Brimstone and Treacle

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October 5th 2014
Published: October 6th 2014
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Elachbutting Rock long WeekendElachbutting Rock long WeekendElachbutting Rock long Weekend

Western Brown Achey, Breakey, Snakey
It was 4.40am and very unusual for me to be awake! I knew the alarm was going to wreck my sleep early this morning and I guess that In my mind I was ready for it. A long weekend was rolling out ahead of us and our weekend was starting early with taking Friday off.

Andy was already out of bed when the alarm went off, of course I stayed in bed for a little bit longer, daylight was beckoning outside and my cup of tea appeared as if by magic.

We had prepared over the previous few nights, so once dressed we were ready to hit the road, Gypsy wad already hooked up so we were ready to go and With a long drive ahead of us, we needed breakfast and then head to the meeting place in the KFC car park at Mundaring, a popular meeting place for club trips heading out toward the Wheatbelt region of Western Australia.

As I drove into the car park of Macdonalds in Midland I could see Andy and Karen had already arrived, so to make things easy I pulled alongside their rig, just in time to see Mark and
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Trev and the Echidna, non of the girls actually noticed Trev had an Echidna as he did not have his shirt on !!
Angela pull in.

Once breakfast was done we headed to the meeting place and we all agreed that we were very early, a couple of us were thinking that we could have had an extra hour in bed, but never mind, better early than late.

Due to recent events with Andy, I have no back up driver and being that I normally navigate we handed the trip leader position over to Andy and Karen, so that I could concentrate on the driving and make sure that Andy could rest up in the passenger seat. I was not sure how he was going to fare in that position for such a long drive.

There were only 5 planned for our convoy this morning, a few others were arriving later, so Andy & Karen, Mark & Angela, Floretta & Kim, Geoff and of course Andy and I were gathered and at 8.45 we set off on our planned route for our weekend jaunt.

We had to have some repairs carried out to our UHF radio, which is our short range radio and our HF radio which is our long range unit was away having some work done, so with a group communications check carried out we were ready to go.

We had an easy drive up taking a fairly direct route with a stop at Merredin for lunch before getting back on it again for the spectacular drive toward the rock!

The dirt roads were in pretty good condition and in fact a little bit on the slippy side but we made good time and before long we made a stop at Berringbooding rocks to check things out there to see if there was any camping space for all of us before making the decision to head over to Elachbutting.

Elachbutting rock is a huge rock out on the edge of WA's Wheatbelt and about 40k's from Mukenbudin. It is a little bit smaller than Uluru and you can camp right next to this one. There is a fairly large campground with no amenities except for a long drop sunny and surprisingly it was very quiet, it is the start of the school holidays and assumed it would get much busier.

Pulling up underneath the rock we all jump out and scoped the site, a while later we all seemed to be sorted and
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Trev & Peta in the cells of Mangowine homestead
busy making camp. Whilst Andy takes his rest, I find a nice shady spot which became party Central, well there was no camp fire yet and it was just a little too hot to sit out in the sun, on our drive down the outside air temperature showed it was 34 degree,s and we are not even in summer yet.

Not long after we arrived Leigh and Peter rolled in they had set off an hour after us and it was great that gradually everyone joined party central and after a rest and some refreshment thoughts turned to firewood.

I was unable to drive because I had already downed a nice refreshing Gin and Lemon, so I offered up the keys to Our Landcruiser much to Andy's disappointment, he said he would drive but I wouldn't let him, it was not long before that offer was taken up. Andy must have been listening as he suddenly appeared at Gypsy's door keen on getting out with the other boys to get wood, clearly a man thing. Disappointed that Jack was already disappearing down the track, he jumped in with Mark and peace descended on the camp whilst the girls
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A 1927 Chevy at Mangowine homestead
poured another drink.

A while later, our truck arrived back full of wood which was apparently (Jam) the wood pile grew, the fire was started and camp ovens at the ready awaited those fabulous hot coals for a delicious dinner to be cooked on, If we have not said it before there is no need to starve yourself when out in the bush, I sometimes think we eat better when we are away camping. For the record, Karen made her delicious stuffed peppers again, slightly different filling this time, but Yum!

As always, camp fire, good food, good camaraderie make for a good evening, but it had been a long day for most of us and I very quickly followed Andy's lead and took ourselves off to bed,

I wondered where Trev and Peta were, they were not leaving until mid afternoon and had said they would stop for a counter lunch on the way down it was getting late and I thought perhaps they will arrive first thing in the morning. Wrong! That question was answered no sooner had I closed my eyes, I heard a vehicle and peered out of the window. In the darkness I recognised the caravan. Trev and Peta had arrived.

Wait a minute! They did that last time, is this going to be habitual to arrive just as we all head off to bed? Let's hope they stay longer than last time too!

What a great nights sleep, the cool of the evening wafted across us and I awoke to the lovely smokey fragrance of the camp fire, the Billy was heating in the coals, so the best thing to do was get up and join the slowly growing contingent by the fire.

With the Billy's boiled, the breakfast was cooked followed and discussions of what to do for the day and whilst it was still dry we decided a walk on the rock would be a great start. The weekend weather had forecast pretty much everything including brimstone and treacle so let's make the most of the dry, yet very windy conditions.

We set off and crashed our way through the none existent path to Rainbow Wave, Trev explored a fairly steep route up the side of the rock, but the rest of us chose the path with least resistance and as luck would have it
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This is a pure optical illusion, these pieces of granite were only about 8 inches high and were precariously positioned as such and Andy Baley just walked in to the shot.
we hear a shout from Trev, which told us he spotted an Echidna! The poor thing took shelter whilst 10 of us descended to have a look see. "If you cannot see my face, you cannot seem me!" Said the Echidna to itself.

An Echidna is like a cross between a porcupine and a hedgehog, with a long -ish snout for ant collection and paws/ claws for digging, they are a shy creature and do not have many predators due to their spines and we are always excited to see one of these lovely creatures.

The top of the rock was windy and we had to hold on to our hats! The views were amazingly spectacular, we explored, took photos, looked at the lizards who were basking in sunshine sheltered from the wind and they soon scarpered when we arrived.

Over the other side of the rock we dropped down to ground level and followed it around, it was hot now and very sheltered from the wind, the group spread out a little and started to congregate when the bush got to thick and we needed to stick together. A voice in the distance shouted out asking everyone to wait. We dutifully did and into view wandered Trev was holding an Echidna in his T-shirt, of course none of the girls noticed that Trev was not wearing his shirt!

Trev had very kindly picked up this Echidna to show the group, of course he (errr! Or she? Who knows and I didn't want to check!) , this gorgeous little creature was rolled into its protective ball, must have wondered why it was being kidnapped, but as it became braver and aware that we were not posing a threat, started to unravel itself to reveal its beautiful little long nose and those backward feet.

We all took photo's and oohed and arr'd at this creatures who seemed to relaxed when some people tickled it's belly, it wad very bristly and coarse, but at least it was not converted in spines.

Time for Trev to replace the Echidna from whence it came, we all awaited his return and wondered if the Echidna looked confused when it continued on its merry way after being "taken by aliens".

On with the walk we find ourselves in a little cave, a refreshing rest in the coolness of the
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A team photo, whilst at Lake Brown
day and not far from a long since passed resident. ( a dead Kangaroo) A little, bit further through the bush we enter Monty's pass. Yikes! Not for the faint hearted, I was not terribly comfortable with this but fortunately there was light at the end of the tunnel and Floretta grabbed my hand to guide me through.

Phew, out the other side and clambering back onto the rock, we look back and can see how Monty's pass was formed with a massive chunk of rock having slipped (I don't know how many years ago) down the side of Elachbutting Rock.

Back at camp, it was time for a drink, lunch and some earned rest in the shade. By now the wind was getting stronger and one by one we all started to take shelter in our respective camps, well any excuse for a Nanna nap or catch up on some reading.

It had been hard enough to keep the awnings in tact, the wind had been so bad that morning that Leigh and Peter's awning had brought itself down, which meant they had packed theirs away. Ours was still just about hanging in there, but only
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Trev & Peta on the Brown Lake, its not Brown and its not a lake, well not at the moment
because it had more pegs and tape holding it down than anything else.

The clouds came over, the rain would be coming soon, the wind got stronger and one almighty gust had me racing out of the trailer to see what was still intact outside, it was strong enough for Gypsy to feel like she lifted up. I find Kim on top of his Landcruiser fighting with a tarp, no the wind had not blown him up there, but he was preparing for the worst. Some of us went over to give him a hand, the wind was strong and we were fighting as to who gets to keep the tarp, us or the elements? A team effort had Kim and Floretta's rig secure and more importantly to keep it dry should the heavens open.

They did, but not in the way we expected, I was sheltering under Karen and Andy's awning when the rain came and in a way it was a disappointing shower. As Peta had seen lighting in the distance, her and. Trev drive to the top of the rock to watch the storm come in as did Andy Bayley and Geoff.

At some point in my conversation with Karen, we decided that dinner at the local pub in Mukenbudin would be a good option, not arguing with that one. We had a consensus on that but we couldn't find find Geoff, so Andy B went off in search of him and had to drive up to the top of Elachbutting to be able to get an UHF radio signal to him.

Grouping into 3 vehicles we head off into town, watching the sunset across the beautiful fields of wheat along the way.

The Mukenbudin Hotel was busy, there was not a table big enough for all of us so we took over the public bar and gradually we all had dinner. There was a backpacker behind the bar, doing her remote working so that she could get extra time on her visa.

Eventually we arrive back at camp, the fire is on the go again and a nightcap is in order before bed, I think that some of us may have crashed earlier than others.

Sunday morning brings sunny weather and no rain, after a hearty cooked breakfast we all jump in our vehicles for a little jaunt out. Ok it wasn't white like that, we were not rushing and whilst some if is took the opportunity to grab a hot shower while the weather was good, Peta found a small window to bake some scones. Trev dug a hole, in went the hot coals from the fire and out came some really gorgeous scones, served up with jam and cream, yum yum! Thanks Peta!

Well, now it's time to hit the track to Brown Lake and Eagle Rock, Andy and I grab a lift with Andy & Karen, I do a little bit of back seat driving, in other words confirming that Andy's sat nav is working efficiently, she mostly agreed with me.

At Brown Lake we jumped out and headed off for a walk onto the Lake, well it is a salt lake and almost dry, we barely make an imprint in the salt until we get further out and find that it is a little bit wetter.

An abundance of photos later we head further around to find a shady spot for some lunch. Oh yes - Andy and I baked a case in the week, don't get used to it, but I served it up for lunch.

Back on track with the team following, Andy spies a snake, it soon disappears into the bush. We are now on route to Pergandes Homestead and sheep yards were built on the 1920's by early settlers, using granite located nearby, to form the sheep pens, they might have modelled it on Stonehenge.

There are beautiful views across the Wheatbelt here and with the wildflowers still in season, the green grass is broken up by huge swathes of yellow flowers.

I have not mentioned the wildflowers at all, this trip into the Wheatbelt has given us great opportunity to see some fabulous colours of the wildflowers in this region, still colourful and still in abundance a photographers paradise.

Time is ticking on and we have one more stop to go, we wind our way back toward Mangowine Homestead, now this is a treat, we are turning up just as the sun is commencing its descent toward sunset, the light is beautiful and the blue sky is peppered with some white and black fluffy clouds.

The warden lets us into the museum and shows us all around the old homestead, it is quite a fascinating picture of the life of an early settler, incredibly basic but inside the house there is a complete set of the Encyclopaedia Britannica, the internet of old, a complete set of fine china adorns the dresser in the dining room, fortunately roped off to the general public and certainly something that I don't want to go anywhere near, perhaps my mum would attest to that as I was always breaking things when I was growing up, usually salt and pepper pots though.

They even had a primitive shower/bathroom, one which I would not like to use in the heart of the winter!

I found an old Chevy out the back, the poor thing was rusting away bit when the sun was shining you could still make out the colour blue on the body work. I could go on about this old homestead, but. I won't, except to say, if you happen to be in the area of Mukenbudin, it is worth a look, I think you can camp there too.

Kim suggested that it was getting to beer o'clock so we all jumped in our vehicles and find our way back to camp, the fire was soon on the go as where the abundance of camp oven meals, including stew, roast pork, roast lamb, yum yum yum!

The night is cool and the warmth of the camp fire is a blessing, along with the awesome delights of camp oven cooking and another great night of camaraderie. Time for bed.

Monday morning appears, the last day of our fabulous Wheatbelt adventure. For the first time on this weekend we use the gas to cook our breakfast.

We all busy ourselves breaking camp, Peter and Leigh set off earlier than the rest of us, they have further to go, Trev and Peta are making their own way as they will be stopping at different places en route. So we are back down to a convoy of five for the journey home.

Andy plots a route home and like a dutiful convoy we all follow winding our way around the dirt tracks, past Berringbooding Rock, past Bonnie's Rock taking in the fabulous Wheatbelt views and the colourful displays of wildflowers, into Beacon, no coffee there so we head off to Bencubbin, no coffee there either despite the sign saying the cafe was open. On we go.

Oh dear, Andy and I spy a snake writhing and winding its way off the Tarmac, it looks like Karen has driven over it, she didn't see it until it was too late. Kim and Floretta, being tail end Charlie stopped for a look (from the safety of their vehicle), by now it was dead. They took a photo and we looked at Google to identify it, turns out it is Western Brown, despite its black and orange striped body.

Eventually we find a roadhouse with coffee, yay! But not long after we hit the Great Western Highway and the traffic! It seems rather crazy, we stop at Meckering to regroup, say our goodbyes and essentially break up the convoy for safety reasons.

We all head back toward Perth and gradually we all disappear on our road home, the traffic has stepped up and it just seems crazy again after such a relaxing weekend in the Wheatbelt.

It's been a long day and an early night beckons.


6th October 2014

Why the title.
Brimstone and Treacle?? So great to hear you are somewhat back on track with some travel. Google maps is such a great thing as I can follow your trip and they usually have great views of where you are. Like the Mukenbudin Hotel. Such great places in the middle of nowhere. You and your friends certainly do eat well on these trips. Makes our camping meals so mundane.
7th October 2014

Brimstone and Treacle
Hi Gary, Thank you for your comment as always, they are just great, but you and I have to have a serious chat. Now we have experienced Canada about 5 times in our life and know its pretty similar to Australia, so why is your camp cooking mundane. Canadians are encouraged to use the great outdoors, and you have virtually a never ending supply of wood to burn, so lets just recap . 1. Your in a country that allows you to use the great outdoors 2. Endless supply of fuel 3. You can make fire, yep Matches Check. So what's wrong with this picture so far Gary, Mmmm!!! The last thing is food and something to cook it in, is it easy to buy a camp oven in Canada, (Wait) I have just been on to and you call them Dutch ovens or Chuckwagon ovens, so no problem there. Next, Grizzly Bear Curry, in the camp oven perfect. There is no excuse to eat poorly when out in the wilds, its just about preparation and planning, everyone we knock about with are not experienced survival experts or anything like that, we just like good food and there is nothing better than a camp fire cooked dinner Hope you are both well and thanks for reading the blogs Andy. Andy
6th October 2014

It's so nice to be able to continue reading of your adventures again. I hope Andy's recovery is going well and that Caroline is taking good care of you both. Western Australia seems to have lots to offer!
7th October 2014
Elachbutting Rock long Weekend

Western Brown
I once told some overseas exchange students not to tell too many folk back home how wonderful Oz was. Maybe if I had introduced them to this guy they would have taken notice. What a beauty!
7th October 2014
Elachbutting Rock long Weekend

What a Beauty
Hi David, thanks for your comment on our blog, we had an animal packed weekend, 3 Echidnas and two snakes, neither we have seen since last year. I was talking to a guy in our 4 wheel drive club who is 69 and he has never seen an Echidna in the wild. I have come to the conclusion that there are not enough Wombats in my life. Thanks David. Kangaroojack

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