We arrived at the Warburton Roadhouse last night after a gruelling days to after a gruelling day on some of the worst gravel road I have travelled, and I’ve been on a few. It was bone jarring.
Warburton is a small mostly indigenous community, and visitors are asked not to take photos as a respect for the indigenous and their cultural practices, especially valuing and guarding images. So we took no photos.
Coming into the town you ford a creek, which was merely a trickle at this time of year and little rain. The town is really set in an oasis in that the creek gives life. The town is very small but well kept. The Roadhouse was excellent. I want to dispel an urban myth in some quarters that this is a town to avoid, but my experience is that Warburton is certainly a town to visit. We stayed in the campground behind the Roadhouse.
In the morning we visited an indigenous art exhibition at the gallery in the shire building, well worth the effort. It was a retrospective of indigenous art from the region, art that told the story of the beginnings of the region and the people in it. There was also a book on display which gave the history of white settlers coming into th e region and the work of the United Aboriginal Mission. Lyn had met several of the families associated with the UAM (Wade, Collins, Schenk). The indigenous comments on the mission were indeed generous which showed positive identification of some good outcomes of the work of UAM.
We set off on the road and continued to wrestle with corrugations and dust. The road takes its toll and we have been taking plenty of breaks for rest and recreation to compensate. We got to see camels grazing (and which are not native to Australia, and are destroying the flora which has a major impact on fauna too). Today’s breaks included:
A breakaway called Yarla which was so peaceful, and with stunning views (above).
And above, a gnamma hole just off the Great Central Road, one of three large gnammas together, with tadpoles and a fourth with algae. There were also plenty of Finches at the water holes.
We continued on until we came to the Warakurna Community and Roadhouse, and we’ve camped in their open campground for the night. In all a wonderful day.
Drinks as the sun set over the beautiful vista of Giles breakaway. Big country, big sky.
Then the sunrise before breakfast and departing eastward once again.
Tjukayirla Roadhouse, we had lunch and managed to get diesel too. We had been warned at the previous stop yesterday (Laverton) that the Tjukayirla pump was out. It was and it wasn’t – the attendant came out and took the front off the pump and gave the motor arm a swift kick and fuel started flowing. Not that it mattered as I have spare diesel on board (about 60 ltrs) but it was less hassle to pump it.
The indigenous name for the Roadhouse – Tjukayirla is, I’m told by the locals, pronounced Chewka-yurla. The locals just shorten it to the “Chookie” Roadhouse.
After the Chookie Roadhouse, we stopped for a break in the long bone jarring run on the Great Central Road to look at the Desert Surf Breakaway and found this fellow, a small monitor or Bungarra. It was worth the stop with various other flora and fauna to occupy us. Tonight we made it into Warburton Roadhouse and we’re staying at the campground.
Above: the main street of the historic and very friendly Menzies town. Certainly worth the visit and so much to learn.
Above: the hotel at Kookynie a once bustling mining town now a few people and this lovely pub. Definitely a one horse town 😀 the horse wasn’t best pleased when I moved it aside and it tried to bite Geoff when he tried to get in the door.
Lake Ballard to Menzies, Niagara Dam, Kookynie, Gwalia, Leonora.
Above: Niagara Dam, north of Menzies, now a tourist spot, originally built as a railway dam to supply water for steam engines.
Above: the remnant of a bustling Gwalia community, just south of Leonora, this was the Mazza family stores, who boasted that they sold everything, and they did, a real slice of Western Australia’s mining history.
Johnson Rocks to Lake Ballard:
A gnamma or namma hole, a naturally worn depression where water collects. The indigenous respected these natural features as water holes, as did the bird life here at Johnson Rocks.
Sunday 23 and we are at a lookout viewing Lake Ballard, an extensive natural salt lake (60 kms long) west of Menzies, and famous for the sculpture series placed across the vast lake by artist Anthony Gormley in 2003:
Above: one of Gormley’s many statues on the salt lake. An amazing experience.
Above: Snake Hill, which sits on the southern edge of Lake Ballard and which we climbed the 100 mtrs plus for the views of the lake.
And the wine, sunset and dinner by the lake’s edge.
Well we left Bunbury and travelled the 400 plus kms to Merredin (via Collie for lunch, passing through Narrogin, afternoon tea in Corrigin, through Bruce Rock to Merredin) on the 21 July. On the 22 July we set off east: below is Lake Deborah, north east of Bull Finch.
The cattle grid at Lake Deborah:
And the tracking eastwards to Johnson Rocks:
All in all, a great day. highlights included seeing a Mallee Fowl, normally so shy they’re unseen, but we were fortunate, plus a wedge tailed eagle in flight, the ranges around us. Mt. Jackson. The historic site of Johnson Rocks. Parrots we’d never seen before, and a wonderful sunset, and then the night sky. Glorious day.
Coming into Merredin at 5.30 p.m. Watching the sun set in the west (which on so many levels is a metaphor right now).
And earlier, cuppa at Corrigin.