– PTR: Duns­bor­ough, WA

Australian Mountain Bike - - Contents - WORDS AND PHOTOS: TRAVIS DEANE

The South West re­gion of Western Aus­tralia has been ex­plod­ing with great places to ride over the last decade. Lo­ca­tions like The Pines, Com­part­ment 10, Linga Longa, Mid­dle Earth and the Creek trails are con­sid­ered some of the best places to fling mud into your mouth in the state. With the re­cent re­lease of the South West MTB mas­ter­plan and its goal to in­crease the net­work to over 500 kilo­me­tres, one could be for­given for think­ing that trails are sprout­ing up in this area just like the iconic wild­flow­ers. Un­for­tu­nately this is far from the case and the suc­cess of the Duns­bor­ough Coun­try Club and Meelup Re­serve trails net­works is tes­ta­ment to the dili­gence and lat­eral think­ing of a very spe­cial group of lo­cal rid­ers who kept go­ing year after year. Read on, you now have a very good rea­son to stop off at Duns­bor­ough on your way to the trails at Mar­garet River. Ten years ago it looked so easy. Back­ing onto the town of Duns­bor­ough was the Meelup re­serve which had pre­vi­ously been used for a va­ri­ety of uses - in­clud­ing bor­row pits and dump­ing grounds. But as the town ma­tured the lo­cals en­joyed the area and with its high van­tage over the town it gave stun­ning views to the sea. There was a net­work of in­for­mal trails in there and the lo­cal rid­ers thought it would be good to for­malise them. Lo­cal op­po­si­tion was en­trenched and so the strug­gle be­gan. In the 10 years it took to for­malise the net­work an Ad­ven­ture Race was es­tab­lished and be­came the largest event of its kind in the world, bring­ing mil­lions of dol­lars into the lo­cal econ­omy - only to move else­where, par­tially be­cause of land ac­cess is­sues to trails for the MTB leg. Lo­cals got des­per­ate and talks be­gan with the lo­cal coun­try club and a part­ner­ship was struck with moun­tain bik­ing join­ing the ac­tiv­ity list in­side the grounds of the coun­try club. Lo­cals joined the coun­try club and built 11kms of trails around the edge of the golf course. In­ter­est­ing rock struc­tures test rider’s nerves and bal­ance, and in re­cent years a pump track and ad­vanced jump track (think big dou­bles) has been added to the ameni­ties (as well as cro­quet, tennis and bowls). It’s not hard to see why this coun­try club

is a mul­ti­ple award win­ner for ex­cel­lence (and the beer is cheap too!). With this de­vel­op­ment, Aus­tralia’s largest multi-day MTB race - the Cape to Cape - was able to use these trails as the fi­nale to Stage 4 and the fin­ish line on the club’s golf­ing green. The irony is that the 1,400 odd com­peti­tors are of­ten so flogged after four days of rid­ing that they strug­gle to ap­pre­ci­ate the last 6km of sweat and sin­gle­track to the fin­ish line. Blast­ing down ‘Fireys De­scent’ - a re­gional clas­sic - would have barely reg­is­tered for some fa­tigued rid­ers. If you’ve rid­den these trails in the Cape to Cape, it is worth rid­ing them again with fresh legs. Vis­i­tors are asked to pay $5 reg­is­tra­tion at the coun­try club to ac­cess the coun­try club trails (valid for sev­eral days). The Meelup trails on the other hand were of­ten ac­cessed by park­ing at a gate off Cape Nat­u­ral­iste Road, op­po­site Endi­cott Loop (al­though both net­works of trails back onto each other). It was then a mel­low ride up the fire road be­fore a bevy of op­tions off the ridge. The re­gional clas­sic was ‘Brown Street’, a tight, en­gag­ing track that snaked and weaved down the hill and back up again. In the re­cent re­de­vel­op­ment of this area by the club and pro­fes­sional trail builders, they have mod­i­fied this clas­sic and we’ll let the lo­cals ar­gue over their beers about the pros and cons. The mod­ern Meelup trail net­work has been re­booted with 5+ trails and ap­prox­i­mately 7km of trail, with talk of an­other 14km of the same be­ing built in the near fu­ture. It isn’t made with XC rac­ing in mind. This is mostly ma­chine built, wide flow trails with big berms, jumps and lots of rock struc­tures. The rock struc­tures here were al­ways in­ter­est­ing and adding ma­chines has al­lowed them to be­come a lot big­ger. If you like the trails at Com­part­ment 10 in Mar­garet River, then you’d prob­a­bly like these trails, al­though ad­vanced trails like ‘Happy Myles’ (named after one of the long time lo­cal MTB ad­vo­cates, Myles Happs) do make you work to main­tain flow with some chal­leng­ing struc­tures. A new trail which has quickly ce­mented it­self as a lo­cal favourite is ‘OMDB’ which keeps the flow and the speed bet­ter with jumps and pumps ga­lore. Again named in salute of the strug­gle the lo­cals had in get­ting these trails in, ‘OMDB’ or ‘Over My Dead Body’ refers to an op­po­nent of the trails who in­sisted that was the only way they would be built. De­spite my best jour­nal­ist prod­ding, the lo­cals wouldn’t tell me un­der which ex­act jump her body is buried.


The Duns­bor­ough Coun­try Club trails work as a long con­tin­u­ous loop around the edges of the golf course. This for the most part feels like an XC race course. Hand-built, it is mostly medium pace, tight and fun. How­ever it of­fers more than that with lots of in­ter­est­ing A-Line struc­tures of­ten beau­ti­fully con­structed by a jig­saw of rocks. It’s en­joy­able for all lev­els. There is also a pump track and ad­vance jump line (big dou­bles) next to the club­house. The Meelup re­serve trails prob­a­bly fit into the new Flow trails cat­e­gory. Wide, ma­chine-built for mod­ern en­duro/ trail style bikes with slack head an­gles. They’re fast, with berms to help main­tain speed for jumps, but the trail can also be un­pre­dictable to keep new rid­ers guess­ing what is around the cor­ner.


A mod­ern trail bike will be suit­able for both ar­eas. The sin­gle most im­por­tant choice is tyres. Those with an XC style rig will be bet­ter suited to the coun­try club trails (but still ca­pa­ble of rid­ing Meelup). Those with a big­ger bike will en­joy the Meelup trails more, al­though nei­ther ar­eas are steep up or down. This area is slip­pery in the dry, even by WA stan­dards. Wide tyres with low pres­sure is wise. Widely spaced high knobs in­crease pen­e­tra­tion into the pea gravel. If you are push­ing the jumps and berms on the Meelup trails, proper pro­tec­tion in­clud­ing pads would be in or­der as there are some big struc­tures and high speed and the ground is slip­pery. This area can be hot and dry so make sure you bring wa­ter.


The XC loop from the coun­try club is about 11km de­pend­ing on what bits you do, but you only climb about 130 me­tres. The Meelup re­serve cur­rently has around 7km of trail, with dou­ble that planned - bring­ing Meelup’s to­tal up to 21km (again with­out much gra­di­ent to climb and de­scend on).


It’s all about the tyres you roll as we’ve al­ready men­tioned. Get­ting on the trail after a bit of rain helps with the grip on the loose pea gravel as these trails are slower in the dry. There are some lo­cals who are very con­cerned about or­chids, so make sure you don’t go stomp­ing around the bush and stick to the trails. Check with the lo­cal shop about group rides or Fat Duck Cy­cles in the nearby Bus­sel­ton who some­times of­fer group rides.


Pretty much any time of year ex­cept sum­mer. Spring with the wild­flow­ers in the Meelup re­serve is stun­ning.


There is so much sin­gle­track to ride nearby. Secret Whicher, Mid­dle Earth or all the trails at Mar­garet River. Some of Aus­tralia’s best surf spots are only min­utes away at places like Yallingup. Whale watch­ing is popular in this area. Places like Bunker Bay are great spots for a cof­fee and to get your toes in the sand. Meelup Beach is just around the cor­ner and a bril­liant spot for a post ride re­cov­ery. Or just to ad­mire one of the finest swim­ming beaches in Western Aus­tralia.


Bike Shed Duns­bor­ough 1/10 Clark Street Duns­bor­ough WA 6281 (08) 9759 1495


Cape Moun­tain Bik­ers cape­moun­tain­bik­ers.asn.au

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