Rescuing Explorers’ Wells in the Yilgarn

Cockburn 4WD Club is aligned with the Wells and Tracks Project and actively pursues the objectives of finding, refurbishing and protecting explorer and pioneer wells.

In June 2021, in conjunction with three Members of the Mitsubishi 4WD Owners Club of WA, we travelled to the Yilgarn to rescue Kodjerning Well, one of the 26 wells built by explorer/surveyor C.C. Hunt in 1865/66 to secure a track from York to the Hampton Plains. It had been degraded since 2015, and possibly before, and was in danger of imminent collapse.

We set up camp at Moorine Rock and on Thursday afternoon refurbished the well there.

On Friday our convoy of nine vehicles travelled to Karolin Rock and removed the incorrectly placed Bicentennial plaque from there. It will be relocated to Karalee Rocks in the near future.

As part of Australia’s Bicentennial celebrations in 1988, plaques were placed at each of Hunts Wells as part of the York to Goldfields Heritage Trail. For unknown reasons but probably because of the similar sounding names, the plaque destined for Caroling Rocks was placed at Karolin Rock, 90 kilometres away. Bush historian and keen follower of Hunt’s exploits, Gary Arcus, noticed the out-of-place plaque when he visited Karolin Rocks in mid 2020, not long after Covid19 travel restrictions within Western Australia were lifted.

Apart from the fact that Karolin Rock was not on Hunt’s Track, it is clear that the wording on the plaque referred to Carolling Rocks not Karolin Rock.

Both Karolin Rocks and Caroling Rocks are in the Shire of Yilgarn, which made coordination of the relocation of the plaque hassle free. However, the plaque will not be relocated to Carolling Rocks. The rock Hunt referred to as Caroling/Karolling in 1865-66 is actually current day Karalee Rock. However, the name Karalee wasn’t used until 1890 when recorded by surveyor N.M. Brazier. Present day Carolling Rocks are 3.4 kilometres south-south-west of Karalee. It is likely that Hunt never visited these rocks.

I had made made arrangements with Robert Bosenberg, Executive Manager Infrastructure at the Shire of Yilgarn for our IBC to be filled with 1000 litres of water at Moorine Rock (the tiny town on Great Eastern Highway). We had to meet with the Shire team there at 1100. The IBC was filled and we headed to Kodjerning Well, 13 kilometres to the north.

The fence had dropped, the gate wouldn’t open, the well was overgrown with vegetation, trees had fallen on the fence and other vegetation was crowding the area. More importantly three large holes had formed behind the wall of the well and it was unstable and unlikely to withstand many more exceptional rainfall events.

On Saturday we spent all day at Kodjerning to complete the task. Joanne and Tracey worked as hard as the men with Tracey assisting in creating a new oxymoron for the lexicon – “light mattock work”.

After two days of hard work we decided a Road Trip was in order. On Sunday morning we travelled to nearby Keokanie Rock where C.C. Hunt established a depot in 1865 while trying to find a way through to Lake Koorkoordine, north of Southern Cross.

Next stop was Sandford Rocks, a huge granite outcrop along Hunts Track.

We left Sandford Rocks to see the most recently-worked open pit at the Edna May mine at Westonia – just as they were about to blast.

It was then onto Boodallin Soak on the Westonia Commons.

We drove through the Reserve, removed a few trees from across the track, and headed to Burracoppin. Hunt’s Well at Burracoppin is at Lansdowne Hill, where a motocross track has been constructed. A sign with “Hunts Well 1865” painted on it is located at the carpark. Hunt’s Well is not there. Nor, now, is the sign.

Eight hundred metres east of the well is an Information Point about the 1800+ kilometre long Rabbit Proof Fence, surveyed and built 1901-1905. This was early but failed attempt at biosecurity – the rabbits reached the fence before it was finished. The gates and wells along the Fence are numbered from Burracoppin.

We continued along Goldfields Road to Carrabin. A great drive. Andrew’s need to refuel there created a serendipitous moment for the car lovers in the group as we were able to look in a car transporter with a difference – full of exotic and expensive automotive machinery.

On Monday we headed back to Karolin Rock to start clearing access to the well before returning home.

Scott had an appointment at Mukinbudin for a few hours hence so he stayed at Karolin, continuing to clear away overgrown vegetation. In the process he found a third well.

Clearly the three structures are linked, however, until the overgrowth is removed, how the system operated is unclear.

Thanks to Anne Brandis of Mukinbudin for coordination assistance in the planning stages of this Trip/Project.

Thanks to Club Member Steve Cook for valuable advice on how to refurbish Kodjerning Well.


© Cockburn 4WD Club and Kim Epton 2021
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Esperance-Balladonia-PeakCharles-Lake Sharpe/Lake Hope-Corrigin

A seven day, 1070 kilometre Road Trip out to Balladonia, returning along the Old Coach Road/Telegraph Track to Dundas then Peak Charles before exploring the remote Lake Sharpe Track and Lake Hope Track.

We took Goldfields Road and then Fisheries Road out of Esperance to Condingup.


A tour of the township revealed that Condingup is more than just the tavern and general store. With a population of more than 400 it is quite a bit bigger than one would expect when driving past.

Mount Ragged

Forty seven kilometres along the Track we turned into Mount Ragged. Scott, Howezit, Andrew, Joanne, Peter and Lone elected to make the climb up the Mount. It started raining as they were preparing and continued throughout their walk.

Greg erected his popup gazebo and those who chose not to climb had lunch under the shelter.

We left Mount Ragged and headed north. The track was easy enough.

Further on we searched for and found Juranda Rockhole.

Sixteen kilometres further on we turned into Balbinya.


Balbinya was settled in 1884 by John Paul Brooks, his mother Emily Henrietta and sister Sarah Teresa. They had walked from Albany to Israelite Bay in 1874. Brooks was the first linesman at Israelite Bay Telegraph Station from 1877 to 1883. He managed Balbinya till his death in 1930.

We left Balbinya and continued north. The Track changes markedly from where it intersects with Parmango Road.

The cleared thoroughfare was about 100 metres wide north of from where the Balladonia Track and Parmango Road intersect. The reason for such a wide clearing of vegetation is unknown although it is likely to be the ploughed-in Telstra cable parallel to the track and 50 metres to the east of it.

We turned off the track and drove into Booanya Rock. It was late in the day with rain threatening when we arrived so we continued past the Rock, searching for a suitable campsite, which we found 600 metres along the track.

Booanya Rock

Next morning it was a short drive back on our track to Booanya Rock.

The building at Booanya Rock is being restored.

We headed north and stopped at a dam (empty) where there was plenty of evidence of human activity. One corner of the cement-lined tank and water trough was in good condition.

The next sign of habitation  was Nanambinia, however, the ‘No Trespassing’ signs did not encourage stopping to look around or even take photographs so we continued north towards Balladonia to refuel.

Large Land Snail

As scientists are finding out more about these molluscs, they are more clearly identifying them and allocating them to more precise geographic regions, with resultant name changes. This looks like the Bothriembryon toolinna, however, the location where it was seen is quite a few kilometres from Toolinna Cove. Perhaps it should be known Bothriembryon balladonia. There were thousands of them on the Balladonia Track.


Balladonia was really just a ‘refuelling diversion’ – off our Route and not scheduled for any other activity.

The ‘Road Closed’ sign confronting southbound travellers at the junction of Eyre Highway and the Balladonia Track is an example of bureaucratic laziness. Anecdotally, it is said to have been there for a long time – possibly years. It is totally inaccurate and could cause angst for respectful, law abiding travellers unsure of the ramifications, however, there shouldn’t be ramifications for travelling on a perfectly safe, acceptable road that has no reason to be closed.

Yadadinia Rockhole

Rather than just return south along the Balladonia Track 12 kilometres to the Old Coach Road I decided to take a station track to Yadadinia Rockhole. The decision was the start  of a long and tedious drive that should have taken no more than 20 minutes but in actuality took nearly two hours.

The devastating fire of 2020 that caused the Eyre Highway to be closed for 12 days had caused many trees to fall across the track, necessitating numerous diversions. Nothing if not different.

Old Coach Road/Telegraph Track

After Yadadinia we turned west onto the old Coach Road/Telegraph Track. Today it still serves a vital function as the corridor for the Optus Fibre Optic Cable that connects Western Australia with the eastern states.

The 195 kilometre (Coolgardie Esperance Highway to Eyre Highway) dirt road is in reasonable condition, if a little dusty at the eastern end.

Abandoned Dundas, 21 kilometres south of Norseman, has a rich mining history that is well explained by a series of information plaques.

We pushed on south-west along the Coolgardie Esperance Highway for 33 kilometres and turned onto the Peak Charles Road.

After one false start (and a staked tyre on Jo and Andrew’s Prado) we made our way into Moir Rock and Tank for the night.

Moir Tank

This is a great campsite. Little visited, numerous sites and a good view of Peak Charles from the top of the Rock.

The next morning we drove to the top of Moir Rock. One can see Peak Charles 35 kilometres to the south-west.

Moir Tank was an important water source during the goldrush years.

Peak Charles

The weather was more friendly for climbing than what we had at Mount Ragged.

Scott, Greg and Pete climbed to within 30 metres of the peak. The last stretch requires more specialised gear and, in its absence, the risk was considered unacceptable.

On the way back from Mushroom Rock I came across some Processionary Caterpillars. Said to be dangerous.

We departed Peak Charles through Annes Pass and along Dunns Track (actually an old shotline) looking for the obscure track to Lake Sharp. Special care is needed at the five way junction 10 kilometres south of Peak Charles to ensure the correct track is selected.

Lake Sharpe Track

The turnoff to Lake Sharpe is difficult to see, being partly overgrown, and I needed to travel along it for a few hundred metres to confirm we were on the correct route. Just over two kilometres in the margin of the lake appeared. Saltbush and bluebush country. The track follows the edge of the lake for 14 kilometres. Classic outback Australia.

In a number of places the track was difficult to follow and it needed a bit of investigation on foot to find the way forward.

As the track leaves the lake it merges with a recently made two blade firebreak/containment line. Closer to the Lake King Road it narrows to one blade width. The uncertainty of following this firebreak increased when it made a diversion to the east. After a kilometre it again, reassuringly, turned north towards the Lake King Road.

North of the lake much of the country has been burnt out and we surmised that it was to combat this fire that the firebreak/containment line had been made. Our convoy of vehicles was very clearly the first to travel this track since it had been made – probably by a loader. In some places it disappeared or was very difficult to follow.

Surveyor T.A. Ellison named Lake Sharpe in 1929 while doing ‘classification surveying’ but he failed to record after whom he named it.

After a couple of Y junctions where we guessed at the direction to take we came out onto the Lake King-Norseman Road.

Lake Hope Track

After 20 kilometres of westward travel we turned north onto the Lake Hope Track and a short time later stopped for lunch under a solitary stand of trees.

This remote track leads through the Bremer Range, along the Honman Ridge and past Lake Hope to the Maggie Hayes mine on the Hyden-Norseman Road. There are numerous shotlines crossing the track along its length.

Lake Hope was named by explorer Frank Hann in 1901 after Joseph Hope, Chief Draftsman of the Lands and Surveys Department, 1896 to 1919.

The Breakaways

We turned on to Hyden Norseman Road and I started to look for a suitable campsite – and 23 kilometres to the west we turned into The Breakaways. As per usual we collected firewood just before arrival.


Hyden was an opportunity to refuel and regroup after a stoppage for a mechanical/electrical issue.

Mulkas Cave

Mulkas Cave (previously known as Bates Cave, after an early sandalwood cutter) is one of the most significant rock art sites in Western Australia. A total of 452 motifs have been recorded in the three chambers. Most other sites in the South West have fewer than 20. This is a clear indication of the significance of this site.

The Best for Last

From Mulkas Cave we headed west on Billericay Road – into the rain preceding Tropical Cyclone Seroja. As we progressed westwards the roads got steadily worse. Slip Sliding Around! Scott and Howezit had left us by this time – taking a more northerly course home.

It was time to head for the bitumen. We headed across Lake Kurren Kutten to get to sealed Bendering Road. Like ballet – but no control! Two kilometres later we all reached the bitumen without sliding off the road. Phew!

The expedition finished at Corrigin.

© Kim Epton 2021
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Graham ‘Howezit’ Howe

Taking Photographs for Trip Reports

These ‘Rules’ won’t turn you into a professional photographer, however, they will make your pics more useful.

With a digital camera it is so easy to just click away. However, a little planning will help save you a lot of time in ‘processing’ your photographs after you return home. And they will be more useful to the person preparing the Trip Report.


  1. Plan your pic. What’s the story you are trying to tell? What is the subject of your photo?
  2. Remember the Rule of Thirds.
  3. If using a smartphone, ensure that Location Services are ON.
  4. Close ups ARE GOOD.
  5. Watch the background for anomalies.
  6. Ensure your shadow is not in the photo.
  7. Not too much foreground; not too much sky.


  1. Don’t cut off limbs or a portion of the head. Ensure that the entire person is in frame – legs may be an exception. If you have taken a great photo but broken this rule you may be able to crop the hapless digital amputee from the photo at a later time.
  2. Do not take photos of people with their back to camera. Forward or side on only.
  3. Limit posed photos, group photos and selfies.
  4. No photos of people taking photos.


  1. Don’t take photos of the back of vehicles – with occasional exceptions.
  2. Don’t cut off any part of a vehicle.
  3. Don’t take photos through the windscreen. If the subject/situation is worth a photo it is worth stopping and alighting from the vehicle.
  4. Try not to include the rego plate, if possible.


  1. Find a good flower. No missing petals. No scars.
  2. Be parallel to the face of the flower.
  3. Use a tripod or similar to steady the camera.
  4. Don’t damage the flower or its plant.


  1. Just one pic will do.


If this is all too much, just remember:



Waroona Dam

Day Trip to Waroona Dam, 80 kilometres south of Cockburn, on Sunday 2 May 2021.

Hynek Bouska, Stuart Clifton-James, Mark Gray Jenny Jaksic, Warren Peers, Glenda Jones, Lance Martin and Trip Leader Elvis Mestric, did a circuit of the Dam, finding fun places along the way to try out their 4WDs.

On to the next challenge.

And so ended a successful day at Waroona Dam.


Bremer Bay to Esperance

This first leg of the ten day Remote South East Road Trip was from Bremer Bay to Esperance along the beach (as much as possible) – 520 kilometres over three days.

Departing Bremer Bay our route took us through the Fitzgerald River National Park, a reserve unique in this world but unfriendly to vehicle adventurers – being designed and managed more for walkers.

Fitzgerald River National Park

After a false start trying to find re-aligned roads we made our way through the Park, not intending to visit any of the features/attractions on this western side. Near the turnoff to Quaalup Homestead I stopped to get photographs of the spectacular Royal Hakea shrub/bush. Worldwide, it is found only between Albany and Esperance, concentrated in the Fitzgerald River National Park.


From the Lookout we drove down to the beach at Culham Inlet, looking to get to Hopetoun on the sand.

The 700 metres of beach to the groyne at Hopetoun was inaccessible and we turned around and found a way off the beach. We aired up in a car park and drove into town to regroup with those who had left the beach earlier.

We took Southern Ocean Road out of Hopetoun 30 kilometres to a track that led to the  coast. Two kilometres later we came upon an installation nestled among the rocks. Without confidence – and mainly because of substantial power lines feeding in to the installation – we tentatively proclaimed it as a desalination plant.

We continued on Southern Ocean Road, dropped in to Mason Bay Campground to check it out, and drove on to Starvation Boat Harbour Campground, where we stayed the night.

Starvation Boat Harbour Beach

We left camp and made our way to the beach. After four hundred metres the way was blocked and there was only one, sketchy exit off the sand. Inconveniently positioned rocks at the beginning of the exit made it more difficult. However, with a bit of care, judiciously-placed wheels and application of the right foot at the appropriate time all vehicles made it up the narrow track with ease and with no damage.

Eight hundred metres along a bush track we were again able to access the beach via a rock ledge.

We headed east for nearly five kilometres. The beach narrowed and as it did so its angle increased, both factors mitigating against further eastward travel.

Turning around was easier said than done. With an incoming tide on an already narrow beach it was a hazardous proposition. Ultimately, it required the deployment of four MaxTrax and some confident driving all the way to the water’s edge by Aaron to extricate the heavy Patrol from a precarious position.

Graham was bogged but managed to get unbogged reasonably easily. Joanne reversed the Prado along the beach to a break in the dunes to where she was able to turn around. Peter, Graham and Scott had also turned around at this point. Not easy but also no panic. The MaxTrax were deployed to good effect.


We returned along the beach, drove up the rock ledge and took a bush track out to Springdale Road.

We retreated to Springdale Road and headed to Munglinup Beach to check out the campground. It is small and not suitable for groups. We left, retraced our tracks for a few ks and turned east on Washpool Road. This took us to Washpool Beach (WA Beach 209). We drove all but the last 600 metres of the beach before returning and finding a track off the beach back on to Washpool Road.

The track led to a large area of flat rocks.

Deciding that the beach going forward (east) from these rocks was too hazardous we retreated to Washpool Road, hoping that we could drive through Lake Shaster Nature Reserve. It was not to be and we had to head out to Springdale Road to allow us to find our way back to the coast.


An unnamed track off Springdale Road took us down to  East Munglinup Beach. We drove down to the beach along belting-covered tracks. With a mental flip of the coin we turned east.

We drove carefully around the point on a rocky beach and continued for about 1.5 kilometres. The beach was narrowing, getting soft and looking altogether too hazardous. We made our way back to the beach entry point.

It was time to tackle the 5+ kilometres of the beach to the west.

Within 600 metres a washed away beach forced us up into the vegetation. We were two metres higher than the beach – a steep, unstable drop off. The track was rough and was causing the vehicle to bounce around radically. With each bounce the Patrol moved closer to the drop off. One, two, three, four bounces and the vehicle was right on the edge of the drop off. The fifth bounce could have taken us over the edge or forward to safety. Aaron drove the Patrol back down to the now firm, level, benign sand.

We were presented with a dilemma. We knew that we couldn’t get off the beach by going forward – however good the beach looked – because we had seen at Munglinup that it narrowed and became impassable. We certainly weren’t going back the way we had come.

Our best option was to climb a steep sand dune off the beach and then work our way through the dune system back to where the others were waiting. Easy to say. And after a few anxious moments, successfully completed. With two ‘on the limit’ experiences this was one of the scariest  the scariest day of my 40+ years of four wheel driving.

We returned to Springdale Road, seeking a camp for the night. At Lone’s suggestion we turned into Skippy Rock and found a perfectly acceptable camp.

Roses Beach/Quallilup Beach

Between Skippy Rock and Roses Beach the coast is accessible at only four points at the end of four tracks. The uncertainty of access due to track closures as a result of disease was a factor in us choosing to travel direct to Roses Beach – 85 kilometres from Skippy Rock.

On the way out we had a look at the Torradup River Inlet that leads into Margaret Cove.

Access to Roses Beach is via Murray Road past a lime quarry. With road trains constantly on the road it is both dusty and very corrugated. On approach to the coast there are tracks everywhere. A headland at the end of the main track provides sweeping ocean and beach views but no hint of how to get down to the beach. We took a track north (away from the beach) that eventually led to the dunes. It was then a matter of finding a safe way through and across the dunes down to sea level.

We were able to follow this beach for many kilometres. Satellite images showed an indistinct track around Buttty Head but no connecting track from the beach. About two kilometres from Butty Head we left the beach and spent considerable time trying to find a way round this headland.

Peter put up his drone and found the track I was looking for. We worked out a possible route through the dunes, did some spadework to even out the track at a pinch point, and started the climb.

A rough, dusty track leads down to Butty Harbour, allowing a further 3.5 kilometres of eastward travel along the beach.

The beach was looking less and less inviting – it was time to find a suitable point to exit. Just over two kilometres further on we were on bitumen – Twilight Beach Road. This coast-hugging road took us into Esperance.


The seven caravan parks in Esperance were all full (school holidays) and we were directed to the Sports Ground. Great facilities and plenty of room.



© Kim Epton 2021
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1806 words, 61 photographs, 11 images.

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Kim Epton
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Lone Neilsen
Graham Howe

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Spectacular South Coast 2021

With Australia Day 2021 falling on a Tuesday we were presented with the opportunity to have a five day/four night Road Trip to Western Australia’s spectacular south coast.

Ten vehicles left Harvey and headed to Brunswick Junction and the Brunswick Hills. We didn’t tackle any of the difficult/extreme tracks for which the area is renowned, choosing instead to head to Wellington Dam via Beela Road.

Our campsite was at Jarrahwood Pool.


On Saturday we left Jarrahwood, refuelled at Bridgetown and headed out on Seaton Ross Road that would take us south to Shannon. Track closures stymied my plan to turn south on Edwards Road, then Whim Landing Road, then Warrup Road, and then Telephone Track. We arrived at Corbalup Road and finally were able to turn south. Thirteen kilometres further on and we were back on our planned route.

We turned on to Muir Highway for nine kilometres and then turned south again on Deeside Coast Road – a great drive!

The planned trip along the Great Forest Trees Drive was ‘off’ because recent bushfires had left parts of the Drive potentially unsafe due to still burning trees and logs.

We headed to Fernhook Falls.

The Walpole Wilderness Area is one of the great treasures of Western Australia and the Mt Frankland Lookout is one of the best places to see a good portion of it.

From Mt Frankland it is only 26 kilometres to Walpole where the group refuelled and bought stuff that should have been brought from Cockburn. There was plenty of daylight left to do the Frankland River Circuit – a complicated route that highlights numerous features along the Frankland River north of Walpole. I have developed/expanded the circuit since 2018 and it is now 61 kilometres in length and takes in Nornalup Inlet, the Knoll, Hilltop Lookout, Giant Tingle Tree, Frankland River, Circular Pool, Monastery Landing and the Conspicuous Cliffs. But we decided to leave the Conspicuous Cliffs until tomorrow.

We crossed Sappers Bridge, did a U turn and re-crossed it.

The drive from from Sappers Bridge alongside the Frankland River is one of the most beautiful tracks in WA.

We arrived at Eco Park with plenty of daylight remaining to set up a comfortable camp.


First stop was the Conspicuous Cliffs. The view of the beach and extending coastline is absolutely magnificent.

Then on to Mandalay Beach. None of the beaches in this area is accessible by vehicle.

We regrouped at Banksia Camp and then headed to Broke Inlet.

Lunch was at a clearing complete with a squatters’ shack on the shore of the inlet.

The occasional soft stretch of track meant that it was a good idea to keep the vehicle in 4WD. Although oncoming traffic was light, the number of blind bends was the major concern for the lead vehicle.

The lead group of vehicle got to a point where the track opened out to the shore of the inlet. Here the group waited for the rear echelon to catch up. We all then headed to the mouth of the inlet.

There being no other way out, we returned the way we had come in. At a four way intersection we took the track north and drove to the eastern end on the Inlet. We couldn’t find a track through to Chesapeake Road so we followed our inward track out.

The return to Eco Park was punctuated by a need to refuel and get coffee at Walpole.


Time to see some of the Spectacular South Coast. We drove to Peaceful Bay, aired down and hit the beach. The bar of the Irwin Inlet was open. There was no way across – the water was too deep and the bottom too soft. No further eastward travel.

We returned along the beach to Peaceful Bay, drove along the edge of Irwin Inlet and out to the highway. The turnoff to Boat Harbour is seventeen kilometres to the east.

Having already aired down we were able to drive directly to Boat Harbour. In 1849 Surveyor General John Septimus Roe recorded during his Russell Range Expedition, “A mile beyond this, brought us out upon scrubby coast hills overlooking a snug boat harbour.” And it’s been known as such ever since.

The group gave Boat Harbour and surrounds a thorough checking out and we then headed into the Quarrum Nature Reserve.

We found our way to Little Quarrum Beach.

We pushed on to Big Quarrum, fully expecting it to be impassable as a result of the sand being washed away in a storm a couple of years ago. While a high clearance vehicle could be driven over the rocks from one beach to the next there was no imperative to that so we took photos and turned around.

We couldn’t drive to Peaceful Bay (Irwin Inlet outlet notwithstanding) but the day was not yet over. Like so many beaches on the south coast there is only one way in and out. And so it is with the Quarrum beaches. We drove out to the highway and, as soon as we were able, got onto to dirt roads that would take us to  into Bellanger Beach.

Once on the beach we drove to the mouth of Nornalup Inlet. Here the water is constricted to less than 100 metres and we spotted dolphins and rays hunting for their daily feed.

We then drove to the eastern end of Bellanger Beach. John got bogged and Graham went to retrieve him which ended up with both of them being bogged.  Scott retrieved both together. 300 h.p. at the wheels helps.

The day’s fun was at an end so it was time to air up and return to our temporary summer residence at Eco Park.


Departing from Eco Park we tried a new track along the Frankland River that became an interesting addition to the Frankland River Circuit.

North to Mt Frankland and then on to Lake Muir Bird Observatory.

The Observatory looks out over Cowerup Swamp (part of Lake Muir). It occasionally has water in in it.

Lake Unicup is only a few kilometres to the north.

We stopped for a break at Tonebridge.

The Road Trip finished at Donnybrook.


© Cockburn 4WD Club and Kim Epton 2021
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Drive Darling Scarp

The ‘Holiday Hiatus’ (xmas to New Year) is an ideal time to get away. Our version of  ‘Romjul’ allowed us time to recce the southern part of Drive Darling Scarp – an awesome 4WD Road Trip in preparation.

The plan was to drive south from Karragullen to Pemberton, following the Darling Scarp as closely as we could, checking out tracks as we went and confirming their accessibility. As the Trip progressed we were able to keep fairly close to the plan.

Saturday 26 December 2020

We turned off the Brookton Highway onto Kinsella Road, a gravel road in reasonable condition that connects with Albany Highway. It passes through the Monadnocks Conservation Park (not much different from a National Park). Through Jarrahdale, onto Scarp Road and into Serpentine National Park. Past North Dandalup Dam and onto Del Park Road to again pick up Scarp Road.

Forty metres onto Scarp Road we saw this sign.

Although the road looked well used we respected the prohibition, turned around and resumed our journey along Del Park Road before taking a track I had used numerous times previously that took us into Marrinup. From there we continued to Scarp Pool and then the underwhelming Scarp Lookout.

Scarp Pool

Leaving Scarp Pool we headed west on Pinjarra-Williams Road, for Cookernup. As we approached Scarp Road’s intersection with Pinjarra-Williams Road I decided to check it out. There is no Water Corporation ‘No Entry’ sign here.

Oakley Dam

Seven kilometres along Scarp Road is the turnoff to Oakley Dam. This is hidden gem. A great, un-advertised swimming hole. The associated Lookout is difficult but not impossible  to access from the dam – it would seem that the intention is to access it via a lengthy walk on the opposite side of the car park – but it does provide great views over the coastal plain and the Alcoa Refinery.

We continued north along Scarp Road, crossed Alcoa’s conveyor belt and eventually came to point where we had turned around a couple hours earlier.

There is no matching sign at the Pinjarra Williams Rd end of Scarp Road nor anywhere along it. There are numerous signs in the intervening 14 kilometres between those two points warning that certain activities such as boating, camping, fishing marroning, etc are not permitted but nothing about ‘No Entry’. A bureaucratic bungle.

From the amount of traffic that clearly uses the road it would seem that the reasonably-difficult-to-see sign is largely ignored.

The ‘official’ Drive Darling Scarp route is along Murray River Fireline that, as the name suggests, follows the Murray River. From Driver Road the route is west to Hoffmans Mill. We had done this route a few weeks previously so we decided to instead take the bitumen to Cookernup on the South Western Highway and then rejoin the Drive Darling Scarp route at Logue Brook.

Stirling Dam

Leaving Logue Brook we headed to Stirling Dam, not confident that we could get past this imposing construction without a lengthy detour. And so it was.

Our detour took us over the Worsley conveyor a couple of times. We eventually got to Big Tree Road and found an acceptable campsite in the Brunswick Hills.

Sunday 27 December 2020

The Brunswick Hills 4WD tracks have a fearsome reputation. Our recce was more about linking features, attractions and four wheel driving tracks rather than actually doing the 4WD challenges so we tried out only a couple of tracks.

Brunswick Hills

Time to head south along the Darling Scarp again

Beela Road took us out of the Brunswick Hills and on to the Lennard Track. As with the Murray River Fireline, we had done this track only a few weeks previously so elected to take the scenic route through the beautiful Ferguson Valley, up Mount Lennard and down Lennard Road (rather than Lennard Track).

We continued south through Kirup and pushed through an interesting grove of banksias to the Balingup-Nannup Road. – one of Australia’s great drives. The 41 kilometres of bitumen between Balingup and Nannup has 90 bends, great country scenery and closely follows the Blackwood River. Though Nannup is a few kilometres off the line of the Darling Scarp, this drive makes the diversion worthwhile.

We headed south-east out of Nannup on an old stock route.

South-east of Nannup

Donnelly River

Near Donnelly River we were looking for a way south when our way was blocked by the most serious road block I have ever encountered.

The tracks we were wanting to follow to stay close to the Darling Scarp were all blocked or in  DRAs (Disease Restricted Areas) so we had to veer further east towards Donnelly River.

We found a secluded campsite off Gordon Road.

Monday 28 December 2020

The southward push continued. We determined to locate Greens Island Campground.

Greens Island is a large, open style DPaW Campground located on a bend in the Donnelly River that gives the impression that it is an island.

Palings Road

We crossed the Donnelly River on Palings Road and two kilometres further east turned south onto an overgrown track that at one time was a well used road. It was incongruous to see normal road signs hidden by vegetation overgrowth.

We were able to squeeze past the first log, however, the second completely blocked the track.

Our shortcut took us out to Waistcoat Road and, though our intended direction was to the right, we shot up the road to Palings Road to confirm that it intersected with Waistcoat, should future travellers on this Road Trip decide not to take this shortcut.

Duch Fonti Road

We turned off Court Road looking for some challenging tracks – and succeeded.

Karri Forest Explorer

However, it was not too far along the track before a large log, immovable with our resources, blocked our progress. We moved west to Chainman Road where we encountered numerous more obstacles before coming out onto Stony Crossing Road, part of the Karri Forest Explorer route.

The Karri Forest Explorer route took us in to Pemberton. Refuel, revictual.

Gloucester Tree

After a coffee we headed out to the Gloucester Tree.

We wanted to find another track into Pemberton that connected with the Karri Forest Explorer at a different location to that which we connected earlier in the day, so we headed out on that Route – this time in the ‘normal’ direction. Where the Karri Forest Explorer turned left after Giblett picnic area we turned right on to Beedelup Road.

Beedelup Road

We were hoping that this open track would provide a ‘non-scratchy’ option for travellers on the Drive Darling Scarp Road Trip. All looked good for a kilometre or so at which point we came across a few small logs.

A little bit further along two substantial logs blocked the track. They will be dealt with on a future Trip. We found where previous travellers had made a way round the obstacle and continued on – for 900 metres.

It took us an hour to clear a path through the log jam. We pushed on towards Willow Springs campground

Along the way we diverted down a track off Andrew Road that should have saved us a few kilometres, however, it was very overgrown and, ultimately, our forward progress was blocked at a bridge that had been modified so only bikes could get across. Back the way we had come. McNab Road took us to Austin Road (relief) which took us to Willow Springs, arriving about 6.00 p.m.

We spent the evening chatting with a couple of fellow travellers, one of whom was walking the Bibbulman Track.

Tuesday 29 December 2020

The intention was to find tracks that headed more directly back towards Nannup but all tracks off Austin Road were closed under DRA regulations.

We decided to head into Nannup, refuel, have a coffee and then follow the Blackwood River along Denny Road through to Warner Glen before heading to Margaret River.

Scott had to meet with Tony by about 1.00 p.m.



© Cockburn 4WD Club 2020 and Kim Epton
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Xmas Party 2020

The first Cockburn 4WD Club Xmas Party was held in December at The Last Drop, Beeliar.

About 65 Members turned up over the course of the evening. Apart from the socialising, enjoying food and drink and reminiscing over past Trips, Members received awards for making an impression on Trips throughout the year, and, later, were able to participate in a huge raffle.

Member Awards

The criteria for this Award was simple – attend a minimum of two Trips and, in some way, make an impression. Trips Coordinator Kim Epton presented Awards to 23 Members.

Aaron made an impression on the Murchison River Expedition where he was bogged four times (or maybe more – it was difficult to keep count). To be fair everyone else got bogged at least once. Conditions were treacherous. For a supposed boating expedition there was a lot of vehicle recovery going on.

Adi looked after everyone’s drinks admirably on the Dalwallinu Wildflowers Road Trip with some of his very own concoctions.

Andrew and Joanne’s tongue in cheek Award was for being  ‘early birds’. At least they were Early Birds on the  WA’s Best Bakeries Road Trip.

Brad can relied on to keep everyone entertained throughout a Trip and particularly around the campfire.

Brad got the 2WD Award. The back story to this is a little detailed. On the Outback Trek it rained and rained on the last night, so much so that we thought we might have difficulties making the 50 metres from the campsite to the track. It was arranged that the lightest vehicles would drive out first. Those with locker diffs were last out. Brad was third last. Unwittingly, he drove out in 2WD.

After putting his vehicle on its side on the Harvey Weir Hills, Tracks, Ruts and Holes Trip, Brian knew well in advance what Award he was getting.

Corey got the Broken Parts Award after a particularly ruinous time on the Gus Luck Track Trip where he snapped an awning mount, destroyed a tyre and broke a spare wheel mount.

Fiona and Nick Carroll earned themselves the Selfie Award. See the Margaret River Tracks and Beaches Road Trip.

Glenda’s Glamping Award was an easy decision. Just have to get that entry to the sleeping quarters sorted! See more at Dalwallinu Wildflowers Road Trip.

Extended Trips apart, Graham has participated in nearly every Club Trip and deservedly got the Frequent Traveller Award.

Keen photographer Jane supplied many of the pics for the Trip Reports on this website and deservedly got the Photographers Award. Jane supplied the photographs for this story!

Jodie got the prestigious Ernestine Hill Award. Look it up!

Justin likes to be on time and likes Trips to be on time. So do we! His On Time Award will remind us all that departure time is 0800.


In 2020 Lyndon’s shifts were often  ‘unfriendly’ in relation to scheduling of C4WDC Trips and he was able to be on most Trips only ‘part time’.

Matt’s ‘Bush Mechanic Award’ tells only part of the story. He was plagued with issues in 2020 (excuse pun).

Mushy has connectivity where no-one else does. He says it is his amazing tablet. We think it is voodoo. Anyway, he shares.

Nick always makes sure that firewood is available and the campfire is fed but under control.

President Paul presented Kim with his Loud Shirt Award.

Roger got the Rocks and Ruts Award. He must love those tracks around Harvey Weir.

Shaun efforts in  making a bush dunny did not go unrecognised.

Steve’s “I’m still in the room” Award needs some context. On the first night of the Outback Trek Steve was doing a tour of the surrounding farms and phoned Kim to get some advice on where the camp was. After an extended conversation that put Steve on the right track, Kim returned to the campfire, Mushy asked, ” Who was that?” Kim replied, ” Steve. He’s bloody lost again!” ” Err, Kim, I’m still in the room.”

Stuart’s part in recovering Brian’s vehicle at Harvey was ‘known but no photo’, however,  his prowess in the sand dunes at Yeagarup was recognised.

Tania rolls out her swag on every Trip.

Next year we will set up the table for the Awards on the other side of the room so the presenter is not ‘crossed over’.

Our giant raffle started after the Awards and was highlighted by two or three people winning numerous prizes. Steve Cook won the door prize of a $500 vouchers for goods or services from our Sponsor, Medicar Automotive Solutions.

Thanks again to Jane Dooley for supplying the photographs for this Report.


Thanks to our Sponsors and Supporters throughout the year.

Lennard Track

Lennard Track is a 12 km drive through Wellington National Park starting where River Road crosses the Collie River and finishing at the top of Mount Lennard where Lennard Road enters the National Park.

It is a challenging track that requires one’s attention, more so as it gets wet – to the point that is closed each year for some months.

Although no rules are in place as to which direction the Track should be driven, convention is that it starts low and climbs high. However, because we were doing recces for other Trips, we approached it from the top and being mid week, we were comfortable in working our way down to the Collie River.

Mushy and Tim were in a V8 powered Troopy with diff locks, front and rear, Aaron was driving a Patrol GU 3.0L Wagon with front and rear diff locks, Scott was in a Patrol GU 4.2L Wagon with portal axles and a front locker and Kim was feeling a little bit inadequate  in a Rodeo dual cab ute with a 50mm lift and tired shocks.

Four hundred metres into the Park, Lennard Road swings away to the south and the Lennard Track continues north-east to a fenceline. It wasn’t too much longer before we were into ‘pay attention’ mode. 500 metres, actually.

Two logs across the track and the consequent 0bstacle was a bit daunting. Someone had tried to cut away a section of the first log that would then allow a vehicle to get through but they had given up. We were discussing how to winch out that section of the log that was nearly cut through and, then, would the gap be wide enough to allow through-passage for a full size vehicle.

As we were making plans Mushy called out that he had found a track around the two logs. Freshly made and not over-friendly but eminently do-able. We were aware that 19 vehicles from Cockburn 4WD Club and a similar number from the South West 4WD Club had completed Lennard Track in the past three weeks. Clearly this newly minted ‘track’ had not had 38 vehicles over it in the past three weeks. The mystery was solved a few days later when we compared GPX tracks. As they neared the top of the hill Cockburn and South West had taken a more southerly loop to get the finish of the Track.

Not knowing this, we drove the new bypass track – which in reality was just flattened bush – to below the second track-blocking log.

250m past the logs we got into some gnarly country, after which the track heads up to a fenceline.

Five hundred metres after the track leaves the fenceline heading south there is a distinct turn to the east and after a further 200 metres a gate blocks access for when the track is too wet. Two hundred metres past the gate there is another distinct left turn and this is the start of the descent down Mt Lennard to the river.

After about 700 metres the Track down to the river levels out and turns south-east. For the next 7.2 kilometres the Track follows the river closely, generally no more than  40-60 metres distant.

Four hundred metres along the Track is an access track to the river. This is site of a now disused ‘flying fox’. Difficult to determine its reason for being.

We followed the river, noting a number of good campsites, however, the area is day use only now.

Sappers Bridge at Sailors Gully, near a small rapid, gives access to Millbrook Trail leading south-west. There is a ford across the river here.

The WA-based 22 Construction Squadron built this bridge in 1968 for the then Forests Department. About 100 men walked up the Darling Scarp from Bunbury to create a base camp here. Earthmoving equipment was used to build a road to Sailors Gully. Jarrah trees were felled and milled on site using a new ‘portable forest mill’. The road and bridge were in place in only a few days.

The Track along the river rose up and down with nothing too challenging. Over a rise and around a bend and there is a bitumen road. End of the Track.



© Cockburn 4WD Club 2020 and Kim Epton
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Margaret River Tracks and Beaches – Group 2

The Margaret River Tracks and Beaches Road Trip started with all vehicles meeting at BP Baldivis. As there were 19 vehicles participating we split into three groups each of which approached the Trip in a slightly different way.

This is the Report of Nick and Fiona’s group including Nathan and Kirsty in their Triton, along with Andrew and Jo in the Prado, Justin and Amy in the Amarok, Clint and Tammy in the Navara and Roger and Jax in the Pajero Sport. We hit the road at 8.30 a.m.

Our first stop was slightly earlier than we initially planned as a number of people realised they hadn’t prepared themselves for the long journey  – so a quick pit stop at The Crooked Carrot Café in Myalup was required. This gave the kids, and the big kid, a quick chance to climb the cargo net and burn off a bit of energy before we got back on the road.

As we approached Donnybrook, Clinton has a sudden realisation that he had forgotten to pack the family sleeping bags, so the convoy pulled off to the side of the road while he quickly ducked into town.

This also gave Nick a chance to get his HEMA maps sorted for the next stage of the Trip. We hit the red dirt as we drove through the Millbrook State Forrest where the vehicles kicked up plenty of dust – making for some interesting low visibility driving. This part of the Road Trip incorporated a track from the WA’s Best Bakeries tour but in the reverse direction which brought back some fun memories from that Trip.

At 12.30 p.m. we stopped on the track and gave everyone a chance to have some food and stretch their legs. Stevie and Jax chose the wrong toilet spot and almost gave a lizard a rude awakening. Luckily for the lizard he realised what these humans were up to and he ran up the nearest tree. It was only when the lizard ran off that Stevie and Jax realised he was there. They ran even faster, screaming their way out of the shrubs.

After lunch we continued our Trip through the forest, including a few quick stops to double check the map and a few U-turns – but that is all a part of the fun.

Along the way we come across a few fallen trees, one of which caused the biggest challenge of the day as the convoy crept its way through some water, around the big fallen tree, over a steep little hill and then over a smaller fallen tree. This obstacle was a good bit of technical fun that caused a few wheel lifts and forced the drivers to consider their lines and challenge themselves to get through smoothly.

The final part of our Trip to the Contos campsite saw the convoy back on the red dirt track driving through a beautiful tall karri forest. When we got to camp everyone quickly set up the tents and swags before sitting down to enjoy a well-earned drink. Later in the evening while the adults started to cook dinner the kids had a chance to explore the campsite and get in touch with some of the local wildlife. Noah decided to show the kangaroos his muscles before running around the campsite acting like a crazy emu.

That night with the campfires cranking, birthday boy Nick got the Jelly shots out for a bit of an early celebration. After a few more cheeky bevvies everyone was off to bed.

Early Sunday morning the team was up and the breakfast BBQs were sizzling. A few kangaroos were still around grabbing themselves a bit of brekky – one of them even had a joey in its pouch.

After a feed everyone began to pack up their camps. As Clint and Tammy lifted their floor mat they were surprised by a large huntsman that was sharing their site with them. The spider quickly ran off into the nearby bushes. Before long we were ready to get on the road again.

As the convoy was rolling out everyone wished Nick a UHF Happy Birthday and then we were on our way to Gracetown.

The view of the bay on the drive into Gracetown was incredible. The group stopped for a quick fuel up, a couple of pies, and a few happy snaps.

Our next destination was Canal Rocks which presented some more amazing views and a chance for the kids to climb the rocks and burn off some more energy.

After a few more happy snaps we hit the road to our next challenge, the Three Bears Track. We stopped to air down our tyres and to engage 4WD before hitting the track.

Three Bears Track has a lot of rocky sections that required some precise technical driving to ensure no one did any tyre damage.

Halfway along the track we stopped to take in some more fantastic coastal views and to take a few more pictures and then continued along the track. The track ended at Sugar Loaf Rock which was another bit of beautiful scenery. Everyone aired up their tyres, had a bite to eat and then said their goodbyes before getting on the road home.

We had a fantastic time and can’t wait to hit Lennard Track with the crew in two weeks’ time.

Fiona Carroll’s Gallery of Photographs

Maximo Uribe’s Gallery of Photographs

Mark Gray’s Gallery of Photographs


Trip Report/Photographs
Nathan Barkell

Trip Leaders
Brian Hunt
Nick Carroll
Brad O’Neil

Kim Epton
Aaron Howell
Scott Overstone

© Cockburn 4WD Club 2020 and Nathan Barkell
Feel free to use any part of this document but please do the right thing and give attribution. It will enhance the SEO of your website/blog and that of the Cockburn 4WD Club.
955 words, 21 photographs.
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