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An Unplanned Trip

This has been a bit of a lean year when it comes to travelling. Dorothy's knee replacement and Covid19 coincided with each other so in one way we managed to kill 2 birds with one operation.

We would not have been doing much travelling in any case so if Covid had to happen, for us at least, it happened at the right time.

We did go down to Yallingup for a couple of very quick 2 and three night stays and I may get round to writing that up eventually.

In September we took the camper trailer out on a wildflower trip and on the second day of the trip I fractured a bone in my foot and that combined with dreadful weather and a series of things malfunctioning turned the whole trip into a complete nightmare. See jthe previous post for the details on that particular trip.

That outing convinced me that I am getting too old to be playing around with such a labour intensive way of camping so as soon as we got home, I got the camper trailer ready for sale and to my great surprise, it sold the day after I advertised it.

As we rolled into October an opportunity came up to take the Coaster out for a spin so we grabbed it and got things ready in record time.

That meant that there was next to no pre-planning and apart from heading away from the school holiday crowds in all the popular places, we had no real idea of where we were going to go and what we were going to see.

All we knew was that our first night would be at Oak Park about 20 kilometres north of Goomalling. What would happen after that, we had no idea at all.


Oak Park
Oak Park


We had visited Oak Park years before at the height of summer. It was blindingly hot and crawling with flies. We took a couple of photos and fled back to town with barely a backward glance.

This time we had arrived a bit late for wildflowers but early enough for the weather to be comfortable and while there was still a little water to be seen. There was an abundance of flies but then that is just something to be expected in the bush as soon as the weather starts to warm up a little. It turned out to be quite a nice campsite.

We parked up near where an old school had once stood on a nice flat bit of ground that was partially shaded by sheoak trees (after which the site is named).

There is a shelter with seating and a good long drop toilet at the site as well as a bin. The toilet even has a small tank and as long as the water lasts, there is some available for hand washing is a thoughtfully provided sink.

When we were there the toilet was well maintained and clean.


Oak Park Campsite
Oak Park Campsite


In the evening we had a look through Wikicamps to see where our next destination would be. There was a free overnight rest area in Wongan Hills for self contained RVs and nearby was Lake Ninan, where we had stayed a couple of times before. So with two options available, we decided our next destination would be Wongan Hills.

The next day began with a nice bright sunrise but it wasn't long before clouds gathered on the horizon and by the time we were leaving Oak Park, the rain had arrived. (No big surprise there when it comes to our trips.)

Our plans to head to Lake Ninan were shelved in favour of sitting it out in the RV rest area at Wongan Hills.


Lake Ninan
Lake Ninan


An odd noise from the engine as we accelerated was some cause for concern but we drove around the area a little to see if it got any worse. Since it was the weekend, there was no chance of getting anything checked out until the following week.

We picked up a lovely book on orchids at the local visitor centre, at $60 it wasn't cheap but it is one of the best books on orchids I have seen.

The rest of the day passed rather slowly as we remained in town hoping that the weather would at least clear by the following day.

We woke to a nice bright sun and bone chilling wind. I took the bike for a spin in town and the right hand pedal's thread stripped and the pedal fell out. So much for bringing the bike along.

We then went to have a look at the local op-shop (which is quite good) but didn't find anything of particular interest on this visit.

The next job was to make some deposits at the local dump point and then head out to Gathercole reserve south east of town, that had been recommended as somewhere to check for wildflowers.

There were still some wildflowers about but nothing we hadn't seen before. The walk was very pleasant though and worth doing for anyone visiting the area.


Gathercote Reserve
Gathercote Reserve


From there it was back through town and along the Calingiri road to Lake Ninan.

Like the RV area in town it is for self-contained rigs and has a 48 hour limit.

There are no facilities at the lake besides a shelter and seats and a table. There are no rubbish bins so that needs to be taken away and disposed of properly.

The following day was Sunday so it was a slow start to the day, as we planned to head into town in the afternoon to check out the local museum.

The museum opens on Sundays between 1-4pm so we could take it easy and spend the morning relaxing.

The museum is housed in the old regional hospital building that closed in 1965.

Our volunteer tour guide was Dick, who at 90 years of age is still doing pretty well and has a great knowledge of the area and is full of interesting stories.

Entry to the museum is by donation and this is suggested as $5 per person. It was an excellent museum and well worth taking the time to explore.

If you are in town on any other day but a Sunday, you can contact the visitor centre to see if it is possible to have a private viewing.


Wongan Hills Museum
Wongan Hills Museum


We also went out to have a look at the self-contained RV campsite at The Gap. Compared to Lake Ninan, it was just not worth staying at, so we returned to Ninan for the evening.

The following day we went back into town to pick up some fuel and supplies before turning west towards Yerecoin.

At Yerecoin there is a paid campsite offering powered sites for just $15 a night and unpowered for $10.

Facilities include toilets and showers (although we didn't see a shower in the ladies ablutions - maybe it was located somewhere else?) a children's playground and there are some very new looking tennis courts.

Yerecoin also boasts a store and a tavern.


Yerecoin Campground
Yerecoin Campground


It was a bit too early in the day for us to stop so we continued north to Piawaning.

There is a self contained RV rest area by the hall and after some pondering, we decided to stay the night.

I wanted to try out our camp oven setup for the first time so got the charcoal going and started up a pork roast. Some of the meat was a little under done but that was easily solved by returning those portions to the oven for a few extra minutes.

I was rather pleased with my first try at cooking with this style of oven, even though due to space limitations, I had to do the veggies on the Weber.

There are toilets and showers available at Piawanning but the showers were cold so we happily kept to our nice warm shower in the Coaster.


Camp Oven Cooking
Camp Oven Cooking


Our next planned stop was Mogumber, where we have done overnight stays in the past. In order to get there we had to pass New Norcia so on the spur of the moment we decided to call in and do a tour.

We have been to New Norcia a few times in the past but have never been on one of the tours so we thought it was about time to give it a go.

Tours with museum entry included cost $25 a head for adults ($22.50 concession) and take two hours. You can do the tour on its own or just visit the museum but we highly recommend that you get the combined ticket.

The tour takes you through areas that you will not get to see if you just wander around the complex and as we had a small tour group (just 4 people) we had the extra benefit of being carted around on a buggy.

New Norica is a fascinating place and is the only monastic town in Australia. If you haven't been there yet, do yourself a huge favour and go as soon as you can.

With the Great Northern Highway bypass now in place, the town is so much more quiet and peaceful without all the traffic passing right through it.

The visitor centre also sells bread made at the monastery and we can recommended that too! We bought 7 grain bread and a fruit loaf with walnuts, both were delicious.

Others items for sale include wines, ales, jams and souvenirs.


New Nocia Museum
New Nocia Museum


If you have a caravan or motorhome you can even camp at New Norcia for fees ranging from $10 to $20 a night depending on whether you are self contained or need facilities and power.

We camped just past the sports fields at the self-contained price of $10. All in all, a very worth while and enjoyable day.

We couldn't resist a return visit to the visitor centre at New Nocia and bought another 3 loaves of bread. Mmmm, yes it really is that nice.


New Norcia Campsite
New Norcia Campsite


It was only a short drive to Mogumber where we settled in for the day. There were a few wildflowers still around but not much variety.

Mogumber is now $6 a night so still very cheap to stay and has toilets and bins available and a BBQ (when it is working).


Mogumber Campsite
Mogumber Campsite


The weather had mostly been very nice but the forecast was for rain and cloud the following day.

The rain did come in as predicted overnight but by morning it had stopped and although the clouds were still hanging around, the weather was quite ok.

We packed up and headed the shot 15 kilometre drive to Wannamal.

To our surprise there were still quite a few flowers around the rest area but along with the flowers were a number of caravanners, who, despite the 24 hour limit, appeared to be in no hurry to move on.

We had no wish to share a campsite with so many other people. If we had wanted to do that we would have been camping in caravan parks.


Wannamal Rest Area
Wannamal Rest Area


As Mogumber was only 15 kilometres away we turned around and drove back before settling again for another day.

Sadly the trip had zipped past all too quickly and it was time to return to suburbia. The engine noise continued but by this time I was fairly convinced that it was an exhaust gasket and therefore not an urgent repair.

In any case we got home without any problems and the trip had been enjoyable and quite productive and should result in 4 or 5 videos for our YouTube channel.




Updated October 2020

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



Places to see on this trip:


Wongan Hills

Lake Ninan


New Norcia




Ring necked parrot
Honey Eater
Crested Pigeon
Lake Ninan





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