Northern Yilgarn Conservation Reserves

Northern Yilgarn Conservation Reserves The area covered by this trek is very ecologically diverse; containing woodlands, heathlands, iron ore range country and extensive mulga in the north. Start at Southern Cross with a short detour to Lake Seabrook through to Koolyanobbing. Then onto the Helena and Aurora Ranges; to Kurrajong Rock and northwest through Mt Manning Nature Reserve. Then north to Mt Elvire and return south to Bullfinch.
StartClick to Reverse the Dynamic Map and Driving NotesSouthern Cross
DifficultyDifficulty 3/5 Suitable for4WD 
Distance621.87 kmMinimum Days3
Average Speed54.9 km/hrDriving Time11 hrs 19 mins
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Rating Be the first to rate this item0 Reviews
Article By: Member - John Baas (WA)
Page Updated: 31 Aug 2010

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The Northern Yilgarn Conservation Reserves cover (or will cover after gazettals) a diversity of ecologies under various existing or proposed reserves - click for map and detailed information. These reserves comprise: Mt Manning Range Nature Reserve; Helena and Aurora Range Conservation Park; Mt Manning Range Conservation Park; proposed Jaurdi Conservation Park; proposed Mt Elvire Conservation Park; and proposed Die Hardy/Jackson/Windarling Range Reserves. Also: parts of Lake Seabrook adjoining the southern end of the Koolyanobbing Range and proposed Jaurdi Conservation Park and parts of Lake Barlee adjoining the proposed Mt Elvire Conservation Park.

Much of the trek is on formed unsealed roads but parts lie in remote and lonely lands with track conditions to match. It is covered by about 80 exploration and mining leases, with significant existing and proposed conservation estates over the remainder. Best times would be autumn and spring; summers can be extreme.

Soils in the region seem to be characterized by light sand over a clayey base. When dry, unsealed roads and tracks offer easy going but turn treacherous if wet. Even the Evanston – Bullfinch road, which appears to be graded to modern mining road standard, is not classified as an all weather road. There is extensive track damage in the area north of the Helena and Aurora Range arising from vehicles bogging in muddy conditions.

Following the plot north from Southern Cross on the bitumen is a short sidetrip option to a peninsula into Lake Seabrook 12kms south of Koolyanobbing. The track shows on the map as circumnavigating the peninsula but seems to fade out at the northern end. This short section is on firm going on the shores and easy on the peninsula itself. It is quite likely that a more pleasant access to this spot would be by going east from Southern Cross to Yellowdine (33kms) and then north to pick up Lake Seabrook Road at its eastern end.

Continuing north from Koolyanobbing the track is in open and easy condition and would be very pleasant were it not that it frequently lies with in sight of the Portman haul road. Once under the Helena and Aurora Ranges, the track falls to a basic but good surfaced two ruts and remains in this condition until eventual connection with the Bullfinch Evanston Road.

This long stretch along and into the Ranges, then onto Pittosporum and Kurrajong Rocks, Hunt Range, Mount Manning Nature Reserve and passing under Mt Manning is a great scenic drive through varied woodlands, heath and mulga. There is a spur back to the north of Mt Manning but was not explored. Do not miss the spur to the top of the H&A Range which opens out on a mini plateau with sensational views (good camping spot). The maps show a track over the Range to the south near here but advice from a number of sources indicates that the descent may be difficult to dangerous. Also the spur up Bulgalbin Hill is steep and rough – take care.

Once exiting onto the Bullfinch Evanston Road continue north past the old Evanston workings to the Diemals Road, turn right to shortly pick up the Lake Barlee Road to Elvire. Proceeding past the homestead to Mt Elvire the going becomes increasingly rocky.

Return to Bullfinch the way you came, down the Bullfinch Evanston Road (which, while having the characteristics of a dirt highway) passes through some very scenic country. Lake Deborah near the Bullfinch end makes a great lunch stop.

Facilities are available at Jaurdi (not on this trek) and Elvire at the old homesteads. Elvire is a basic open roomed shelter in an open paddock but does come with a longdrop toilet and a boiler generated shower. Drinking water is also available. Many would prefer to continue camping in a more scenic spot, but if you do wish to overnight then a booking needs to be made with DEC Kalgoorlie.

How to Use this Trek Note

The idea of a Trek Note, is that we provide a recommended route to explore an area with point-to-point guidance and extensive trip planning information about when to go, what to see, and where to camp. However, all the facts and data files are available should you prefer to build your own route/itinerary.

To see the route we recommend, click on the "Map" tab. Then, use the Moving Map Control to take a virtual tour of the route. You can reverse the order of the direction notes by clicking the arrow alongside the words Start/Finish at the very top of the information on this page.

Click on the "What to See" & "Where to Stay" tabs to see more about each Place that the route follows. Click each listed Place to open a separate page (and download for Members only) to enrich your understanding of the area.

A text list of Place to Place distances (see Directions tab) is given, plus you can download the route file to load into your GPS/Navigator. Go to our shop to obtain the complete EOTreks Route Files download.

If you just want the raw data files (for use with mapping software or to load into a GPS/Navigator), then the track file and waypoints are downloadable for free (Members only), using the Download Treks button at the top of this page.

You can also print this page (use the print icon button) and text from all sections (Description, Preparation, What to See, Where to Stay, Directions, Related, Feedback) will be reformatted into one easy-to-read document (except for detailed Place information – do these separately).


The Northern Yilgarn lies within the Yilgarn Craton which is a geologically very stable form with, apart from the ‘island’ ranges, very little structural relief. Both banded iron and greenstone rock formations occur with the former yielding gold and associated ores. Banded iron is a very hard rock which has resulted in these ranges being striking emergents onto the plains. Granitic rocks also outcrop in places as at Kurrajong Rock and Rainy Rocks.

There is no permanent water in the area although several of the granites hold temporary supplies in gnammas after rains.

Woodlands predominate in the south of the area graduating to acacia mulga as a pure dominant structure at Elvire north. In between lie attractive mosaics of these structures, with abundant wildflowers in season in the former, interposed by heaths in the sandier sections. As such it straddles a major vegetation boundary – the mulga/woodland line and would be a very advantageous place from which to study climate change impacts.

The banded iron formations hold unique assemblages of plants with a relatively high proportion of rare, endangered, poorly described, and endemic vegetation. There is serious tension over these ranges between exploitative economic interests by prospective iron miners and the necessity to ensure that conservation interests are not compromised. Tetratheca species are emblematic of this conflict, many of which are found on only one range, with different, ‘unique to them’ species on adjacent ranges.

The area also holds a rich diversity of fauna, not surprisingly, given the wide range of habitats.


The Northern Yilgarn was inhabited pre colonisation by Aboriginals from the western desert and south west areas; the local language at that time being Kalamaya. Banded iron formation ranges are reported to be of spiritual importance to current custodians.

Earliest exploration began with the Gregory brothers in 1846 who named Mount Jackson. Their effort was succeeded by Giles’ journey west from SA in 1875 who noted the iron content of the ranges and slightly earlier by John Forrest who named the Helena and Aurora Ranges.

Mineralisation of the area was not limited to iron and viable gold was rewarded by the creation of the declaration of the Yilgarn Goldfields in 1888 with operations at Mount Jackson winning gold in 1894. Jaurdi Station was at the western extent of the Kalgoorlie woodlines operations supplying firewood and mining timbers. Iron ore operations commenced at Koolyanobbing during the 1950s until abandonment in mid 1980s. Operations subsequently recommenced with Portman Mining who remain the managers today.

Pastoral activities (sheep) were undertaken at Jaurdi Station from 1968 until 1989 when the then Department of Conservation and Land management (CALM) purchased the lease under the sandalwood regeneration project banner. Elvire Station was taken up for sheep in 1966 but was not fully stocked and was similarly purchased by CALM in 1991.


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For detailed checklists & advice regarding remote area travel, you are strongly encouraged to read the following articles: 4WD Driving Skills & Rules; What to Take; Recovery Gear Needs; Spare Parts and Tools; Food & Water; Water Tank; Long Range Fuel Tanks; Suspension; EPIRB; HF Radio; UHF Radio; Satphone; Staying in Touch as well as Travel Etiquette; Care for the Environment; Snake Bite Treatment; Outback Survival; & Driver Fatigue.

Official track reports are reviewed weekly and you'll always find the latest report in the ExplorOz Road Conditions section.
Much of this trip is on formed roads. However, the tracks in the area between the Helena and Aurora Range to Kurrajong Rock and on through Mount Manning Nature Reserve can be very lonely.

Preparation for this route should be as for any other remote 4WD track, including carrying sufficient fuel, water, food, supplies, communications gear, safety equipment and first aid, along with emergency backup supplies.

Be well prepared with a GPS, HF radio or Satellite phone. We advise that you refer to the latest information and advice about outback communications in the Communications Topic.

Make sure you have adequate recovery gear and tyre repair kits. A second spare wheel would not be seen as extravagant. Travellers should read the 4WDriving Topic for related articles and checklists for vehicle setup and driver awareness

Fuel Supplies & Usage

Best Time To Visit

It can get very hot during the summer months so consider travelling in the cooler months from April to October.

Closest Climatic Station

Southern Cross Airfield
Distance from Trek Mid Point 19.57km SE
 JanFebMarAprMayJun JulAugSepOctNovDec
Mean Max. °C 34.833.830.626.2 21.517.916.618.5 21.426.329.932.7
Mean Min. °C 17.717.615.011.4
Mean Rain mm 29.724.135.723.4 29.527.334.628.2 21.813.418.517.6
    Best time to travel      Ok time to travel      Travel NOT recommended

Services & Supplies

The following locations have various services and supplies: Bullfinch

What to See

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Save time and download all digital map data for this trek (all places are included in the trek download).
This list may not be complete for the entire region. Places listed here are directly located along the plot file associated with this Trek Note. You can locate other nearby Places by browsing the map or searching Places.
There are a total of 9 place entries

Edge of Lake Seabrook - WA

Water Body,River,Stream,Falls Point of Interest
This spot is on the eastern side of Lake Seabrook
Position: -30.98116 119.64534 Altitude: 340m PlaceID: 87948 Updated: 11 Jan 10 06:21

Bungalbin Hill - WA

Bungalbin Hill
Position: -30.38387 119.6281 Altitude: 509m PlaceID: 87950 Updated: 11 Jan 10 06:30

Ridge near Bungalbin Hill - WA

Point of Interest
Ridge near Bungalbin Hill to the northwest.
Position: -30.36419 119.61906 Altitude: 468m PlaceID: 87951 Updated: 18 Jan 10 07:20

Helena and Aurora Ranges - WA

Point of Interest
This location is near a nice camping spot in the Helena and Aurora Ranges
Position: -30.35444 119.70303 Altitude: 607m PlaceID: 87952 Updated: 11 Jan 10 06:36

Kurrajong Rockhole - WA

Point of Interest
Kurrajong Rockhole. Turn left to go into Mt Manning Nature Reserve, or continue to head to Evanston to Menzies Road via Yowie Rocks
Position: -30.17992 119.8814 Altitude: 481m PlaceID: 87953 Updated: 16 Apr 10 03:03

Mount Manning Range Views - WA

Point of Interest
This location provides great views of the Mount Manning Range
Position: -30.02064 119.64834 Altitude: 459m PlaceID: 87954 Updated: 11 Jan 10 06:45

Rainy Rocks - WA

Point of Interest
Location for old Rainy Rocks
Position: -29.6719 119.56458 Altitude: 438m PlaceID: 87957 Updated: 11 Jan 10 06:54

Near Mt Elvire (on the track) - WA

Point of Interest
This location on the track is roughly one kilometre from Mt Elvire, which has a height of 540m.
Position: -29.26313 119.63191 Altitude: 442m PlaceID: 87959 Updated: 11 Jan 10 07:16

Lake Deborah East Causeway - WA

Point of Interest
This is where Bullfinch Evanston Road crosses through Lake Deborah East, which is a salt lake on either side.
Position: -30.67751 119.24991 Altitude: 333m PlaceID: 87958 Updated: 11 Jan 10 07:03

Where to Stay

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Save time and download all digital map data for this trek (all places are included in the trek download).
This list may not be complete for the entire region. Places listed here are directly located along the plot file associated with this Trek Note. You can locate other nearby Places by browsing the map or searching Places.
There are a total of 1 place entries

Bullfinch - WA

Populated Place Caravan Park Water Supply Toilet Pub Food,Shopping Resort,Motel
Small town of Bullfinch has a population of around 30 people. It consists of about 20 houses, the pub, an unmanned post office, a wheat bin and a caravan park.
Position: -30.98321 119.11232 Altitude: 359m PlaceID: 60496 Updated: 13 Mar 11 15:07


Southern Cross to Koolyanobbing Southern Cross Rd & Lake Seabrook Rd 40.48 km NE 27° 33 min
Koolyanobbing Southern Cross Rd & Lake Seabrook Rd to Edge of Lake Seabrook 23.61 km SE 115° 20 min
Edge of Lake Seabrook to Koolyanobbing Southern Cross Rd & Lake Seabrook Rd 23.61 km NW 295° 20 min
Koolyanobbing Southern Cross Rd & Lake Seabrook Rd to Koolyanobbing 13.6 km N 10° 12 min
Koolyanobbing to Bungalbin Hill 54.29 km N 12° 58 min
Bungalbin Hill to Ridge near Bungalbin Hill 5.81 km N 338° 11 min
Ridge near Bungalbin Hill to Helena and Aurora Ranges 11.64 km E 82° 27 min
Helena and Aurora Ranges to Kurrajong Rockhole 36.22 km NE 41° 1 hr 14 min
Kurrajong Rockhole to Mount Manning Range Views 41.3 km NW 308° 1 hr 12 min
Mount Manning Range Views to Bullfinch Evanston Rd & Track to Mount Manning Range 27.05 km W 287° 36 min
Bullfinch Evanston Rd & Track to Mount Manning Range to Bullfinch Evanston Rd & Lake Barlee Youanmi Rd 35.2 km N 19° 32 min
Bullfinch Evanston Rd & Lake Barlee Youanmi Rd to Rainy Rocks 9.53 km NE 67° 8 min
Rainy Rocks to Elvire Rock 22.1 km N 10° 20 min
Elvire Rock to Mount Elvire 24.66 km N 360° 28 min
Mount Elvire to Near Mt Elvire (on the track) 14.09 km N 16° 27 min
Near Mt Elvire (on the track) to Mount Elvire 14.09 km S 196° 27 min
Mount Elvire to Elvire Rock 24.66 km S 180° 28 min
Elvire Rock to Rainy Rocks 22.1 km S 190° 20 min
Rainy Rocks to Bullfinch Evanston Rd & Lake Barlee Youanmi Rd 9.53 km SW 247° 8 min
Bullfinch Evanston Rd & Lake Barlee Youanmi Rd to Bullfinch Evanston Rd & Track to Mount Manning Range 35.2 km S 199° 32 min
Bullfinch Evanston Rd & Track to Mount Manning Range to Lake Deborah East Causeway 90.04 km S 190° 1 hr 8 min
Lake Deborah East Causeway to Bullfinch 43.07 km S 201° 34 min
Southern Cross to Bullfinch 621.87 km     11 hr 19 min
Distance is GPS recorded driving distance (not straight line), Direction is straight line from start to end, Time is calculated from actual GPS driving data.


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