There are a number of things to consider before setting out on the Trail. The following list will help to make your Munda Biddi Trail experience safer and more enjoyable.
- What to wear
- Tents and tent sites
- Pests and risk to health
- Water catchments
- Staying safe
- First aid
- Other things to consider
A helmet is essentail for your own safety and it may save your life. Wearing a helmet is also a legal requirement in Western Australia. Invest in a good quality helmet and ensure that it fits correctly and that the straps are adjusted for a snug fit.
While the weather is the South West is mild for most of the year, summer days can be very hot and the winter months do get wet. Always prepare for your ride by taking the most appropriate clothing according to the weather forecast. Proper cycling shorts with gussets and lightweight breathable cycling jerseys can add to your comfort and enjoyment. Lightweight rain jackets or windbreakers are handy for cycling on crisp mornings and cool nights. Always wear bright, visible clothing so that you can be easily seen in the bush tracks and open roads. Thermal clothes are also handy as they are quick drying and very warm!
Gloves are a valuable addition as they protect your hands from blisters, prevent the compression of nerves in your hands and, in the event of a fall, save your skin.
Always wear sturdy comfortable shoes with lightweight cotton socks. Purpose made cycling shoes are not essential, but they do make pedalling more efficient.
Always wear sunglasses to avoid damage to your eyes from the sun, wind, dust, stones, branches and insects.
All the Munda Biddi Trail campsites have tent sites around or near the shelters. There is no booking system for the shelters and it is recommended that tents be carried, as space in a shelter cannot be guaranteed. All cyclists who intend to stay overnight in a shelter on the Trail should carry a tent, in case the shelter is full on arrival. Groups of more than ten people are not permitted to occupy a shelter until after 6pm. Tents must be pitched in the sites provided at the campsites. No camping is permitted in water catchment areas - ie most of the Trail between Mundaring and Collie, and south of the Blackwood River. The Munda Biddi Trail Foundation offers cyclists a tent hire service.
Toilet facilities at the campsites are to be used when available. Where no toilet facility is available, waste and toilet paper must be buried 15cm deep and must be at least 100 metres from any body of water. Minimum impact bush walking and Leave No Trace camping principles must be adhered to by all. No food, litter or sanitary items are to be put in the toilet, buried or left at the campsite, on the Trail or in the bush. This includes organic items such as apple cores and fruit peel. Leave nothing but footprints!
Campfires are a tradition in Australian bush walking. However, the environment is becoming less and less tolerant of campfires, particularly in the surrounds of the Munda Biddi Trail campsites. Many campsites have been stripped bare of firewood due to the continual use of fires. Fires, if lit at all, should be kept to a minimal size. There is no point in having a raging fire when a small one provides more than enough warmth. Remember the old Aboriginal saying: "White man make big fire, sit far away - black man make small fire, sit close”. Campfires may be lit only at approved campsites. All other campsites do not have fireplaces indicating that only fuel stoves must be used.
All cyclists must take care with fire. No one is permitted to light a fire on days of very high or extreme fire danger. Under these circumstances, operate a fuel stove only at the campsite. Under no circumstances should a fuel stove be used in or near a tent. Check the current fire conditions as total fire bans usually exist between December and April each year. All fires must be totally extinguished before you leave a campsite.
Water should be treated with respect. Water tanks at campsites are not filled other than by rainfall and the water must last through long dry spells. Untreated water may contain micro-organisms and particles, which can cause diseases such as gastro enteritis. Drink only treated water - this includes treating water taken from the campsite water tanks. Do not assume that creeks or watercourses indicated on the maps actually have water in them. Most are ephemeral and run only in peak rain periods, and then only very briefly.
Everyday soaps and detergents should not be used in the Australian bush. They are harmful to its biodiversity. Biodegradable toothpaste should be considered, and sanitizing gels that require no water and leave no waste are a must. They can be purchased at most outdoor equipment stores and pharmacies. Cyclists should not bring everyday soaps, detergents or shampoo to use in the bush.
March flies can be a problem in the drier, warmer months. They will give a painful bite and are particularly attracted to the colour blue. At dawn and dusk, mosquitoes and midges are most active. Ross River virus is a debilitating illness which can be transmitted by mosquito bites. It is most prevalent in the warmer, summer months anywhere where mosquitoes are likely to be found, such as near water courses and any swampy areas. It is most important to protect the skin at these times by using insect repellant and covering up. Summer cyclists often carry a mosquito net to set up inside campsite shelters if not using a tent protect against mosquitoes. Please however ensure that your net does not impact upon other cyclists using the shelter. It is always better to carry and use a tent.
Venomous snakes can also be encountered almost anywhere along the Trail, particularly in spring. Always keep in mind always that snakes are more afraid of you than you are of them. Normally they will sense the thumping of your footfalls and make a hasty retreat well before you can see them. An exception to this can be on unseasonally warm days in late winter and spring when most snakes, which curl up for a long sleep during cold weather, will be sluggish. In this state they are more likely to feel threatened and, if encountered, the cyclist should steer well clear of them. Tiger snakes, which are highly venomous, are fairly common near swamps, wetlands and karri forest while dugites occur in drier areas anywhere. See snake descriptions under ‘Fauna’ in this Guide.
Most bites occur on the ankle or lower leg, so wearing gaiters, thick socks and sturdy boots will help prevent snake bites. In the event of a snakebite see first aid tips below.
Blister bush: Where the Trail goes near the margins of creeks and swamps near coastal areas walkers are likely to encounter blister bush (Phebalium anceps). This is a slender shrub with bright, light green leaves 4 - 12cm long, which are covered with fine, silvery scales when young. Mainly between August and November it has small clusters of small white flowers along the stems. Contact with any part of this plant can cause blistering of the skin to a small percentage of cyclists. It should not pose any problems as it is easy to avoid.
Kangaroo and pepper ticks can easily find their way from bushes onto your body when you brush past them. They are particularly common from October to early autumn on the northern parts of the Trail. Carefully check your body regularly, especially creases, as they can go undetected for some time and can cause irritation in some people. If they have buried their heads into your skin, the best remedy to remove them is to use fine pointed tweezers to carefully remove the tick, ensuring the head is not left beneath the skin. Tea tree oil will greatly help reduce itching. Lymes Disease, common in USA and Europe and carried by ticks, is unknown in Western Australia.
Sandflies can be a problem for people who are sensitive to their bite and can occur anywhere. They are very small, grey flies. Their bite is not immediately detected but within a few hours or a day of being bitten small, red, very itchy marks may develop on the skin at the bite sites. It is not uncommon for sensitive people to have dozens of bites that can be very itchy and take up to a week to settle down. Insect repellant, covering up and avoiding sitting on the ground in the bush appear to help. Tea tree oil will greatly help reduce itching.
Wild pigs do inhabit the forests, but are rarely seen. You are advised to not approach them. Feral foxes and cats may also be seen, but pose no threat to humans.
Bees are often attracted to the campsite rainwater tank and tap, especially in the drier months. Bees are also prevalent in the spring with the onset of the wildflower season. If you are allergic to bee stings, then ensure you carry the appropriate medication.
The Munda Biddi Trail passes through 12 harnessed water catchments between Mundaring and Collie and even more further south. The supply of clean water is crucial. All cyclists must observe rules and regulations designed to protect our water supplies.
Whether you are on a short day trip or a multi-day adventure, there are a few simple things you can do to ensure your experience is a safe one:
- Check the current trail conditions
- Check the weather report
- Make your plans known to someone back home
- Ride at your own pace
- Learn basic bike repair principles
- Carry lots of water
- ALWAYS CARRY A MAP AND KNOW HOW TO USE IT
The following information should only be used as a guideline and should not replace your first aid training! You should also carry an appropriate first aid kit.
- Immediately apply pressure on to the bite.
- Keep the person calm and completely at rest.
- If the victim is bitten on a limb, apply a firm compression bandage over the affected area, roll it toward the extremities and then back up over the affected area, as close to the body as possible.
- The bandage should be firm but not tight.
- The limb should be immobilised with a splint or sling.
- Once applied, the bandage should remain in place until medical care arrives (try to bring transport as near as possible to the patient). Never remove the bandage. Trained medical personnel will do this.
- Do not wash the venom off the skin, as this will assist in the identification of the snake.
- Most bites occur on the ankle or lower leg, so wearing gaiters, thick socks and sturdy boots will help prevent snake bites.
- The barb from a sting should be removed if it remains in the flesh.
- Remove the barb by brushing or scraping sideways; never pull the sting out as it will inject more venom.
- Raise the affected part and apply a cool compress or chemical ice to reduce swelling.
- Anyone who has an allergic reaction should also be treated as for a snake bite (see above).
Heat exhaustion and dehydration
Exposure to hot and humid weather may lead to these conditions as a result of normal body cooling processes becoming inefficient. The person may feel hot, faint, giddy, thirsty, complain of nausea, cramps, headache, and will appear clammy with excessive sweating, rapid breathing and have a rapid pulse rate.
- Assist the person to rest in shade.
- Sponge exposed skin with cool water.
- Ensure the person drinks plenty of cool water preferably mixed with electrolytes.
Sprains and strains
Sprains occur when a ligament around a joint is over-stretched or torn, or when a muscle or tendon is over-stretched or torn. Similar aid is required in both cases.
- Assist the person to be comfortable.
- Raise the injured part to reduce swelling.
- Support the injury with a firm bandage, and apply a cool compress over the bandage for 10 minutes.
- Rest the injury for up to 48 hours.
- Remove the tick by levering it out carefully with tweezers. Do not squeeze or pull the tick as it may inject venom.
- Check the rest of the body, including hair, skin creases and ears.
- Other options include using Vaseline or perfume spray, which may help by intoxicating the tick thereby making it easier to remove.
Bleeding and wounds
- If too much blood is being lost from a wound or injury, stop the flow of blood by pressing firmly on the wound with a bulky sterile dressing.
- Keep firm pressure on the wound for 10 min with the person resting. If the wound is on a limb, elevate the limb.
- Comfort and reassurance will slow heartbeat and reduce further loss of blood.
- Minor wounds should be cleaned and dressed.
Please note that this information is only a guide to assist in emergencies on the Trail - adequate preparation is also essential when planning a Munda Biddi ride. Be first aid trained!
We certainly don't encourage cycling the Trail alone as riding solo can leave you vulnerable if you have an accident or breakdown. It could be hours, or even days, before you see another cyclist on parts of the Trail and if you have a broken bone or smashed bike...or worse... you won't be able to reach safety by yourself. Remember, you can't rely on your mobile phone to work in the bush. A lone cyclist who is injured or ill should STAY ON THE TRAIL even if it means spending an unplanned night in the forest.
Camp close to the Trail so that you can be easily found. The Department of Parks and Wildlife does not monitor an individual's progress - this is the responsibility of each cyclist's personal backup). However, it is useful to contact the District Office that you will be cycling near for the latest information on the trail conditions (eg. recent fires, water in tanks etc.) before you start your journey.