The near 1000km of the Munda Biddi Trail takes cyclists through many diverse areas of natural beauty; from jarrah forests to the cliff-tops above the mighty Southern Ocean. The terrain is ever changing and a ride through the bush becomes a journey through a huge natural garden for plant lovers to admire. However, it is not only the flowers and trees that make the Trail special. On the floor of the forests, in the low-lying scrub heath lands of the south, in the lakes and rivers and in the tree-tops overhead live a myriad of mammals, amphibians, reptiles and birds. The nine sections of the Trail that lie between the towns on the route have a rich diversity of flora and fauna.
The northern half – journey through the jarrah forest
The journey commences through the jarrah forest, within which there is a vast array of different types of vegetation and distinct varieties of flowering plants, and continues on across granite outcrops. Wattle is ever present in the forest and in the spring prickly moses spreads a gold carpet throughout.
Many species of orchid present vivid splashes of colour and on the granite outcrops different types of feather flower form masses of bright rust, yellow or pink at the fringe of the rock. Grass trees abound, attracting swarms of bees when they flower, and many forms of banksia can be observed.
On the granite outcrops the ornate crevice dragon may be seen, head bobbing and limbs waving, or maybe a well-developed king’s skink will be sun bathing on the warm rock. Fantail wrens often keep cyclists company as they flit along from bush to bush or arrive in the shelters in search of food. Permanent water holes attract honey-eaters, wrens, wattle birds and many other species.
South of Dwellingup the forest areas offer a diversity of tree types, with stands of wandoo interspersed amongst the jarrah and marri trees. The Murray River is bounded by melaleuca thickets and flooded gum woodlands.
Further south toward Collie the vegetation consists chiefly of paper-barks and flooded gums, and as the Trail moves through sand flats banksia, grass trees and melaleuca dominate and provide habitat to many small reptiles.
The section from Collie to Jarrahdale has a mixture of heavily logged areas and stands of virgin trees. The virgin jarrah trees are giants of their kind and are a reminder of the vast forests that existed before the arrival of the European settlers. There are many creeks crisscrossing the area and in the spring the wild flowers are particularly prevalent. As more southerly latitudes are reached soap bush and rushes appear along the creek beds, a sight more commonly seen in the southern karri forests.
Near Jarrahdale cyclists pass through a stand of wandoo, a tree more commonly found further to the north. As always in the forest, many species of birds abound and the forest floor is a home to small mammals, birds, reptiles and insects.
Beyond the half-way mark – into karri country
Donnelly River Village, once a timber town and now a holiday village, is a place where walkers can get very close to an extraordinary collection of semi-tame kangaroos and emus. Blue wrens are a common sight and flocks of “28” parrots gather on the roof tops of the houses.
Heading south towards Pemberton the Trail passes through some beautiful areas of blackbutt (yarri) and initially follows the Donnelly River along narrow trails bordered with soapbush. In the spring the area is a blaze of colour, all topped by the magnificent karri trees which begin to dominate the forest.
Closer to Northcliffe cyclists will find an abundance of wildflowers in the spring. The forest is generally damper, with associated plant life, such as ferns, abundant and the presence of water along most of the route also means the bird life is prolific. Quokkas, small marsupials found mainly on Rottnest Island near Perth but once widespread on the mainland before the introduction of foxes, have been spotted along this section. Indeed their numbers are increasing through Operation Fox Glove.
The plains and forest before the coast
Between Northcliffe and Walpole spans a long section of almost 130km with terrain varying from karri forest to swampland, coastal dunes, beaches and back to the forest, this time to the mighty tingle trees.
In the South, the Trail passes through stands of karri, Warren River cedar and sheoak trees and across granite mounds, before reaching the dunes and sand ridges with their mix of peppermint and banksia scrub.
The final frontier – the wild south coast
Many cyclists consider this section a favourite, due to the tremendous variation of flora and fauna along the way. There have been reports of sightings of the rare and elusive ground parrot in this area and the low lying shrublands are a haven for snakes, especially the western tiger snake. Flies can be a hazard in the summer and other flying insects provide food for many bird species which live in the coastal heathlands. More bird life can be seen along the traverse of Princess Royal Harbour as walkers arrive in Albany – the Southern Terminus.