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.

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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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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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Black Point-Lake Jasper-Callcup-Yeagarup

Lake Jasper

Off to the Murchison; no! Kalbarri has just been decimated by Cyclone Seroja. So, a last-minute change has been made to travel to Pemberton.

However, lockdown has just been announced in Perth and Peel, so all trip members need to leave Perth by 6.00 p.m. on the Friday of the Anzac Day long weekend. Traffic was heavy on the way to Pemberton, with hundreds of city folk all having similar ideas. Andrew and Jo were last to arrive, well after 10.00 p.m.

In the morning Trip Leader, Mushy set the scene for the weekend and introduced all team members, including new member, Rod Duffy. After fuelling up and stocking up at the bakery, we were off for the first of two terrific days of four wheel driving.

Our Road Trip headed west through the amazing Karri forest.

Time to air down and then to enjoy the sandy track into the D’Entrecasteaux National Park.

 

The first stop was at Stepping Stones; an impressive beach with an impressive staircase to the water.

The first line up of vehicles – with Lance’s Hilux, Andrew’s Prado, Rod’s Hilux and Mushy’s new MuX!

After a short yet spectacular coastal track, we arrived at The Breakfast Holes on the eastern side of Black Point. This was a chance for the drone to be released and the surfers to be monitored.

On the path back to the vehicles, naturalist Jo had a keen eye to find a frog burying itself.

It was now time to head down to Surfers Beach, a few hundred metres to the north, via an inspiring and descending track for lunch on the beach. This was an opportunity to welcome newest member Rod to the Club.

After visiting Black Point for some shark spotting, it was off to Lake Jasper. Graham called in to report a flat tyre. The team was slick in getting Graham moving again within minutes.

The track to Lake Jasper was very sandy and required focus in the late afternoon. Lake Jasper did not disappoint, looking its very best. The water, the reflections and the sunken picnic tabled were irresistible.

The only river crossing on the trip.

After soaking up the late afternoon sun, it was time to head back to Pemberton, collecting firewood on the way.

Yeagarup Dunes

The cold morning started with a meeting at the bakery to stock up for the day. The drive to Northcliffe was lovely. Finding the track to Callcup was interesting and the drive to the dunes was spectacular. Winding through coastal forest and up the occasional steep ascent with assistance from rubber track protectors made for a great morning. Being a long weekend, the dunes resembled Hay Street. There were some lengthy delays at the various dunes as up to twenty vehicles patiently waited for their turn – characterised by scores of teenage drivers all keen to chop up the dunes for everyone else!

The Callcup Hill descent.

The mouth of the Warren River was closed which made for an easy crossing. With inlet on one side and ocean on the other, this was time to line up and soak up the amazing opportunity to be there.

Time to ascend the main dune to Yeagarup. Once again, traffic was heavy, and patience was needed. Mushy lead the charge with a couple of attempts – the rest of the team then going for it. There was congestion at the top of the hill as drivers jostled for places to park and wait for all the team to regroup.

The picturesque track to the Yeagarup Air Up Point was yet again a highlight.

With plenty of time left in the day, it was off to the cidery to sample the local brew and then a relaxing drive back to camp via Big Brook Dam.

A great day and a great campfire to close the day.

On Monday we had  a relaxing start packing up and heading home, with the prospect of lengthy delays at the checkpoints back into Perth. However, this did not eventuate as we were waved through with no delays.

Thanks to Mushy for leading us in having a great weekend away.

 

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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.

SATURDAY

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.

SUNDAY

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.

MONDAY

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.

TUESDAY

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.

 

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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.

 

 

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Sandy Cape

 

A weekend away at this popular coastal holiday camp spot just to the north of Jurien Bay.

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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

CREDITS

Trip Report/Photographs
Nathan Barkell

Trip Leaders
Brian Hunt
Nick Carroll
Brad O’Neil

Reconnaissance
Kim Epton
Aaron Howell
Scott Overstone

© Cockburn 4WD Club 2020 and Nathan Barkell
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Gus Luck Track

The Plan was to do more than just the Gus Luck Track.

The Trip was planned for four and half days from 22-26 October 2020.

We would spend the first night at Mindebooka Rock, south of Doodlakine. The next morning we would travel to Merredin, then Sandford Rocks where would try to find a part of Hunts Track. On to Southern Cross, via Kodjerning Well and Moorine Well, both part of Hunts Track. From  Southern Cross we would head to Yellowdine and start the Gus Luck Track. We expected to have a few challenges to follow it all the way to Goongarrie (we did) from where we would drive to Coolgardie to refuel. South to Gnarlbine to pick up Hunts Track to Yerdanie. On to to Karalee Rocks for a flying visit before stopping at Morlining Rocks. The return to Cockburn would be via Burracoppinn, Merredin, Bruce Rock and Beverley.

A detailed description of the Gus Luck Track is on the Wells and Tracks website.

We departed The Lakes just after 2.00 p.m., sadly without Elvis Mestric. His radiator blew on the way to the Meeting Point. Better to happen then than during the Trip many kilometres from a service centre.

Our route took us through interesting salt lake country south of Doodlakine/Kellerberrin, arriving at Mindebooka with plenty of time to set up a comfortable camp. The roaring easterly abated by early evening, allowing us to have a fantastic campfire.

Greg Barndon was in his Colorado. Scott Overstone, despite having purchased a Nissan Patrol only days before, chose to use his well setup Jimny for this Trip. Corey Rees was towing a trailer behind his modified 100 series and Kerry Davies was in his bog standard Nissan Navara. Peter James and Lone Nielsen joined us late afternoon/evening in their Hilux, towing a Bigfoot camper trailer. My much-hammered Rodeo would need to get me through.

On Friday morning we departed Mindebooka and found the Bruce Rock-Merredin railway access track. Though this track leads to Merredin I decided to branch off early so we could visit Totadgin Rock and Well.

This well was refurbished in 2016. We left Totadgin on the Merredin-Bruce Rock Road. Our pace was restricted by roadworks so it was an ideal opportunity to stop to view a couple of interesting engineering structures. We had pulled off the road at a Main Roads WA Network Performance Site and, coincidentally, the Merredin Solar Farm, the largest in Western Australia was in the paddock immediately to the west of where we had stopped.

Merredin

A number of Trips over recent times have been routed through Merredin. It is now compulsory to stop at Merredin Bakery. What a thriving business! Indicative of what happens when a good product is offered at a fair price. Non stop foot traffic.  That front door just kept on banging.

Sandford Rocks

We left Merredin for Burracoppin, Westonia and Sandford Rocks. Hunts Track is close to the Rocks but it is overgrown and impassable – as we found out after only a few hundred metres of bush bashing.

Hard on vehicles, particularly mirrors, the A pillar and anything hanging off the vehicle such as an awning. Back to the bitumen.

Southern Cross

Our route took us past Kodjerning and Moorine wells – both part of Hunts Track – to Southern Cross.

Aaron had mechanical issues, consulted Medicar (his vehicle builder and Sponsor of the Cockburn 4WD Club), and delayed his departure from The Cross in the hope of being able to rectify the issue. He continued to Yellowdine with his vehicle problem still unresolved.

Yellowdine

The Yellowdine rendezvous was a refuelling point, after which everyone gathered in the open area opposite the roadhouse and had lunch.

The issues with Aaron’s Patrol persisted, despite our best efforts to rectify the matter. The vehicle was stalling at low speed and when changing direction – something we would be doing a lot of during the Trip. The MAF sensor was removed and cleaned with hand sanitiser (evaporative alcohol). We had ran out of fixes and he wisely decided to head back home.  After the Trip we found out that it was the Steinbauer Performance Module and the issue could have been resolved by isolating the device. Hindsight is a wonderful thing.

The remaining vehicles headed off on the adventure.

First stop was only a few hundred metres along the way. The main parts of the water harvesting complex at Yellowdine are still intact, if a little rundown and overgrown. The dam at Yellowdine Station was an important stop for the steam locomotives on the Southern Cross to Coolgardie railway.

The run up to Duladgin is easy – it is a wide, well formed dirt road with minimal corrugations. We stopped at Duladgin Well and then visited the grave of Thomas Davidson, a pioneer prospector. It is good to see that his grave has been noted by Outback Graves.

Weowanie

The track into Weowanie is the start of the real Gus Luck Track. It can be very sandy and, because it crosses the southern extension of Lake Deborah, it can sometimes be impassable. We pulled into Weowanie, walked to the summit and had a look at a number of water catchments.

Past Weowanie the Track does a dogleg to cross the Yellowdine Vermin Proof Fence. A short distance after this we stopped at our campsite on the last night of the Outback Trek in August 2020. During that memorable night heavy rain made it difficult to get out onto the Track in the morning, although Brad O’Neil managed to do it (unwittingly) in 2WD.

Ten kilometres later we crossed Eva Lake, a potential track blocker in wet conditions.

Darrine

Not far past Eva Lake a large fire had devastated the country. The burn extended seven kilometres to the north towards Darrine.

The cover of the rockhole at Darrine has names scribbled all over it, dating back many years. Two and half kilometres from the rockhole the Track reaches the Trans Australian Railway. We followed the railway east for another couple of kilometres to the crossing.

Six kilometres along the Track from the railway is a blazed kurrajong tree. This tree is easy to spot – kurrajongs stand out from the dominant eucalypts and acacias.

Easy driving on the Track to Ullambay Rockhole.

Wallangie

Two hundred metres before the ‘main intersection’ at Wallangie there is a grave of an unknown person. It was here, in 1910, that Albert and Len Ives found the body of the unknown pioneer. They buried it at this site. In 2005 the name of the rock was changed from Ive to Ives Rock.

The plan was to camp at Wallangie. The challenge was to find a suitable site. After a bit of driving around we made do at a spot to the west of the dam.

The push along the track continued early the next morning.

The incongruity of emerging from a rough, twisty, small track onto a wide open, well formed, major haul road as we did just before 71 Mile Rock was repeated at the Mt Walton Haul Road – just after 71 Mile Rock.

Washaway

A couple of kilometres after the haul road the Track has been washed away for about 100 metres. The two vehicles towing negotiated it with ease although it might be a bit more challenging if wet.

After another couple of kilometres the track swings away to the left. Clearly most of the traffic follows this direction to the north. But it is not the Gus Luck Track – despite all the tyre tracks. Our route was straight ahead on a track that did not look at all promising.

We stayed on this overgrown, narrow track for just over seven kilometres until our way was blocked by large fallen trees. A 200 metre cross country jaunt took us out to a good track that joined with the Gus Luck Track a kilometre further on.

To Urdardunging

A huge swathe of country has been burned between this intersection and Pilarning Rock. At Urdardunging 1500 metres further on we walked over to a grave. Difficult to determine whether it marks the resting place of a human or an animal. I note that it is not listed on Outback Graves.

Turturdine

We stopped 500 metres short of Turturdine Rock to look for Nearanging Rockhole. After a minute or so of walking in the general direction of where it was expected to be we found what we were looking for.

We then moved onto Turturdine for lunch and a look around at the rockhole and some rock etchings/graffiti.

Coonmine

There are a few tight sections on the drive to Coonmine but overall the Track is quite easy. At Coonmine the historic Gus Luck Track heads north-east to Split Rock, however, it has been lost – no track exists. The track east from Coonmine to Coolgardie North Road is an old station track.

Finding the Lost Track

It is at Coolgardie North Road  where most people finish the Gus Luck Track, however, we intended to complete as much of the track as we could through to Goongarrie. This entailed a 13 kilometre drive north to Split Rock to see if we could pick up the Gus Luck Track there. The track into Split Rock from Coolgardie North Road is not the Gus Luck Track and the historical track between these two points has been lost.

However, I was excited to find the Track leading to the east of Coolgardie North Road about 600 metres north of the track leading into Split Rock. We made a tentative entry and after a short distance it was clear that a viable track existed and was heading the way we wanted.

After nine kilometres the historical Track is impassable (Point A), however, we were not disappointed as this was our first ‘re-discovery’ of the Track.

From this point we followed an old fenceline to an old boundary track (Point B) that took us north back to the historical Track at Point C.

At Point C we found the Gus Luck Track heading east, after Corey put up his drone. We walked along the ‘track’ sighting a number of artefacts that confirmed it was indeed the historical Track.

This overgrown Track is impassable to vehicles. It comes out at Wangine, at a point where, during the Outback Trek in August 2020, we followed it west for 500 metres.

What was the best route to Wangine? There was no short route. I decided to head north along the old boundary track with a view to coming out on the Davyhurst Road. We would then have to head south-east to Wangine – a total detour of 34 kilometres.

We didn’t stop at Wangine, choosing instead to find the Gus Track Track at Point E. It was at this point I had seen an overgrown track heading towards Lower Goongarrie during the Outback Trek and I was confident it would take us through to the boundary of Goongarrie Station (now owned by Department of Parks and Wildlife and run as conservation reserve and campground). A number of times during the five kilometre push that confidence was tested as the track became tighter, more overgrown and, in some places, nearly non existent. However it eventually intersected with a wider track (Point F, see below) that reconnected with the Gus Luck Track at the entrance to Goongarrie Station. Our second successful re-discovery.

From this point we were familiar with the Track, having done it during the Outback Trek in August, albeit in the opposite direction.

The sun was low on the horizon but as it was  behind us it wasn’t affecting our driving vision so I pushed on to Goongarie. We found an acceptable campsite on a side track and set up a comfortable camp,

Corey surveyed his tally of damage – punctured tyre (sidewall), broken spare wheel carrier and broken awning mount. Hopefully his Road Trip would improve.

We had finished the Gus Luck Track with the following results:

Distance travelled on Gus Luck Track
Yellowdine to Wallangie – 88 km
Wallangie to Coonmine – 71 km
Split Rock to Point A – 9 km
Point E (Pipeline Track) to Lower Goongarrie – 5 km
Lower Goongarrie to Goongarrie – 30 km
Total – 203 km

Length of Historic Track determined
Coonmine to Split Rock – 16 km
Point A to Point C – 5 km
Point C to Wangine – 9 km
Wangine to Point E (Pipeline Track) – 4 km
Total – 34 km

Length of Gus Luck Track
Yellowdine to Goongarrie – 237 km

Additional Distance
Detours – 77 km

In the morning we would move on to the second phase of our Road Trip – Hunts Track.

To Coolgardie

Leaving camp we visited some pioneer graves and the historic abandoned townsite of Goongarrie. Our route took us through Ora Banda and onto the Coolgardie North Road.

We stopped at a quirky art display on an unnamed claypan. No name, no commentary. Very clever use of gum boots and tyres.

On arrival at Coolgardie we called into the Pioneer Cemetery – not to be confused with the Coolgardie Cemetery. After refuelling we wasted no time in heading south to Gnarlbine.

Gnarlbine

There are two wells at Gnarlbine. The lesser known and lesser visited well to the south is not one of Hunt’s.

We left the second well, retraced our route on Victoria Rock Road north for a couple of kilometres and turned left onto Hunts Track.

Hunts Track

In June 2019, from reference to the satellite view on Hema Explorer, Scott Wilson predicted the presence of a woodline along the track about 5.7 kilometres east of the turnoff to the Prince of Wales mine. Old spikes, cans, tobacco tins, and, further into the bush, evidence of railway sleepers  and more artefacts confirmed Scott’s brilliant interpretation.

We re-located this old woodline, first seen in 2019 when refurbishing Hunts Track to Yerdanie. Since that time someone had created a ‘File Tree’ to mark where it crossed the track.

We had lunch at the Prince of Wales mine. Although abandoned, and risky for for the unwary, it is subject to a number of active tenements.

Just as we were leaving Prince of Wales to resume our journey along Hunts Track, Greg called over the radio that his Colorado had a flat. With everyone helping we were on our way again in less than five minutes. Not quite Formula 1 standard but still impressive.

As I predicted, we had a few issues getting the long Bigfoot camper trailer through a stand of regrowth. Future travellers should now have no issues.

Yerdanie Rock and Well

We climbed to top of the rock. Great 360° views. Clearly there had been showers recently at Yerdanie. I have never previously seen water at the summit.

We searched for the recently re-discovered Hunts Well. With the drone up we eventually succeeded in finding it.

We left Yerdanie for Karalee, reaching Great Easter Highway after seven more kilometres of Hunts Track. The day was quickly coming to a close so it was straight down the blacktop to Karalee.

Karalee

We had time for only a flying visit as it was late in the day. The track west out of Karalee is rough and overgrown in places. We reached Morlining Rocks and selected a campsite.

Morlining Well

In the morning walked into Morlining Well before continuing on the track to Yellowdine.

Diesel was cheap at Yellowdine (106 cents/L) so most took the opportunity to top up and inflate tyres to highway pressure.

We followed Goldfields Road to the Rabbit Proof Fence Interpretive Site at Burracoppin and then visited Hunts Well only a short distance west.

The Road Trip finished at Merredin.

 

© Cockburn 4WD Club 2020
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.
3144 words, 85 photographs/images.
Text and Layout
Kim Epton

Photographs
Kim Epton
Corey Rees
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Dalwallinu Wildflowers Road Trip

A four day tour of the Pithara/Dalwallinu area in early October 2020.

Our Road Trip was a little bit late for the best of the annual spectacular wildflower display, however, this was no loss as the locals believed that the season was less than optimal anyway.

Trip Leader Matt Hall arranged for us to camp on a friend’s farm at East Pithara.

Day 1 – Pithara-Kalannie-Xantippe-East Pithara

Pithara

We met at the nearly non-existent hamlet of Pithara. This dot on the map in a vast wheat growing area was first named Hettie in 1914 but was soon changed to Pithara, the aboriginal name of a nearby watering place.

Pithara is the site of Western Australia’s first fatal commercial crash.

Petrudor Rocks

Petrudor Rocks is a large granite outcrop with waterholes at the base. The site was once important to aboriginals and later was used by stockmen to water their cattle. The name is of unknown derivation.

Kalannie

Kalannie is the centre of a large wheat growing area and an award winning Landcare area. It  is also a potential mallee oil production centre. Trials are ongoing.

When the government decided to extend the Ejanding Northwards Railway line to the Kalannie area in 1928, the area was known as Lake Hillman, and local farmers argued strongly for this to be the name of the proposed line terminus.

The Railways Department opposed the name Lake Hillman because there was already a Hillman in existence. The name Kalannie was selected in its place. It is of aboriginal derivation from the York area where the meaning is given as ‘place of the white stone’. It was here that white stone for spearheads was quarried. Just what the connection is between a York quarry and the Kalannie area is unknown.

Xantippe

A Gold Mining Lease in this area was named Xantippe in 1880.

Xanthippe – (flourished late 5th century BC) was an Athenian matron and wife of the philosopher Socrates, to whom she bore three sons. She is said to have been highly temperamental and although little reliable evidence exists to support the conclusion, her name has become synonymous with an ill-tempered, nagging wife, or shrew.

The granite outcrop at Xantippe was ‘harvested’ for water from 1923. This harvested water was directed to a large concrete tank of unusual design – the pipework is level with the bottom of the tank and then directs flow upward to enter the tank at the top.. The project was completed in 1927. It was initially intended that the water harvested at Xantippe supply Dalwallinu but it was unable to be pumped over the hills – though farmers in the area managed to pump water over the same hills.

Wildflower Gallery
by
Mark Gray 

Day 2 – Hughenden Rock-Boogoordar Rock-Calibro-Jibberding-Boundary Riders Waterhole

Hughenden Rock Gnammas

These Gnammas are protected by Reserve 20482. The naming of the rock dates back to the 1880s.

Goodlands Road

Goodlands Road is a highly regarded ‘Flora Road’.

It is also a connecting artery to the Great Northern Highway and, as such, is an attractive route for road trains. This one dusted everyone.

Jibberding Reserve

Jibberding is renowned for pink, white and yellow Everlastings, however, we saw no sign of them.

Cailbro School

This mud brick school on Carter Road that was built by the community in 1939. It has been restored and is maintained by the Cail family.

Boundary Riders Water Hole

This waterhole which was put down when the No 2 Rabbit Proof Fence was constructed in 1904. It stored water for the boundary rider who was responsible for looking after the Rabbit Proof Fence.

A few posts indicate the remains of the bush shelter where the boundary rider stayed.

We made our way back to camp.

Wildflower Gallery
by
Mark Gray 

Day 3 – Heritage Wheat Bin-Wubin Rocks-Buntine Rocks-Miamoon-Dalwallinu

Heritage Wheat Bin Museum

Despite Matt’s best efforts, Covid 19 restrictions meant that the old wheatbin – which sits side by side with today’s modern storage bins, and gives a direct comparison between past and present day grain handling – was not open. But there was coffee. According to Nick, the worst he had ever tasted.

 

Gallery
by
Glenda

Buntine Rocks

Buntine Rocks provide spectacular views of the surrounding farm land.

Miamoon

Miamoon, 17 kilometres west of Wubin along Gunyidi Road, is a great spot for orchids in season. There is a gnamma in the granite rocks.

This name was originally applied to a farm in about 1908-1909 and later to a school from 1930 – 1952. There was a progress association, a cricket club, a football team and a tennis club also using this name in the area.

The name is believed to be of aboriginal origin.

Dalwallinu

The Road Trip was conveniently timed to have lunch at the Dally pub. They did well to efficiently handle the sudden influx of a large group.

 

© Cockburn 4WD Club 2020
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.

Text and Layout Kim Epton
Photographs
Jane Dooley
Glenda Jones
Mark Gray
Kim Epton

1001 words, 65 photographs.
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