The next section of Trail starting in Jarrahdale travels 81 kilometres before it arrives in the town of Dwellingup, so allow two days for comfortable riding. Jarrahdale is a picturesque, historic town in the Darling scarp, surrounded by some of WA’s best Jarrah forests. Recently classified by the National Trust, the numerous old timber cottages reveal its origins as Western Australia's first timber town in 1872.
The first section of this ride begins in Serpentine National Park and provides a challenge as you descend into the Serpentine River Valley and across the bridge. A nice diversion for a day ride is to follow signs up to the Pipehead picnic area at the base of the Serpentine Dam. After you cross the Serpentine River there is a steep climb out of the valley - be prepared to get off and walk as you make your way upwards. Remember to take a break and appreciate the beauty of where you are.
The next section of the Trail flattens out providing pleasant riding along the Carralong, Karnet and Dirk Brooks. When you reach Goby Road, you have the option of taking the touring route marked green on the map or continuing along the challenging section of Trail. These sections are not without their rewards. There are great views across the coastal plain and surrounding farmland.
The second half of the ride features some rolling hills and a few short steep hills again. Keep your eyes open for bird life – if you are lucky you may spot a large Wedge-tail Eagle. Dandalup dam will give you a chance to rest before the final hill up to the hut. It’s important to note that the picnic area is at the base of the dam wall. While it is a great ride down remember your will have to climb out at the end! Dandalup campsite is considered by some as “the most attractive spot and camp of all – just beautiful.” It has stunning valley views and is surrounded by a ghostly stand of butter gums (Eucalyptus laelaei) an uncommon species with a lovely pale, powdery bark named after the vestal virgins.
From here, the Trail has the whole range of terrains, from gentle grades through to steep hills and long ascents. The country after the old Whittakers Mill townsite, along the water-catchment area is very pleasant as you cross the tributaries of Little Dandalup Creek towards Torrens and Del Park Road. Shortly after Scarp Road, more experienced cyclists will be able to access the Turner Hill Mountain Bike loop trail. (Detailed map available from Parks and Wildlife).
Between North Spur Road and Scarp Road along the conveyor belt, you may notice a variety of tree species in a plantation. This arboretum was planted to test a range of alternative species for the rehabilitation of forests after mining.
Oakley Dam is a forest oasis – be sure to make the short detour to the dam wall - the view down the valley is simply glorious and it is a great spot for swimming (back of picnic area). It is rumoured that this dam was built to provide water for the steam trains that once ran the rails on the plain below before the introduction of diesel-electric trains. Look out for robins, finches, blue wrens and the occasional eagle. The dam, suitable for swimming, makes a refreshing break after a long days’ ride. The Trail follows the escarpment with occasional views of the flatlands below. There is a steep descent after Scarp Road near Marrinup Falls, but you can choose the alternative route along Hatch Road for an easier ride.
Marrinup has an interesting history, being the site of a Prisoner of War camp during World War II. The open camp ground provides access to the Marrinup Mountain Bike Trail (detailed map available from Parks and Wildlife). From here the remains of an old railway formation completes your journey into Dwellingup. Dwellingup is a little forest town, now with a big reputation as a centre for recreation and outdoor education activities. Steeped with history, the town is situated in the heart of the forested hills of the Darling Scarp and close to the Murray River; it has much to offer those who want to interact with nature.
From Dwellingup, the Trail has some fantastic jarrah forest riding with picturesque camp sites and river crossings. Between Linto Road and Murray River Bridge there are some challenging sections as Lane Poole Reserve contains a few steep forested valley slopes. The trail becomes relatively easy from Nanga to Bidjar Ngoulin campsite because most of it follows an old forest rail formation, making for gentler grades. The most scenic cycling area is the North Junction Form which runs along the Murray River. Make sure you take a break and explore the beautiful rock-rimmed pools and natural waterfalls of the river.
Lane Poole Reserve – Named after WA’s first Conservator of Forests and a dedicated conservationist, Lane Poole Reserve contains beautiful stands of jarrah, wandoo, marri and blackbutt and incorporates the site of a once-thriving timber town – Nanga. There are lovely parts along the Murray River, one of the few undammed rivers in this part of Western Australia. The most popular camp sites include Baden Powell, Nanga Mill, Stringers and Charlie's Flat, followed by Tony's Bend and Yarragil, while Icy Creek Environmental Education Camp offers built accommodation for students and community groups.
Nanga Mill – Timber was taken from this area as early as 1898 and the Nanga Mill grew to be the biggest in the area. A milling town was built to service the mill, operating from about 1900 until the huge Dwellingup fires of 1961. These fires incinerated the entire town and devastated the countryside. The town was declared closed and the area was replanted with stands of pine.
Alternative Tour - Waterous Trail (separate map required). The Waterous Trail (61.3km) connects the Munda Biddi with Lake Navarino (Waroona Dam). Named after one of the original forest townsites in the area, the Trail provides cyclists with a circuit route option which can be completed in two to three days. Purchase maps from the Munda Biddi Trail Foundation or Parks and Wildlife.
Follow My Ride offers a detailed description of this section of the Trail as well as video material that will give you a good idea of what parts of the Trail are like.
For more information on cycling from Jarrahdale to Nanga, go to the Section by Section Guide.