WA’s enormous plains are home to hundreds of cycle trails; among them are the 1000km-plus Munda Biddi Trail, the Kep Track and numerous rail trails that cater for touring cyclists. For the thrillseeker, there are first-class mountain-bike tracks, which encompass jumps, obstacles and picturesque backdrops. It’s an extensive collection of trails that earmarks the state as one of the most admired cycling destinations in the world; the rides mentioned here are considered some of the finest.
Most urban cycle trails are dotted with rest stops and bike-friendly cafes that provide secure parking. There are extensive cycle trails in the Swan Valley, Perth Hills, and Rockingham to Perth precincts, and even a freeway path running from Mandurah to Perth for the truly fit and fanatic. Visit transport.wa.gov.au/cycling and click through the links for a comprehensive guide to Perth metro cycle trails.
Swan River Loop | It is possible, but for a few traffic breaks and minor detours, to walk or cycle from Riverside Gardens in Ascot, through the city, along the river past UWA all the way to Fremantle, across the bridges and back to the city via Attadale, Applecross and Como (consult the Perth Metro map). Any part of the journey will provide much needed exercise, and along the way there are great points of interest: the river itself, waterbirds, shoreline picnic grounds, real estate-with-a-view, fishing spots, boats and yachts, and riverside pubs and cafes.
Greenway | A city to sea, 12km shared pathway, this loops through parks and gardens on its way to City Beach from the CBD. It begins at the Perth Train Station (the red brick pathway) and follows the rail line past Harbour Town, Subiaco Oval and Subi Markets before winding through Wembley and Floreat as it passes Perry Lakes Stadium and Bold Park for a final uphill climb and an ocean-view finish.
Narrows Interchange | This links the two city bridges and is a starting/stopping point for the beautiful path trek around South Perth. It connects to entrance points for the Kings Park bike trail.
Busselton to Dunsborough Pathway | The 31km path stretching from Port Geographe to Point Dalling has been finished two years early (it’s taken 17 years to complete!). There are a couple of different loops within the main path so it’s ideal for kids with trainer wheels, as well as prams and wheelchairs (it’s mostly flat). Best of all, you’ll get fantastic coastline views along the way.
BIKING ADVICE FOR BEGINNERS
If you’re planning on completing a long-distance ride, be mindful that you’ll be carrying at least 20kg of supplies (pack anything less and you’ll find yourself cold, hungry, or both).
If you’re riding a multi-use track, call out to walkers or horseriders long before you reach them. It’s etiquette to stop on the side of the trail as soon as you see a horse and wait to continue your ride until they’ve passed.
Avoid transporting mud from one destination to another because you could be spreading dieback. Keep your bike clean. You might think skidding is fun but it only encourages erosion. Try to choose a speed that allows you to control your bike properly.
WA is blessed with exceptional scenery, from towering forests to rolling hills and farmland, and there are a number of rides over several hundred kilometres that make the most of the landscape. At more than 1000km (Mundaring to Albany), the Munda Biddi Trail takes in the most spectacular bush scenery in WA. You don’t need to be in a Lycra-clad brigade to ride the Munda Biddi, just make sure you’ve got decent equipment and a healthy stamina. Along with native flora, you’re likely to spot echidnas, kangaroos, wallabies and numerous species of reptiles and birds. If you’re tackling the trail in sections and are looking for a challenge, head to the northern part where you’ll grind up and down the river valleys in the Darling Scarp. Sleep overnight in the purpose-built shelters (spaced a day’s ride apart): the huts are impressively equipped with sleeping and sitting areas, water tanks and a toilet – some even include a bike-repair stand. Be sure to pack a tent anyway so you can travel at your own pace rather than gunning it to reach a shelter before nightfall. Also starting in Mundaring (specifically from Mundaring Weir) is the Kep Track, which finishes in Northam. The track is aligned to the Golden Pipeline Drive Trail, one of the greatest engineering feats in Australian history (cheers to CY O’Connor). Cycling whizzes can finish the 75km track in a day but it’s gruelling in parts, so an overnight stay is recommended; the local visitor centres will help you source accommodation. The first section through the hills is the most picturesque, and from there it gets straight, sandy and punishing. Once you’re clear of the sand, however, the descent into Northam is cruisy. If you want to dodge the desert-like portion, there are several access points, so you can park and ride from the towns along the way. A great ride through the Great Southern is the Denmark to Nornalup Rail Trail. About 60km of this rail trail is open, meandering along a beautiful section of the coast, with the eastern end (Denmark) packed with great spots for trailside picnics and photos. Spring is the best time to ride it; the wildflowers are blooming and the heat isn’t unbearable. If you decide to cycle during summer, prepare to be buzzed by flies as you pass through the dairy paddocks… they are seriously off-putting and make the ride far less enjoyable. The route is well signposted and you can grab a local pamphlet for $2, which has the complete map and is easy to follow. West of Denmark has limited or no mobile phone coverage and no amenities. For a short ride that’s suitable for families, try a cycle from Margaret River to Cowaramup. The ride
is ideal for all ages and any calibre of bikes, and is best accomplished at a leisurely pace. The 13.5km trip weaves through peppermint, jarrah and young karri forest, where you’ll get a firsthand view of the abundant birdlife. Best of all, the ride finishes at one Voyager Estate… stop in and reward your efforts by sampling some of their drops.
Even if you aren’t taking on daredevil jumps, cycling in WA can be pretty dangerous to yourself and to others. It’s worth becoming a member of Bicycling Western Australia; members are automatically covered by Australia’s premium bike crash insurance ($119 per year). Bicycling Western Australia gives you the support you need to ride your bike anywhere in Australia and New Zealand. For details, visit bwa.org.au.
Dwellingup 100 | Held every September, the 100km race includes the gruelling Turner Hill climb… don’t make this one your first mountain-biking event.
Cape to Cape | The four-day event during October takes riders through some of the most scenic bush from Cape Leeuwin (south of Margaret River) to Cape Naturaliste.
Karri Cup | The 100km race winds through the karri forest in Northcliffe every March. Compete either solo or in groups.
Gibb River Challenge | The long distance team ride every May is a great social way to see Australia’s most spectacular Kimberley landscapes.
Details and online booking at WA's largest online events guide scoop.com.au
It’s an exciting time to be a mountain biker in WA, with more and more people taking up the sport, and new trails and events cropping up all over the state. Country towns have been quick to notice and are taking advantage of the tourism potential, meaning more great tracks for riders to explore. Pemberton in the southwest is leading the way in this respect – expect plenty more towns to follow suit. But it’s not all good news – there is still no solution for the dreaded WA pea gravel. At its worst, in the dry summer months, its ball-bearing-like pebbles can catch the inattentive rider out, and tyre choice is vital (go for something low pressure, with large knobs on the sides). It goes without saying that it can get too hot to ride in the summer – winter, spring and late autumn are really where it’s at.
Goat Farm, Greenmount (Perth Surrounds) | On the outskirts of Perth and near public transport, there is something here for everyone: downhill, cross-country (XC), four cross (4X) and a great skills park. Not the best trails in the state, but Goat Farm makes the list due to its location and the superb skills park.
Kalamunda Circuit (Perth Surrounds) | This 22km, all single track, purpose-built, intermediate trail is the crowning glory of the Perth Hills. Park at the Calamunda Camel Farm (Pauls Valley Road, just off Mundaring Weir Road, between Kalamunda and Mundaring) where mountain bikers are always welcome. The trail goes through their car park – be sure to check out their excellent scones.
South Shore, Dwellingup (South West) | Possibly the best free-ride area anywhere in Australia: even if your skills aren’t up to scratch, stop and appreciate the riders who conquer the trails. The tracks feature all kinds of fascinating and exhilarating obstacles. The Uptrack is a good start point, and has a teeter totter (seesaw); if you can’t ride that, you aren’t ready for Snakes and Ladders. The pinnacle of the trails, this is a free ride with monstrous logs and jumps so large that you’ll be in a world of pain if you mess them up. Riders of all skill levels can enjoy the Log Park and Connecting Trail. Your fun doesn’t need to stop at one day’s riding; there are plenty of nearby camping spots available so you can take advantage of South Shore for a whole weekend.
Secret Witcher, Busselton (Margaret River) | This has four tracks, and if you aren’t a fan of hill climbs, you’ll be relieved by the trails at Secret Witcher. The routes are for intermediate riders; top features include car bodies to ride over, fast flows, and log rollovers set up as jumps. The trails are conveniently close to the highway but directions are tricky; invest in the WA Mountain Bike Trail Guide for easy navigation.
Margaret River Pines (Margaret River) | Located near Carters Road, this epic location allows you to experience the Margaret River pine forest with a series of trails stretching over 15km of land. You can make it up as you ride along, and depending on what you’re after there’s jumped, smooth tracks, and berms – something for beginners, intermediate and advanced riders.
Wellington National Park (South West) | The star attractions in this area (and arguably the state) are the Pile Road trails (officially known as the Mount Lennard trails). The most complete network of sanctioned mountain bike trails in WA, they flow pretty well, too. There is even a brewery next to the car park! Also nearby are the downhill trails at Wellington Mill, the Munda Biddi Trail, and the dual-use Sika Trail.
Pemberton (South West) | Pemberton visitor centre has seen the potential that mountain biking can bring to this historic logging town, and has invested in some great trails. Currently there is a Blue XC track, a Green loop (with awesome swoopy berms), a superb dirt-jump park, and a skills loop, with more planned.
Karratha (North West) | Karratha is an experience with a difference; the trails are flanked with bluffs and spinifex vegetation, and while not overly technical they are rock-dominated, with creek-bed crossings and ridge climbs. Beware of the kangaroos – they are known to give a heavy side bump to riders as they pass across the track. There are trails just south of the township, and most are within riding distance. If you’re used to riding southwest trails, be prepared for the change of climate (triple your water intake). Visit the Burrup Mountain Bike Club website, which has track routes and contact details if you want more information (www.burrupmtb.com).
WESTERN AUSTRALIA MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAIL
To be honest, out of the apps, websites and gadgets, there’s nothing that rivals this handy book, which is purpose-written for WA riders. The beast of a guidebook includes 40 biking locations and maps from all over WA. The handiest features are the GPS coordinates and details about mobile reception for each of the tracks. Travellers within WA will be full bottle on the destinations thanks to the accommodation, food and service stations listings. If you’re new to mountain biking, flick straight to the glossary at the back of the book so you aren’t overwhelmed by the unfamiliar terms.