Sept 2010 - Mount Elvire,Lake Ballard, Burra Rock, Cave Hill, Peak Charles

Friday, Oct 01, 2010 at 11:22

Navigator 1 (NSW)

A Loop from Perth - Mt Elvire/Lake Ballard/South Coast
Day 1 Wednesday, 8th September
We got on the road late in the day and after only a short distance made camp approx 14km south of Toodjay, in a picnic area, on the old road. S31.61362 E116.42357
Day 2 Thursday, 9th September
After breakfast at the newly refurbished picnic area, by the Avon River, we took in the view of West Toodjay from the James Drummond Memorial Gardens Lookout. At present the river is very low and only several weeks ago it played host to the annual Avon Descent. The contest proved to be a great challenge to all who entered.
Our path today took us through the wheat belt area of Goomaling, Yelbeni, Dowerin (Tin Dog Country) Nungarin, Mukinbudin, Bullfinch and then north on the Mt Jackson Road to our campsite on the south bank of Lake Deborah West, S30.82076 E118.97763. The lake was dry, but it showed evidence that the boys do come out to play on the salt pan in their cars, bikes and quad bikes. It brought back memories of a friend who got bogged on such a clay pan in the Simpson Desert.
Day 3 Friday, 10th September
The whole area we were passing through, and that which we will be travelling through for the next few days, was within the vast lakes district. Rain closes these roads very quickly but fortunately the very wet area through the Hammersely Lakes was passable, with extreme care.
Scones and tea were not offered when we called into the Mount Jackson homestead, as the owners had abandoned the property many years ago. We took time to look at the ruins and old Fiat 50 bulldozer. S30.20213 E119.11138
Further to the north, on a huge north facing Penninsula in Lake Barlee, was our destination for the day – Mt Elvire Station. S29.36326 E119.59802. Since it was seized in 1991, it has been owned by DEC, Department of Environment and Conservation. The homestead is available for camping and to our delight Jennifer McLaughlin, owner from 1973-1977, was there for a visit with her family. She and her husband, Jim (deceased) ran 3,500 sheep on the property. Jennifer’s hospitality was wonderful and over a cup of tea she told us many stories of life in such a harsh environment. She then pointed us in the direction of Top Mill, a good area where we could camp for the evening. At Top Mill there were several wells and but only the bases of the windmills. The sheep yards still stand and show how local resources had to be used for their construction. Within 100m of the yards was a gnamma hole – a natural water source. You can read an article in the Exploroz Forum on Mount Elvire Station.

Day 4 Saturday, 11th September
We called into the homestead to say goodbye then went over to the nearby Breakaways. The colours were beautiful! Being only a short walk from the house, Jennifer said she would often walk over just to admire the rocks.
Along the Evanston/Menzies Road we took the 200m detour to Johnson Rocks, S29.80329 E119.82407. Here, many years ago, a well had been dug at the base of the rocks to serve as a watering point for the horses in the days of the Cobb & Co Coaches.
Finally we made it to our most sought after destination, Lake Ballard, S29.44882 E120.60504, an area deemed nationally significant as an ecosystem to be protected.Lake Ballard is also the setting for the inspiring artwork, 'Inside Australia' commissioned to mark the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of the Perth International Arts Festival in 2003. This Installation by acclaimed British artist, Anthony Gormley, comprises 51 figures spread out over a 10sq km area on the lake. Our late afternoon stroll around part of the lake was an excellent time to get a few shots of the statues. We found it quite picturesque with the orange sand, green vegetation, blue sky, white salt and the fascinating statues. The lake itself is a pleasant site with a small hill right in the foreground and hills in the background. We sat down to dinner by the light of our small candle and the atmosphere could only have been improved had the statues on the lake been lit up.
Day 5 Saturday, 12th September
We took an early morning walk to the top of the small hill in the lake. This was a great vantage point to study the footprints that led from one statue to the other. From here we could also look further out onto the lake where there was still plenty of water. Less than 20km further east along the Evanston/Menzies Road we turned south onto the Golden Discovery Trail, past the ruins of Davyhurst, to Rowles Lagoon, 70km north of Coolgardie, in the proposed Credo Conservation Park. S30.42698 E120.86370. It is believed Credo was named by a Benedictine monk from New Norcia. Credo is a latin verb meaning, ‘I believe’ or ‘I trust’. The proposed Credo reserve is a former pastoral lease that was established in 1906-07 by the Halford family where it first carried sheep. The family sold the lease in the mid 1980’s to the Funstons who in turn sold it to the Government in 2007. Credo was purchased by the Government as it is a representative conservation area and an important water catchment area for Rowles Lagoon.
Rowles Lagoon is the largest, semi permanent freshwater lake in the Coolgardie bioregion and although over 40 species of water birds can be found here, the lagoon is gazetted as a water ski and camping area. The last major rain that filled the lagoon was a Cyclone in 2000. Water levels are currently below that necessary for waterskiing. Note the sign, ‘Skiing Prohibited’. I wonder why! The old boiler in the lagoon was once used to pump water to the Carbine Mine.
The wind was strong and it was freezing! After a quick look around we were inside our snug motorhome.
Day 6 Monday, 13th September
We continued our journey south along the Golden Discovery Trail to Kununalling and there took a walk around the ruins of the Premier Hotel. S30.67888 E121.06620. Gold was discovered in Kununalling in 1892 and by 1898 it was a flourishing town. The Premier Hotel was a relatively flash 10 bedroom establishment and one of the first in the area to have electricity. In just over two years of successful trading the closure of the Premier Mine, which provided the electricity, dealt the hotel a near fatal blow. Between 1922-1926 when the Kelly’s took over, the hotel would have been the first to offer counter meals in the bar. ‘Gran’ Kelly also added ice cream to the menu on Sundays. This was well before the advent of the refrigerator. During WW1, 1914-1918, women of the town were called upon to knit socks, pack and send parcels for the ‘Comfort Fund’. The packs contained socks, soap, biscuits and sweets. Two young women put their names in the packs and after the war the men who received these boxes came back to town and married them. Now the hotel ruins are all that remain of this once thriving town.
35km further south and we were in Coolgardie. S30.95357 E121.16600 It owes its existence to the discovery of gold at nearby Fly Flat, 120 miles to the east of Southern Cross, back in 1892. From an historical perspective, the Coolgardie gold find proved to be one of immense national significance. During the 1890’s, Eastern Australia experienced a severe depression and people flocked to the areas around Coolgardie in the hope of a better life. However, while some found gold, many only found hardship, sickness and death caused by inadequate housing, lack of fresh water and food, insufficient medical attention and supplies. Despite early hardships, within the short space of ten years, Coolgardie’s population had grown to a staggering 16,000.
By 1896, the railway had arrived and by 1898, Coolgardie was the third largest town in Western Australia (after Perth and Fremantle). Two stock exchanges, three breweries, six newspapers, 60 stores, 26 hotels and many churches were evident during this time. The town was named in 1893 and became a municipality the following year. The Post Office opened in 1895 and the following year electricity and a swimming pool enhanced the hard life of the miners. By 1897, the level of enthusiasm about the potential of the region was such that over 700 mining companies had been floated in London. The water pipeline arrived in 1903 and a year earlier the town had seen the construction of the State Battery.
As the surface gold ran out, many prospectors left the fields disillusioned and penniless. Others headed to Kalgoorlie (East Coolgardie as it was then known) and later worked for mining companies for as little as $6.00 per week.
Coolgardie still continues its long association with the gold industry by more efficient open pit mining and recovery methods. The Coolgardie of today is a pleasant inland town which has retained many aspects of its rich and colourful past. It is always nice to spend a little in these old towns so we settled in for coffee and cake at a newly established cafe before heading south on Burra Rock Road (a dirt track) to Burra Rock Conservation Reserve, 55 kilometres south of Coolgardie. S31.39507 E121.20059
The reserve offers a unique backdrop of several granite rock outcrops which are surrounded by regrowth eucalypt woodland and areas of sand plain. It also has an historic dam and catchment wall that supplied water for steam-driven engines on the narrow-gauge ‘woodline’ railways bringing timber to Kalgoorlie-Boulder from 1921 to 1937. The regrowth woodland around Burra Rock is the result of clear felling from 1922 to 1927 to supply fuel wood for steam-driven engines, industry and structural timber for the gold mining industry.
The ingenuity used to build these walls was incredible. There was no heavy machinery to break the rock – fires were lit in depressions in the rock surface and when it was reduced to coals, water was bucketed over the coals. The change in temperature would split the rock into slabs and these were then fashioned into the right shape and concreted into place. A walk over the rock revealed what an amazing fete this construction was!
The campground was well maintained with modern toilets, fire rings and tables. Like most we had visited, we were the only ones there.

Day 7 Tuesday, 14th September 38km further south, via a very good gravel road, we reached Cave Hill. S31. 66352 E121.23020 ]The 4WD track, just out of last night’s camp, was not an option as it

was very overgrown. The reserve is dominated by a spectacular granite outcrop with a large cave and wave formation on the western side which gives the rock its name. It is one of the largest and highest granite outcrops in the Goldfields Region. We explored the spectacular ancient cave formations, the large ‘wave’ formation and the historic woodline dams. The four dams on the rock were constructed during the woodlines timber cutting era and were used as a water source to supply steam-driven engines on the narrow-gauge woodline railways. The timber was supplied to Kalgoorlie-Boulder by the many camps scattered around the area between 1930 and 1937.
Excellent picnic and camping facilities are provided at several sites around the edge of the rock and once again – no one was there.
With no way through for us we headed east to the Coolgardie/Esperance Road and then 90km south into Norseman. 55km further south we turned off onto a dirt track which led us to Peak Charles National Park, S32.88103 E121.17109. It was an impressive site silloetted by the sinking sun. We arrived in the camping area just on dark.
Day8 Wednesday 15th September
Breakfast was delightful with the backdrop of the sun drenched Peak Charles. We were camped right at its base. The walk to the peak was a very long strenuous one so we just walk up the the 1st ridge. The position provided us with a spectacular view over the woodland plains and salt lakes.
We continued on gravel roads the whole way south to the coast. We spent a lot of time last year on the south coast and the SW corner but our venture south this time was to catch up with friends and to show off our new 4WD motorhome. Tonight we made camp at Starvation Bay, overlooking the beach. It is a very protected bay and prized by the fishermen, unfortunately the fish had gone on holidays. S33.92010 E120.56053.
Day9 Thursday 16th September
The coastal road along to Hopetoun was rough! Corrugations, Corrugations, Corrugations! It certainly wasn’t this bad last year!
Fitzgerald River National Park was closed for roadworks and upgrades so instead of heading NW we had to head NE on the sealed road to Ravensthorpe. Our Super Single Tyres really don’t like these sealed roads!
We reached our destination, Cape Riche, about 1.30pm and met up with Adrian and Malcolm. S34.59734 E118.75002 They were so delighted with seeing our new rig they cracked a bottle of champagne over the bull bar.
This is a council run camping area with caretakers on the premises. Good flush toilets were provided but campers have to settle for cold showers, that is, if you don’t have the hot shower on board!! Although a little run down, the position right on the beach was fantastic. Our hosts set up the camp fire and we sat up till all hours talking and talking.
Day10 Friday 17th September
A two hour walk along the beach and the cliff top was an excellent way to spend the morning. Back at camp I kept my promise and baked an apple cake in the Coleman Oven. The day just disappeared!
Day11 Saturday 18th September
Last year we didn’t get to Betty’s Beach, S34.93770 E118.20858, or Two Peoples Bay so a diversion was in order. The four shacks at Betty’s Beach are apparently available for rent and what a delightful little bay this is. We can see the truck parked here for a few days if we ever return.
We only had 70km to Whale World, about 20km south of Albany. S35.09546 E117.96001 It is located between the Torndirrup National Park and the pristine waters of King George Sound.Whale World is on the site of the once operational Cheynes (pronounced Chains) Beach Whaling Station. The station, which closed on the 21st November, 1978 after 26 years of successful operation, has been transformed into the region’s unique premier heritage tourist attraction. An entry fee of $25 ($20 Concession Pass) includes a well worth while conducted tour. It was the last of Australia’s whaling stations to close down its operations.
Last year we looked at all the attractions in the Torndirrup NP but for some reason decided not to go into Whale World. We now consider this to be a ‘not to be missed’ attraction.
With sunset upon us the wind farm looked spectacular! We made the short trip to Cosy Corner for the evening. S35.06486 E117.64320

Day12 Sunday 19th September
We couldn’t leave the area without returning to Shelly Beach in West Cape Howe National Park. It was our intention to camp here last night but with light against us (we’re scared of the dark), we didn’t make it. It was as we recalled, just beautiful! We were right on the beach in a protected little bay. We stopped for our morning coffee and then took a stroll along the beach. It was just perfect so we decided to set up camp ie take out the chairs. There is nothing much else to do these days unless we want to put out the awning. What a perfect day and evening!
Day13 Monday 20th September
West of Denmark we past the turn off to Greens Pool & Elephant Rocks then came across a sign ‘Toffee Shop’. S34.99192 E117.17632. We drove into the property and were absolutely delighted with the array of jams, sauces, cider and of course the toffee. Everything is made on the premises and what a tasting the boss puts on. An hour later and $50 worth of goodies, we were off. If it helps you find the place, it is just 20km W of Denmark or 4km east of the turn off to Parry’s Beach.
Last year we also missed Peaceful Bay, S35.04001 E116.93290 and Conspicuous Cliffs, S35.03722 E116.84378. At Peaceful Bay we drove out onto the sand and had coffee. The super single tyres
handled the sand well. We are glad we didn’t make a point of staying here last year because the caravan park was the only option for an overnight stop.
At Conspicuous Cliffs the board walk led either onto the beach or up to the lookout. From where we stood at the lookout the beach looked spectacular but the conspicuous cliffs were underneath us – good view from the water but of course, not from where we stood.
At Walpole we turned off the South Western Highway and headed north to Mount Frankland National Park. A good gravel road led us to Beardmore Road where we turned right to Mount Frankland. The car park, amenities and initial track to the summit were being upgraded so we returned back along Beardmore Road and just before we joined up with the South Western Highway we pulled into Fernhook Falls camping area. S34.81728 E116.59245
Day14 Tuesday 21st September
We continued NW to Bunbury and caught up with an ExplorOz friend and then made our way out to Leschenault Conservation Reserve for the night. S33.23558 E115.69875 We check out the beach options but decided on Belvidere camping area as we did last year. Not quite the best decision – the sand flies moved in so we moved in – into the motorhome. This certainly does solve the bug problem!
Day15 Wednesday 22nd September
At first light Chicka climbed through into the cabin and moved the truck to the Beach. Here we sat and watched the sun come up behind us. The ocean was covered in mist and it wasn’t until an hour had gone by that we could see the ships anchored out at sea. It was a lovely breakfast!
We had one more night to fill in before we returned to our friend’s home to mind their animals while they took a holiday to the USA. Martin’s Tank was another missed camping spot last year so we headed off to Preston’s Beach for lunch before making camp. It was a nice bush camping area but we wanted water views. On our way out to the highway we came across a picnic area turn off. It was a perfect spot to camp on the shores of Lake Hayward. S32.89102 E115.69161 It was quite warm so during the afternoon we took our chairs out onto the lake (it is very shallow) and sunbaked.
Day16 Thursday 23rd September
After a delicious seafood lunch at Cicerello’s, Mandurah, we made our way ‘home’.
Total distance travelled ..... 2585km
The outback calls
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