Burracoppin Well is not where the signage indicates.
Metchering Well is on private property.
Totadgin Well is on Totadgin Rock Reserve.
Doodlakine Well is in a Reserve.
The second Explorers Wells Project ‘refurb’ was scheduled for the weekend of 16-18 September 2016. From an initial 20 starters, we left El Caballo, 50 kilometres east of Perth, at 4.30 p.m. with 12 people in eight vehicles.
It was starting to get cold when we arrived at Mindebooka Hill and set up camp. And the forecast was for zero and below.
Yep, the forecast was correct! Next morning it was good to get into the vehicle and away.
The first project was Burracoppin Well. Hard to find. Hidden behind bushes, long grass and fallen trees.
The plan of attack was simple – clear everything for five metres around the well.
Everyone pitched in with enthusiasm and the task was finished well within the time allocated.
With time to spare we headed to an historical site, two kilometres NW of Burracoppin. It appears to have been a water supply for the railways when steam trains were in use.
Immediately on arrival we did some testing of approach and departure angles.
We found another, steeper embankment and Jon negotiated the Patrol over it and the associated gutter.
Even after testing approach and departure angles, investigating the ruins of an historic building and a dam there was still a huge chunk of time to fill in so we headed north towards Lake Campion. Along the way we tried a shortcut through the Conservation Reserve and came across an ephemeral lake – now nearly full.
We returned to Lake Campion Road and headed north, intent on having lunch at the site of the Chandler Potash/Gypsum Works that were in operation from 1942 to 1952. It took me some time to locate it – it had been radically altered from when we were there last only 12 months earlier.
It would appear that the intent in ‘cleaning up’ the site was the removal of steel/iron. And, while the site has been cleaned up, it is very short sighted that such heritage items have been removed. The site was so different that I did not at first recognise it as I drive past and consequently spent 30 plus minutes looking for it. And then those who had not been there before were wondering what all the fuss was about. On the evidence presented to them – nothing.
At cents in the dollar for scrap steel versus the heritage value of the site it makes one wonder at decisions made.
After lunch we drove into Merredin to refuel and then took the Bruce Rock road south to Totadgin Well. Along the way we stopped at a Main Roads WA Network Performance Site that Jon had spotted when heading into Merredin in the morning.
Jon explained to the group how NPS works. We moved a few kilometres south to Totadgin Reserve for our second project.
When we started work on improving Totadgin Well, we Initially removed only a small amount of vegetation and one large dead tree that had fallen against another tree.
However, as we cleared the branches away we could see a low embankment around the well. We cleared more scrub and trees until the full extent of the well was revealed for the first time in more than 30 years.
Job completed, back to camp. Views of Baandee Lakes along the way.
Joe prepared and cooked a damper that he shared with the group. Excellent.
We packed and left our camp at Mindebooka early on Sunday morning and drove to nearby Metchering Well.
From Metchering we headed north to Doodlakine Well to clean it up.
After cleaning up Doodlakine Well we headed west on Goldfields Road and stopped at the incongruously-named Shark Mouth Rock. More like a goanna. Or a tortoise. Or a dolphin. Or a dozen other forms of animal life that come to mind before a shark. The wattle trees were blooming.
Just down the road is Marranobbing Well.
Leaving the Goldfields Road we drove through Kellerberrin and continued south towards Kokerbin Rock. Jon left us at this point for an appointment in York. The roads took us around the eastern base of Mount Stirling. That was a very interesting and scenic drive.
Kokerbin Rock is the third largest monolith in Australia – after Ayers Rock and Walga Rock (although that is disputed).
On the south-western side of the rock is a fine example of a dry rock pioneer well.
From Kokerbin we returned home through Pantapin, Quairading, and York.
Pics and text by Kim Epton
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