The WA Now and ThenTtravel Blog

 

PLEASE HELP TO SUPPORT THIS WEBSITE
Join us on Patreon.
Visit our You Tube Video Page.
Buy one of our PDF books.
Let others know where to find us via social media or
Make a small donation via PayPal

Northern Wheatbelt

Since our last trip was interrupted by problems with the Coaster and we had to divert from our planned trip, we decided to get on with it and try again to reach the towns in the central and north eastern wheatbelt.

Less than a week after we got home we were back on the road and getting ourselves out of the suburbs as fast as we could. Of course the weather was grey, rainy and miserable again but that is no surprise when we decide to go away.

As with our last trip, the first section was through Jarrahdale. We refuelled again at Wandering, shot through Pingelly and finally we were back on track (sort of) to complete the interrupted trip.

The first stop was at Yealering which has certainly suffered since our last visit.

 

Yealering
Yealering

 

The area by the lake is still very nice but the town seems to be in decline and now even the general store is all closed down.

It is very sad to see these small towns starting to lose so many services but there seem to be quite a few people still living in the town.

One of the saddest sights of all are the lovely old bush pubs that now are either closed for good or only open a few days a week. As their income declines, maintenance begins to suffer and these grand old buildings, that were once the pulse of the communities, are starting to fade away. Thankfully this particular hotel was looking pretty good.

 

Yealering
Yealering

 

After lunch at the lake and a wander around town, we moved on to Bullaring. This is really little more than a service centre for the huge wheat silo. There wasn't a great deal to see so after taking a few pictures we moved on to Corrigin.

Corrigin is a reasonable sized town and is much more up-beat and lively that poor old Yealering.

On the way into town we passed the dog cemetery and stopped to have a look. The cemetery was established in 1974 and is now the resting place for over 80 much loved dogs. Touching tributes are inscribed on the headstones that are made and maintained by a resident of the town.

 

Corrigin Dog Cemetery
Corrigin Dog Cemetery

 

Attractions in Corrigin include an extensive pioneer museum and a number of interesting heritage buildings with the most impressive being the town hall.

The overnight stop for the day was at Gorge Rock. We were sad to find that the old hall had been demolished but at least we did get a couple of photos when we first visited.

The area is now a good rest area with shelters, seats, tables and even a water tank.

 

Gorge Rock
Gorge Rock

 

The rock is a good place to walk and look out over the surrounding countryside. The old dam wall is still intact and the pool on the rock is still there but swimming isn't allowed.

These rocks were an important source of water and recreation in the early days and before European settlement were sites of great importance to the Aborigines.

After a cold wet night we took our time getting moving but the sun finally came out and made the day much more cheerful.

The first stop was Kondinin that is an interesting town but also seems to be one that is starting to lose some of its services. At least there was an IGA but most other shops either have closed or only open one day a week.

 

Kondinin
Kondinin

 

We had a look at the nearby Kondidin Lake and found a useful campsite that used to be an old boat launching area. It would make a good overnight stop and has full phone reception but we still had more on our list to do so we moved on.

Kulin was the next town and it was quite a surprise. The first thing that stands out is the huge water slide - apparently the biggest in regional Australia. Quite a sight in such a small town.

 

Kulin
Kulin

 

There is a 72 hour free rest area in town for self-contained motorhomes and caravans.

Kulin is the type of town that we love to visit. A real effort has been made to make it a nice place with good facilities. Even the caravan park allows people to pay what they think it is worth. Wow isn't that a change ?!

There was a WAFL football match being played in town so there were quite a few people over at the oval but being a Saturday afternoon the rest of town was pretty quiet.

The local museum would be interesting to wander through but as the footy was on, we decided not to ring the listed numbers as we were pretty sure all the volunteers would be at the match and we didn't want to disturb them....

We had planned to overnight at Jilakin Rock but that turned out to be a NO CAMPING site. The rock may be interesting in places we didn't get to see but as soon as we got out of the Coaster we were attacked by swarms of mozzies so we went back inside and fled.

We were travelling along the Tin Horse Highway - so named because of the original tin horse 'sculptures' that line the roadside. Most are made from 44 gallon drums and assorted bits of metal. Some are very entertaining and make the drive much more interesting.

 

Tin Horse Highway - Kulin
Tin Horse Highway - Kulin

 

We pushed on east and eventually got to Buckley's Breakaways. It was too late to do any photography so we settled in for the night to wait for better light the next day.

We woke to a cold morning but as soon as the sun came up things warmed up. I must be getting more like a reptile in my old age as I need warmth to get me moving in the morning.

A walk trail (of sorts) leads down into the breakaway formation and the morning light was perfect for some nice still shots.

 

Buckleys Breakaway
Buckleys Breakaway

 

We took the unsealed road north to the Hyden - Kondinin road and had a look around Hyden. It was Sunday so everything was closed. Next we drove out 16km out to Mulka's Cave. The cave is interesting more for the legend attached to it and for the rock art inside. The cave itself isn't exactly impressive. Near the cave is a rock formation known as The Humps. We had a quick look but didn't follow the walk trail up the rocks.

 

Mulkas Cave
Mulka's Cave

 

Then is was back towards Hyden before turning off to Wave Rock. We booked in for a night at the caravan park where a powered site costs $38 or $30 for un-powered. We didn't need power so went for the cheaper option and were pleased to find that the caravan park fee includes the $10 entry fee to Wave Rock.

The following day was nice weather and perfect for us to take the Phantom up on to the rock and get some decent footage from the air. The sun was out almost all day, what a nice change that made.

 

A different view of Wave Rock
A different view of Wave Rock

 

The caravan park has FREE wifi at the under-cover area but even though we were down by the fence we still got signal in the Coaster so that was an added bonus.

Before leaving Hyden we had a look at Hippo's Yawn (a rock formation that resembles the name) and also stopped to look at the toy soldiers collection that turned out to be very interesting.

 

Hippos Yawn
Hippo's Yawn

 

The exhibit includes much more than just toy soldiers and really is worth the $5 entry fee.

We followed the road back to Kondinin and had a look at Yeerakine Rock and also the cemetery. For some reason I had marked the cemetery on our map as a place to visit but having arrived I was at a loss to remember why I had marked it. Even after checking Google Earth when we got home I was unable to come up with a reason.

We were thinking about stopping for the night at Kondinin Lake but to be honest it wasn't that appealing so we decided to push on towards Narembeen.

Along the way we found a great little abandoned farmhouse and stopped to take some pictures. For those who may not know, we run a Facebook page called Abandoned Western Australia and we are always on the look out for abandoned buildings.

 

Ruined farmhouse
Ruined farmhouse

 

The final stop for the day was Roe Lookout west of Narembeen. There isn't much room to park but we squeezed in on a patch of ground on top of the hill.

I have now been to Forrest Lookout where John Forrest stood and now Roe Lookout where John Septimus Roe stood in October 1836. Some maps don't mention the lookout but it is located on top of Emu Hill.

It was misty morning on top of Emu Hill and a bit of a late start. Narembeen was only a few kilometres away and turned out to be an interesting town with a few old heritage buildings.

 

Roe Lookout on Emu Hill
Roe Lookout on Emu Hill

 

There are quite a few places to see east of Narembeen but we are leaving those for another trip.

Less than 40km away was Bruce Rock. I have always imagined this town to be quite small but in fact it is a reasonable size and even has a local butcher. We had been keeping our eyes peeled for a butcher so we could pick up some nice BBQ steak so we didn't let the opportunity slip by.

 

Bruce Rock
Bruce Rock - Shire building

 

We went out to have a look at the rock that gave the town its name. The picnic area is a bit run down and lacks facilities but there are some old historic wells and the chance to have a walk up the rock.

The next stop was Shackleton whose main claim to fame is the smallest bank in Australia. It is currently operated by BankWest and opens on Fridays.

 

Shackleton
Shackleton

 

This was also a good toilet stop and if you are looking to pick up some supplies there is even a local store. Unfortunately just across the road from the toilets is a rather aggressive dog that jumped the fence and came after us. The owner (if not the dog) deserves a good kick up the bum!

Not far west we came to Kwolyin. We didn't know quite what to expect as the only building still standing from the old town is the Catholic church. Then we found the new camp ground that according to other campers is only about 2 years old. The good news is that it is FREE, has a good camp kitchen, BBQs, flushing toilets, drinking water and seats, tables and shelters.

Even better, it has nice big sites so that all sizes of vehicle can fit in. There are none of the silly posts that hamper movement in other camp grounds.

 

Kwolyin
Kwolyin free campsite

 

This was an unexpected find and we were happy to stay the night.

The first stop for the following day was only 9km up the road at Kokerbin Rock. This rock is reputed to be the third biggest monolith in Australia.

It certainly is impressive and we took time to have a look at the breaking wave feature, not as large as Wave Rock but certainly an interesting structure and we walked round to what are called the Devil's Marbles. Not quite as good as the rocks with the same name in the Northern Territory but worth the walk anyway.

Camping is no longer 'encouraged' at Kokerbin as the new campsite is just down the road. There is a scenic drive around the rock and a stop off at the historic wells site. Most people will probably only see two wells but there is a third hidden away in the grass.

From what we could see, someone had killed and eaten a wallaby near the picnic area. As there are endangered black flanked wallabies inhabiting the rock, I have to hope it was not the remains of one of those we saw.

 

Kokerbin Rock
Kokerbin Rock

 

We weren't sure of the state of the gravel road heading to our next destination and back-tracked to Kwolyin and then took the sealed roads. Along the way we found Pantapin which is nothing more than an old hall, former shop and residence. It was a good find for us as we didn't even know it was there.

We drove on to Mount Stirling (another big rock) where there is a small rest area. It is a possible overnight stop but we wanted to push on to Kellerberrin.

 

Mount Stirling
Mount Stirling rest area

 

We had been to this town on our Goldfields expedition a couple of years ago but still stopped long enough to update a few photos.

When it came time to find the local re-fuelling station we were rather surprised to find nothing along the main street and nothing along the nearby streets. Eventually we found a 24 hour fuel stop in the light industrial area in the north east section of town, almost out of town in fact.

The facility was still being installed but thankfully fuel was available.

We had a quick look at an old house at Hines Hill and continued along the Great Eastern Highway until we found a good rest area where we could get back from the road. The only problem was that the rest area is sandwiched between the road and the railway so the further we got from the road the closer we got to the railway - and yes it does run late at night.

 

Rest area east of Hines Hill
Rest area east of Hines Hill

 

Took the opportunity to have a BBQ with the steaks we bought in Bruce Rock and as we had phone signal we hopped on to the internet only to find that something was downloading like crazy and we lost 1gb of our bandwidth before we knew what was happening. This wasn't the first time this had happened.

These wifi systems are about the biggest con I have ever come across. Telstra deny all knowledge of any downloads but our computer is set so that the operating system should not download updates when we are using metered connections. Somewhere along the line we are being screwed and I am very fed up with it.

As I have a background in computing, problems aren't something I just leave alone. Eventually I found a free program that allowed me to monitor exactly what connections were using the bandwidth and surprise, surprise, it was TELSTRA that was stealing our bandwidth while charging us for using their wifi service. I am very keen to hear from anyone else who uses Telstra wifi while on the road and has had similar unexplained use of their service.

After a night of interrupted sleep - thanks to the road trains and real trains, we moved on to Merredin (again we had visited a couple of years back) and updated some photos.

 

Merredin
Merredin

 

Then it was north away from the noisy highway and along to Nungarin.

At first look it didn't look like there was that much to see in town but we saw a sign pointing to the local military museum so we had to have a look.

It turned out to be the best decision of the week as we found an excellent collection of WWII military vehicles, artefacts and farm machinery. Entry is only $5 a head and the whole collection is housed in a large 'saw tooth' workshop that was constructed during WWII. The original complex was vast and cost around 10,000 pounds to build.

 

Nungarin museum
Nungarin museum

 

Unfortunately I found that the gimbal for our video camera had died (Not even 12 months old and with a cost of over $300!) so we got no video footage of the museum. Now I will have to hand hold using our old video camera for the rest of the trip and this just doesn't produce good results.

The next town was Kununoppin and the one after that Trayning. I can't say a lot about either town as they are both quite small and seem to be in decline, especially Kununoppin.

There was a hell of a racket (extra loud music) going on at what looked like a workshop behind the pub at Trayning so we had no intention of sticking around.

 

Trayning
Trayning

 

We back-tracked to the Mukinbudin turn off and went north looking for a campsite for the night.

We found what we were looking for at Yarragin Rock where there is a parking area big enough for us to turn around and a couple of seats. We don't need much more than a level parking spot so it was good enough for us.

 

Yarragin Rock
Yarragin Rock

 

After a nice quiet night we made our way out to Billycatting Hill. From the pictures I have seen of this place, it is really at its best in spring when the wildflowers are out. On this trip it was pretty much 'just another rock' in a long procession of rocks we have seen.

There were lots of wooden posts with hardly any room to park large vehicles, obviously nobody EVER visits these places in a bus or with a caravan on the back (please note the sarcasm in that comment).

Click, click, click went the camera and we were on our way again.

 

Billycatting Hill
Billycatting Hill

 

Mukinbudin was the designated town for the day and it turned out to be a very nice little town. We had no inkling at that stage that we were going to be back in town sooner than we thought.

There are good places to park, clean modern toilets and even a water tap located where people can easily refill their drinking water tanks.

We found a great little bookshop in town that uses the money it makes to support the Royal Flying Doctor Service. We picked up a few books and also visited the well stocked IGA to buy a few items that were starting to run low.

 

Mukinbudin
Mukinbudin Railway Station

 

The BP garage is in the main street and 24 hour fuel is available across the railway line.

Off we went towards Bonnie Rock and our campsite for the night.

We were about 35km out of Mukinbudin when there was a nasty BANG! Followed immediately by other very nasty grinding sounds.

Initial checks of the Coaster found nothing wrong but as soon as I checked the trailer I found the problem - a wheel had fallen off! We are getting quite good at losing wheels, first the Prado and now the trailer.

I had to go back along the road to find it and it turned out to be a waste of time, the wheel was very badly damaged with the centre almost torn out. The rim was battered and bent and the wheel hub was pretty much destroyed.

Ring, ring, 'Hello RAC Roadside Assistance.....' Yup it was RAC time again as there was no way we could get the trailer mobile again.

Up rolls the tilt tray, on goes the trailer and off to Mukinbudin we go again.....

 

Trailer trouble
Trailer trouble

 

Of course being a Friday, and late in the day, there is just no way this is going to be sorted out quickly.

We went into the local caravan park and booked a powered site ($25 per night) but could have booked un-powered for just $12 a night.

The caravan park is very good. Facilities are excellent and include one of the best camp kitchens we have ever seen, BBQs, Tables, seats and shelters and nice clean modern toilets and showers. There is also a laundry and washes are $2 dryers are $3 for a dryer load.

Not a great deal to do so we spent most of the day on the internet. Thankfully the caravan park has wifi available at $5 per 24 hours so at least we could get connected again and update some information.

 

Best camp kitchen
The best camp kitchen we have ever seen

 

It was very cold night and we discovered that the reverse cycle in the Coaster isn't that great at heating. Later we worked out that by closing three of the 4 vents and allowing the warm air to be pushed along the roof towards the front of the Coaster, the heating system worked much better. Of course this wasn't until three nights of shivering later....

Now it was just waiting waiting waiting...... At least it was nice sunny weather that allowed us to explore all that 'Mukka' has to offer.

Thankfully the parts arrived quickly but initially we didn't have a spare wheel available. As concerning as this was we decided to move on anyway and hope that we had used up our allocation of bad luck for this trip.

By Wednesday we were back on the road but $860+ poorer.... ouch! At least we now had a new axle and hubs on the trailer.

Since we are now well behind schedule we have had to cut Beacon and a few other places off our list. Seems we just can't get up to Beacon, every time we try, we break down.

Oh well, maybe it will be third time lucky.

Without a spare tyre on the trailer we decided not to range too far off the route home. Even so we did drop in to Bencubbin, Gabbin, Koorda and Wyalkatchem.

 

Bencubbin
Bencubbin's Store in a Hall

 

We camped for the night at Minnivale which is 5km off the main road between Koorda and Dowerin.

Minnivale is great, it has flushing toilets and a cold shower, drinking water and a dump point.

Since we were stopped we gave the bolts on the trailer the 'once over' to make sure everything was still nice and tight.

 

Minnivale
Minnivale

 

The following day we dropped in at Dowerin and managed to pick up a new rim and tyre for the trailer ($75 and $115). That makes over $3150 over the past 3 trips to just keep ourselves on the road!

As time was now limited we were out of 'expolring mode' and were just going through the motions. A stop at Goomalling was the last real attempt to get any photos. There is a good caravan park in town and enough interesting buildings to make stopping worth-while but we had already spent quite a bit of time in this town in years past, so after a quick look around and a visit to the local op-shop, we kept going.

 

Goomalling
Goomalling

 

A refuelling stop at Northam was followed by lunch at York, where the RV stop looked more like a long caravan park.

We have been to York more times than we can count and already have quite a good collection of photos of the town.

The town is an easy day trip from the suburbs of Perth and there are many beautiful old buildings and attractions that bring people to the area.

 

York RV rest area
York RV rest area

 

The last campsite for the trip was Gwambygine about 20km south of town. There really aren't that many good spots to stay overnight here for caravans and bigger rigs but we found one down near the river that was suitable.

If people can manage to fit in it is a handy spot as there are shelters, tables, chairs, BBQs, toilets and even drinking water.

When we woke on the last morning of the trip there was a heavy mist shrouding the land. We had intended to go back to Perth via the Brookton Highway but when we got to the end of Westdale Road, we found that the highway had been CLOSED due to fog mixed with smoke from a DPaW burn-off.

We turned around and after a few kilometres took the York-Williams Road south. Yet again we were destined to pass through Wandering, that made four times in two trips and only two visits was actually planned!

 

Gwambygine
Avon River at Gwambygine

 

The trip was at least partially successful as we got to most of the towns we wanted to see. Bonnie Rock and Beacon and a couple of others are still eluding us but from what we did see on this trip, these areas warrant much more in-depth exploration so we will get there eventually.

Unfortunately the breakdowns and problems that we have had over the past three trips mean that we have had to spend far more that we had budgeted for. Add to that almost $3000 for the new generator and we are going to be struggling to find enough money for the planned trip to Broome in June-July. Any donations to help us with our continuing research trips are, as always, greatly appreciated.

Our Adsense revenue (from adverts on this site and never that much in any case) has plummeted in the last few months and we are getting about a third of what we were getting last year. That means even more money has to come out of our own pockets and that particular well is starting to run a bit dry so any support we can get from our readers, no matter how small, makes a big difference to the trips we can plan.

 

Updated May 2016

Go to the next blog installment Go to the next blog installment

 

 

PLACES TO SEE
in travel order

 

Jarrahdale
Wandering
Pingelly
Yealering
Corrigin
Kondinin
Kulin
Hyden
Narembeen
Bruce Rock
Kellerberrin
Merredin
Nungarin
Kununoppin
Mukinbudin
Beacon
Bencubbin
Koorda
Wyalkatchem
Minnivale
Dowerin
Goomalling
Northam
York

 

MORE PICTURES

 

Drive-in at Koorda

Red tailed black cockatoos

Bencubbin

Gwambygine

Toy soldier collection - Hyden

Kokerbin Rock

 

 

 

 

Become a supporter of this website for just $5 a month

 

 

Go to the Home Page Go to the Help Page Go to the Help Page

Western Australia Now and Then website - Copyright (c) 2019 - Marc Glasby. All rights reserved.