Mt Augustus – Day 11 – FINAL

Up early to enjoy the rising sun and a lazy breakfast. Off to Menzies this morning. Not much going on here. We waited 30 minutes for the only coffee shop to open. There was quite a rush. A dog in the yard beside the shop took great offence at Ted encroaching on his doggy territory.

Tania Piercy and Darryl Freind

Ted Eardley giving the locals a rev up

Ted Eardley giving the locals a rev up

With our fix we then split up. The A’s we’re heading straight into Kal and Daz and I were going to the Menzies Cemetery and then Lake Ballard.

The cemetery was quite a ways from town, but I guess Menzies has shrunk a lot too. There were many tin grave markers which were sadly damaged. Apparently trinkets and momentous were kept in the glass front boxes which were cheaper than stone and often homemade.

Menzies Cemetery

Menzies Cemetery

Off to Lake Ballard but a bad time of day. It was hot by 11am and we only walked the closest statues. Someone could make a fortune hiring push bikes out there. Back to Menzies and on to Kal to meet up with the rest of the Touring Party for a farewell dinner (with one eye in the footy for some).

Lake Ballard – Inside Australia

This is where the last of the group split again. Eardleys and Seinors heading back to Esperance, Daz and I heading to Westonia then home via Toodyay and the rest to Merredin before splitting again.

Thank you to Wayne for suggesting the run and to everyone else for your company. It’s been a great fortnight.

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Mt Augustus – Day 10

Had a leisurely start to the day nosing around Sandstone then headed passed Leinster (as you do ) and onwards. Today was Eards’ 72nd birthday and Kim intended to celebrate at the Kookynie pub and then a bush camp.

Rose between two thorns.

Everywhere we stopped the last few days people would say what a coincidence it was that they just saw some old cars like these yesterday! It’s good to know the first group is still motoring along happily ahead of us.

Stopped in Leonora to buy a birthday cake and had to hot-foot it back into the store as the birthday boy himself drove down the street. Fortunately he didn’t see us and the surprise party was still a surprise.

Gwalia miner’s shack museum

Gwalia miner’s shack museum

Daz and I had a quick sticky beak in at Gwalia and then on to catch up with the A’s at the Kookynie turn off. We arrived at the pub and had the requisite beer or two with the horse at the door. It was 5.30 feeding time by now and the bar lady warned us about him coz he got cranky. He was baring his teeth and nodding at the door quite vigorously, so I avoided him like the plague as I usually admire horses from afar. (As afar as possible).

Kim and Janette Seinor, Peter Eardley and Darryl Freind

It was dusk by now and we retraced our steps to Niagara Dam. Kim and Janette grew up in Kal so they know all the good spots and people along the way. We had the No Camping area to ourselves (being the only rebels in the region) and set up camp in a jiffy.

BBQ, cake, gifts, and bed time. It was a beautiful clear night with stars forever. Happy Birthday Peter.

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Mt Augustus – Day 9

Awoken again at the crack of dawn. This time by the Downey Cheeked Grey Pollock, a rare and sometimes very loud individual singing his signature daybreak tune.

We were on the road by 8am retracing the rough track from last night. Again thinking it’s amazing no one got a flat or damage. The Cook’s and Tania & Daz in the truck returned to Cue and the A’s unhooked campers and took the correct and also very rough track up to the mine.

Wilgi Mia ochre mine With permission by local Elders

Wilgi Mia ochre mine With permission by local Elders

From Cue to Mt Magnet where there was not a lot to see in the town itself so we pressed on to Sandstone after saying goodbye to the Cook’s who were returning home as planned.

Sandstone rusted street art

Sandstone was a pleasant surprise. Very tidy town where a lot of work has gone into presenting the town. Artistically placed wrecks/garden art placed around town, nice gardens and an excellent caravan park within a short walk to the pub. 28 degrees and very pleasant day. We’re catching up on washing and housework.

Eards and Seinors arrived at 4pm having made excellent time after their mine visit. Showers, laundry and the pub.

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Mt Augustus – Day 8

Overnight in Meeka. Like many caravan parks this one was on the Great Northern Highway. RIGHT on the GNH. And we had the distinction of the closest sites to the GNH. To say the draft of passing trucks shook our beds is not exaggerating.

I have it on the good authority of Paul Kelly that 57 trucks passed in the night. I guess he’d know coz he lay in his swag counting them as they ruffled his hair in passing. If you ask him, he could also tell you how many fuelled up at the neighbouring BP too. *sigh*

A quick stop in Foodworks to restock and we’re off to Cue and Mt Magnet. Brett has arranged a visit to some aboriginal sites around Cue after which The Touring Party will split.

* Reg and Coral will head for Perth.

* Eardleys, Seinors, Cooks, Brett and Paul and Tania and Daz will head for a bush camp out of Cue and then resume the tour to Sandstone.

* The rest of the group (Stratfords, Gerry, Des, Pais, Wayne, Jeffree’s) will head straight for a overnight in Sandstone.

In Cue we encountered a person who could only be Mrs Congeniality’s mouthy, disgruntled relative. Gawd. What a dragon and not good for town relations.

We headed out to Big Bell. A ghost town 30km from Cue. The most incongruous Art Deco pub still remains. It’s very sad to see unique outback heritage abandoned, rotting and trashed by vandals.

From here we went to Walga Rock which has wonderful aboriginal rock art despite the attempts by authorities to preserve it. Then finally the drive up to the Wilgi Mia ochre mine where Brett had been given permission from the Elders to visit.

We approached in the dusk and promptly took a wrong turn ending up in a beautiful, but tricky site. The track deteriorated quickly and with no opportunity to turnaround the bigger vehicles were quickly hemmed in. Brett found a spot for the Cook’s big van to await daylight. The nimble As had no problem, but it was still a miracle that there were no punctures or mishaps.

Campfire, beers and a quiet night recovering from the journey.

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Mt Augustus – Day 7

Yep. Birdy wake up call was useful and the Model As tore off at 7.30am!   Goes to show what a little motivation can do.

Morning tea was at a crossing of the Gascoyne River which was dry as most watercourses we’ve encountered. It’s had to imagine the region flooded, but the warnings signs and wide crossing hint at the changes after rain.

Lunch at the Mt Gould lockup and then on the road again heading south east towards a TV. A flat on Lizzie was quickly repaired by Des and we were on again. We’ve started encountering stretches of bitumen, but are sorely disappointed after each return to gravel.

Another flat for Mr Cook, on the F250 this time. Looks like a tent peg. Hopefully there’s no tent and camper stuck under there too!

Arrived in Meeka in time for kick-off after a cracking pace was set all day. Off to the Commercial Hotel

Apparently there was a delayed telecast, so all the rush for nothing. But not to be beaten, Eagles fans made do with a iPad and then a mobile phone to watch the live action instead.  By the looks of this photo the match had some ups and downs. 

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Mt Augustus – Day 6

THOSE B!@@#/ BIRDS. Woken at the crack of dawn by raucous Korellas in the trees. Thousands of them squawking away fit to wake the dead. Even still it was a slow start to the day.

A bit of carpooling got most people out to Mt Augustus which dominates the view from the caravan park. It’s a nice drive around the base with roads in to points of interest. Lots of aboriginal rock carvings and beautiful ghost gums everywhere. Unlike Uluru which is a bare rock the slopes of Mt Augustus were well treed and lovely to walk amongst as the day was already heating up.

 

Back to the CP for lunch and a sit and chat and then a welding job on Eards’ teardrop who’s drawbar cracked on the rough roads of the last few days. The CP manager came through with some steel to create a patch. That done it was beer o’clock and soon dinner. Day done but not before two familiar faces arrived. Ian and Anne Steer arrived from Karijini. As the office was closed, we pointed them in the direction of Mrs Congeniality’s house and waited to see the reaction. It was as expected and we were at least reassured that it wasn’t only us she despised.

Mild panic was created when it was discovered by Eagles fans that tomorrow’s drive was actually 340km not 240km as originally thought.  The start time of 8.30am was hastily changed to 8am so we could get to Meekatharra in time for kickoff.

Looks like those birds will be needed after all.

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Mt Augustus – Day 4&5

A rest day today and a nice day for it. Overcast but comfortable. Everyone got domestic and a few took short tours around ‘town’ although there is very little here, the countryside is stunning. Lots of teas was drunk and stories told and some may have even been true.

Dinner at the hotel was fantastic, so good in fact that many went both nights of our stay.

Sadly, Sue and Nev will be going home from Gascoyne Junction on a tilt tray. To be clear, they will be in the cab and Nifty will be on the tray. Despite being able to drive into GJ on Wednesday, Nifty was considered too dangerous to continue. RAC to the rescue. So, Sue and Nev waved The Touring Party off early Friday after a photo shoot in front of the pub and the Admin offices for the shire.

Brett gave a running commentary about the land as we headed north beside the Kennedy Ranges towards Mt Augustus. A much warmer drive for the A’s with 30 degrees by 11am, but we’re telling them it’s only 25.

35 degrees after the lunch stop. Brett was looking for some mythical oasis he remembered, but we ended up on the side of the road all crowded under the one tree.

Stopped at an old shearing shed and quarters for a quick interest stop and then on to Cattle Pool. Beautiful spot and a true oasis. We would have stayed longer but the sun was heading down and our convoy was cluttering up the car park for this popular spot. Darryl and Johnno made short work of a type change in the Cooks van and we were off.

Arrived Mt Augustus CP at 4.50pm and was checked in by Mrs Congeniality. The park had nice green lawns which was welcome after all the red dust. Although, heaven help you if you drove on them.

After a few convivial wines and dinner it was off to bed early for all.

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Mt Augustus – Day 3 – Wednesday

Beautiful sunrise this morning – so I’m told. The fuel decanting and refueling started early and by nine we were all ready to go. Brett Pollock and Paul Kelly arrived at 9am from Wooleen completing the Touring Party.

Brett led the way and made some stops at areas of interest. 10.30pm was a morning tea stop on the roadside and various other travellers stopped for a look and chin-wag too. Lunch at Wooramel River crossing. You know we’re heading north, the T-shirt’s are out and the flies around. On the road again at 1.30pm for the 2nd half into The Gascoyne.

Trouble hit not long after when Neville and Sue lost the front right wheel  and ended up in the ditch. Fortunately no one was hurt. Darryl had a welder on the truck and soon welded the drum to the hub using 3 rocks as a work bench. Neville got Niftys front end jacked up while Kim fixed the brakes. All parties were running for parts, tools and bits and pieces to address the patch up job and Nifty was back on the road in about 90 minutes.

We arrived in Gascoyne Junction somewhat later than expected to find a complete schamozzle with the site bookings. The manager had left in recent weeks and most of our bookings were either wrong or missing altogether. However the temps were tops and got everyone settled sometimes three to a site to get us all in.

What a day, time for a beer and dinner in the bar.

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Mt Augustus – Day 2 – Tuesday

A VERY chilly morning in Mingenew. The touring Party spent a good while drinking coffee and stamping foot to foot this morning but ultimately got going. We need to nominate a ring leader for this circus, coz there’s a lot of wondering and wandering. Those in the modern cars let the A’s get a 20minute head start but we caught them up 750m up the road at the Mingenew Bakery. Eventually, all were on the road by 10am and the days drive had started.

The trip up to Mullewa was pleasant with some sunshine and all the canola fields in full bloom looking stunning. We arrived at Mullewa about 11am for fuel, but thought to go further up the road for lunch after stretching our legs only to discover by word of mouth that there was no fuel in Murchison. As we were wondering what to do about this and who was carrying what Jerry cans, the fuel truck pulled in! We thought we were saved, but it was a different truck. Calls to Brett in Woolleen found that he was still out prospecting and after talking to Frances, we discovered Woolleen was waiting on the same fuel delivery.

After chatting to the local copper, who had been admiring the cars Darryl and Kim hunted down a 44 gallon drum and got it up on the back of Darryl’s truck. Apparently it’s illegal to fill a 44 gallon drum from a bowser while it’s on a vehicle so MANY Jerry cans were filled and ferried back and forwards by Kim lifting them up onto the truck to Darryl to pour them in the drum. It was a slow process, but got the job done. By this time we’d been in Mullewa a few hours and many had had lunch while standing around. As a piece of interest, some of us visited the pop up gallery of Helen Ansell. Lovely artwork of local flowers and birds. So, feeling as if the day was slipping away we were back on the road at 1.30pm to Murchison.

We met the first of the gravel in this leg, but it was well maintained and some road crews were out fixing damage from last weeks rain. The moderns caught up with the trailing As who’s had a quick beer stop at a likely spot and we continued on into Murchison without incident.

Murchison Oasis is a great stop with lovely lawn for the campers and nice amenities. I have it on good authority that the loos were 160 paces from Kaye Eardley’s camp which seems to be the upper limit of her night time walking tolerance. We’ll keep this in mind when allocating camp.

There is no mobile connections around Murchison, so I don’t know when this will be posted.

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Mt Augustus – Day 1

There’s a back story to this trip. It starts two days prior when the Esperance crew of Seinors and Eardleys left Esperance. A mostly uneventful trip with an overnight stop midway saw them arrive in Bullsbrook by mid afternoon with Des Addison arriving from Bunbury. We had a trio of Model A in our yard ready to start early on Monday morning. In addition The Cooks of Kukerin in their modern and van and we were travelling in our new 4×4 truck.

Start as you mean to go on, so we all stopped 20 minutes up the road at the Bindoon Bakhaus for morning tea and a chat. The Gingers Roadhouse contingent arrived soon after and brought the drizzle. After being well stocked with coffee and doughy goodness we were all on our way to meet the Stratfords in Watheroo.

Introducing you to the Touring Party: Edith and Alan Jeffree, Wayne Millman (Ann called in sick), Sue and Nev Swindell, Des Addison, Rena and Darrel Stratford, Kaye and Pete Eardley, Janette and Kim Seinor all in As and Coral and Reg Blewitt, Ian Paisley, Gerry ten Bokkel, Kay and John Cook, and yours truely, Tania Piercy and Darryl Freind in moderns.

The Midlands Road was far busier with vans and campers than our previous run in 2018. Evidence of the holidaying in WA.
A small hitch with Seinor’s A (I’ll see if he’s named and include in future posts….. although considering the A stopped in the rain on a slim bit of road verge, I imagine it was called many things). For those that follow these matters, it’s believed to be a distributor problem. Luckily the RAC offers roadside assistance in the form of Reg Blewitt (red Landy and Van).

Funny sight: at Moora Coral was seen to be sitting in the back seat behind Reg. She said it was easier to operate as a back seat driver from that position. Tap on the right ear for a right hand turn and, well, you get the idea. We expect to see Coral back in the navigators seat once the passenger door handle is fixed.

A brief stop for lunch at Watheroo and catching up with the Stratfords. the icy wind went straight through a person right to their bladder, so everyone hurried off to Carnamah and a hopefully less chilly stop. It wasn’t. The cold had set in with some rain.

We went straight to the caravan park at Mingenew and were well pleased with the promise of a camp fire. A camp smoulder was more like it despite Pete’s attemps with the petrol. Camps were set up all over the park depending on requirements. There seemed to be no logical explanation, but the lady attendant seemed very adamant about our distribution. The Swindell’s had the distinction of a moat around their site. Very twelfth century.

It was a cold night but most of us were fortified with an alcoholic beverage of choice. For warmth, you understand. Despite the cold, Wayne was avoiding the rum.

A visitor in the park said he’d seen Reg and Coral in Coalseam NP. They were bogged, but all was ok now. I’m sure there’s a story there.

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