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Published: August 11th 2016
As reported last time we are now headed home; South and then East and a bit more South/East. Not sure why we are going home because the weather improved the moment we left Cape Range – should have extended....
We did quite a lot of free camping on the way South after we had proved that we can go a lot longer than a week on our water supplies. And for those who are wondering, yes that was with showering everyday and clothes were washed in the run-off shower water, not perfect but it worked well. Our first 2 nights free camping showed us separate examples of very poor camp etiquette. At the first camp which had 2 shelters and fire pits, a couple of campers travelling together put their vans at the side and end of one of the shelters, clearly indicating that others were not welcome. Geoff couldn’t believe that the same thing would happen again the following night when 3 travellers completely surrounded one of the shelters and fire with their vans and vehicles. It is a pity that some from this state think that they have a god given right to facilities that are there for
Coalseam Cons Park
View from the look-out above the camping area
all to enjoy.
The third night was a different matter when we stopped at another camp on the highway East of Kalbarri. We had been there before and knew it was popular, so we got there early, pulling up behind a van with Vic. plates. It turned out they were from Pakenham (almost neighbours at home) and we had another Vic. couple from Swan Hill pull in behind us. We were planning a amp oven meal that night and Geoff invited both couples to join us around the fire. We had a great time meeting fellow travellers, and can only think that the folk on the previous 2 nights really have no idea what they are missing as a result of their ignorance.
Back to Geraldton and a big wash up, stock up and haircut in preparation for the leg Eastward. Coalseam Conservation Park was the first place we planned to stop. We had been there before but only as a drive through and at a different time of the year. As we travelled out from Geraldton we started to see the wildflowers, but Coalseam was something else. It is difficult to describe, but the camp are was
carpeted in pink, yellow, and white flowers. The camp hosts told us that there was nothing 3 weeks earlier! The camp is bounded on one side by the Coalseam River and it gives the area great visual appeal. W.A really does look after the travellers amongst us. We were only there for 2 nights and on the second day we headed south to search for the elusive ‘wreath’ flowers. We did a lot of driving, but did not see any wreath flowers, but when we got back to camp, the sun was just right and it seemed that the everlastings has doubled in number while we were away.
Next day we were on the road again, heading further West with the town of Mt.Magnet as the planned destination. The road took us through a place called Pindar, and to our surprise there was a road sign indicating that wreath flowers could be seen 10 kms down the side road. With van attached we took off down the (red) dirt road. The stopping point was even signposted and we could see other cars further down the road. In a relatively small area there was a proliferation of wreath flowers that
was just amazing. I hope the photos do justice to them and the other wild flowers. We stopped for the night when Marg saw 2 vans in a roadside park area some 20 kms short of Mt. Magnet.
The wildflowers changed after Mt. Magnet, with far more big pure white daisies on show; the pink, yellow and small white everlastings were still there, but not as strong as the new ones. We did find that viewing the flowers at 95kph was better than stopping as when you stop the flowers seem to be more widely spread than the carpet effect given by the speed of the vehicle. Nonetheless, we did stop (once) and the photo’s proved the theory above. On to Sandstone and one thing that we have to say about W.A is that their road system is just amazing in terms of quality. The road from Mt.Magnet to Sandstone did surprise us in that there were paved roadside stops on one side of the road or the other every 10 kms.! Roadside stops have been prolific and very good i.e. with plenty of distance between the highway and the stop area, but every 10 kms was just a
little over the top.
The town of Sandstone is a shadow of its former self, although the shire has put a lot of effort into presenting it at the best it can be, and consequently attracting travellers and prospectors alike. The little caravan park, which we used, is run by the shire and its charges are very reasonable. There is a good heritage trail that does a loop around the town and we found it easy to follow and very interesting. It is very hard to imagine the numbers of people that occupied these outback towns during the various gold rushes; typically Sandstone supported some 3,000 people in the late 1890’s. We did take the opportunity to dine at the pub (gave the cook the night off), and availed ourselves of the blackboard special – chicken parma at $15 or 2 for $28 – bargain. The pub seemed to have every traveller and prospector from the caravan park there, and the only meal we saw delivered was the – you guessed it - chicken parma. But we were on a mission and it was back on the road the next morning.
Leonora is a bigger town, but the
caravan park is a disgrace. All sites have the absolute minimum of space and the cost is not commensurate with what is provided, and the reason is quite simply ‘because they can’. The town is adjacent what was (again in the 1890’s) the thriving mining town of Gwalia and it was fascinating to see the huge open cut ‘Sons of Gwalia’ open cut gold mine. The mine is fundamentally exhausted now, but there is another company that is now digging for the mother lode in the “Gwalia Deeps. They use a hole in the side at the bottom of the current open cut, and the ‘lode’ is reputed to be 1000 mts further down! Good luck...Before we left Leonora, we took a short trip out to Laverton – 90 kms each way. I suppose you get used to these sorts of distances when you live in this area, but Geoff was left wondering why?
The next day Geoff was left pondering the same thing. Heading south towards Kalgoorlie, Margaret had expressed a desire to visit the ghost town Kookynie and have a look at Niagara Dam on the same road. I guess the writing was on the wall when
the interpretive board at Niagara Dam posed the question, “Was it a great vision ... or a great white elephant?” The dam was built back in 1897 to provide water (a very scarce commodity) for the gold mining towns in the area. However, it is not much more than 100 mts long and about 40 mts wide at the dam wall. Hmm, there were 2 votes for ‘white elephant’. Kookynie on the other hand is more a modern day con job. Twenty five Kms along one of the best roads we have come across; wide and smooth and easily capable of the 110kph speed limit, leads to a village that consists of a pub and a building that looks like a row of 1940’s shops that are now a residence and a lot of small interpretive signs with photos of houses that once stood on the over grown land that is the ‘town’. “If never go, you will never know....”
We are now on the next leg from Kalgoorlie to Norseman and back across the Nullarbor. More about that next time.
Look below for more wildflower shots.
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