Mid West Road Trip Easter 2015

Our planned Mid West Road Tri for the 2015 Easter break was to take us through Jingemia Cave, Yarra Yarra Lake, Mingenew, Geraldton, Northampton, Binnu and then follow the Murchison River through Riverside, Coolcalalaya, Yallalong, Billabalong, Wooleen, and Meeberie stations.

We intended to continue east to Mt Wittenoom Station and on to Meka and Dalgaranga before visiting the Dalgaranga Meteorite Crater. After checking out the crater we were to head south to Yalgoo, walk through Jokers Tunnel and visit the old Rothsay mining area. Next was the Damperwah Experimental State Farm ruins, John Forrest Lookout, Camel Soak and Mongers Lake lookout. We then intended to head south along the western edge of Lake Moore before once again turning east to Billiburning, Elachbutting, and Berringbooding rocks. On the way home we were going to visit Billyacatting Rock, Wattoning Well and Namelcatchem Well.

As Robbie Burns observed, ‘the best laid schemes o’ mice an’ men gang aft a-gley’.

Heavy rains in the Murchison caused an early change to this intended route. Coolcalalaya Road (along the Murchison River) was closed so we elected to head north via the Carnarvon Mullewa Road. That road reopened on Wednesday but accessing Murchison Roadhouse for required fuel was a moot point because the river at the Meeberie Crossing was at 1.8 metres, blocking our way east to Mt Wittenoom station and beyond.

We rendezvoused at Mingenew. Aaron and Kim were in Aaron’s dual cab Holden Colorado, Cliff was driving a long wheel base Suzuki Sierra, Greg was in a Suzuki Jimny, Paul and Lauren were in Paul’s dual cab Nissan Navara, Matt was driving his recently acquired 4.2 L Nissan Patrol wagon and Graham was in his 3.0 L Nissan Patrol wagon.

The engines were hardly warm before we stopped at Mingenew Hill for an early morning climb and some great views. The hill is well signposted off the Mullewa Road.

The early morning drive north through farm country that transitions into station country, though pleasant enough, had little to offer. When you’ve got nothing to offer, anything is something – then we saw the signpost to Butterabby Graves.

Fuel availability was to be an important consideration throughout the tour and the first problem arose at Mullewa. No fuel stations were open (as expected on Good Friday) but there were no card operated 24/7 outlets either. Fortunately Paul was able to purchase some fuel later at a pastoral station.

Next stop out of Mullewa was Yuin where we were welcomed by Rosco and Emma Foulkes-Taylor. The importance of a courtesy call to station folk to let them know your intentions cannot be overestimated.

We stopped at Narloo Station on the way to Poondarrie Hills. The now abandoned homestead on Department of Parks and Wildlife (DPaW) property is being renovated by Trackcare. It still needs a lot of work. The dunny is the best maintained building on the property.

The recent rains had greened up Poondarrie. It was looking a treat. A wonderful picnic/lunch spot.

Telstra has installed a phone tower on the top of Poondarrie Hill – against all advice from the locals. A track into the rock was graded by the telco for construction access. The track now turns into a quagmire whenever it rains. Somebody in a office somewhere looked at map and decided that Poondarrie Hill was the only suitable location and that was it – despite local advice of a number of other, better locations nearby.

The thermofan on Greg’s Jimny wasn’t working and the vehicle was overheating at low speeds. A few minutes work by the bush mechanics resolved the issue.

On return to Narloo we decided to take a direct route to Tardie. Water lay over the track at numerous locations and the upper Greenough River was flowing – slowly.

After a few more creeks and gutters we arrived at the homestead – again, expected.

The usual way to Jingemarra is south via Gabyon but after discussion with the wonderful people at Tardie we headed back the way we had come for 10 kilometres and followed the Greenough north-east. The track disappeared between the Narloo-Tardie track and Poothea Pool. We swept left and right through reasonably open acacia country, while keeping our general heading, searching for the track and, after a few hundred anxious metres, picked it up just before the Pool.

Through wired-up gates, back roads, creek crossings, and unused washed-away tracks we made our way to Jingemarra. The owners were expecting us, albeit a little earlier. They gave us directions to a great camping area and, unfortunately, we beat the flies’ retreat time by an hour.

The Mid West Tour continued next morning, back to the homestead and then on to Melangata before emerging on Dalgaranga Road.

Only a few minutes down this road we came across the bog hole from where Shire vehicles had to be rescued at the peak of the rains.

The range of the Suzukis was again an issue. After a few calculations we determined that they could travel to Dalgaranga meteorite crater and still reach Yalgoo where they could refuel.

Dalgaranga meteorite crater is quite distinct and easily recognised as what it is. It was one of the first impact structures identified in Australia, the only confirmed crater in the world associated with a mesosiderite projectile (mesosiderites are a class of stony–iron meteorites consisting of about equal parts of metallic nickel-iron and silicate), and Australia’s smallest isolated crater. The meteorite that hit at Dalgaranga is considered to have a mass of between 500 and 1000 kg. Its age has yet to be determined.

Access to the crater from the south is via Dalgaranga-Cue Road, Mount Farmer Road and then turn off to Uanna Hill Road. The crater is signposted off Uanna Hill Road. While it is not ‘spectacular’ it is well worth the effort to get to it.

windmill

The opportunity to visit a rarely seen breakaway, replete with aboriginal hand prints, was not to be missed.

The Yalgoo Emu Cup and Goo Fest was well underway when we hit town. Although held at the Yalgoo Racecourse there was not an Akubra in sight. We refuelled and headed south on the Ninghan Road to Jokers Tunnel.

After passing a number of mine sites we set up camp late in the afternoon near old Rothsay.

First up next morning was a visit to the old Rothsay mining area.

Next on the agenda was John Forrest Lookout. The Coppermine-Warriedar Road heads south-east away from Rothsay and then transitions to the west. Twenty kilometres from Rothsay we turned right onto Lookout Road. This may be named Morton Road on some maps. The Lookout is well signposted and easily accessed.

Leaving John Forrest Lookout the plan was to access Rothsay Road and head west to Damperwah ruins. A shortcut beckoned. Three hours and lots of scratches later we turned around, turned left onto Morton Road, then Rothsay Road and finally got to Damperwah – about three hours behind schedule.

We called in to the derelict Damperwah Experimental State Farm  for lunch.

After lunch Camel Soak was inviting and refreshing. It is accessed off the Rabbit Proof Fence Road.

Mongers Lake Lookout is less than impressive.

Our efforts to find a road through to Lake Moore were frustrated by the 80 mm of rain that had fallen a few days earlier. We abandoned the quest and headed to Mt Collier dam where we stayed the night.

The first stop next morning was Beagleys Breakaway.

Tampu Well is a few metres north of the turn off to Beagleys Breakaway. It is a good campsite.

Billiburning Rock was the next stop.

Leaving Billiburning we headed north to the State Barrier Fence, drove along the parallel road for a few kilometres and then headed south into farming country. Next stop was Datjoin Well. The turnoff to Datjoin Well is on the north side of Bonnie Rock-Burakin Road, a few hundred metres west of Clark Road. It is well signposted.

Namelcatchem Well is in a patch of bush 100 metres north-east of the intersection of Goomalling-Wyalkatchem Road and Minnivale Road. It is fenced and in excellent condition. Most unfenced historic wells are in a degraded condition.

Nanning Well is a few hundred metres south of the Goomalling-Wyalkatchem Road, 500 metres west of the intersection of Goomalling-Wyalkatchem Road and Minnivale Road. It is only a few hundred metres from Namelcatchem Well. It is well signposted. Unlike most other wells Nanning is not at the bottom of a hill or rise, being situated part-way up the rise.

The Mid West Tour effectively ended after Nanning Well as people headed home into the rain from Goomalling in different directions.

The five day, 2000 kilometre Mid West Tour covered a diverse and striking range of country, and threw up some logistical challenges, a few unexpected adventures and numerous unplanned navigational issues.

 

Text and Layout:
Kim Epton
2300 words

Photographs:
Graham Howe
Kim Epton.
163 photographs

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