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.
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
Andrew and Joanne Newhouse
Rob and Tracey Parker
Relocation of the Plaque
© 2021 Cockburn 4WD Club and Kim Epton
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717 words, eight photographs.