the bush regenerating. The second hut on this map is named Kwokralup Beela, which is the traditional name for the Frankland river. The nearby rapids are of significance to the traditional owners as well. The indigenous group that lived in and around the Walpole Nornalup area were called the Minang meaning "southerners" or people of the south. Read and see more about both the huts and campsites here.

Fernhook Falls is located along the Deep River, which is one of the main tributaries of the Walpole and Nornalup Inlets. There is a summer use only crossing, which bypasses the Falls, or you can ride along the alternative route. I have only used the alternative, and it is easy to follow and ride and is well marked. The Falls are situated in the Mount Frankland National Park, part of the Walpole Wilderness Area, about is about forty kilometres north of Walpole. It is a popular swimming and picnic spot in summer, and during winter the Falls are a magnificent sight and sound. Below the Falls are walk trails and board walks for safe access to the river for swimming. There are two walkers huts and several camp sites at Fernhook Falls. The huts have 2 beds each, toilets, water and fire places. There is a central cooking area with gas bbq's, bins and tables. Fees are applicable - see here for costs and more info on the location.

The 20 km round trip detour to Mt Frankland can be a bit tough with some pea gravel. The 1.2 km return Summit trail to the towerman's lookout on the 422-metre peak is strenuous- to get there you will need to climb a ladder and over 300 steep steps. However the views make it worthwhile - on a clear day you can see the Porongurup and Stirling ranges in the east and the Southern Ocean to the south, and 360 degree views of the Walpole Wilderness area.

The Walpole Wilderness Area is a group of 13 national parks and conservation reserves that includes vast tracts of jarrah, tingle and karri forests surrounding granite peaks, rivers, heathlands, and wetlands. Coastal features include inlets and sandy beaches, sheer cliffs and the Southern Ocean. It is 363,333 hectares (3,633 km²) in area and stretches from near Augusta in the west to Denmark in the east. The Munda Biddi enters it at the South West highway and leaves it at Denmark.

The Walpole Wilderness Area was first developed by Donna Selby and Cath Roberts on behalf of the South Coast Environment Group Inc in 1998. The proposal extended the concept of conserving the Shannon River Basin across the Deep River and Frankland River systems. The area includes:

  • Half of the old growth jarrah and karri forests in the south west of WA.
  • Plant species that are not found anywhere else in the world.
  • Giant, old-growth tingle forests.
  • Rare orchids such as the blue babe-in-a-cradle orchid.
  • Threatened ecological communities such as the Mount Lindesay-Little Lindesay Granite Community.
  • Animals such as quokkas, sunset frogs, Nornalup frogs, Walpole burrowing crayfish and the tingle trapdoor spider.
  • Deep River, and wetlands, such as the Owingup Swamp and Mount Soho swamps.

Of the 19 species of mammals found in the Park, one is gazetted as threatened as are four of the 109 species of birds. One species of frog is confined to a 12 km radius of Walpole, and one of the 22 species of reptile found in the Park is gazetted as threatened. The Park's animal community includes species of Gondwanan invertebrates (spiders, insects and molluscs) that have survived for at least 65 million years. Related species survive in the rainforests of Tasmania, eastern Australia, New Zealand, Chile and Madagascar. The Walpole-Nornalup National Park is just one of the national parks in the Walpole Widerness area.

The name Nornalup is the local Aboriginal name for the Tiger Snake. The area was known as 'Nor-Nor-Nup', or 'place of the Nome', meaning the place of the black snake. I have seen a few snakes in the area, but mainly on the Denmark Nornalup Hertitage Trail, as it is rarely used. See the separate map.

In 1910 Minister for Lands and Agriculture James Mitchell had a 'grand vision for development in the south-west' which included agriculture, timber production and dairying. With that in mind he visited the Nornalup area and he made an on the spot decision to set aside the area for conservation. The area reserved was named Nornalup National Park and would later grow to become what is known today as Walpole-Nornalup National Park. Major changes came to the area in the 1920s as settlers arrived looking for good land for agriculture. The Group Settlement Scheme was set up by James Mitchell and was intended to create an agricultural community for migrants. In 1927, Tom Swarbrick was appointed as the first ranger to Nornalup National Park on a part-time basis. Tourism really took off in the area in the late 1920s with more and more people coming to experience the magnificent forests and the beautiful scenery of the inlets and coastline. In 1930, as part of the continuing Group Settlement Scheme, unemployed married men were moved from Perth to establish a settlement on the bank of the Walpole Inlet. Blocks of 120 acres of forested land were allocated to each family by ballot. They then began the backbreaking task of clearing the land for agriculture. The task of clearing the land of its giant trees, combined with the infertile soils, lack of farming skills and the hardships of the 1930s depression were too much for many. Only a third of the original families stayed on, eking out a living from dairy or beef cattle.

The forests of Nornalup National Park were devastated by fire in 1937. A lightning strike near Northcliffe lit tinder-dry forests that was fanned by cyclone off Bunbury. The blaze spread rapidly southwards, consuming everything in its path. By the time the fire reached Nornalup National Park, the crown fire was 12 kilometres ahead of the ground fire and showed no signs of abating. The settlers fought hard to save their possessions and property but many lost everything. This was the last straw for many families who retreated back to the city.

In 1972, the park experienced a huge expansion from 385 hectares to 15,865 hectares. Much of the land from Long Point in the west to Conspicuous Cliff in the east was now protected. At this time, Nornalup National Park changed its identity and became Walpole-Nornalup National Park. Tourism took over as Walpole's main source of income in 1995 with the closure of the timber mill and the downturn of the logging industry in the area. The attraction of the big trees was strong and more tourists were visiting the area to see the majesty of the karri and tingle trees.

Swarbrick Recreation site features a selection of art exhibits designed to "challenge your perception of wilderness". It ranges from a sculpture depicting an Aboriginal message sticks to a giant suspended ring, the Golden Torus. The 500m walk also includes the 'Wilderness Wall of Perceptions'. This 39 metre long, stainless steel wall features more than 30 forest related quotes from the past 100 years, with dates of political events relating to forest management and wilderness. I can recommend this walk - it is a great place to stop after riding up a big hill. There are two drop toilets near the start of the walk, but they are unmarked and easy to miss.

Walpole lies very close to the northern point of the 100-hectare Walpole Inlet, from which it takes its name. Walpole was always the preferred name, but it was believed this was already in use in Tasmania. So the newly gazetted township was officially named Nornalup, but this caused confusion with the railway terminus 13 kilometres east. Eventually the Post Office advised that there was no Walpole in Tasmania, and in 1934 the town reverted to its original name of Walpole. The average rainfall is 1200mm, and population is about 500. The town has a small general store, a couple of accommodation and eating options. Basic bike spares are available from the Hardware store on Vista St.

Another visitor centre we ride passed is Walpole. It is located in a pioneer cottage in Pioneer Park, just opposite the main street. The Trail passes behind the visitor centre. There are toilets, picnic tables etc at Pioneer Park, and shops are across the highway. See: www.walpole.com.au

Walpole Inlet is shallow (at most one-metre-deep) while Nornalup Inlet is larger and deeper (up to five metres). The estuaries are joined by a natural one-kilometre long and two-metre deep channel, bordered by steep granite hills and rocky shores. These are known locally as 'The Knolls' and are covered with dense karri, marri and tingle forest. The loop ride around the Knolls is off the Coalmine Beach road and is a couple of kilometres long.

Distances:
Northcliffe to Yirra Kartta Hut: 50km
Yirra Kartta Hut to Kwokralup Beela Hut: 45 km
Kwokralup Beela Hut to Walpole: 30km
Total Map Distance: 125 km

GPX files I have available:

Northcliffe to Walpole (all map 7)
Northcliffe to Boorara Tree turnoff (Nov 2014)
Boorara Tree turnoff toYirra Kartta Campsite (Nov 2014)
Yirra Campsite to Fernhook Falls (Nov 2014)
Fernhook Falls to Kwokralup Beela (Nov 2014)
Kwokralup Beela to Swarbrick (Nov 2014)
Swarbrick to Walpole (Nov 2014)

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 Munda Biddi Map 7 bike trail.