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.

 

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

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

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

Saturday 26 December 2020

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

Forty metres onto Scarp Road we saw this sign.

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

Scarp Pool

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

Oakley Dam

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

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

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

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

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

Stirling Dam

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

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

Sunday 27 December 2020

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

Brunswick Hills

Time to head south along the Darling Scarp again

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

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

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

South-east of Nannup

Donnelly River

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

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

We found a secluded campsite off Gordon Road.

Monday 28 December 2020

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

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

Palings Road

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

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

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

Duch Fonti Road

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

Karri Forest Explorer

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

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

Gloucester Tree

After a coffee we headed out to the Gloucester Tree.

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

Beedelup Road

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

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

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

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

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

Tuesday 29 December 2020

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

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

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

 

 

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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

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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 Udardunging

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 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.

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.

 

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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
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Mark Gray
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WA’s Best Bakeries

Despite the title of this Road Trip it was not just a drive on bitumen roads from bakery to bakery. It was a genuine 4WD trip with plenty of challenging, tight, overgrown tracks and spectacular scenery is some of the prettiest parts of Western Australia.

Day 1 Saturday 12 September 2020

We left Byford and headed up the Darling Scarp on Boyd Road to North Dandalup Dam for a quick look.

The drive down the Darling Scarp on Whittaker Road offers great views across the coastal plain. We crossed the South West Highway and took back roads through dairy farming country to Pinjarra.

At Burekup we turned onto Henty Road. This scenic route offers fantastic views of the Ferguson Valley and across the coastal plain to the coast. Lunch was at the third Bakery Stop – Dardanup.

After lunch we found a tiny track through the Dardanup Conservation Park.

This track brought us out onto Ironstone Road where we continued through the beautiful Ferguson Valley to Wellington Mill.

One of the State’s quirkiest tourist attractions is just down the road – Gnomesville.

From this quaint little tourist attraction we headed to the King Jarrah Tree, the largest tree in the Wellington State Forest.

Leaving this magnificent tree, we followed the track through the forest and turned onto Corbett Road. A few kilometres along the road, farmland appears on the right. At the corner of this property the track leaves the fenceline and becomes tight and overgrown.

It has been a few years since any vehicles have been along the track although it clearly was a major track at same time in the past. It opens out after about 1.7 kilometres.

We headed south to Grimwade and then Balingup, the fourth Bakery Stop. There are two bakeries/cafes here.

The road from Balingup to Nannup is one of the great drives of Australia. Every sweeping bend offers a wonderful view of forests or farmland. The river on one side, tall lush slopes on the other. Popular with motorcycle and driving enthusiasts alike, the 41 kilometres between the two towns has 90 bends.

Our overnight stay was at the Riverbend Caravan Park in Nannup.

Day 2 Sunday 13 September 2020

We took Mowen Road out of Nannup, heading for Capel – first Bakery Stop of the day.

Capel Bakery was a little overwhelmed at the sudden influx of so many customers.

Out of Boyanup through forest and farms and into the Ferguson Valley.

Richards Road (track) ends at the Forest Discovery Centre and from this location we took on the biggest challenge of the weekend – a section of powerline track.

Out of the powerline track, through the stunning Ferguson Valley again and onto Harvey through back country roads.

The Road Trip finished at Harvey. Great weather, stunning scenery, pleasant company and good four wheel driving made for a top weekend.

Kim – Holden Rodeo Dual Cab Trayback
Brad and Jane – Toyota Landcruiser Troopy Camper
Tania – Isuzu DMax Dual Cab Ute
Jodie and Keren – Toyota Landcruiser 100 Series Wagon
Paul and Imogen – Nissan Y62 Patrol Wagon
Steve and Linda – Mazda BT50 Dual Cab Ute
Nick and Fiona – Toyota Hilux Dual Cab Ute
Nathan and Kirsty Barkell – Mitsubishi Triton Dual Cab Ute
Justin and Amy – Volkswagen Amarok Dual Cab Ute
Andrew and Joanne – Toyota Prado Wagon
Mushy and Vicky – Toyota Landcruiser Troopy

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Coolgardie to Mount Jackson

Our route north of Coolgardie took us to Kunanalling, a gold mining ghost town that drew its last breath in 1942.

Kunanalling

Gold was discovered here by Speakman, Erickson and Ryan in 1892 and by 1898 the town was booming. It boasted a telegraph station, police station, court house, government school, post office, mechanics institute, blacksmith, butcher, bakery, grocer and three hotels. Its population peaked at 488 in 1899 and gradually fell away to 105 residents in 1911, then 88 in 1933. before being abandoned during the war years.

As was often the case with towns that sprang up as the result of a gold find the first name applied was in reference to the distance from Coolgardie or Kalgoorlie, hence Kunanalling was for many years known as the ’25 Mile’. Research by the Eastern Goldfield Historical Society into the aboriginal name Kunanalling that was eventually used for the town indicates that it means ‘emu droppings’. Probably dressed up a bit.

After taking photographs we continued our trek north-west.

Rowles Lagoon

40 kilometres north of Kunanalling is the remarkable Rowles Lagoon, a true oasis in a desert. Rowles Lagoon is the only freshwater wetland in the Goldfields reserved for nature conservation. Along with Clear, Muddy and Carnage Lakes that form the whole wetland, Rowles Lagoon can change dramatically over the seasons and the years. In times of drought they dry out but can flood in years of heavy rains.

Typical of so many DPaW campgrounds, posts restrict where one can camp – often the location with the best views – and, of course, the area is picked clean of firewood. These ‘attractions’ are best visited without the overnight stop. Instead, find a pristine bush camp with plenty of firewood, a good aspect and convivial company.

Finally ticked Rowles Lagoon off the list of places to visit.

Gus Luck Track

On the way to Ularring we passed the practicable end (or start) of the Gus Luck Track. This Track extends from Weowanie through Darrine, Walangie Soak, 71 Mile Rock, Undandanging Gnamma, Turtturdine Rock, and Coonmine Well to Coolgardie North Road. Luck started his track further north-east at the gold mining centre of Goongarie in 1894, however, following it from/to this point is problematic. Similarly, the portion of the Track from Southern Cross to Weowanie is impossible to follow because of modern day constructions and barriers.

Gus Luck was a consummate bushman of French origin who taught and mentored one of Australia’s greatest (though controversial) explorers, David Carnegie in the 1890s. Find out more about these two bushmen explorers here and here.

Ularring

There is mineral exploration activity at Ularring but very little else.

This dot on the map is the site of a infamous attack by local aborigines on Ernest Giles’ exploration party  in 1875. It has been suggested that the attack came about as a result of the unexpected and alarming amount of water that Giles’ camels were consuming from the soak. Whatever the reason, it was a determined, concerted, and organised attack on an interloping party that was ultimately determined by superior technology. Giles was usually a very flowery writer, however, his description of the attack was very matter of fact.

The track from Ularring leads to Bungalbin via a number of rockholes. Planned speed was an average 25 kph, however, we were able to maintain a speed above 40 kph.

21 kilometres along the track we passed a track coming in from the Evanston Menzies Road to the north. Nine kilometres further on is Yowie Rockan where another track comes in from the Evanston Menzies Road.

Six kilometres further on we hit a very rocky section of track.

Curara Rockhole and Well

There are numerous gnammas at Curara, 43 kilometres west-south-west from Ularring.

An Army Field Party located this rockhole and named it Cararah Rockhole in September 1963. It was also spelled as Karara Rockhole. Later investigation showed that the officially accepted spelling of the native tree after which it was named was ‘Curara’ and it was amended (along with about 13 other features incorrectly named Karara across the state). Curara is an acacia tree valued as fodder for stock.

The well at Currara Rockhole is in good condition. The placement of logs to protect and mark the well is distinctive.

We camped 15 kilometres past Curara Rockhole on the edge of McArthur Minerals’ active mining tenement.

Kurrajong Rockhole

Our drive south-west brought us to Kurrajong Rockhole.

Surveyor A. Henderson led a Field Party in this area in 1966 and named this rockhole during that trip, presumably after the Desert Kurrajong (Brachychiton gregorii ) prevalent in the area.

Getting away from Kurrajong proved difficult because of the numerous tracks that lead away from the rock. After a couple of false starts we found the correct track and again headed towards Bungalbin.

Pittosporum Rockhole

The Rockhole is closely surrounded by Pittosporum, a small tree with weeping habit and yellow flowers, hence the name. Ken Newbey requested the name for the rockhole in 1964. More information.

After a chat with some fellow travellers (opposite direction) we drove on.

Despite not making the planned overnight camp at Kurrajong Rockhole last night we were ahead of our schedule to rendezvous with Paul at the end of a track off Evanston Road later today. The track from Ularring was better and ‘faster’ than planned.

We arrived at Bungalbin around 10.00 a.m.

Bungalbin

The Mount Manning – Helena and Aurora Ranges Conservation Park is in the Great Western Woodland. Parts of the Conservation Park are under threat from mining and the area has been the subject of controversy for many years. Bungalbin is central to this.

The climb up Bungalbin on the Ridge Track is easy in dry weather but could require low range if wet. While a competent driver could get a camper trailer to the small cleared area at the top it is not worth the risk, given there are suitable areas to unhitch below. The track to the south is not suitable for camper trailers.

Rendezvous

From Bungalbin the track leads north-west to Mount Jackson.

At 13 kilometres I located a track to the north that I hoped would take us to Jimbine Rockhole, a rarely visited natural water collection point. The track was barely discernible for about 100 metres and then petered out. I drove cross country, uphill for about 250 metres without being able to locate the track. I had said to Aaron and Greg that we needed to return to the main track and just as I turned to join them I noticed the bare outline of a track heading north.

We followed this for 2.5 kilometres until it took us to a watercourse that we followed east for about 1600 metres. I then picked up a track heading north that I knew would take us close to Jimbine Rockhole. The track improved as we went north.

Jimbine Rockhole is a small, natural dam in a gully. In 1864 settler explorers Clarkson, Harper and Lukin found this native water supply during an exploring expedition north-east of Toodyay. There appeared to be less artifacts surrounding the rockhole than when we here in 2017. It is difficult to know whether they have been souvenired or ‘collected’ by an elder before they could be souvenired.

We returned on our inward track and, with a short deviation, came out onto the Bulgalbin-Mt Jackson track.

There is a certain incongruity in coming out of a twisting, turning, narrow bush track onto a wide, sealed, modern haul road. Crossing it and then going back into the twisting, turning, small bush track makes you wonder if what you saw was real.

The track turns to the south-west at Marda and leads to a station dam and cattle yards.

Arriving at the Bullfinch Evanston Road we turned left, travelled 14 kilometres south-west and again turned left – this time onto a rarely used bush track. We had planned to meet with Paul late afternoon, seven kilometres in along this track.

During the afternoon we continued along the barely discernible track past where were intended to camp to determine if the track went to Yinyoungning Rockhole. On return to the campsite we had some unusual vehicle damage.

Paul arrived around 4.00 p.m. without Greg who had other engagements.

Prospecting

This part of the trip was designed as a ‘recce’ for an upcoming Gold Prospecting Trip. Aaron and Paul drove further along the track to some prospective ground and spent the morning with detectors having a good walk around the bush. Kim and Greg and Margot ‘rediscovered’ Yinyoungning Rockhole and then joined Aaron and Paul.

In the afternoon we moved to another patch of prospective ground 11 kilometres to the west for another good walk around the bush while diligently sweeping the ground for the elusive yellow metal.

Mount Jackson Station

On Sunday morning before departing for Cockburn we had a look around at the derelict Mount Jackson Station Homestead.

The journey home took us to Elachbutting Rock, Mukinbudin, Dowerin and Goomalling.

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Winnejup-Yeagarup-Wilga

Friday

It was cold, wet and miserable when we set up camp at Winnejup. Shelters and a fire improved the outlook.

There was consistent rain and wind throughout the night. The popups were welcome.

Saturday

We planned to drive to Yeagarup via Yornup, Wheatley, and Deanmill, rather than just beat down the bitumen to Manjimup and Pemberton. We changed our plan to stay ay Black Point, electing instead to stay two nights at Winnejup.

The way out of camp was blocked by a downed tree. We made short work or removing it from the road.

The road trip through the forest provided the opportunity to inspect a few interesting features.

As expected with the recent lifting of Covid19-related travel restrictions, it was very busy at the Air Down Point at the end of Ritter Road. Busier than the Australia Day long weekend.

After the first set of dunes it is another five kilometres of bush driving to the beach.

From the Air Down Point to the beach is just over 10 kilometres. Full details of the Yeagarup Track here.

There were lengthy delays getting to the beach as inexperienced drivers in other groups got stuck, bogged or both. The final dune before the beach was a challenge to a low slung Vitara and resulted in quite a delay.

The weather was unfriendly. We drove to the Warren River, contemplated the situation – particularly the wind and rain – and drove back to the exit off the beach.

The sand was damp and compacted and only mildly cut up so getting up Yeagarup Hill was not the challenge it normally presents.

With no time to visit Lake Jasper we headed to Pemberton, refuelled and drove back to Winnejup.

Sunday

Today was going to be a cruisy day.

We followed the Blackwood along Tweed Road to Bridgetown and continued to  hug the river out to The Peninsula and then along Radiata Road.

The river crossing at Southhampton was a departure from plan that took us to Greenbushes and then Balingup.

The Greenbushes Mine viewing platform was closed due to Covid 19 worries so we drove to Balingup. The road from Balingup  to Nannup is considered by many motoring enthusiasts to be one of the great drives in Western Australia.

Sweeping bends offer seemingly never ending views of forests or farmland. The Blackwood River is on the right and tall tree covered slopes on the left. The 41 kilometres of road between the two towns has 90 bends, making it popular with motorcycle and driving enthusiasts alike.

Lunch was at a very crowded Nannup and we then drove through the forest to the north of that hamlet.

We arrived at Grimwade early afternoon and found a good campsite, although most of the readily available firewood was a bit green.

Monday

Making a bee line for home on the last day of a trip is a no-no and, besides, we had plenty planned for the day.

At Wilga we got onto the abandoned Katanning-Donnybrook railway with a view to pushing through to Noggerup. That required a lot of swapping from one side of the railway to the other and much pushing through scrub.

We pushed through a particularly overgrown section of the railway and the side track then became serviceable.

After we cleared a fallen tree across the track at Noggerup the Road Trip was essentially finished. There remained only the drive back to Cockburn.

 

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Drive the Coast – Wedge to Cliff Head

We planned to drive 145 kilometres from Wedge to Cliff Head, as much as possible on the beach, during the xmas/New Year break.

Saturday was spent on the beach and dunes at Wedge.

Wedge to Milligan Island

We started our push north about 0930, shortly after Greg arrived.

Stromatolites are cyanobacteria that convert carbon dioxide to oxygen.

Stromatolites are ‘living fossils’ – exemplars of what life was like on Earth more than 3500 million years ago. At that time no other complex creatures were present on the planet. Stromatolites are built by microbes (single-celled cyanobacteria) that were the first forms of life on Earth. The cyanobacteria trap sediments with mucous to form enormous rock-like structures that, at first glance, don’t appear to be living. Each stromatolite is actually a very slow growing microbial colony that grows less than 1mm per year.

Apart from Lake Clifton south of Perth and Hamelin Pool in world heritage-listed Shark Bay, the only other known stromatolites are in the Bahamas and the Great Salt Lake, Utah.

The fishing and holiday town of Cervantes got its name from Cervantes Island two kilometres offshore to the south-west, which in turn got its name from an American whaling ship of the same name that was wrecked here. Read more.

Drovers Cave is 1.25 kilometres along  Sandy Point Road (a badly corrugated, loose sand track) from Jurien Road East, at 30°15’40.00″S 115° 5’33.00″E. The cave is not signposted and, depending on the amount of growth at the side of the track, it can be difficult to spot. Given that the entrance is blocked by a solid, locked iron door, in reality it is nothing more than a small hole in the ground. For the non-speleologist without a key to the lock it is not worth the effort of the vehicle-shaking, 2.5 kilometre round trip off the bitumen.

We returned to the bitumen and drove directly to Milligan Island Camping Node.

The Shire of Coorow is notorious for strictly enforcing its camping bylaws and, as a consequence of unrelenting demand to camp on the coast, developed the Milligan Island Camping Node, four kilometres north of Green Head. Thirty six bays without shade are offered to punters in what is a poor excuse for a campground.

The bays are paved with irregular-sized, crushed limestone. Not all bays are level (seriously). The onsite caretaker extracts $15 per vehicle per night from the hapless punter. Campgrounds of this level elsewhere would offer an ablution block (showers, flush toilets and, possibly, a laundry). Milligan offers long drop toilets and a boardwalk to a crappy beach.

Avoid it if you can. Go north of Leeman.

Milligan Island to Cliff Head

Four kilometres north of Milligan our way north was blocked by rocks. We were able to go off the beach, around the obstacle and resume our push along the edge of the ocean for a further five kilometres to Leeman.

The coastline north of Leeman is mostly cliffs to Coolimba.

Finding a weed-free beach suitable for fishing was difficult. We gave it a try just short of Coolimba.

Our way was blocked on the beach 2.5 kilometres north of Coolimba so we returned to the shacks and access track and drove out to Indian Ocean Drive. Ten kilometres north we turned into Gum Tree Bay and pushed north along the coast. The track led us into an extensive dune system through which we were unable to find a way north.

We turned back south for a kilometre and got onto the beach. Four kilometres to the north we were into another extensive sand dune system. Initially unable to find a way through, we eventually picked up the track along the cliffs and continued north.

The coastal drive finished at Cliff Head.

This Trip was part of the Drive the Coast Project.

 

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Granite Monsters

The Granite Monsters Road Trip toured some of the amazing granite outcrops that extend from the south-west tip of Australia to approximately 800 kilometres north-east on the edge of the Great Victoria Desert.

Mindebooka Hill

Our Granite Monsters Road Trip was held over the September long weekend in 2019. Eleven people in six vehicles met at Mindebooka Hill, 12 kilometres south-east of Doodlakine. A great camping spot and, at 215 kilometres ENE of Perth, it is a convenient location to ‘get out of town’ at the start of a road trip.

Surveyor H.S.King recorded the name for this granite outcrop in 1889 during his survey of the York-Goldfields Road. The name is of unknown origin.  The 320 metre high hill is in the middle of a 180 hectare triangle of bushland among long-established farmland. Just far enough off the highway not to be used by ‘grey nomads’, it is pretty much exclusively for the informed.

Often described as diurnal, kangaroos, along with wombats, wallabies, quolls, and possums are, more accurately, crepuscular.

We left Mindebooka for Totadgin Rock and picked up an access track along the old Bruce Rock railway that closely follows Hunts Track. The track exits onto the Bruce Rock-Merredin Road just two kilometres south of Totadgin Rock, where C.C. Hunt established one of his early wells.

Totadgin Rock

For many thousands of years granite outcrops like Totadgin provided aboriginal people with a source of reliable water in an essentially dry environment. Early explorers such as Roe, Lefroy, Hunt and Forrest quickly realised the importance of these inselbergs as natural water catchments and invaluable aids to navigation. Many of the large outcrops in the Wheatbelt were developed as water supplies by early settlers. The locations of towns such as Merredin were determined because they were near reliable water supplies – long before the Mundaring to Goldfields water pipeline was completed.

Runoff from the rock provides a bountiful supply of water to a band of thick vegetation around its base. Past this is a fringing woodland comprised mostly of York Gums that supports a diversity of marsupials, birds and insects.  The beginnings of a ‘wave’, typical of granite outcrops, is adjacent to the well that C.C. Hunt’s team established in 1865.

Explorer/Surveyor C.C. Hunt recorded the name for this rock in 1864 – an aboriginal word of unknown origin. This well was refurbished in 2016.

Burracoppin

Hunt’s Well at Landsdowne Hill, Burracoppin is north of the rock and nowhere close to where the directional sign is pointing. Look 120 metres to the east along the fenceline.

This well was refurbished in 2016 and is in reasonably good condition although it would be better protected if fenced.

An interpretative site for the No. 1 Rabbit Proof Fence is only a kilometre to the east of the well so we made a quick diversion.

J.S. Crawford wrote a very comprehensive history of the Rabbit Proof Fence – an early attempt at biosecurity – that is precised here.

We turned north towards Westonia and followed minor roads to Boodalin Soak.

Boodalin Soak

Boodalin Soak is on the Westonia Commons, just off Stoneman Road. Unlike Burracoppin Well, the signage here actually leads to the Soak.

In March 1865 C.C. Hunt’s track-and-well-making team opened out the native soak and created the dry stone well that is still in excellent condition today.

While improving the well during the 1866 Eastern Interior Expedition Hunt and his team assisted in the capture of Western Australia’s most notorious bushranger, Moondyne Joe.

Moondyne Joe (born Joseph Bolitho Johns) was a colourful character whose constant and defiant declarations of innocence – and frequent escapes – entertained the early settlers. Transported from England in 1855 for stealing food, his notoriety sprang from his numerous and successful jail breaks.

Joe and his two companions absconded from police custody and intended to head to South Australia by initially following Hunt’s line of conveniently placed wells. Knowing that Hunt and his party were working on tracks and wells to the east, Joe intended to steal fresh horses and rations from them at gun point.

The plan failed when the fugitives were sighted by sandalwood cutters near Youndegin and a search party was organised. Around midday on 29 September, a police party captured Joe and his friends at Boodalin. Hunt had been forewarned and he and his party assisted police troopers in the capture.We left Boodalin Soak and drove to the lookout at the Edna May mine.

The Edna May mine is an open pit gold operation that has been producing since 1911. Underground operations commenced in 2019. It is owned by Ramelius Resources. Jeff navigated the Road Trip from Westonia to Southern Cross. We stopped at Moorine Rock Well and Kodjerning Well along the way.

Moorine Rock

This granite monster was named by C.C. Hunt in 1865. It is an aboriginal name of unknown origin.

Kodjerning Well

We stopped briefly at Kodjerning Well and then pressed on to Great Eastern Highway. It was a short run to Southern Cross where we refuelled.

Koorkoordine Well

Koorkoordine Well is on the edge of Lake Koorkoordine – a large salt lake – yet interestingly it  provided C.C. Hunt’s well-and-track-making team with a good supply of fresh water in 1865. Hunt established a depot here from which he explored further to the east and south-east.

Hunt’s team improved Koorkoordine in 1866.

Earlier, in 1864, C.C. Hunt variously referred to the lake as ‘Kokoordine’ and later as ‘Kookoordine’. It was eventually rendered as Koorkoordine. The Shire of Yilgarn website purports this to mean ‘place of meat’ but offers no substantiation for the claim.

Prospectors Thomas Risely and Mick Toomey camped at this well prior to finding gold just to the south. This was one of the seminal gold discoveries in Western Australia – the prelude to the Coolgardie and Kalgoorlie gold rushes of the early 1890s. At the time they camped at Koorkoordine the well was dry, necessitating them to wait for rain before being able to move on. They used the stars of the Southern Cross to guide them back to Golden Valley and hence the name of the guiding constellation – The Crux–  was given to their find.

Our drive from Koorkoordine to Weowanie was just as convoluted. North from the well, past the Southern Cross Golf Club and onto Corinthia Road. Easy enough but it was from there that the difficulties arose. We needed to find a track heading east to Duladgin but the presence of a solidly made State Barrier Fence – and the lack of an access gate – thwarted our attempt.

We had to continue south towards Great Eastern Highway. A gate through the Fence opened possibilities of a track to the east but it gradually turned south-east and then south and eventually took us to the Great Eastern Highway.

It was then a short run to Yellowdine, from where we headed north to Duladgin Well and on to Weowanie Rock.

Weowanie Rock

The track from Duladgin to Weowanie Rock meanders through a mixture of thick woodland and open scrubland and passes very close to some small salt lakes. The last section of the track is very sandy and looks like it would be boggy when wet.

The campsite we wanted was occupied but after a bit of looking around we found a great spot – level, open, and plenty of firewood. The only downside was the flies – prolific and persistent.

In the morning we climbed the rock to the tank made by Hunt’s team in May 1865. Hunt recorded the name as Weonanie and it is not known how or when the change to Weowanie occurred although a transcription error would appear to be likely.

Koolyanobbing

The track north from Weowanie leads to a State Barrier Fence and then parallels it to Lake Seabrook. Juardi Station is on the other side of the fence.

A corduroy crossing is a trackway made by placing logs or sleepers across the road to get through a muddy or sandy section that would otherwise be impassable. Seen quite often in salt lake country.

This track eventually took us to the Southern Cross Koolyanobbing Road. There is not much to see at Koolyanobbing. It is strictly an accommodation/service town for the mining operations.

We headed south on the railway access track – intending to head west to Bullfinch just north of Lake Julia. That was not to be. Plan B  – head west on Perilya Turkey Hill Road – didn’t work either. Although shown on maps as connecting with the access track, these roads no longer do so. And they seem to have disappeared – whether by government agency decree, adverse possession or some other cause it is difficult to know.

 

We were eventually able to make our way to Bullfinch via Corinthia Road – way further south than what we wanted. From Bullfinch we drove to popular Baladgie Rock.

Baladgie Rock

The summit of the rock offers great views of the lake and surrounding farmland. The day was heating up and not everyone climbed.

This is a very popular free camp location with plenty of protected sites. Unusually, it was unpopulated at the time of our visit.

C.E. Dempster named this ‘Mount Hardey’ during a private exploration in 1861 but that name was not used because of duplication with the name of a hill in York.

C.C. Hunt recorded it as ‘Balahgin Rock’ during his explorations in 1864, then as ‘Baladgin’ during subsequent observations. Surveyor H.S. King recorded it as ‘Balajie Rock’ and ‘Baladgee Rk’ during surveys when he established his trig station ‘HK2’ on the summit in 1889.

Elachbutting Rock

We took backroads to Elachbutting Rock – an inselberg/monadnock that is considered to be bigger, better and more pristine than any other Wheatbelt granite rock formation.

A 4WD track leads to the top of Elachbutting Rock – providing great views of the surrounding farmland. The paddocks immediately in front of the ‘carpark’ are being ‘alley-farmed‘.

Surveyor H.S.King recorded the name for this huge granite outcrop in 1889.

Elachbutting Rock is a popular camping spot and has been the setting for a number of weddings and other gatherings.

Montys Pass was created when a huge section of the the surface of Elachbutting Rock weathered sufficiently that it slipped. The ‘cave’ at the end of the Pass is actually a tafone.

Beringbooding Rock

This is another popular free camp.  Beringbooding has the largest rock water catchment tank in Australia and is a great example of harvesting water. It was built in 1937 using ‘sustenance labour’ at a 2018-calculated cost of $923,000. The concrete tank holds 10,000,000 litres of harvested water. The roof is looking sad and, without intervention, will be gone in a few years.

H.S. King established his trig station ‘HK96’ on this rock in 1889 and while he recorded the name it is of unknown origin.

We turned south looking for the most direct route to Mukinbudin, along the way passing through  Jouerdine Nature Reserve.

Jouerdine Nature Reserve

This 1800 hectare Nature Reserve protects the critically endangered hinged dragon orchid Caladenia drakeoides. The track through the Reserve is part of the abandoned Old Mount Jackson Road and is an unexpected treat for four wheel drivers, requiring attention and care. Midway through the drive is a small, tucked-away camping area.

Mukinbudin

If the town of Mukinbudin had more water to green up the grounds of the Caravan Park, it would be a stand out location. It is still a top stay with individual ensuites, a well appointed camp kitchen, bbq area/shelter and an open fireplace with plenty of firewood.

Eaglestone Rock

We headed south from ‘Muka’ to Merredin via Eaglestone Rock and Lake Campion.

This granite outcrop offers great views of Lake Campion, nearby farms and distant hills after an easy climb. When conditions are right the reserve is a mass of wildflowers and consequently is a very popular camping spot. A prominent part of Eaglestone Rock requires specialised climbing gear. Surveyor General J.S. Roe named these rocks in 1836.

A narrow, twisting track follows the edge of the lake. It is powdery and dusty, and is an interesting drive.

We followed the track along a narrow finger of land between Lake Campion on the left and a small lake on the right (actually just another part of Lake Campion) until it reduced to a single motorcycle track. Time to turn around.

We backtracked to a diversion around the small lake but this, too, petered out to a motorcycle track. Aaron persisted and made a track to the lake and then drove along the edge to the causeway. It provided a reasonably firm track if a good speed was maintained.

Mike/Sue and Jeff/Micaela found their own way through to the causeway without driving on the lake. Now known as Lake Campion Track.

After our ‘success’ of getting through from the rock we headed direct to Merredin. After refuelling we embarked on what became a fascinating drive through the wheatbelt to Toodyay.

 

The Road Trip finished in Toodyay.

 

© Kim Epton 2019-2021
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Text and layout Kim Epton
Photographs Micaela Anderson, Kim Epton, Brian Hunt
2685 words, 82 images.
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