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Published: October 27th 2014
Travel in the outback is full of surprises. Our previous blog was part one of a journey through The Wheat belt, and today's blog is the continuation of the loop through the region. The day was moderately warm, and we had been enjoying cruising through the back blocks, hung a left turn at Beacon after we photographed the tiny Anglican Church, and headed merrily on our way to Bencubbin. The map showed nothing of particular interest on this 40k stretch of road, so it was a complete surprise to drop down into a valley, and there was a frozen lake. Ice flows, frozen shore line and trees showing serious distress.
As we got closer, the real story of this little un-named and unloved lake became more apparent. The trees and shoreline, ice flows etc. were not frozen in ice, but frozen in a salt encrusted time capsule. Salinity has been a big issue that farmers and Govt. Agencies have been working on to minimise. Looking at this lake, there have been old gum trees in a lake come river valley, but as salty water has washed down to the lake, all trees and plants have been
killed off. Many little stumps remain, and through evaporation, salt has crystallised on the surface. I wouldn't mind revisiting here at sunset some time as there could be some marvellous colours and reflections.
From Bencubbin we headed west to Koorda, and then, seeing some lakes on the map, headed towards Wyalkatchem. Our hopes were high for photo opportunities, but we found the lakes were dry and sandy, and no easy access to look closer. So we continued without stopping.
Wyalkatchem, with a name like that , invokes a real sense of mystery and discovery. This little town is one of many in the wheat belt with populations of 200 to 300. Even the pubs are closed and derelict. We looked at the camp ground there to spend the night. Sign on the (empty) office door told us that the facilities were booked out for the weekend, even though the park looked largely vacant. From here we went into Trayning. Yes, the spelling is correct! Its two Aboriginal words meaning 'Snake in the camp.' We pulled into the Trayning Camp and found the caretaker was anything but a snake in the
Anglican Church - Beacon
The notice says that service times are displayed inside the church. But if it is locked up???
We were made welcome, and as it happened, we were the only campers that evening. I must say though, this is far and away the best camping ground in the wheat belt region. Marg was particularly impressed that the laundry was free, so promptly put two loads of washing through.
Trayning is a wheat collection and distribution point, has a part time pub, part time diner, and a few trades like tires and mechanics. No retail shops. No fuel. The local council has built a gym, a great pool and water park, tennis courts and bowling green all along side the camp ground. Campers for a very modest fee have access to the pool.
Monday we bid farewell having completed our Trayning, and headed west across the wheat belt through Kununoppin, ( another tiny town), Nungarin and eventually down to Merredin. This part of the wheat belt looks really in good shape. Apparently the harvest has come 3 weeks early this year, so there is a real buzz from machines and road trains wherever we went. I have mentioned previously the size of some
of the individual grain paddocks. One we went past today had three large harvesters going flat out, but they looked like Dinky Toys in a sand pit.
Since leaving Brisbane, we have crossed towards 100 railway level crossings, and never seen a train. Today we had to stop and wait for trains at two level crossings.
Besides that, we had to pull off the highway twice and let some very large mining machines (on low-loaders) pass us down the middle of the highway. As usual, Dash Cam captured the moment. Had we not stopped for fuel at Southern Cross, it would have been 3 times. If you want to know how much diesel fuel is at BP Southern Cross, look at the picture Marg took of the passing big rig.
From Southern Cross to our free bush camp nothing exciting happened other than the very quick change from productive agricultural land to scrubby bush dotted with mine diggings.
Western Australia boasts two types of gold fields. Forty per cent of WA grain is grown in the Wheat Belt, and this is seen as gold. Tomorrow we
head to Kalgoorlie to start a circuit north through the other (metallic) gold fields.
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