Western Australia Trip 2012 – Part 7 : Mt. Magnet to Mullewa

Tuesday, Dec 11, 2012 at 10:11


Mt. Magnet looked hot and dusty in the afternoon sun. We noted that there was a caravan park, but in our search for an overnight bush camp we turned north on the Great Northern Highway. A few kilometres north we came to a place called The Granites, that was mentioned in one of the WA Campsites books that we purchased in Laverton. We drove into a big open bowl surrounded by colourful breakaways of red and white rock (though it didn’t look like granite). There was a “No Camping” sign at a picnic area beside the highway – fair enough. We drove another kilometre further in and saw at least one camper set up and numerous signs of use by other campers – this looks possible.

We pulled up and as we usually do, had a bit of an explore, and took some photos, admiring the colours on the rock walls as the sun slid lower and the heat of the day abated slightly. Another small vehicle pulled in – driven by the owners of a big motorhome who were also looking for an overnight camp. While they went back to the highway to get their rig a police vehicle cruised around the track. It didn’t stop but we thought that it was unusual to see a police vehicle in an apparently out-of-the-way spot. The big motorhome pulled in and the owners set up. Then as we settled in to watch the sunset colours on the rocks, a sedan came cruising by, but without stopping, the driver shouting something that seemed to be along the lines of “Its illegal to camp”. Those two visits had us feeling quite uncomfortable - and our faith in our newly acquired publications was badly shaken. So for only the second time in all of our travel adventures we packed up (not that we had unpacked beyond opening the lid of the trailer) and moved on. Being just a bit grumpy – we had never been evicted before - we decided that the “warnings” were not a sign of a friendly town so we determined not to spend any time there.

Instead we drove back through town then turned west onto the Geraldton road. By now it was quite dark so finding somewhere else to stop would be difficult. We were also anxious to avoid hitting animals on the move at this time of the night. Eventually we came to a rest area where lights and a campfire suggested that other campers were overnighting there. We pulled in, introduced ourselves and were helpfully guided to what turned out to be a huge camping area. Our new neighbours kindly invited us to join them round their fire, which we gratefully did. So we finished the day on a pleasant note, swapping travel tales round a campfire. Thank you to those travellers, you restored our faith in humanity when we were feeling rather low.

Morning light showed a very extensive area, obviously well used by campers. A walk around revealed 3 different eremophilas and a small spiky grevillea among the ubiquitous mulga and acacias.

Back on the road through endless mulga, we were encouraged by frequent small patches of everlastings. We stopped beside an old railway siding where a big patch of white everlastings provided some good photo opportunities. At Pindar we saw a sign pointing to wreath flowers but local advice was that there were only a few small plants not yet in flower – and several kms out from the village - so we had lunch there and moved on.

Further west roadside shrubs were in flower, making a colourful display. But soon the first wheat crops were in view and the reality of the dry season struck home – stunted wheat that would produce very little grain was all too common. Rain was urgently needed, and some was actually forecast for tomorrow, but there were no clouds to be seen.

So with hopes of seeing a good show of everlastings rapidly fading we arrived in Mullewa. We had a quick drive around the town and saw a few patches of flowers but nothing like the “average” displays that we had seen 3 years ago that we had thought so breathtakingly beautiful.

As we had done last trip, we headed out to Tenindewa Well where there is a good bush camp site, and no prospect of being moved on. A few other campers were in residence but on such a big site it was easy to find a secluded spot with a bit of protection from the wind. There were plenty of everlastings to give colour[Image not found][Image not found] but they were small, and there were no ground orchids. We had a good wander around, had a small campfire and with an adequate phone signal we were able to catch up with emails and the wider world.

A heavy dew and fog gave our camp a magical touch next morning as every one of the myriad spider webs around us was pearled with dew drops. The cameras went into overdrive. Then it was time to spruce up for our visit to the famous Mullewa Flower Show.

We arrived shortly after opening and were surprised at how quiet it was. Apparently the number of visitors was well down on past years despite the caravan park being full. The show itself was understandably a bit light on for flowers to exhibit, thanks to the very dry conditions. In particular there were very few orchids, and only a couple of wreath plants. It was all a bit disappointing, although as we moved west we had gradually realised the implications of the dry conditions, so we were not really surprised. Such is the way with nature, and we just have to take things as we find them. We felt for the local wheat growers, who would be more than disappointed at losing another crop to drought.

Still, we had a great chat to some of the locals and other visitors and enjoyed a splendid morning tea in the cool of the hall. These Mullewa folk have to be given much credit for putting on an informative display each year through good and not-so-good seasons. It’s a mighty effort from a small community. We wish them every success and hope that next year the flowers will be back in all their glory.

Finished with the flower show, we did a bit of shopping, topped up our water bottles at the “I” bay and drove out along the old de Grey stock route. We had lunch at an old well that was sadly in a rather dilapidated condition, although it still held water and the timbering in the top section was in quite good condition. It was built in 1934 but as it only produced 16 gallons of fresh water each hour, watering any number of stock must have been a slow process.

From there, following a local guide brochure, we went to a “waterfall” that turned out to be a shallow gorge with dry-season pools of water and lots of water-scoured red and white rocks. There were some picnic tables and fireplaces, all sadly neglected. Along the way we stopped at a good patch of pink everlastings where we spent some time taking photos to satisfy the wildflower–cum-photography itch that has brought us most of the way across the country.

We went back to spend a second night at Tenindewa Well, where we enjoyed another leisurely walk followed by a small campfire to round out the day. Our high hopes for a good wildflower season have been well and truly put to bed. From here on we will simply enjoy the trip.

Did you know? You can supersize the pictures by clicking them......
J and V
"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
- Albert Einstein
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