We picked up the camping trailer and made our way north east through the burbs of greater Perth to Midland where we climbed our
way up from the coastal plain to the top of the Darling Scarp.
The rain dogged our journey but we had some hope that once over the range and moving out into the farmlands beyond, the rain
would lessen or cease completely.
We were not disappointed on arriving at York and finding some nice clear weather.
The aim was to film as much of the town as we could before starting to visit some specific attractions the following day.
After taking some footage around town we headed up to Mount Brown Lookout to get an overview of the surrounding area.
Mount Brown Lookout
York is an excellent destination all year round but at this time of year with the fields sporting colours of vibrant green and
stunning yellow, it is even more attractive than usual.
The Avon River was nicely topped up and flowing and everything felt fresh and vibrant with life.
We dropped by the Good Life Store in town and had a look around at an interesting variety of health and environmentally conscious
products and came away with a container of macadamia nuts and some dried broad beans.
After finishing up our filming for the day we made our way out to Whitegum Farm where we had booked a ‘cabin’ for two night’s stay.
The Farm was easy enough to find and when we arrived we were initially unsure exactly what we should do as there is no office and therefore no staff around to give directions.
As you enter the accommodation area you cross the end of a runway (yes there is an airfield located on the property) so it is essential to stop and check both ways just in case there is a plane of some sort landing.
We were obviously looking rather lost as Steve, one of the people working on the farm, came out and let us know the procedure. We had to text Gary (the owner) and he would give us instructions.
This was done without further fuss and we were soon parked up beside our accommodation.
Now the word ‘cabin’ probably conjures up visions of the type of cabins you see in caravan parks. In this case the correct term is actually donga, as the units are all joined as part of one building.
The room was basic but comfortable enough and linen and towels were supplied. At $50 a night it is good enough value for money. We had selected the most basic unit available but there are others with more facilities that range from $99 to $120 a night.
The ablution facilities for the cabins were a little ‘rustic’ but if you want something much more up-market then you can simply walk down the hill to the caravan area and use the toilets and showers there.
We had arrived mid-week which is ‘slow time’ in terms of visitors to the farm so the bar and restaurant was closed. It opens on the weekends (starting with lunch on Friday) and that is when there is a lot more activity.
Near the dongas/cabins there is a nice outdoor area leading round to what becomes the entertainment area and beer garden on weekends.
There is a camp kitchen available with facilities that include a kettle, toaster, microwave and fridge. It appears to be a re-purposed bar that I presume was used before then much more modern restaurant was constructed.
The camp kitchen was ok but the fridge cold definitely do with a little attention as there were certain ‘aged’ foods in there that defied description.
As mentioned, there is a caravan facility below the dongas and the ablution blocks down there were ultra modern and immaculate. There is also a gazebo available for guests to use.
There is also a 4x4 off roading area available. Anyone who is a fan of Ronny Dahl’s YouTube channel might remember the series he filmed on the dangers of winching incorrectly. That was all filmed at Whitegum Farm.
The only hassle we had when using the unisex toilet at night was a very short spanned sensor light in the toilet/shower that seemed to turn off after just 30 seconds. We solved that by taking our own lights in if we needed to shower etc.
Our first stop of day two was the overnight RV parking area that has been moved from the town side of the Avon River to the far side.
This is a much better location and is a short walk to town over the ‘Swinging Bridge’. On the town side of the river is a nice grassed park with toilets, BBQs, tables, seats, shelters and a children’s playground available.
From there is was a short drive across the river to the town hall where the visitor centre is located. It is very concerning that some shires are closing down visitor centres as there are an invaluable resource for travellers.
The town hall is an interesting building that you can stroll around. Up the stairs you will find some sign boards giving the history of the hall and how it came to be constructed.
York Town Hall
The town hall in York is probably one of the most imposing in any inland town.
It was a short walk from the hall to have a quick look at Penny-farthing Sweets. This is a lovely old fashioned sweet shop run by Gary and his wife (not the same Gary as Whitegum Farm I should probably add) who at the time of our visit had just celebrated 16 years in business. While I should keep a LONG LONG way away from such sugary treats, it was hard to resist picking up something so we came away with some nougat and sherbet.
Penny Farthing Sweets
Almost directly across the road is the York Motor Museum. Although I have been to York many times in the past, for some reason I have always missed checking this museum out. Finally I went in and had a look around.
The museum is exceptional and certainly worth a visit when you are in town. Sadly its founder passed away in June this year but the future of the museum is assured.
I’m not a ‘car nut’ in any sense but I still found the beautifully restored collection of veteran and vintage cars a real treat to look at.
York Motor Museum
As the day was wearing on and there was only so much light left that is suitable for filming, it was then time to head out to the York Bushland Garden on the corner of Grey and Ford Streets.
To be honest I really didn't expect too much but I was pleasantly surprised at the size of the garden and the variety of wildflowers that it contained.
There were paths leading around the garden and a couple of gazebos where you can sit and relax.
The garden is founded on the principle of using no water except during the initial establishment of plants and incorporating plants that people can easily grow in their own gardens.
The site was once a quarry and later the dumping ground for ruins of a local hotel that was damaged during the Meckering earth quake.
York Bushland Garden
Sadly the York Courthouse Museum was closed so that is going to have to go on our list of things to come back and see.
We had arranged to have a look through a couple of Boeng 737 aircraft that are parked at Whitegum Farm and were hoping to get some interesting footage of the project that is being developed there.
Unfortunately Mary, the lady we had arranged to meet, was unavoidably held up and we ran out of time as we had a long drive ahead and camp to set up at the end of it.
Aircraft at Whiegum Farm
We did stop briefly on the drive to check out the old abandoned police post at Youndegin but had to keep pressing on to our destination for that day that was the campsite at Waddouring Dam.
We passed through Tammin and Trayning and it was already late afternoon by the time we arrived and it took some time to get set up. By the time we were all done it was starting to get dark and dinner was the next priority.
It wasn’t until the following morning that we managed to go for a walk and have a good look around.
The campsite is located between Trayning and Bencubbin on the west side of the road.
We woke to a glorious sunny morning and started to explore the campsite properly.
At the entrance is a short loop track that leads to a former quarry. The quarry has filled with water and is now fenced off due to instability in the rocks along the face of the cut rock.
There is room here and just left of the track in for 2-3 caravans and as you progress down the track to the dam you pass a toilet and a second gate. I’m not sure of the purpose of the gates or all the fencing but since the gates were open there was no problem accessing the site.
The main area next to the dam is actually quite small. There is room for 2-3 vans and room along a narrow track for a motorhome or two but don’t progress past the main turning area if you have any doubts about your ability to back out because big rigs won’t be able to run around.
The campsite is fenced off from the surrounding rocks, I’m not quite sure why, but there is a gate along the left side of the dam but it is quite a walk from the campsite. There is also a hole in the corner of the fence that people use to get access to the rock but damaging fences in that way has to be discouraged.
The toilet was new and VERY clean and other facilities include a shelter with seats and tables.
It is possible to walk down the left side of the dam almost to the dam wall but access is not permitted to the wall itself. Using the gate along this section of fence give you access to the rock and if you make the effort to climb up, you will get a really nice view out into the surrounding farmland.
As our visit was in early September, there were a lot of wildflowers in the bush around the dam with some particularly nice patches along the access road and up on the left hand rock.
Despite the presence of lots of water there were very few mosquitoes and we were able to sit out enjoying to cold spring air at night without being attacked.
The rest of the day was spent relaxing and listening to the sounds of birds in the surrounding bush.
Our biggest enemy when tenting is rain and dew and even though the last couple of days had been nice and sunny, the dew in the mornings was heavy. This meant packing up wet, something I usually try to avoid when camping.
Nothing was quite in order and the inside of the trailer looked a bit more like a junk pile instead of a nice collection of camping gear.
Even so, we were on the road by about 8:30am and arrived at Bencubbin soon afterwards.
The sad sight in town was the local hotel, it had been damaged in cyclonic winds two or three years ago and has remained without half a roof ever since.
Being a Sunday most of the town’s businesses were closed so after picking up some water, we went west to Gabbin.
Gabbin now has an RV rest area that includes a toilet and shower WITH HOT WATER! There is a donation box for those who use the facilities to help cover costs and there are some interesting signs relating to the history of the town.
The old school (now closed) looks like it has been turned into a private residence and the town hall looks like it is still in good shape.
The old store at the far end of town now looks abandoned and there is only one other residence still occupied.
Even so, Gabbin is a good overnight stop for those who are looking for somewhere when they are in the area.
From Gabbin we turned back to Bencubbin and then continued east to Lake McDermott.
This is yet another overnight stop for travellers in this shire and has a large shelter by the lake. There are a couple of fire pits with BBQ plates and another shelter with seats closer to the entrance.
Although there is no toilet at this location, there are lights in the large shelter and that makes it noteworthy compared to most other campsites.
Like Gabbin and other camps in this shire, there is a donation box to help with the cost of keeping the site open to travellers.
From Lake McDermot we turned back towards Bencubbin, crossed the railway line and then turned south toward our campsite for the night – Marshall Rock.
This is a campsite I visited briefly in the past but have never stayed at before. There are toilets, water tanks, seats and tables and an information board.
There is plenty of room there for any kind of rig and although the access roads are unsealed, they are in good condition.
We found a site right at the back of the campground and settled in for the night. Once we got set up we took a drive around in the 4x4 and followed the track up on top of the rock where there is another table with seats.
The one BIG difference between our last campsite and here was MOSQUITOES and flies. The previous site was thankfully lacking in both but Marshall Rock had both in spades!
Once dusk had turned to night they thankfully disappeared.
The morning brought another coating of dew on the tops of the annex and tent so we took our time packing up.
We were on the road shortly after 9am and by then everything had dried out nicely.
As we were expecting rain on Tuesday, we had booked a cabin at Mukinbudin caravan Park for the princely sum of $55 a night.
It wasn’t flash but it was clean and comfortable with two single beds, air conditioner, TV and even a fridge!
Mukinbudin Caravan Park
After picking up some supplies at the local IGA supermarket, we headed south west to Mangowine Homestead.
Although we had been there on a previous trip, I wanted to get some up to date footage and the caretaker, Rob, even remembered us from our previous visit even though it had been several years before.
After Mangowine we continued west to Billyacatting Hill. This is a day use only site but there is a nice walk trail and there were plenty of birds and wildflowers
The day was warm at about 26C and the sky a very cheerful blue so the walk was most enjoyable.
We took the long way back to Mukinbudin in order to have a look at Yarragin Rock. Of all the rocks we had seen so far, Yarragin was the least impressive. We would probably have been better off saving our fuel and heading back via Mangowine.
By the time we reached town there was no point in trying to reach any other attractions so we settled in at the caravan park and most of my time was spent downloading and categorising footage and updating the trip log so I can remember what we did when we got home :)
The weather forecast was spot on! Isn’t it always when they forecast horrible weather? Well we were certainly glad that we had opted to stay in a cabin instead of out in the bush under canvas.
I think we would have been blown away if we had tried to camp and wind gusts were very strong and the rain quite heavy at times.
Our first objective for the day was to visit the Mukinbudin book store. I always seem to find some good books relating to W.A. history when I visit and I came away with a bagful yet again, all for the minimal cost of $20.
Just down the main street there was an art exhibition being held in the town hall so with Dorothy’s interest in art we dropped by to have a look. The art on show was very good with work from a local artist being some of the best we saw.
There were also designer clothes, woodwork, gourmet chocolate and other items at hr exhibition with most items available for sale.
There are plans to hold an exhibition at the hall for three months each year (during peak tourist season) if the demand is there to keep it going.
Mukinbudin Town Hall
Mukinbudin was just about to celebrate it’s 100th year so there we a number of different events being organised for the weekend. Sadly by that time we had moved on.
The rain was easing off a bit, even if the wind wasn’t, but that was enough for us to head out to see Lake Brown and Eaglestone Rock.
This is one of the many free campsites in the area and the camping area is large enough for quite a few caravans and motorhomes.
As it was already lunch time we looked for and found a nice sheltered spot up near the rocks. There was even a table and seating so we obviously weren’t the first ones to think that it was an ideal spot for a picnic.
Lunch was our usual sandwich made with salami, lettuce, cheese, mushroom and tomato washed down with an ice cold cup of Ribena cordial. Nice and simple but also very satisfying.
With lunch over we continued south east to another campsite (I told you there are a lot of them here) at Talgomine Reserve where there were some spectacular patches of wildflowers.
The rock is picturesque but intermittent showers of rain persuaded us not to try and climb to the top.
The campsite is fairly basic with some bins, seats and table and a long drop toilet that could have done with a bit of TLC. This was the only toilet we had seen at any of the campsites that was out of dunny paper.
With the wind howling around our ears we decided that we had done enough for the day and retraced out route to town.
Thankfully by evening the wind had dropped to nothing and it seemed likely that we would be able to resume or overnight stops at campsites. The following day we planned to be on the road to Bullfinch with a possible overnight stop at Baladjie Nature Reserve.
Not long after a simple breakfast of tea and toast we were on the road heading east.
Our first stop was Weira Reserve where there is a small but pleasant campsite located beside a small breakaway rock formation.
Facilities at the site include wood fired BBQs, tables and seats and a long drop toilet (no totilet paper when we visited so make sure you carry your own.)
There is enough room at the campsite/picnic area for 2-3 rigs and room for another 2-3 at the rest area as you drive in.
From here we continued to Warrachuppin Rock. Certainly not the most interesting or spectacular of the rock formations in the area and not much of a parking area near it either.
Then it was just a few kilometres more to our destination at Baladjie Rock.
I had been there once before in the Coaster but this time we drove around to the far side of the rock and set up camp near a spectacular section where a large section has broken away and there is a large parking area.
If you follow the track along the side of the rock from here you will find a number of nice secluded campsites but anyone with a caravan or big rig would be best advised to walk in first to check for turning area availability.
We woke to a beautiful blue sky but a very chilly morning after a really restful night’s sleep.
After a great deal of searching, Dorothy finally managed to find a few orchids in the area. Funnily enough they were more or less directly around out campsite and not in the areas she searched away from the camp.
The day was mostly spent taking footage around the rock, looking for wildflowers and trying to locate birds to photograph. Bird photography has to be one of the most frustrating pursuits anyone can engage in which is probably why I leave it mostly to Dorothy :)
I finally cranked up the fire pit at night and we needed a bit of extra warmth with the night time temp plummeting down to about 5C.
Cooked a nice meal of chips, onion, paprika mushroom and steak over the charcoal and had another wonderfully restful nights sleep.
Despite an early start it was still 9:30am before we managed to get moving.
Once again we had to wait for the dew to dry out on the awnings before we could finish packing up.
Baladjie had been an excellent, if somewhat cold campsite but it was time to move on
Stop one for the day was the frontier feeling town of Bullfinch. I had visited once before and little had changed. There were still derelect buildings and cars all over the place and a few persistent residents still hanging on despite the lack of facilities the rest of us take for granted.
From Bullfinch we turned south east toward Southern Cross but before arriving in town we turned off on to Turkey Hill Road and had a look at the campsite at Koorkoordine Lake.
This turned out to be quite a pleasant spot near the lake but the picturesque nature of the lake would depend on the water lever at the time of a visit.
Southern Cross is a much larger and better equipped town than Bullfinch but we still had quite a long way to go, so after filming a few things and checking out the local museum, we started our journey back towards the west.
The Southern Cross museum, by the way, is worth while visiting and there is a lot more to it than it may appear from the street.
Before heading off we grabbed a couple of pies from the local cafe (very nice they were too) and then go moving again.
A series of almost impossibly small places flashed by as we drove west.
Moorine Rock was followed by Bodallin and then Carrabin where the roadhouse appears to be closed as new owners are yet to re-open it. I would have thought a great way to wreck your new business would be to leave it closed for too long so that travellers get used to not calling in.
At Carrabin we turned briefly north to have a quick drive through of Westonia. This town is only 9 kilometres off the Great Eastern Highway but has to be one of the cutest towns around. We have stayed there in the past and can highly recommend visiting the wonderful Hood Penn Museum.
Then came Walgoolan, the rabbit proof fence and Burracoppin before at long last, arriving in Merredin.
By that time we were getting very tired and decided not to spend long in town before heading to our destination for that night, Bruce Rock.
Bruce Rock Motel and Cafe
We had booked in at the Bruce Rock Motel and everything we had tried in Merredin had been booked out.
Bruce Rock was still another 49 kilometres south west so wasting no time we kept pushing on.
On arrival at the motel in Bruce Rock we were greeted warmly by O (actually Umapun) who along with her husband Kevin, owns and operates the motel and attached shop.
(By the time this blog is posted the motel is supposed to be under new management.)
As the motel also offers meals, we opted to eat there and at around six o’clock settled down to enjoy a huge meal of Thai green curry that O had prepared. The meal was delicious and there was so much left over we packed it up and put it away in the car fridge for later.
We also had the opportunity to have a great chin wag with Kevin and O but eventually had to say ‘goodnight’ as they had only just returned from a trip to Perth and needed a bit of time to relax. After driving from Baladjie Rock, we were a bit tuckered out ourselves but the meal (and the company) was so good, that we had no hesitation in booking in for a second meal the following night.
We had a few things planned for the day and the first was to head back to Merredin and have a look around before visiting the military museum.
On the way in to town we spotted a huge array of solar panels that is the Merredin Solar Farm. It is apparently the largest solar array in W.A. but you would hardly know it exists as there is no viewing area or any information about it that we saw during our visit.
I would have thought that such a huge project would be something the town would have promoted.
After a wander around town taking photos and video we headed over to the reserve at Merredin Peak. Here you will find a free RV rest area catering for self-contained vehicles. There is also a nice walk trail and the remains of the old Merredin military hospital.
Merredin Peak Reserve
Then it was off to the Military Museum. I was surprised at the number of exhibits as it doesn’t look that big from the outside.
Anyone with even a slight interest in things military would do well to go in and have a good look around.
Merredin Military Museum
The next objective was to check out a campsite at Baandee Lake. In order to get there we continued west along the Great Eastern Highway past Hines Hill to turn off at Ski Lakes Road.
There were toilets, cold showers and shelters and the water level in the lake was high enough so that a couple of ski boats were doing the rounds.
It would make a pleasant overnight camp for travellers but DON’T push too far left along the tracks. The track becomes narrow and a bit overgrown after a turn around area and if you took a caravan further than the turn-around, you wold be VERY likely to have trouble getting back out.
The track isn’t even wide enough for two cars to pass each other and there is only room enough at the end for a car to turn around.
After having lunch and flying the drone around to get some more interesting views, we continued west to Doodlakine and then turned south to return to Bruce Rock.
Once back at the motel we had a bit of a rest before dinner.
Dinner was once again delicious and HUGE! This time it was sweet and sour pork with veggies and rice.
We got another opportunity to sit and talk with O and Kevin and it was one of the most pleasant evenings we had had in a long time.
It turned out that not being able to find accommodation in Merredin was the best thing that could have happened.
Kevin has led a long and varied life and has travelled all over the world. It was so interesting to listen to his various adventures and to be honest, my life seemed rather tame by comparison.
We said goodbye to our wonderful hosts over a cup of coffee and were moving by about 9:30am. Getting going at this time seems like becoming a habit …
We stopped at the tiny town of Shackelton to check out what is said to be the world’s smallest bank and then it was on to the campsite at Kwolyin to get some pictures and check out the wildflowers.
Like so many other sites that were once filled with native wildflowers, Kwolyin is now becoming choked with weeds that are out competing the native species. We did find a few wildflowers but much of the ground around the campsite has become overgrown with weed species.
The mosquitoes were VERY friendly so an application of repellent was required to keep them away.
The campsite is still one of the best around with flushing toilets, camp kitchen and shelters, seats and tables. There is plenty of room and all types of rigs can access the site without any problems.
The old church that was once part of a thriving little town, was still standing but sadly some of the windows had been broken. It is always very irritating to see what some ignorant low life scum do to these old buildings.
Soon enough we had to move on as we were heading for Toodyay and still had some distance to go.
We passed through the rail siding of Yoting and on to Quairading. With only a quick stop for a toilet break it was then on to York and then north west to Northam. The pies heating in the Travel Buddy had been making us hungry for some time and we finally got to stop for a rather late lunch.
From Northam it was only 22 kilometres to Toodyay where we quickly settled in to our cabin at the caravan park.
Toodyay Caravan Park
It didn’t take all that long to work out that the main railway line from Perth to Kalgoorlie and beyond runs right past the caravan park.
Almost every 40 minutes another train came lumbering by making a hell of a racket as it did so.
I’m not sure what clown in the planning department in Toodyay decided that putting a caravan park right next to the rail line was a good idea but it is one place we won’t be going back to in a hurry.
That is a pity because in all other respects, the caravan park is very attractive and set right on the bank of the river.
It’s funny that the weatherman always seems to be spot-on when it comes to predicting bad weather.
After a perfect day the weather turned sour again and we weren’t even sure we would manage to get to all the places we wanted to visit and film.
Regardless of the weather we followed Julimar Road out to River Road and then further along River Road turned into Cobbler Pool Road.
We continued on along Cobbler Pool Road until we came to a sign pointing right to the Pool.
This is a campsite used by competitors in the Avon Descent and is a free campsite for others during the rest of the year.
There are three distinct areas once you cross the railway. If you go straight ahead the track leads down quite a steep slope to a flat area near the river. Be wary of stopping here if there is wet weather because the river can rise enough to flood this location.
If you turn right, the track leads you past a couple of containers with a roof over the top. These are for use during the Avon Descent. Continue past those and you will find a good level area with a ring road around it.
If you turn left you will go down a bit of a hill and then up on to one of the largest areas at this campsite.
Parts of this area are quite uneven but there are still some good flat spots to be found if you look around.
There are no facilities here so please remove any rubbish and dispose of it properly elsewhere.
The railway line you cross to get in to this site is busy so watch out for trains and be prepared for quite a lot of train noise if you stay there.
From Cobbler Pool we made our way back to Julimar Road and turned left across the bridge. We turned right into Toodyay West Road and then left into Picnic Hill Road. Picnic Hill Road is partially unsealed and can be a bit rough so take care.
When we reached the Toodyay – Bindi Bindi Road we turned left and continued on to the Dewars Pool – Bindoon Road. As you turn in to this road you will see a VERY small turning circle to the right in an area next to the river. This is listed in Wikicamps as a campsite but unless you have a small caravan or small motorhome, forget it, the site is much too small and will only fit one rig at a time.
By the time we had finished here we had just about had enough of the rain and decided to go back into town and forget about the third site we had wanted to check out.
By the time we got back to town the weather had cleared a bit so we had a wander around and did a bit of filming.
We had a good look through Connor’s Mill and had a look at the exhibits explaining how these old steam driven flour mills used to operate. It was quite interesting and we recommend it as a place to look through when you are in town.
By the time we had finished at the mill it was nearing lunch time and as it was the last full day of the trip, we decided to have a good lunch at the Freemansons Hotel.
At $74 for a middy, lemon lime and bitters with porterhouse steak and pork ribs, this turned out to be the most expensive meal of the whole trip but since we enjoyed it and the weather had closed in again, we thought that it was money well spent.
We sat on the lower balcony watching the rain pour down as we enjoyed our meal.
Once again the rain backed off and as we wandered back to the car, we spotted the 360 Christmas Shop right next to where we had parked.
We decided to have a look just for fun and boy were we glad we did!
This place sells Christmas decorations right through out the year and I personally think it should be listed as one of the many attractions of the town.
When you step inside you leave the ordinary world behind and enter a magical world filled with amazing Chrsistmassy things. We absolutely loved it and the store is HUGE!
We had to buy something just to help support such a lovely shop and you just can’t go past this place if you visit the town. Go in, look around, you won’t be disappointed and I can pretty much guarantee that you will leave with a great big smile on your face.
As the rain seemed to by staying away for a while we decided to go out to the last campsite after all.
About 13 kilometres south east of town along the Northam Road you will reach Katrine bridge.
Don’t cross the bridge but follow the gravel road on the right hand side of it (coming from Toodyay) down to the campsite.
There is a reasonably large flat area next to the river and up towards the road is an upper area complete with toilets, bins and a fire pit.
This is another excellent free campsite in the area but beware of the lower area if rain is forecast because it could flood.
If you cross Katrine bridge, not far along the road on the other side is a steep rutted gravel road leading up the hill to an old church and a graveyard.
The church dates from 1862 and is in remarkable condition. The graveyard is the picturesque resting place for some of the area’s residents including a few pioneers.
That was the end of not only the day’s filming but the trip’s as well. It was a very satisfying and productive trip that will yield a nice new batch of videos for our YouTube channel.
There was nothing left to do by this stage but to pack up and head home. We were away early and back home in the burbs by 10:30am.
It had been a really great trip!
Updated October 2022