Tuesday, 15 May 2012

Peter Denny Lookout Friday 11th May 2012

On the road towards Geraldton we stopped at the Peter Denny Lookout for the night which turned out to be a very nice surprise. From the road it is hard to see the back of the camp but as we drove back we found a spot right beside what we can only call a canyon . There were high walls around on three sides and an almost flat bottom. It would have been a great place to keep cattle secure if only as is so common hereabouts, there was water. We had a lovely night and watched the roos early in the morning which you could hardly see until they moved and then there seemed to be many groups.

The following morning we set out to our next overnight stop at Indarra which was OK but uninspiring except that we thought we had skipped home to Dookie, the country looked so similar with a field freshly cropped in front of us.

Niagara Dam 9th and 10th May 2012

We had dinner in the pub at Menzies on our last night and besides its almost untouched charm and interesting people we met the publican who shared with us a book on the statues and also some very useful information on the road ahead.
He suggested to us that we should go and have a look at Kookynie and Niagara Dam which we had looked at on the map and assumed the road surface would be unsuitable for us. However the road has been sealed and so off we went. Kookynie is in some ways similar to Menzies except that there are fewer inhabitants and more building which are now derelict. We were able to read about how this town had developed rapidly with the discovery of gold and then when the gold became too hard to mine. Now all that remains are the plaques which tell their stories.  At its height there were eleven hotels, a Town Hall which housed the regular Saturday night dances as well as plays and official ceremonies. There were also the first public baths on the goldfields, seven brass bands to entertain the population, the Kookynie Turf Club which held 3 annual meetings, its own brewery and two soft drink manufacturers. At the Red Light area the plaque relates that this establishment was conducted by the Japanese ladies and that as there was no contraception, some wives were using their meagre coins to send their men to see the ladies. One poor woman had three sets of twins, and ten children in all, bet she sent her husband to the Japanese ladies!

We then drove on to Niagara Dam and found it to be a beautiful place where we decided to stay for one night and then as we are often found to do, two!  Our first night was spent at the edge of the dam which has magnificent views all round.  We walked around the dam and marvelled that it could have been built in 1897. It was built to provide water for the nearby town and the steam engines working the line that was rapidly extending north from Menzies. As we walked around the area we chose to camp in we noticed this beautiful rock painting which we know nothing about but was quite beautiful.

Tuesday, 8 May 2012

Menzies 8th May 2012

In the afternoon after we had been to the sculptures we decided to do as the Visitors Centre advised and ‘take a walk around town and explore “our place” on foot’. This is truly an amazing town, although really now only a main street with a few diversions. Although not at its prime now the town is still very proud of what remains of the history and has displayed and told of the history in a fantastic way with a series of rusty steel figures reflecting just some of the folks who lived here long ago.  We have found it really hard to decide which ones to put on the blog as they are all fantastic and tell a tale of the prosperity of the town now a little faded.  There were 13 hotels and 3 breweries when the town was in its prime as well as newsagents, stores and a post office employing over 20 people.

As with all the areas we have seen so far water has played a role in the demise of the prosperity, either because they couldn’t sustain stock or as in Menzies because water was critical for the health of the people who worked here.  In some of the information ‘food famine’ is mentioned as a reason for some people either leaving or dying. Gold was the reason for setting up the town and development of the railway, and of course as it became harder to obtain people moved on to other hopefully more successful places. We visited the cemetery on our tour and you can see from all the children and adults who died that it was not an easy life at all.

Our visit here has been a wonderful experience and if you are going through Menzies – stop. Now for our photos -
the first one bears a plaque:  "How on earth do I STOP this infernal Machine" - Local Mining Warden, William Owen, test riding the first motorcycle in Menzies.
Next we just couldn't resist a poke a Local Government - apparently not too much has changed either!
This one, located outside the town hall  says "oooooh - my head! But gawd, those councillors can go on and on and on and on ........" . A bored onlooker taking a break from the public gallery.

 This is a little sad but an indication of how hard life was here.
"Carry him carefully, young Joe Wright - the fever is enough for him to deal with .....: Matron Andrews, first nurse appointed to Menzies Hospital in 1895
 And last, but the funniest of all - just to show the oldest profession went everywhere. the plaque accompanying this gem read :"Step inside, you handsome man - my sheets are clean and my price is keen ....." The Red Light Lady.
Off tomorrow to ......

7th May Goongarrie National Park

After Kalgoorlie we headed out to Goongarrie National Park and former Goongarrie Pastoral Lease which had been recommended to us by the camp hosts at Lucky Bay. The lease for the 100,686 hectare was taken up in 1924 however due to difficulty in establishing sufficient water points it was always marginal pastoral country and was only partially developed around 30% to run sheep.  It is amazing to us how much effort was put into this station considering the doubtful water supply.  Still on the site are numerous buildings and infrastructure such as shearing sheds and dips for the sheep as well as shearers quarters and various outbuildings.  There are also a number of vehicles in various states of decay and even a grave for ‘man’s best friend’.  The Park is available for people to stay in the quarters or camp but we only stayed for lunch and drove on to Menzies.

Norseman Photos

Lucky Bay Photos

How beautiful is this? Have many more beauties but at last you can see what we loved so much.

Friday, 4 May 2012

Thursday 3rd May to 4th May 2012

After we shopped back in Esperance we travelled on to Norseman which is where we have stopped for two nights (with indifferent internet, hence no photos for this one either!)

The camp hosts at Lucky Bay had told us of the great scenery here and we had to confess that we had driven through both on this trip and last year without giving it a good look so today we have made up for it.

We are in a park, unlimited lights, water, heating,  mmmmmm all good! Today we set off early on our tour of The Granite and Woodlands Discovery Trail which we started in Norseman and travelled 115km each way. We had been told that you could take the caravan and stay at some camps along the way but Peter and Colleen from Lucky Bay had advised against it as the road is unmade although well maintained. As we started out we met the grader doing just that and a sterling job of it, but as the day was drizzling all day we were glad not to have towed the van along the red mud roads. We did see a couple of vans and were doubly pleased, the cleanup would be horrendous. It sticks like … fill in the gaps people.

We stopped at the signposted viewing sights along the way but our first real stop was Disappointment Rock which advertises richly interpreted walk trails. That’s one way to describe this one.  They are fairly careful not to have too many signs along the way you could say.  In fact Boy Scout Ian was lost for a while and kept on telling me ‘interesting, interesting’. I always worry when he says that and after quite a lot of scenic routes (lost) we did get back on the trail which was supposed to be 1892m (we think twice that for us!) and really enjoyed the view from the top, several times!! Along the way we were able to appreciate the magnificent rock formations and ever changing plants which seem to manage to survive in the tiniest crevices.

We then drove on to McDermid Rock and had lunch before tackling this walk with some trepidation in view of the previous experience.  However it was so much better and we only covered the area as the map prescribed, a mere 1271m with quite a bit of mountain goating to begin with then a pleasant walk around the bottom of the wall to see the fantastic wave formation which we will put up on the blog tomorrow.

On the guide brochure there was a story of a pastoralist who came out here and took up a lease for country immediately west of Lake Johnston in 1954. He was unsuccessful, which is no surprise as this is not the sort of country you would find easy to have cattle on as the water supply is poor and the country very scrubby. He built a house however which was located about 7km off the road off a bush track.  My curiosity got the better of me and we set out to find it.  Big mistake, me thinks about 6.5km in with the track seeming to get narrower and not even sure if we are on the right track as it isn’t signposted. The small (1m) trees are growing up in the middle of the track and we are going straight over the top, not to mention the branches which have probably removed all the duco on the sides.  However Ian is determined and on we go. We all know how he like to use the four wheel drive for the purpose for which it was created don’t we? Anyway we had plenty of water on board and two muesli bars so I figure it can’t be all bad.  

We finally have to admit defeat when we really really run out of road at 7.5km and reluctantly (not for me, I can see we’re going to go off the end of the earth if he has his way!), turn back. About 200m on the way back I let out a scream and see some old tree stumps which have been house stumps and lo and behold an old stove.  Eureka we shout!  This is the place and I have to admit it was worth it, now. How on earth this man J.O. Magee thought he was going to make a go of it in here I will never know.  I just pray he didn’t take some poor woman with him.  I can’t believe this was only done in the year I was born. It seems far more plausible to have been one hundred years ago.  As I said photos tomorrow (I hope!).

Thursday 26th April to 3rd May 2012

We drove from Esperance to Cape Le Grande National Park and one of our favourite places, Lucky Bay.  We loved our short visit there last year so made a diversion from our inland plan to spend some time enjoying the magnificent scenery of the beach. As you can see it is absolutely glorious. The sand is so white and the water so blue you really have to be there to appreciate it. The sand is so fine and squeaky that it doesn’t even cling to your feet and it is lovely to walk upon.  It was a tad windy but otherwise most days were warm and sunny in patches.

Ian had picked up the flu I caught from Norah so was feeling pretty average for the first couple of days so spent his days reading while I had a lovely time with my patchwork.  We had a walk each day which we thoroughly enjoyed and after a few wistful paddles decided to take our lives in our hands and have a swim. At first we couldn’t decide if the water was so cold that we were numb or if it wasn’t too bad.  Anyway we went all the way in just to be able to say we swam at Lucky Bay in the Southern Ocean. Hooray for us, even if everyone else at the park thought we were certifiable!

The National Park is really great as it has toilets that flush --- try long drop toilets for a week if you’re laughing at us, and even showers which are warm if the solar has any luck!  They also have fresh water available which is great as we were able to use our own showers and fill the tank, although we were very pleased with how long our tank lasted.  We don’t have any power in the park and now that we have made some alterations to the lights our battery power lasted for the whole week even with watching DVD’s at night so we are very comfortable.  There is no phone or internet which was fine for the week.

Ian was chatting to the ranger who called around twice a day until the camp hosts settled in a relayed a horrifying yet amusing story. Ian had been asking about the little birds who are in abundance, together with the roos, but that’s another story. Anyway the ranger was telling Ian about the birds and what a great job they are doing controlling the flies which in previous years had been a great problem. He then told Ian that recently he had picked up a domestic cat in the park and was taking it back to his vehicle when two male French tourists rushed up to him and said ”You have found our cat, thank you!”.  The rangers eyes grew wide and wild as he said “So this is your cat?”, “Ah, yes it is”, they replied.   “Don’t you know you can’t bring a cat into the National Park” he asked askance that they had been so pleased to see him holding their feline, in a non too friendly way as he was just about to ‘dispose’ of same. “No”, they said full of innocence, “we saw the sign that said no dogs, but it didn’t say anything about cats!” Sigh, from the ranger as he patiently told them it meant ALL pets. He then told them they had to take their …… cat with them and leave immediately, at which they asked if they could have a refund on their camping fees.   He assured them they could not and that they were lucky he wasn’t giving them a $200 fine for their trouble and that they had better leave NOW before he changed his mind.  Ah dear, the life of a ranger is not all beer and skittles!

One of many stories the rangers and camps hosts have I’m sure but the great majority of campers are great we are assured.
I will keep you waiting for the photos - poor internet connection here!