South Coast Beaches

Australia Day 2022 was on a Wednesday. This allowed for an extended break to explore some previously untravelled beaches on the south coast between Cape Riche and Bremer Bay. The Wellstead Bush Camp was an excellent place from which to branch out to the beaches on each of the four days we had available to explore.

 

Saturday
Cape Riche to Swan Gully

First stop was the tiny hamlet of Wellstead, only 500 metres from the Bush Camp.

Sandalwood Road took us out of Wellstead to the Cape Riche Campground. The inspection circuit of the campground (good but not suitable for groups) was completed and we headed to the debouch of the Eyre River at Cheyne Inlet Beach.

Leaving the Cheyne Inlet Beach we drove north to the headland overlooking it. Some gnarly tracks made the drive more interesting.

A track that parallels the coast eventually leads to Schooner Beach. After travelling to the north of the beach we exited near the northern end with the intention of returning to where we had first accessed the beach. This entailed a circuit back to a large gravel area from where we had started, however, the track close to end of this ‘circuit’ was badly washed away and I chose not to drive it – believing that a rolled vehicle or panel damage could result.

 

We returned to the northern end of the beach, drove south 600 metres and exited the way we had first entered, allowing us back onto Sandalwood Road and then to a track that varied from 100-500 metres inland that would take us north-north-east along the coast to Swan Gully. A number of short tracks branched off to the east allowing views of spectacular cliffs, with just one leading to a beach.

This ‘inland’ coastal track continued to Swan Gully. We worked our way downslope to the beach and made a 500 metre run along the sand. The beach sand was very soft.

The track from Swan Gully took us back to farmland from where we followed fencelines out to Pallinup Road and eventually South Coast Highway to conclude a great day of sightseeing and four wheel driving.

Before we returned to the Wellstead Bush Camp we stopped at the tiny hamlet of Wellstead – postcode 6328, 100 kilometres east of Albany.

Sunday
Swan Gully to Boat Harbour to WA Beach 334

Nine vehicles headed out to the now familiar Boat Harbour Road, off the South Coast Highway, and along the fencelines to pick up the Long Beach Track to the coast.

At a T junction close to the coast what looked like an interesting track lead off to the south-west. We checked it out and then returned to the junction. Five hundred metres to the north-east beach access is via a steep track that, because of a 90° turn partway up, looked like it could present some challenges on exit.

We drove the full length of the beach and returned to the exit point. I rearranged the order of the vehicles in anticipation of difficulties in ascending the hill, however, it was reasonably easy and everyone got to the top of the cliff in time to see a pod of about 20 dolphins frolicking in the water on the surf line.

Time to move on.

It was an interesting drive to Boat Harbour with some good views. On approach to the beach the track doubles back on itself to the access point at the southern end of the beach.

Time for a swim. The southern end of the beach is protected and very calm for a Southern Ocean beach.

We then did the obligatory drive of the full length of the beach.

Leaving Boat Harbour, we took a track roughly east for 4.5 km to gain access to an unnamed beach (WA Beach 334). Once again the entry track was steep, sandy and looked like getting back up would be an issue. However, the track out (right next to the inward track) was firm and presented little challenge – at the start.

Know that each of the drivers of the vehicles shown in the following pics is very experienced driving on beaches The tyre pressure of each of the vehicles was around 10 psi. It was a very soft beach. Keyboard warriors be still!

Further up the beach Greg and Sam were having their own difficulties in the Discovery 4. Rod had driven up to the end of the beach in his lighter Hilux and only just managed to turn around without getting bogged. Not so Greg when he tried.

The exit track followed a creek line for just under a kilometre and then dropped down into the creek itself. It was then narrow, twisty and very, very scratchy. Not a pleasant drive for the next couple of kilometres. The track opened out but only for a short distance. It was back to a similar tight, scratchy experience that had everyone commenting. Definitely in my Top 10 of unpleasant tracks.

The scratching finished and very soon we were on Pallinup Road and, not longer after, at the Highway.

We were treated to a feed of koonacs, courtesy of host, Rob. He took time out to drag a couple of his dams and shared the spoils with everyone. What a great gesture.

Who Went

As is often the case with Trips of this duration and distance people are involved for varying amounts of time. Eight vehicles and seventeen people made it out onto the tracks.

Monday
Groper Bluff to Millers Point

Once more we used Boat Harbour Road to get to our coastal playground. We headed for the impressive Groper Bluff.

As the track approaches Mount Groper it narrows and deteriorates. About a hundred metres before our turnaround point, at the top of the ‘spine’ of the Bluff, the track turns radically to the right. Straight ahead is over the spine.

To the north are three unnamed beaches – WA Beaches 329, 330 and 331. To the south and trending west is Groper Bluff Beach.

We turned around and retraced our path for two kilometres, negotiating a couple of tricky jump ups before turning onto a north-south track that would take us to Pallinup Beach.

The jump ups on the Groper Bluff track were just a warm up. The track to the beach looked innocuous enough – all downhill.

Pallinup Beach is a popular fishing spot.

We travelled the length of the beach and then ducked into the lee of some dunes on the shore of Beaufort Inlet to have lunch. Alan had reported that the start of the next beach (WA Beach 325 – otherwise unnamed) was very soft and essentially impassable. I found a track from our lunch spot to Pallinup Estuary Road and we headed out the bitumen.

A couple of kilometres along the road we turned in towards Millers Point, a popular campground with a full time camp minder.

Tuesday
Reef Beach to Bremer Bay

We turned off the Bremer Bay Road into Reef Beach Track and aired down. There are no difficulties on the track and it is quite open compared to a few years back when vegetation was close in.

 

Close to the beach (next to a squatter’s hut) there are two choices – up and over a steep dune or a track to the left that eventually arrives at the beach about 400 metres on. Adi showed the way over the dune and the convoy followed one by one.

We drove Reef Beach to its eastern extremity and then returned to the access/egress point – Warramurrup Track. The first couple of hundred metres of the ascent away from the beach presents some mild challenges. Rod found a hole that wasn’t meant to be there.

Thick bush on either side of the track means its width was little more than that of a single vehicle. There are no passing area or pull off places. Part way up the slope we encountered another 4WD Group in an extremely tight section of track. I got out and spoke to driver of the first vehicle.

“I’ve got six vehicles with me.”

He replied, “I’ve got eight.”

“You win!”

“Are you with a Club?”, he asked

“Yep – Cockburn 4WD Club. You?”

“Yep.”

“Ok, I’ll get my group to pull off the track into the bush. Give me a few minutes.”

Eventually the way was clear for the oncoming group to pass through. We continued on.

As we got out into more open country it was clear that the beginnings of corrugations were starting to appear on the track. In a few places even the beginnings of a few moguls were apparent. Not yet formed but the genesis was obvious. Clearly the group we had just passed did not have low enough tyre pressures. Inexcusable for such an experienced, high profile group.

Towards the end of the track is a low lying area that often prevents access to the beach.

Warramurrup Track leads to the bitumen road into Bremer Bay. We cruised into town and headed to the beach, past the caravan park where holiday makers were packed in side by side. But getting away from it all!

The bar of the Bremer River mouth was open, preventing access to the beach and the tracks to north and east. The intention was to visit the Wellstead Museum later in the day so it was no issue to reschedule this as our lunch stop.

Wellstead Museum is well worth a visit. A good proportion of the exhibits would be contemporary items for many of the visitors when they were growing up although they are ancient history to the younger people walking through the various sheds.

We made our way back to the Wellstead Bush Camp, comfortable that a few more kilometres of our project to drive Western Australia’s beaches had been ticked off.

Wednesday
Wellstead to Cockburn via Stirling Drive

The way back to Cockburn was via the wonderful Stirling Drive, one of our State’s great drives, and Great Southern Highway.

Multiple, simultaneous mechanical issues just north of the Ranges ate into the day but with so many talented mechanics at hand it was only a matter of time before the convoy was rolling again.

Dan’s fuel computer told him he wouldn’t make Katanning but it was wrong. After refuelling we went our separate ways from this thriving Great Southern town.

 

© Cockburn 4WD Club  and Kim Epton 2022
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.
2125 words, 78 photographs, one image.

Photographs
Kim Epton
Dee Wales
Dan Wales
Alan Gibbs
Janine Milne
Graham Salter


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Dwellingup Recce

The first item to check out on our recce was the Dwellingup Fencelines Track. Lots of medium level challenges that would be substantially more difficult if wet.

Ten kilometres in we reached our turnaround point.  32°45’24″S 115°58’58″E .  No excessively lifted, double diff locked purpose built hill climbers with 37” tyres among our group. No photos, deliberately.

I suppose the keyboard warriors who go to work each morning via the Mundaring Powerlines would profess to ‘eat it up’ in 2WD. We had plenty more places to check out, things to see, and tracks to investigate rather than risk our vehicles.

There was lots of logging activity, often the precursor to bauxite mining expansion and subsequent road closures/realignments.

Roadworks around Lane Poole necessitated a few turnarounds (exactly why we were here) and then it was on to the Park Entrance. The attendant at the pay station advised that Murray River Fireline was a bit rough. She looked at our small convoy and said, “But you’re going to do it anyway, aren’t you?”

Access to the Murray River Fireline via the usual track past Baden Powell was closed due to the same track works that had earlier stymied us. Bobs Crossing was open but required an unacceptably long trip via old Nanga townsite 13 km to the south and then a similar distance back to the north just to get to it. Another time.

We moved on to Driver Road crossing and investigated a few tracks to the east. A particularly difficult downslope full of deep gutters was the last obstacle tackled. Another situation unsuitable  for ‘standard’ vehicles. I was then time to return to Cockburn.

 

Hunt for Hunt’s Wells 2021

The Plan

A mid week Trip to confirm the location of Koorkoordine Well, find Hunt’s Well Boorabbin Well, find a secondary well/soak at Boorabbin, visit Yerdanie Well, confirm a section of Hunts Track from the east of Gnarlbine Rock to the west, and find a lost soak on the west side of Gnarlbine.

We achieved everything we set out to do, plus more, making it a very successful Trip.

Heading East

Scott Overstone, Kerry Davies and I headed east on Sunday morning, stopping just east of Burracoppin at the site where the No. 1 Rabbit Proof Fence crossed in days past.

We turned off the Highway at Noongar, to head to Moorine Rock.  In June 2021 we refurbished Hunt’s Wells at Moorine Rock and Kodjerning and this was a good opportunity to check on them.

Local roads took us to Lake Kookoordine, seven kilometres north of Southern Cross. We wanted to confirm that the location of Hunt’s Well at Kookoordine was correctly identified. Hunt described the well as being “(8) chains from the base of a granite rock, eastern side”. Our investigations confirmed this to be reasonably accurate. A more detailed description of a rock two chains to the north-west of the well was also confirmed as accurate.

We left Southern Cross and refuelled at Yellowdine before turning in to the pumping station at Karalee. A newly-made track allowed access to Hunts Track adjacent to Morlining Rock. Two kilometres east we located a very overgrown track that took us south towards the south-west extension of Karalee Rock where I had pinpointed a pioneer well from reference to satellite images. The drive in was tough and once adjacent to the predicted position of the well we got out and walked.

At Karalee we checked on the two signs that we positioned/repositioned in early August 2021 and then continued on towards Koorarawalyee.

 

We spent some time between the Vermin Proof Fence and the Gilgai Pumping Station searching for evidence of the wooden pipeline that was in use around the time of the Great Depression. Concrete plinths, wooden staves and loops of thick retaining wire are in abundance. Daylight was slipping away and it was time to head to the planned overnight stop at Boorabbin.

At Boorabbin

Early in the morning we searched for an overgrown well/soak in an area identified for us by researcher Eric Hancock.

We then walked to the top of Boorabbin Rock.

It was time to find Hunt’s Well, again in a defined area. We gridded the search area and spent a few hours thoroughly dissecting it.

Hunt’s Track follows the current day pipeline from Koorarawalyee to within about four kilometres of Boorabbin Rock, at which point the pipeline deviates due east. The Track enters Boorabbin Rock at the northern end. We decided to follow it to the west.

Our tasks at Boorabbin were completed ahead of time so we packed and headed to the highway.

Hunts Track

After checking out Hunt’s Well at Yerdanie Rock we continued east along Hunts Track. A directional sign at the Rock was missing, as were a few others along the way. Not many vehicles have been using the Track between Yerdanie and Gnarlbine.

Gnarlbine Rock

As we approached Gnarlbine Rock West the way was blocked by two fallen trees which in any case was of no import because the Track finished just beyond them. We turned around and drove to Gnarlbine Rock East where we followed the Track west around the base of the rock and found a pleasant campsite.

Next morning we set about finding Hunts Track between Gnarline East and Gnarline West. The path from Point A to Point B depicted on the map below was not immediately clear but after plenty of effort and driving backwards and forwards from the known Track to where we thought the Track was routed we eventually were able to connect the two parts of the Track and an additional 1.4 kilometres was added to the known, usuable Hunts Track. After repositioning the directional sign a kilometre west of the rock we retired to camp for lunch.

After lunch we determined to find Hunts Track to the east of Gnarlbine. We found a way through a disused quarry to where an overgrown track was faintly visible. We followed this east for 1.3 kilometres (looking good) and then north for a further 1.5 kilometres before deciding that it was not going to take us in the direction we required. We retreated to a Y junction noticed on the outward journey and headed south-east. After two kilometres this, too, was abandoned.

It was time to head back to camp.

Scott Wilson arrived from Kalgoorlie after dark and lively conversation ensued around the campfire.

Next morning we headed to Gnarlbine West to locate the historical track Scott had described the previous night. That was relatively easy and there are now two ways ‘onto the rock’ (or ‘off the rock’ depending on direction of travel).

Pioneer Well at Gnarlbine West

I had plotted the location of a pioneer or native well at the western edge of Gnarlbine West from a map shared with me by researcher Eric Hancock. It was in very solid thickets in the usual band of vegetation that surrounds granite outcrops. Granite outcrops have their own ecosystem and act as island sanctuaries for a whole range of wildlife. In the south-west of Australia they are characterised by a belt of thick vegetation around the base of the rock. In many cases, due to the large amount of runoff from the rock, this vegetation is swamp-like, even though they are located in semi-arid country.

In an open area away from the rock we noticed a gully leading off the rock. Scott followed this up. Not easy. The thickets are almost impenetrable. After some time but only 20 metres he shouted that he had found a well. Time for Scott W, Kerry and me to crash through the thickets. Tough work. The thickets rip clothes and skin.

The well is quite large and of dry stone construction. The dense thickets and the ‘matting’ effect of the vegetation make it difficult to see and properly discern its shape and size. It has been hidden for some time – at least 50 years quite likely up to double that time.

Banks Rock

We left Gnarlbine mid morning heading south on Victoria Rock Road, intending to check out Banks Rock before finishing at McDermid Rock. The track into Banks Rock is difficult to find and is actually off a woodline that sort of parallels Victoria Rock Road.  The 3.5 kilometre access track is full of twists and turns.

Lake Johnston

Leaving Banks Rock we detoured a few kilometres along the Hyden-Norseman Road to have lunch at Lake Johnston.

The directional/informational sign at the intersection of Hyden-Norseman Road and Victoria Rock Road is incorrect albeit ultimately helpful. The distance to the next available fuel is correct. However, it is at Hyden, not Kondinin.

McDermid Rock

McDermid Rock is an interesting inselberg 2.6 kilometres south-west of the intersection of Victoria Rock Road and Hyden-Norseman Road. Although we had climbed it many times in the past we considered the view from the top to be worth the effort. Unlike better known Hyden Rock (Wave Rock), this granite outcrop has three ‘waves’.

We were way ahead of our schedule so we decided to camp at Emu Rock on the Holland Track, 140 kilometres further west of our original planned overnight stop.

On the way to Emu Rock we visited The Breakaways. Intrepid campers have extended the camping area 1.5 kilometres south of the ‘official’ area. It’s a huge camp area.

Emu Rock

We were still ahead of time and pushed on to Emu Rock to camp the night. There was plenty of regrowth in the area after the devastating fires a couple of years previously. Emu Rock is a good, flat campsite overlooking the lake with enough room for 20 or more vehicles. It is on Holland Track south of the Hyden Norseman Road and 1.7 kilometres south-west of the State Barrier Fence.

 

The drive out to the big, wide, open Hyden-Norseman Road was easy and then it was an uneventful trip back to Cockburn.

Text and layout – Kim Epton
1802 words
Photographs – Kim Epton, Scott Overstone, Scott Wilson
46 photographs, four images.

© Cockburn 4WD Club and Kim Epton 2021
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Beating Around Boorabbin

The main aim of this Trip was to relocate an historic Bicentennial Plaque, however, there was much to see and do before and after we got to Karalee, scene of our project.

To Mindebooka

Friday night camp was at Mindebooka Hill, one of our ‘get out of town’ locations. Getting to the campsite on Friday afternoon was an adventure in itself. The planned Route was across low lying, salt lake country that, ultimately, is part of the Baandee Lakes system. We reversed out of the slippery area and made for Great Eastern Highway, arriving at Mindebooka just on dark and just as a storm was about to hit.

A couple of popup shelters made what could have been a miserable night into quite a pleasant occasion in front of a great fire. For a change, we camped on the south side of the hill.

The planned Route required us to leave Southern Cross with full fuel tanks. The roadhouse servo was very busy – a sign of the times.

Ghooli Pumping Station

Thirteen kilometres out of Southern Cross we turned into the No. 6 Pumping Station at Ghooli.  The pumps, though inoperable,  are still in good condition.

At Yellowdine we picked up Hunts Track heading to Karalee.  A loader or similar had been used to rework the track from the lake at Yellowdine to just short of Karalee. What was once a tight, twisting, rough, overgrown track was now an easy, pleasant drive.

Morlining Well

Morlining Well was an important water source for hopeful diggers heading to the goldfields along Hunts Track in the 1890s.

Karalee

The repaired track ended where some new 1080 poison warning signs had been installed. We investigated the water harvesting infrastructure on the southern portion of Karalee Rock.

Installation of Plaque

The diversion channels led us to Hunt’s Dam where we were able to place the Bicentennial Plaque in its correct location. Home after 33 years.

Wooden Pipeline

Leaving Karalee we followed Hunts Track to Koorarawalyee, near where James showed us the remains of a section of the world famous Mundaring to Coolgardie pipeline that was made of wood. It was in use until the 1960s.

After successfully locating the abandoned wooden section of pipeline we continued west along the pipeline to the abandoned Gilgai No. 7 Pumping Station.

Cobb & Co. Well

From Gilgai we headed back to Great Eastern Highway to try to find an old Cobb & Co. well. The key to finding this well is to first locate Campbells Tree (a kurrajong) at the side of the Highway or to find the pipeline crossing 6.3 kilometres to the west of the tree. We located the tree, drove west along a track paralleling the highway for 1300 metres, then clambered over the pipeline and searched for the well which wasn’t too difficult to find. It is reputed that a rabbit shooter fell into it and died before being found.

Camp at Boorabbin

Under threatening skies we made our way to Boorabbin, electing to camp between the reservoir and the quarry. In the morning we checked out the quarry and removed some bushes that were threatening the heritage infrastructure.

The upper reservoir has a surface area of 1600 square metres and the lower reservoir 2500 square metres. These reservoirs along with the one at Woolgangie were substantially drained of water to fight recent  bushfires.

Hermits Hut

It was time to visit the Hermit’s Hut.

WWII Airstrip

The location of this airstrip was considered to be far enough away from the coast so as not to vulnerable if there was a coastal invasion. Little is left although the outline of the strip and some remaining bitumen can be seen.

Pioneer Well

From the airstrip we walked about 750 metres south-west in search of an unnamed well. It was possibly a water supply for people at the airstrip although it is likely to have been dug before the airstrip was constructed.

The leading edge of a storm hit as we walked from the pioneer well back to the abandoned airstrip. The heavy rain persisted all the way through our drive to Boondi. It was clear that the rain had settled in and the country around Boorabbin/Woolgangie is no place to leave a sealed road in the wet. While waiting for Boondi Reservoir to overflow we decided to turn around and head west.

Rather than just head back to Cockburn we elected to visit Kodjerning Well, Moorine Rock Well, and Karolin Rock to check out the results of our handiwork two months earlier.

Karolin Rock and Wells

Further work will be done on these wells to clear trees and vegetation away from them and make them an accessible tourist site.

Baladgie Rock

Leaving Karolin Rock it is only a few kilometres to Baladgie Rock and Lake. This is a popular overnight stop for travellers with basic facilities and fantastic views of the lake from an easy-to-climb rock.

Collection of Model Ts

Our journey took us to Mukinbudin, where we stayed overnight. We were lucky enough to get an invite to see a private collection of veteran cars on a farm just outside of town.

We took back country roads from Mukinbudin to Dowerin, stopping at some pioneer wells along the way, including Moujakine, Trayning and Nanning.

Moujakine Well

The Trip ended at Goomalling.

© 2021 Cockburn 4WD Club, Kim Epton and Andrew Brooks

Text and Layout – Kim Epton
1250 words.

Photographs/Images – Kim Epton and Andrew Brooks
52 photographs, two images.

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Relocation of Historic Plaque

Re-positioning of an incorrectly-located, well-marking plaque is probably of real interest to only the aficionados of such a recondite subject, however, this undertaking attracted 9 people to engage in a 3.5 day, 1000+ kilometre Road Trip from Cockburn to Boorabbin and return.

Probably the opportunity to visit the wondrous Great Western Woodlands, engage in a project to protect Western Australia’s exploration heritage, and be a part of the ‘conviviality of a weekend in the bush’ was the driving force.

Background

The plaque that was re-located is one of 26 created for the York to Goldfields Heritage Trail. It was to mark the location of a dam at Karalee Rock made by explorer/surveyor Charles Cooke Hunt in 1865. The installation of these plaques was part of Australia’s 1988 Bicentennial celebrations.

The plaque destined for Karalee Rock (shown as Carolling Rocks) was incorrectly installed at Karolin Rock. Though a beautiful picnic site with abundant wildflowers in season, Karolin Rock is not visited as much as its popular neighbour Baladgie Rock, a well used campground overlooking spectacular Lake Baladgie, and so the existence of the out of place plaque was little known.

Until bush historian Gary Arcus visited Karolin Rock in mid 2020, not long after Covid19 related travel restrictions within Western Australia were lifted, nobody had questioned why the spelling on the plaque was different from the name of the rocks. Indeed, someone had gone to the trouble of installing a substantial, but incorrect, sign pointing to ‘Hunts Well’.

After Gary consulted Hunt’s diaries it was clear that the wording on the plaque referred to Carolling Rocks – now known as Karalee Rock. How it ended up at Karolin Rock is not known although clearly there is a similarity in pronunciation. Further, the Western Australian Water Authority booklet The Wells of Explorer Charles Hunt incorrectly recorded that Carolling Rocks (Karalee) is in Karolin Reserve. Combined, these two influences are thought to be the reason for the mis-locating of the historic plaque.

Both Karolin Rock and Carolling Rocks are in the Shire of Yilgarn, which made coordination of the relocation of the plaque hassle free. However, the plaque was not moved to current day Carolling Rocks. The rock Hunt referred to as Carolling/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.

Hunt’s team established a dam across a gulley at Karalee in 1865 and it is at this location the plaque was to be installed. In the 1890s a dry rock well – in the same style as Hunt’s Wells – was made close to this dam and this fine structure is still in good condition today. Both the dry rock wall well and Hunts Dam are about 400 metres along the Karalee Information Trail.

During the refurbishment of Kodjerning and Moorine Wells in June 2021 the plaque was retrieved from where it had been incorrectly placed at Karolin Rock.

Installation of Plaque

With the intervention of dedicated volunteers from the Cockburn 4WD Club and Mitsubishi 4WD Club, 33 years on, the plaque has finally been placed in its correct location.

Rather than just head back to Cockburn we elected to visit Kodjerning Well, Moorine Rock Well, and Karolin Rock to check out the results of our handiwork two months earlier.

Read more about Hunts Track, his wells, other pioneer wells, and iconic tracks on the Explorer’s Wells and Tracks website.

Retrieval of the Plaque

Kim Epton
Gary Arcus
Scott Overstone
Andrew and Joanne Newhouse
Greg Barndon
Joe Metcalf
Dave Morrison
Rob and Tracey Parker
Graham Salter
Andrew Brooks

Relocation of the Plaque

Kim Epton
Scott Overstone
Gary Arcus
Andrew Brooks
Cliff Hills
Kerry Davies
James Hay

 

 

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Chittering Moondyne Day Trip

Twelve vehicles assembled at Bullsbrook around 9.00 o’clock on Sunday morning. Trip Leader Jason presented the trip plan and gave us a rundown of how the day would progress. There were many new faces – a very positive sign. A trip recce had been done the weekend before and both Jason and Gilbert, who were on this Trip, had done the recce. The adventure started around 9.25 a.m.

We headed north on the Great Northern Highway and then cut through a back road across to Muchea Road East. The recent rains had made the scenery really green and we marvelled at how much water would be flowing for the upcoming Avon Descent. We then rejoined the Great Northern Highway just south of Bindoon where we headed west on a more scenic ‘back’ route into Bindoon. Morning tea was at the extremely busy, renowned Bindoon Bakery.

Leaving Bindoon we headed south for a few kilometres before turning east onto Flat Rocks Road. It was a beautiful day with the sun on show. At the turnoff for Julimar State Forrest we aired down – in our case to 30 psi.

We soon hit a steep descent taking us further into the forest. There were quite a few dirt bikes and some other 4WD groups out for the day.

We came across a couple of small water crossings and one larger one. Jason was able to give some great advice on how best to cross. Gilbert, who was Sweep (at the back of the convoy) had jumped into the second vehicle across the obstacle (Jenny’s Toyota Prado) to take some photos as the vehicles crossed the water.

After Andrew drove his vehicle across the water there remained only Gilberts’s Prado on the other side of the creek. Gilbert was presented with the scenario that he would have to get Andrew to take him back to his vehicle or he would be stranded. However, Joanne was still on the other side and so with Gilbert’s instructions to keep the vehicle in second gear she drove the Prado across the water crossing with no dramas.

After progressing through the forest we pulled up to an area with a couple of large washouts.

Greg in his Landrover Defender went down a couple of washouts to explore, followed closely by another vehicle.

Brad decided he was going to take his 80 series through the biggest washout which had muddy water in the bottom. He gave it a really good, hard go but unfortunately just couldn’t make it through.

So Peter, in his Landrover Discovery, pulled up on top of the hill in front of the 80 and Jason clambered down to attach the winch rope. A snatch strap was attached from the Landrover back to Gilbert’s Prado and they pulled Brad’s 80 out of the rut. Jenny then followed Brad down another washout which a couple of the other vehicles had also successfully navigated.

Further along the track a tree was blocking the way. Jason asked if anyone had a chainsaw. Rob and Pete answered in the affirmative and, although there was a new track around the fallen tree, Jason suggested should we do a little track maintenance. Pete brought out his chainsaw, the tree was moved to the side of the track and it was once again open to traffic.

Not long after we went up a steep incline – the planned end of the track from the recce. It was decided that the surface of the track was a little too loose and probably not good for any first timers.

We each turned around and headed back down to the powerline road and stopped for a cuppa and afternoon tea.  Jason said we would head out via the powerline road which led out to the main road. As it was 3.30 p.m. he gave people the choice to leave from here to head home or to follow him to do another small section.

Jason provided great leadership and made it an awesome day out for all of us.

Trip Report by Cherie Lewis.

© 2021 Cockburn 4WD Club and Cherie Lewis.
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Ninghan Station

Ninghan Station Outback Experience

July 2021

It is time to head north to finish the school holidays.

For all the Outback Truckers fans, a haulpack heading north was a welcomed disruption.

With its very out of place architecture, particularly for Western Australia’s Wheatbelt, New Norcia in the Wheatbelt is always a great stop.

We made a stop for lunch at the delightful Jenny’s Kitchen in Dalwallinu. Next up was a visit to Wimmera Farm to see The Windmill Shed. On the outskirts of Dally, Jim Sawyer, the font of all knowledge when it comes to windmills, was there to show us his two sheds of windmills. What a character! What a collection!

Leaving Dallwallinu we travelled to Wubin and, just north of this important transport hub, turned into our campsite for the night at Wubin Rocks. Of course, there was the obligatory Cockburn 4WD Club style campfire.

An early start saw us head north for the final hour to arrive at Ninghan Station. After meeting the owners, Don and Ashley Bell and seeing their prized gold collection, we dropped the camper trailers and headed up the mountain track to the peak of Mount Singleton.

The views were spectacular. It was one of the highlights of the Trip.

In times past the Ninghan area was as a meeting place for the Badimaya, Nyoongar, Yamatji and Wongi/Wongai peoples to trade ochre, and gum from grasstrees.

Much rain had fallen in the weeks prior to our visit (Cyclone Seroja was just one event), so the ground was well watered – deceptively soft in places.

The station is scattered with spectacular granite rock formations, with rock pools and wild flowers to decorate.

Camping locations on the station, no matter what site is chosen, are amazing. We chose to camp at The Breakaways. For those who arose very early, the sunrise was something else!

On Sunday morning we climbed Warrdagga Rock a huge granite dome that rises about two hundred metres above sea level. It is steeped in local history and is of extreme significance to the local indigenous people, known as a ‘birthing’ place.

Travelling past Karrawan Well (local name), we stopped at another amazing rock formation, near the soak. We decided this was a very fitting place to have a lineup of vehicles and to celebrate Graham Salter’s birthday!

As Sunday wore on it was time to head home with some members of the group heading south on the Great Northern Highway to Cockburn and others taking a longer route via Paynes Find.

After viewing the local museum the trip home for this cohort was along the eastern side of Ninghan Station.

 

 

 

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Wokalup

The Trip started on a cold Sunday morning in Byford. Shortly after nine o’clock, Brad and Bob Swift in a 105 Toyota Landcruiser, Mark Grey and his daughters in a Kia Sorento, and Trip Leader Gilbert Karel in his 150 series Toyota Prado headed to Wokalup, to meet Andrew and Jo Newhouse in their 120 series Toyota Prado with Jo’s parents Peter and Marilyn.

Time to hit the track. No one in the group had done the track before, so its condition was unknown. We suspected that the heavy rains in the week previous to the trip would have adversely affected the state of the track. It started as an excellent graded gravel road without any problems. There was logging activity in the area. While airing down, some had the forethought to collect some firewood.

We followed the track to a gravel pit with pools of water – a combination that provided us with excellent photo opportunities.

After the photoshoot we continued along the track. It was getting more technical.

And it was not long before we hit our first bog hole. Mark required a quick snatch from Brad to get his vehicle through the boghole.

 

Further along the track we determined that 4WD was not correctly engaging in Mark’s Sorento. With that in mind, we decided to retrace our route back to the main road.

Unfortunately the return track was now uphill and the Sorento couldn’t make it up the steep ascent without 4WD. We opted to winch it up. The next obstacle was the boghole we had negotiated on the way in and the Sorento had the same issue as previously. A quick snatch easily solved the issue.

We found a place for lunch near the main road. Still unable to get his vehicle to engage 4WD, Mark decided to head home. We remaining three drivers got our vehicles back on the track again. It was not long before we had some challenging hill climbs with a lot of low range action. Mudholes in the low lying, soft valleys.

We then arrived at a significant hill climb. It was to be the highlight of the day – a steep, rocky hill climb with a deep drain gully. I was first to tackle the hill. At the top the Prado slid into a drain – virtually a gully. It was at a precarious angle.

After a shout on the UHF, the others walked up the incline and we all assessed the situation.

Under Bob’s direction and some extra weight on the front provided by Andrew, I was able to reverse the Prado out of the gully. Eventually it was on even ground again.

Andrew was the next to try to conquer the hill.

 

Open diffs and no traction control was not going to cut it on this hill. Andrew got his Prado about halfway up before it lost traction. Clearly another method was needed to continue the hill climb. He offloaded his passengers and decided to use his traction boards. They were in the back of the Prado and when we tried to access them, the freshly collected firewood rolled down the hill.

With the traction boards in place and the Prado a bit lighter (no passengers, no firewood), Andrew made another attempt on the hill. He managed to take the Prado to the top of the hill with some timely application of the right foot and clever steering.

It was now Bradley’s turn to attempt the hill in his Landcruiser. He made it looks easy. The ‘Cruiser walked up the hill.

We continued on interesting tracks, using 4WD as the need arose, for about another hour.

It was late in the afternoon when we reached the main gravel road so we decided to call it a day and return to Cockburn.

 

Thanks to everyone who joined the trip and see you all on the next one.

Gilbert Karel

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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.

 

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Esperance-Balladonia-PeakCharles-Lake Sharpe/Lake Hope-Corrigin

A seven day, 1750 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.

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 east onto the access track 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

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

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 along the track 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’, however, 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

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.

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Kim Epton

Lone Neilsen
Graham ‘Howezit’ Howe