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Published: June 19th 2014
The first 23 photos relate to this blog the rest are of various flowers and plants I have photographed at Niagara and Kookynie for anyone interested.
A certain hairy little person decided to practice being all three tenors at 2 am on Sunday night. Out onto the clothes line in the cold for him.
We moved from Menzies to Niagara Dam on Monday only 61.3 kms away. What a change, bitumen all the way to the camping area right next to the dam itself. We were remembering just how bad the last 3 kms were from the Kookynie road and the even worse bit going down the steep slope to the area below the dam wall itself. When we checked even that bit is now bitumen! Where is the adventure now?
Having said that the area is now a great free camp site. Enviro loos, fire pits, 2 designated camping areas next to the body of the dam water and another down below the wall. There is a day use area as well. There is even a dump point. The place is spotless with lots of bins to dispose of rubbish.
Built at a cost of 60,000
pounds in 1897-98 the dam was to provide fresh water for trains and the settlement at Niagara where gold had been found. It is a replica of Mundaring Weir, built by C Y O'Connor. The gold ran out, Kookynie was booming, there was no rain and underground water had been found at Kookynie so the dam was left as the only remaining evidence of settlement.
There are grave concerns about the integrity of the dam wall itself. It is now leaking right across the bottom and engineers are concerned it will one day give way. As a consequence the area immediately below the dam wall is now fenced off and camping cannot happen there, the official area is off to the west, though there are lots of unofficial sites dotted all about. Rumour has it that the leakage problems arose when some really bright sparks from the WA School of Mines attempted to test their skills at blowing things up and failed. What they did do was weaken the structure.
We had parked in the first camping site. There was already one van in place so we couldn't face the water however that didn't phase us because the
sites next to the actual water are all uneven and we did not have to juggle about to get a reasonable level. We set up camp before setting out to walk around the whole area checking it out, across the dam wall - how brave was that knowing it is considered unsafe. It is amazing because the whole area is still open. We then scrambled across rocks to get to the area below the dam wall and ended up walking up the new bitumen road back to the day use area.
There was a light breeze when we got there but it increased over the afternoon to a wind which was very cold indeed. At sunset we poured ourselves some red wine and headed off to sit on rocks by the water to watch the changes to the sky and if any wildlife came down to drink. No wildlife. We eventually had to retreat because some mozzies decided GMan would make a great main meal.
The wind persisted overnight and the next day the other van moved off and was rapidly replaced by another. Mid afternoon a HUGE 5th wheeler arrived with slide outs, huge satellite dish etc.
and camped in the 2nd area. The wind had not stopped all day but other than that everything was great. Wednesday morning the rain clouds started moving in to accompany the wind. We decided to travel on to Kookynie and head for Malcolm.
Kookynie is one of our most favourite places. The Grand Hotel is considered one of the great outback hotels in Australia and Chris's top headstone in the old cemeteries we visit is in the Kookynie Cemetery. We got there very early, once more bitumen all the way and good lord there is a roundabout as you enter the ghost town! A bit over the top really.
As the Grand wasn't open yet we headed off to the cemetery with GMan a little worried about taking the van down the narrow and at times rough road. We crossed a very steep railway crossing, several creek beds, and sandy patches before getting to the actual cemetery. We wandered about and found Dugald again. There are 149 graves here but less than 30 with headstones. Some are very impressive. The latest internment was in 2008.
We headed back to town and checked out all the ruins and
the various machinery about the town. The Ford truck in the photos was last licensed in 1970.
Back to the Grand which had opened it's doors but beer not available until 12 noon. We had a lemon, lime and bitters each as we chatted with Margaret the publican, until 12 noon when GMan got a beer and I a glass of Annie's Lane shiraz. We caught up with gossip about former publicans, the hatch, match and dispatch information and mutual acquaintances. Very pleasant time. The interior of the Grand has not changed at all, like coming home really.
Margaret had us in fits of laughter with her story of a couple who pulled up out the front of the pub in a huge 5th wheeler and the biggest 4X4 to pull it and coming in and ordering a sandwich cut in half and 1 can of lemonade with two straws. She called them mean. She reckons people with smaller vans are better for business. We must be the best customers she has with our little van.
We headed up the road to Malcolm. Margaret had warned us that there had been a lot of water through there
and some of the creek crossings may be difficult. It was far better than the road to the cemetery. Malcolm another ghost town with absolutely nothing left at all is now just a rail yard. We headed to a camp site located in our Camps 7 Malcolm Dam, never heard of it before and we were very surprised when we got here. No facilities at all but a pleasant place to camp. More next blog.
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