After Geraldton, we arrived at our last coastal camp at Cervantes on 6 October about 250km north of Perth. Its claim to fame is the “Pinnacles” a series of sandstone “obelisks” a little bit inland. Despite the research, there is no agreed theory on how they were formed. You can drive through them and the area is quite extensive and very unusual.
Next stop was New Norcia, only 120km north of Perth, which is an old Benedictine town, with an abbey for monks and nuns, and several chapels. It was founded in 1839 by the Spanish; hence it is named after the birthplace of St Benedict. It used to have 4 schools segregated into boys and girls, black and white. The schools closed about 20 years ago and it now survives on conferences and tourists. In the early 1900’s the abbot was an architect and three of the monks were painters, wood carvers and builders. As a result the churches, chapels and other buildings are unique to this part of Australia. They still own 20,000 acres of land, which is mainly wheat-growing.
We then went in a big loop around Perth, about 250km away, which encompassed a large part
of the wheat growing area. From New Norcia to Merredin, Kondidin, Wagin to Harvey, where we are now and where the car and van will stay until March. Along the loop, the rainfall is in the region of only 300mm a year (12 inches for the olds). Most, but not all in the winter. The wheat is grown as a winter crop that is sown in March and harvested in November, approx. It’s just too dry and hot to grow anything in the summer. There are some sheep farms interspersed, but it’s mostly wheat, oats, barley etc. The paddocks are huge as the average farm is about 5,000 to 10,000 acres. The largest one we heard about is 500,000 acres and they have 32 tractors. We were told that the farmers all own their own equipment, seeder and harvesters, etc as the harvest time is too short to use contractors. Some of the machines in the tractor dealers are huge.
Water is interesting. There isn’t enough rainfall for the farms and towns. Many years ago a water pipeline was laid from Perth to Kalgoorlie to service the goldfield, about 600km. There are now about 8,000km network of take off
Near Cervantes, north of Perth
pipes for the farms for household and stock use. No-one irrigates crops though.
On the way we detoured to see Wave Rock, which is one of WA’s tourist icons. The Lonely Planet was right – only go and see it if you’re in the neighbourhood.
We went past Collie, a coal-mining town on the way to Ryan and Lorinda’s near Harvey. Collie is a long-standing open cast coal mine and has a power station that supplies most of Perth.
We’ve gone down to Busselton for a day trip to see Ken and Marlene from Canberra again and to book our campsite for when we come back in March. I tried to get the caravan serviced, but the dealer is booked up for 2 weeks! (Not Coromals, he said) So that’ll have to wait until we get back.
We had a lovely 5 days with Ryan and Lorinda and Bhodie. They are due to have another baby in about 3 weeks, so will wait for that news.
Its about a 2 hour train trip from Harvey up to Perth. We ahd a day anda half there sightseeing, then flew back to NZ.
So.... signing off
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15 October 2011
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