The day before had been bright sunshine and blue skies but the following day was all grey skies, wind and rain. That obviously meant that it was time for us to hit the road again.
We had been waiting over 2 months for the Coaster to have the engine re-built and assorted other problems sorted out and before we knew it we were $12,433.00 poorer after the disastrous
trip to the north. Finally we were able to get out and see if anything remained of what was said to be the best wildflower season in the past 18 years.
Our initial target was Leseur National Park and the new wildflower drive. The weather, as usual, was being uncooperative but there was no pint in waiting
for it to clear so the first day took us to Olviver's Bridge at Cataby.
Oliver's bridge - Cataby
This is a site not known to many people so we had the place to ourselves. There are no facilities and it isn't suitable for big rigs or big vans but most other rigs will fit easily.
The wildflowers were good as there was quite a large variety and the birdlife is prolific. Dorothy even managed to get a few good photos of a tawny frogmouth. Anyone who knows what these birds
look like will know they aren't that easy to spot.
We took a detour west on Bibby Road towards Cervantes to re-check all the reserves in this area. The first is Drummonds which is partially wooded and has some shade.
Next is Hakea that is located on top of a hill is is very exposed to the wind. There are three shelters (of a sort) at Hakea but it isn't the best spot to overnight.
Drummonds Reserve - Bibby Road
Next comes Banksia on the Cervantes Road and further along on the north side of the road is Tuarts where there are a lot of trees and it is nice and secluded. There is also a toilet at Tuarts but
it isn't the best we have ever seen.
All these sites used to be signposted as NO CAMING but now all the signs are gone to overnighting here seems as though it is ok.
Back east along Cervantes Road we turned north (left) towards Jurien Road. The turn off to Leseur National Park is a little to the west (left) along Jurien Road. The road leading to the
park is unsealed and there are a few corrugations but generally the road was good.
Leseur National Park
Surprisingly the Leseur wildflower drive is all sealed (and is a one-way loop). There are small pull-ins along the road that enable visitors to stop and see the flowers and there are three large
car parks and toilets are available in the park.
Sadly the weather was still awful so we didn't get to experience the drive at its best but it was still worth doing as the road winds (and is does wind a lot) through various different floral
areas and there is a large variety of flower species to see.
The park has some good walks as well but due to the weather we didn't get much of a chance to see them.
We returned to Jurien Road and headed east (left) to Wandoo Reserve where we spent the night. There are seats and tables here but no other facilities.
We passed another un-named reserve on Jurien Road before reaching Brand Highway and turning south (right) and then across the road we stopped at Coomallo Creek Rest Area.
There are toilets, seats, tables and bins here.
Coomallo Creek Rest Area
There is also a walk trail that leads away from the rest area up a slight incline where there were a lot of different flowers. There are also some zamia palms which is something I have
not seen before.
Zamia palms at Coomallo Creek
The next stop was Badgingarra - a small town that really comes to life during spring. We had a quick look around town, refuelled and then went up
to the lookout to see what flowers we could find there. From there we turned east and found another wildflower walk along North East Road.
The weather was staying doggedly wet and overcast but we still managed to get some good pictures of the different types of wildflowers in the area.
We detoured slightly to have a look at Dandaragan where there is a good little caravan facility but little else and then made our way east to Moora where we topped
up the water tanks.
Being Sunday the town was very quiet so with no reason to linger we pushed on to our overnight stop at Round Hill Hall.
Finally the weather had started to clear and after a quick fuel and grocery stop at Miling we turned east at Pithara and headed out to an area
of the state we have never been through before.
Our destination was Petrudor Rocks that is about 33km east of Pithara.
We had obviously missed the best of the wildflowers here as there were many dried flower heads among the remaining masses of yellow ever-lastings.
There is a toilet and some wood BBQs at this site and lots for room so we decided to spend a couple of nights and catch up with some long overdue cleaning and sorting out of gear
in the trailer.
With the sun out the flies had come out as well and friendly little fellows they were too.
Since we had some time to spare and lots of room we decided to set the full annexe up as we have never done this since we bought the Coaster. It turned out to be a nice easy setup
and it was a welcome sanctuary from the hordes of flies.
Coaster annexe up
The fun part came while packing up the annexe in the evening while being dined on by swarms of mosquitoes.
In the morning we drove east to Kalannie that turned out to be bigger and much more modern than anticipated. Re-fuelled at the 24 hour fuel stop and spent some time in the Community Resource Centre
reading up on local history.
Drove further east to Beacon where there is a dump-point (opposite the local Co-Op) and water available (opposite the caravan park). The water tap is almost
hidden in bushes next to a yellow bin.
It was rather satisfying to finally make it to this little north-eastern wheatbelt town as we had broken down twice before trying to get there.
Picked up some supplies at the local store and headed north to
to camp for the night. This is an authorised campsite and there is a toilet available.
The road to the rock was only partly sealed but the unsealed section was in good condition.
The weather had changed completely and was quite warm. The flies and mosquitoes seemed to be very happy about this and are making their presence felt each time we went outside.
Due to the increasing heat and number of flies we decided to change our plans and head further south to see if we could escape both.
We went back into Beacon after a nice quiet night at Billiburning and then we drove to Bencubbin to update our pictures. We dropped in to the Community Resource Centre
and found a great resource on wildflowers available on CD for just $15. The book is actually produced in Beacon but we didn't see it for sale when we visited the CRC there.
Then we went out 7km to
and also had a look at the historic
Pergandes Sheep yards.
Pergandes sheep yards
The old sheep yards were made from slabs of rock and although it is on private property, visitors are welcome to drive in and look as long as the close the gates after themselves.
There are wood BBQs and seats and tables at the site so it is a good picnic spot. Visitors are asked to leave the site by 6pm.
There are also the remains of an old homestead but not much more than a chimney is still standing.
Marshall Rock is back toward town and is actually two rocks side by side. The campground is between the two rocks and facilities include toilet, seats, tables, BBQs, bins and even water from a tank. A bonus is
good phone signal so it is a very good place to stop overnight (or even a bit longer).
Marshall Rock Campsite
The shires in this area are VERY camping friendly and there are many different sites to choose from. It is a nice change to travel in an area where there are so many good campsites
to choose from.
The weather warmed up to the point where it was getting uncomfortable so we headed to Mukinbudin for a very brief look around (after all we had been stranded
here for several days earlier in the year so there was nothing new to see in town) and then went out to Mangowine Homestead. The name is apparently Aboriginal in origin so (sadly)
has nothing to do with either mangoes or wine.
This is a historic homestead managed by the National Trust and there is a caretaker on site to show people around. The homestead also has a campground and even has powered sites
for caravans at $10 per night.
We were hurrying south so quickly passed through Nungarin and Merredin. One day I will actually arrive in Merredin in the right sort of weather
and in the right frame of mind and will actually explore the town properly.
The last stop for the day was Bruce Rock where we camped for the night at the actual rock - not knowing there was a 72 hour free rest-stop in town for self
contained vehicles. To be honest it was a much prettier setting at the rock.
Over night the weather changed dramatically AGAIN and rain was accompanied by high winds.
Went to have a quick look at Ardath and found a lovely old bush pub and a wheat silo but not much else.
The weather gradually got worse and worse to we decided to head to the campsite at Kwolyin and sit tight until the storms passed.
Spent the day at Kwolyin looking for birds and wildflowers. The weather gradually improved but we had the coldest night of the trip and had to break out the hot-water
Headed west to Quairading where we did all the usual chores (fill water tanks, empty black water, fill fuel) and re-stocked at the local IGA store.
Quairading has a useful day-use area with dump point, water tap, toilets and even showers but the town hasn't yet progressed to allow short term overnight stays.
We finally got to see blue skies again and turned south (after a quick look at the Nookaminnie Reserve a little west of town.) The wildflowers in this area either haven't been that good
this year or they have come and gone much earlier than those further north. Since we came south of the Great Eastern Highway, the number of wildflowers we have seen have dropped
Took a slight detour to see Aldersyde and found a hall and an old church. There are a couple of houses and a grain silo but not much else.
Continued on to Pingelly and had a quick look in the local Op-Shop but didn't find anything interesting.
Passed through Popanyinning and spent the night at Yornaning Dam (between Popanyinning and Cuballing).
At one time the local council was discouraging camping at Yornaning but we didn't see any signs this time so maybe they have had a change of heart.
It is a nice campsite tucked away behind a grain silo. There is an old railway dam that is quite attractive and there are toilets, bins and BBQs. There is also plenty of room for any sized
rig to fit in.
In fact it was such a nice spot that we almost decided to spend an extra night.
Stopped briefly at Cuballing to update our photographs and then pressed on through Narrogin and Williams and finally got to Collie
where we refuelled and did some shopping at Coles.
We arrived at Potter's Gorge not long after lunchtime.
The campsite is being re-developed with only part of it open at the time of writing.
Facilities are quite good but sites aren't great for caravanners and just about every site is not level. I don't know if DPaW have never heard of a spirit level or if they just like
to make life difficult for caravans and motorhomes but their sites are notoriously small and uneven.
There are several camp kitchens with BBQs, seats and tables all under shelter. There is a dump point near the entrance and also large bins for rubbish. Water tanks provide water for washing
but not for drinking. Fees are usual National Park fees, $10 per person per night ($6.60 concession).
When it came time to download the footage for the day I found that some insect had managed to splat itself on the windscreen in just the right spot to ruin all the video and still shots taken by
the GoPro as we drove along.
A lesson learned in cleaning the windscreen thoroughly more than once a day.
We had our second 'rest day' at Potter's Gorge as the weather warmed up to 29C. Warm enough for a few people to have a swim in the dam.
The following day we passed through Harvey and stopped at Stirling's Cottage to take a few updated pictures then went on to Herron Point to see how crowded it was. Thankfully it wasn't too
bad so we decided to stay for 1 night before we had to head home. The fee for camping at Heron Point was $7.50 ($5.50 concession) per person per night.
The toilets at the campsite have been tidied up and had a new paint job. There is also a 'bush kitchen' under a shelter that provides a wood fire, sink with bore water plus table and chairs.
Sitting looking at the sunset my mind wandered back to 1998 when we stayed at Herron Point and to the names of a few of the people we shared the experience with: John Davies the big Welshman
from Esperance who had been a WWII commando. John had lost his wife in a car accident and had started travelling to try and recover. John gave me an Alvey reel
(that I still have today) that I have caught many big fish with. Then there was Neil and Joyce Powell who had developed the Powell orange and were so successful that they were travelling Australia
on the royalties from the sale of orange trees. There was Margo, an older single lady travelling Australia in her motorhome. A couple of long term visitors to Herron Point back then were Les and Vera.
Not a couple, although Vera certainly had ambitions in that direction. Les was a war veteran who had been coming to the point from Northam for many years. There were many others who enjoyed the place that
year, most I suppose are long gone from this world now as it is almost 19 years since that first visit. Later we were to get to know Brian who was caretaker at the campsite for a very long time.
Brian knew I wrote bush ballads and pestered me for a long time to write one about him. It took a while but finally I did and now Brian too has passed on. Following is what I wrote:
Herron Point (The Life of Brian)
There's a place down by the water that everybody knows
A place to sit and just relax so everybody goes
When Spring turns into Summer it's a very busy joint
That's when we know that Brian will return to Herron Point
On the corner of the campground on the left as you drive in
Is a caravan and 4 wheel drive, an annexe and a bin
November through to April is the time you'll know he's there
Making sure that campers treat the place with all due care
You'll see him in the mornings taking Kenny for a trot
If you ask about the crabbing he will always say what's what
He planted trees to give us shade and watered them in drought
And then the Council came along and pulled the whole lot out
He does a job that few would do and gets his share of grief
The stupid things some campers do are just beyond belief
So when you go to Herron point, remember, park east-west
And parking by the windmill isn't really for the best
There may have been a long weekend with yobbos by the score
And Brian's had to deal with them, a none too pleasant chore
So offer him a cuppa when you see him on his rounds
And don't keep him awake all night by making too much sound
I know when I'm done travelling and I've grown old and grey
I'll look back on the days here and wish the time away
Back to a time when crabs came in on every Summer tide
And Brian walked round Herron Point with Kenny at his side
Dedicated to all who have camped there and all who loved the place.
Updated October 2016