Site Hopping Down The West Coast

Leaving Geraldton on Tue 8 November we drove out to Ellendale Pool and after a walk and some photos we were one of two there for a peaceful night.p1100533

Awaking to an overcast morning we heard the hum of bees in the flowering gums.

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p1100536Leaving in a light shower of rain we drove via the Alinta Wind Farm to Walkaway and onto Dongara where we stayed for 4 nights at The Tourist Park at Port Dennison.

 

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Coffee and a muffin in town proved tasty at the Fig Tree Café and we had a look around town and a shop. We tried several fishing spots with no success as the wind was threatening to blow a dog off its chain, and there was a lot of weed on the beaches. I grabbed the bait bag for one trip and we arrived at the beach to find that I had picked up a bag of fried rice, so that was yet another successful fishing expedition!!

p1100540Sunday 13th saw us on the road again for a 30 minute run down the coast to Cliff Head North where we set up along a bush track just off the beach. Had a swim before the wind got up again.

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Saw our first Rainbow Bee Eater and Dawn took a great photo of it. We had intended to stay 3 nights there but the wind, flies and weed on the beach won out and we packed up after 2 nights and drove across to Lake Indoon to a nice site beside the lake with less flies and only 4 other campers.

p1100544We had a full day’s rain while at Lake Indoon which washed away the red dust and we looked almost new again. We experienced the strongest wind we had encountered on over 12 months and were glad to not be on the coast.

After 4 nights there on Saturday 19th we travelled 11 km to Eneabba Recreation Ground, which is a very good council run site with heaps of room, good amenities including nice hot showers and access to water. Dinner on Sunday evening was at the Miner’s Camp Canteen and is an all you can eat buffet for a great value $10 a head.

The surrounding countryside is a well-known wild flower area and we drove the loop road through Three Springs and Carnamah and took many photos. Although the main flower season has finished there are still many to see and later flowering varieties are fresh to see.

 

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After 3 nights in Eneabba we have popped 26 km down the road to Half Way Mill Roadhouse for a couple of nights before heading to Nambung Station for our next sojourn.

p1100613We have been welcomed at the roadhouse by a big mob of black cockatoos who are currently destroying the fresh tips on a few gum trees.

 

 

 

 

Time to catch up on the blog, do some washing and ironing and bake some bread. The next couple of weeks will be unpowered again as we head south to a station stay and then out into the wheat belt.

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Hamelin Station Stay & on to Geraldton

After saying our goodbyes at Wooramel, on Tuesday 25/10/16,  we drove into a head wind to Hamelin, and booked in for their final 6 nights of the season.

p1100486Hamelin Station is now a Bush Heritage site and has been virtually de-stocked of the remaining 17,000 sheep and goats. The camp was fairly exposed as there are few trees above scrub height, but it was very clean and tidy and the amenities are excellent.

 

 

 

We caught up with Joseph and Rhonda who gave us some good tips on places to visit between the camp and Denham. It was very windy and we put up one end of the annexe to get some respite.

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Our drive to Denham on Wednesday included visits to Shell Beach and Eagle Bluff on the way. Shell Beach is covered in tiny Hamelin Cockle shells up to 10m deep in places and stretching for 120 km. In times past the compressed shells were used as building blocks. The homestead at Hamelin is built out of them and we saw other examples in buildings in Denham.

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Eagle Bluff has an excellent boardwalk along the cliff top with views down into the clear waters below.

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14,000 dugong graze the seagrasses of Shark Bay.

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Denham proved to be a lovely seaside village where we collected our forwarded mail ( thanks Amz).p1100450

We  had a fish, chips and salad lunch, and one of the worst haircuts that we have had in 12 months.

The following few days were spent visiting Hamelin Pool where we walked the boardwalk through the microbial mats and stromatolites. The sea is twice as salty in this bay due to sand banks  restricting the outward flow of water at low tide. Evaporation concentrates the salt level and the stromatolites have been able to survive with minimal attack from predators. Their origins were 3.5 billion years ago. Over billions of years, a complex interaction between climate and environment at Hamlin Pool has created the miracle of “living fossils “ called stromatolites.

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The lake at Hamelin Station was a wealth of birdlife and provided an interesting and easy walk.p1100471

A visit to the old 8 stand wool shed provided some history on the station and local area. Hamelin Station is almost the size of the ACT at 202,000 hectares.

 

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We experienced a couple of Willy Willys, one which came through the camp kitchen while we were there, blew open doors and cleaned out any loose articles with one violent gust. They only side swiped our camp and left everything covered in shell grit but with no damage thankfully.

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Monday 31/10 saw us on the road to Northampton where we had planned to spend a week at Northbrook Farm Stay. Changed our minds when we arrived and stayed one night before driving on to Geraldton.

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We have been here a week with walks around the foreshore, visits to The Sydney II Memorial, Western Australian Museum and Old Gaol, each very good in their own right.

A couple more poems materialised whilst at Hamelin:

WILLY OR WONTY?

” What’s a willy willy? ”

“Don’t get personal with me or I’ll spin you off into the bush and toss you up a tree.”

HOW OLD IS THAT?

I met a bloke at Hamlin Pool where Stromatolites are found.

He reckons they’ve been around for three and a half billion years.

He’d know I reckon by looking at him, he was dry behind the ears.

His face was wizened like a prune, his knowledge must be sound.

With an old burnt stick he’d made his note, it was history in the making.

Unwittingly he turned out to be the first with carbon dating.

So there we have it, now we know, the answer no more a teaser,

Because of the records long ago kept safe by this old geezer.

Hamelin October 2016

 

Wooramel

p1100413Tuesday 11/10/16 and it was a windy drive south from Carnarvon to Wooramel Station, on the Wooramel River. Another upside down river which flows only 2-3 times a year, and then for only a few days at a time.

We received a warm welcome from Angie, followed by a warm 36 degree day, and booked in for a week.

The flies were very friendly and we ate under “the bridal veil “.

p1100414The hot water artesian spas here are 33 degrees out of the ground and are in a great setting for happy hour.

We were up early on Wednesday and gathered some wood in the river bed.

 

 

 

 

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Cooked a loaf of bread in the weber, and a lamb roast in the camp oven. Each camp site here has a fire place. Another 36 degree day, but the wind had eased quite a bit. Baby galah were being fed in the trees around us and we spotted a pair of sacred kingfishers.

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Thursday saw us setting off on a drive around part of the station, and a visit to the old woolshed which had its last shearing in 2006. The property now runs Dorper/Damara sheep which don’t need shearing, as they shed what wool they have, and are breed for their meat.

Friday we did the riverside walk and wandered around the historical tip where Dawn spotted an echidna. After a long walk we enjoyed our soak in the spa.

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Saturday 15/10 was very windy again and we went for a bush walk across the river where we came across acres of discarded grape vines and infrastructure. ( More on this later).p1100417

 

We had drinks with our neighbours, Laurie and Paula and then put up the full annexe, for the first time, as protection against the wind and to stop the gas fridge blowing out.

 

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We met the red wine drinking moth which can empty a glass in one dive. “Rouge vin extractus.”

 

Sunday was spent in camp battened down against the wind, and on Monday we extended our stay for a further week. Walked about 8 km to a stock water hole and windmill and saw some red roos on the way home, after crossing the river to return to camp.

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Another soak in the spa and we caught up with “Damper John” on his way home from Bullara. We cooked another camp oven dinner and shared some stories together.

 

 

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At happy hour on Wednesday, I read a poem which I had written following our visit to the woolshed. Justin and Rachael invited us to share dinner with them the following night at the homestead, and Justin explained about the grape vines. They had been successful for 25 years supplying table grapes, earlier than most, into the Australian market. The operation had continued to expand and employ a considerable number of people. The “wise government” of the day signed a free trade agreement and the U.S. dumped grapes onto the market here at less than the cost of production. The whole deal folded.

When we were at Bullara we learned that they were almost forced off the land when the Gillard Gov’t pulled the pin overnight on live-stock export to Indonesia. They lost almost 2 years income thanks to that ill-conceived move. We have heard so many similar stories while staying on properties and in country towns over the past year. I was prompted to write yet another poem, Polly Tishuns.

Dinner at the homestead with Justin, Rachael and family was a special occasion and they asked me to read the poems, which are included at the end of this post. Their two girls performed some great karaoke and dance routines for us.

Saturday was Dawn’s birthday and we celebrated with a special brekkie omelette, fresh baked bread and a camp oven roast beef dinner. Our neighbours, Joseph and Rhonda from Sunshine Coast, Greg and Sue from Perth and Graham from Yamba joined us around the camp fire after dinner for a yarn.

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I went on a drive out to Hackett’s Bend with Neil who was checking the bore water troughs and re-setting the windmills. We saw emus, goats, dorper sheep and of course the AngusxDroughtmaster cattle which are run here.

One of the baby galahs fell out of its nest and we gave it some food and water and put it up in a tree for mum to feed.

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Yet another poem materialised.

On Tuesday 25th we said our goodbyes and after filling The Burrow’s tanks with bore water we set off for Hamelin Station further south.

This has been another very memorable stay with some lovely people whose hearts are wedded to this unique part of Australia.

GHOSTS OF WOORAMEL

Green leaves shimmer in the harsh sunlight beside the upturned river,

Silver gums say that water passed this way, an inland rain the giver.

Trunks and flailing limbs frozen in time, gleam a silvery white,

A burst of red gives way to lesser lights as sentinels of the night.

Gums now glow with a ghostly sheen bathed in softer beams,

And a gentle breeze allows the trees to speak their secret dreams.

Murmurings gently fill the air as galahs bed down their young.

Night softly settles as spirits sway to the rhythm of songs once sung.

The shadows of shearers long since gone, soon make the numbers swell,

Revealing tales of the history here, these Ghosts of Wooramel.

Of mobs so big and so far flung they took a month to muster

Another month to see them shorn with a minimum of fluster.

Tales of ringers, rousies, pressies, penner uppers and shearer’s cooks

Of bullock trains and dreams of rains, of sweat and dirty looks.

Of a ringer setting a cracking pace to be beaten with a cheer.

Of aching backs and sweat filled eyes and longing for a beer.

Tales of friendship, love and mateship, in this unforgiving land,

Of attempts to rule and master it beside the river filled with sand.

So many stories, some so grand, they make your heart to swell

To the sounds and sense of belonging, with the Ghosts of Wooramel.

October 2016

C TCD

POLLY TISHUNS

Sounds like a woman trying to sneeze!

They have major parties and often get quite raucous some of them even form a bloody caucus.

“What do they care?” asked the sad eyed lad, looking for an answer from his worn out Dad.

Knowing that the family could be leaving the farm because the pollies and fat cats were doing them harm.

“Why do they do it?” Asked the sad eyed lad, looking for an answer from his worn out Dad.

“Where’s the sense in ploughing all the crops into the ground, all because the pollies thought to change the rules around?”

“What can we do? “asked the sad eyed lad, looking for an answer from his worn out Dad.

“We’ve beaten fires, droughts and cyclones and even flooding rain. Be buggered if we’ll let these jerks send us down the drain.

With their well-lined pockets and endless superannuation. Let’s tell ém where to shove it Dad and show some dedication.”

“So how can we do it?” asked the sad eyed lad, looking for an answer from his worn out Dad.

Hoping to inspire him, to lift his flagging spirits, as these bloody polly tishuns were giving him the irrits.

With many markets weakened or dried up beyond the pail, the banks were squeezing hard and there were letters in the mail.

“I’ll sell my little pony and give up school a while, to stand with you and fight ém.” said the lad with half a smile.

Dad smiled a loving smile and his chest puffed out with pride, “there’s no way that we will leave here with you standing at my side.”

“I know that we can do it.” Said the bright eyed lad pleased to see some brightness in his dear old Dad.

“Let’s take each day one at a time and see how we are led, we can oust these polly tishuns and leave them all for dead.”

October 2016

C TCD

 

THE LITTLE AUSSIE BATTLER

Poof! That was a hell of a drop with the landing not the best.

A ten metre fall ended with a flop when I fell out of my nest.

Thanks for putting me in the tree, I’ll try to climb up high

To where my mum will find me and teach me how to fly.

Thanks again for putting me back and for the drink and feed.

Sorry I bit your finger Jack, I hope it didn’t bleed.

Mum found me there and fed me while Dad nudged me even higher.

I’m getting so much stronger see and soon I’ll be a flyer.

I slipped and fell and tried again with pink and grey feathers flustered.

I think I’ll beat this flying game before it gets me busted.

Wooramel.October 2016

C TCD

Farewell Bullara and Hello Carnarvon

p1100315After bidding our hosts farewell we left Bullara Station and headed for Carnarvon, on Tuesday 4 October, via Minilya where the wildflowers were quite spectacular.

Our first job was to wash the red dust from The Burrow and The Chariot.

 

 

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After collecting our mail we had a look around the town and foreshore with a walk along the Fascine.

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The Gascoyne River is an upside down river.

Our few days here included a visit to the Overseas Telecommunications Centre and Apollo Tracking Station plus a trip out to the Quobba blowholes and HMAS Sydney 11 Memorial where we spotted several whales ofshore.

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The local growers markets and a couple of farm gate stops produced some fresh fruit and veges at very good prices.

A fishing trip to Pelican Point landed a queenfish which was very tasty.

We have now been on the road for 12 months and celebrated with a fresh batch of scones a la Weber.

We are both looking forward to our next stop at Wooramel Station which is 120km south of Carnarvon.