Day 10: It’s so pretty
Wellington Dam Rd – Nglang Boodja Hut
2:15 – 5:30. 22km

My Dad drove me to Collie from Perth to continue my ride. We drove through the clouds. It was misty, it was wet and I was nervous.

I got on my bike, said goodbye and sped down into Wellington Dam. The ground was slippery and the mud sprayed up onto the underside of my bike. I was struggling with a little hangover from wedding champagne and lack of sleep from the weekend break. The trail turned into steep slippery switchbacks requiring intense concentration and I started to enjoy myself. It was raining with a landscape of dense black forest surrounded by mist. It was beautiful. The most beautiful section so far. I hit some views of the water and then rushing rapids that I just had to stop at and dip my hands in. I was soaked through within a couple hours but not cold. This section would be a fun ride in itself if you wanted to work on your technical skills.

I pulled into camp, another small one like Yarra, and assessed the water damage. Surprisingly most things had stayed dry. My bivy, which I use to wrap my sleeping gear, had protected all my important stuff (things which were going to keep me warm and dry overnight). The only bag that succumbed to the rain was my “Revelate Pocket” which holds my cooking gear, so it wasn’t a big issue – except that I had lost a whole brand new packet of matches. Lucky I also have a flint to light my gas cooker!

 

Day 11: With an audience
Nglang Boodja Hut – Donnybrook
8:45 – 2:30 50km

I woke up to the sound of someone in the hut. I rolled out of my sleeping bag and peeped around the corner to find a kangaroo sitting on the porch just checking out the view.

I’ve lost count of how many kangaroos and emus I have seen on my journey so far but this was probably the closest one has been to me. They are quite timid animals.

The ride to Donnybrook involved the climb out of Wellington Forest and then into cow farm country. I felt like I had an audience for most of the way. Every cow I passed (and there would have been hundreds!) stopped eating and stared, moving her head to follow me as I rode past.

It was a dry day but my bike and much of my stuff was still quite wet and covered in mud. About halfway, my toes became numb and I realised my shoes were wetter than I thought. I changed to sandals and was pleasantly surprised to find that they were quite comfortable to ride in.

Cow farms changed to apple orchard territory and I knew I was close to Donnybrook (famous for their apples).

I hadn’t planned on anywhere specific to stay (I haven’t planned any of my town nights). While riding around town in circles I spoke to Donnybrook Motel and Brook Backpackers, and ended up at the Transit Park at the back of the cricket field. You can pay $26 and pick up the keys for the toilet block from the BP service station. The facilities were good and I hung up all my wet stuff on the washing line.

I didn’t like staying in town but dinner was worth it! Highly recommend the Goat Curry and Garlic Naan Bread from Donnybrook Indian Restaurant. Nothing like good Indian food to warm up the mood.

 

Day 12: A little local knowledge
Donnybrook to Jarrahwood
9:15 – 2:30 45km

The ride was pleasantly flat today. A cruise through farmland, pine tree plantations and then over (through) some soft white sand (the beach is ages away!)

I so was distracted by my own thoughts that time just flew by. Actually time has flown by the whole trip! I can’t believe tomorrow will be my halfway point.

One thing that’s worrying me is that my back tyre (tubeless) has started to leak through the spokes. The tape is giving up and it’s probably run out of sealant. There’s nothing I can do about it except put a tube in. I inspected my spare tube and found it had a wear hole in it from rubbing in my bag. It’s not a problem yet because my rear tyre is still holding enough pressure to ride. I guess I’ll deal with it if/when it gives up for good.

Jarrahwood has a great feel to it. Only about eight old houses (from before the Mill closed in 1982), heaps of old cars, very friendly kangaroos and lots of cockatoos! Each house had wisps of smoke coming out of their chimneys, even though it’s only early autumn.

The hut is situated right in the middle of town. There is also an accommodation house (run by the community collectively) in town for Munda Biddi riders where they can get shower and cooking facilities for $20 a night. I was fine staying in the hut but will note it for next time – especially for smaller rides and less gear to carry.

I was just making dinner when Mark, one of the locals, walked passed. A very friendly man who told me all about the history of the town, the history of each house, what the community has invested together into the area, stories about particular kangaroos and emus, and a bit about himself. I hadn’t had a real conversation with anyone since the weekend and we had a great chat. He offered to walk me up to the top of the hill so I could get mobile reception (to text my parents) and on the way showed me all sorts of trees, plants, things he’s fixed on the house we walked past and also the old car he has converted into a fire truck.

I felt like Mark let me in on a big secret – that Jarrahwood is a sanctuary: a tiny town in the middle of a whole lot of expensive and tourist-centric big towns, yet no one knows it’s here! And in a forest only 30km from the beach! I’m sure it won’t be the last time I cycle through this place!