Western Australia Trip 2012 – Part 5 : Neale Junction to Laverton

Sunday, Dec 09, 2012 at 14:19


Next morning we decided to move on towards Laverton, leaving our new-found friends to wait for Noel’s shock absorbers to arrive. They might be sent out that day via a grader mechanic who had to come out to do some work on the graders.

But before setting out we had a final short walk up to the actual junction of the Connie Sue and Anne Beadell “highways”. While viewing the visitor book and Len Beadell plaque a single vehicle arrived from the south so of course we had a chat, about road conditions, weather, vehicles and all the other travellers topics. Then a quick look at some of the flowers around and it was time to wander back to camp.

Then, after farewells we set off, heading west along the Anne Beadell. Freshly graded it was a treat to drive. On starting, our GPS was reluctant to start so after a few km we stopped, whereupon it started quite normally. Although we were not going off the main track we have become so used to OziExplorer showing us exactly where we are that we feel a bit lost if it is not running.

The road continued in excellent condition, and the only thing we had to watch out for were occasional trees and shrubs that had been side swiped by the grader and had subsequently fallen onto the road. The country was quite thickly vegetated with plenty of the red and cream flowering mallee and some pink flowering hakeas. There were occasional burnt patches too, reminding us of the endless red sand underneath the sometimes-green blanket of vegetation.

We made good time, although we took care on some winding sections with tight corners and little forward vision. We found a spot to get off the road for lunch, so that we would miss being covered with dust if any vehicle did happen to come by. As it happened we only saw one other vehicle that day. There was plenty of firewood about so we collected enough for our next campfire even though we were well short of where we would stop for the night.

As we approached the Yeo Conservation Reserve there were some flat topped hills and long lines of breakaways to add interest to the landscape. We took a short drive in on a side road to have a closer look at these hills.

The Yeo Homestead when we found it close by the main track turned out to be a very small and basic two roomed building of corrugated iron, with a big verandah and a tank for drinking water. What a tough and isolated life it must have been for the people who tried to make a living out here in this dry desert. The cottage/homestead had a fireplace made of corrugated iron and some corrugated iron out-buildings, wire mesh enclosures for chooks or other animals that had to be protected from dingos, and a bore. And, best of all a shower enclosure and a long drop both made out of old metal tanks. We set up for the night close to the main cottage hoping that it would give us some protection from the constant wind. A picnic table and fire-ring completed the list of amenities. Soon we had a fire going and we had pumped up some water, keeping a look out for the snake that lives down the well – as warned by the signs on the cover. Then with hot water we sampled this unique outback ablution experience – and found it very agreeable in a cleansing sort of way.

Refreshed we had a short walk around the area. Several tracks lead away from the cottage but we only explored on foot for a short distance. The area is well-used by campers, so the ground is bare and firewood in this mulga and saltbush area is scarce – we were glad we had brought a good supply. Regretably though there was a bit of rubbish scattered around in places where unthinking travelers had discarded stuff. We gathered up the worst of it and burned what we could – the rest we carried out with us.

There was no-one else about, though not long after we arrived a vehicle carrying large tyres went by with a cheery wave. We assumed it was the grader mechanic and wondered whether he had shocks for Noel – and whether they would fit. (We subsequently learned that they didn’t fit and that getting some that did turned into quite a saga involving a return trip to Laverton and another lengthy wait there until the right type arrived and were fitted.)

We cooked our dinner over a small fire and then, just as we were about to turn in for the night we saw a dingo hanging around just at the edge of the firelight. He seemed to be growling and keeping a close eye on us. We made very sure that all our shoes and gear was safely stowed away before we went to bed.

The night was rather cool so we were glad of another fire the next morning, even if it meant pumping more water so that we could put it out properly. The wind was still brisk so we didn’t want to risk stray sparks.

Back on the road we continued to make good progress with frequent photo stops. We passed big break-aways, and saw a few flowers. A drilling rig in this remote area signalled that we were entering that highly prospected mineralised zone that covers such a huge area of WA. We passed another abandoned property, the buildings no more than a heap of broken wood and twisted metal, and a few cattle clustered around a bore.

The road continued on in good condition running west past Whitecliffs through seemingly endless tracts of mulga. Slowly though the country changed, a few fences and bores appeared, and numerous signs warning of 1080 baiting. We were entering rangelands country where cattle spread out over vast areas to graze. In a recently burnt area we stopped to admire a carpet of wildflowers and on a shaly ridge we found some eremophilas that were new to us.

We arrived at Laverton in the early afternoon and booked into the caravan park where we had a patch of green damp grass to enjoy. The facilities there are basic but clean and there is a big camp kitchen and communal area. The park, like many in the mining areas is used by FIFO mine workers, but there were also a few tourists about. We chatted to a couple of men from Victoria who came here regularly to prospect for gold. They had a small quantity that they showed us, but said that prospecting was getting harder as many of the areas that they used to explore were now off-limits in mining leases or had mines or roads built over them.

As we drove into town we noticed a wreckers yard with a couple of Troopies partially dismantled. One of our rear doors was sagging and letting in dust, as the hinges were badly worn. So while Val tackled the washing John visited the wreckers and was able to get “new” hinges for later installation. We also took advantage of a Telstra signal to catch up with emails and internet. And while we were checking out the camp kitchen one of the permanent residents in the park was cooking up a big batch of chutney – it smelled delicious and he insisted on giving us a jar of it, a friendly gesture and an opportunity for us to learn a bit more about the local area.
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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