Wednesday 25 August
During the past few days, we have covered a fair bit of ground that has included a recommendation from Narelle who we met at Milligan Island, to visit ‘Rock Country’ (as she calls it). This has taken us to many interesting places where we have learned a lot about all sorts of stuff. I am therefore dedicating this post to the rocks, rather than our itinerary.
But first, we have decided to delay our return to Victoria on account of the current regional lockdown. As this is due to be lifted on 2 September we are aiming for that weekend. In view of this, we are slowing our return journey and taking a couple of detours, inclusion one to Kalgoorlie. It is such a pity that we will be spending more time in colder weather. We are not expecting too much rain during the next week or so, but the down side is that the clear night skies mean very cold – we even had to break the ice on our hand wash basin yesterday morning.
There are numerous rocks around this part of WA, some of which are very accessible and some of which have been turned into tourist attractions (eg Wave Rock). These rocks are very large (think Uluru but not quite as large) chunks of granite that have been shaped by earth movements and weather over the millennia
In this drought prone area, the early pioneers found a very good use for them – as water catchments. When it does rain the rocks shed vast quantities of water, so if a small wall is built around the rock at a slight descending slope to a single point the water will be captured and directed into a reservoir.
Many of the rocks still operate in this way as emergency irrigation for local famers. This photograph illustrates such a wall.
Although at first sight the rocks are totally bare and could not support any sort of life system the opposite is the case. The many cracks provide homes for a range of reptiles, the hollows fill with water (called Gnammas) and support plants and life (I have never seen such large tadpoles and they also fill with wind blown soil to fill patches for shrubs and trees which in turn provide food and shelter for the birds.
This photo illustrates a series of Gnammas at McDermid Rock.
Pergande Sheep Yards
Early settlers were amazingly innovative – they had to be to survive. On our drive between Bencubbin and Mukinbudin, we stopped off at the Pergande Sheep Yards.
Timber was not readily available in this area, but there was plenty of granite. Through a process of heating the rock and rapidly cooling it, the rock split in to sheets, much like slate. These sheets were used to form the walls for the sheepyards:
A few of the rocks have picnic and free camping areas, Beringbooding Rock being one of them. We stayed there overnight. The campground could accommodate about a dozen campers, but only 50% were occupied. This rock gave us our first view of the way that the rocks weather to give stripped colouration caused by the different algae and minerals that have leeched from the rock over the millennia.
This particular rock features ‘the kangaroo hole’:
We visited this rock on the way to our next night stop over. This rock features a ‘wave’ – the type of formation we would see at some of the other rocks. Although it was difficult to get any distance away from the wave due to the undergrowth, I managed to get a decent shot of it. The variations in colours were to be repeated at all the rocks we visited.
This particular rock featured ‘Monty’s Pass’ – a tunnel that has been formed by the top part of the wave shearing off and sliding down:
This is probably the rock that most of you will have heard of and the one that is capitalising on its tourist value (there is a $12 charge to view it). However, it is the longest of the waves that we visited and there were a number of walks across and around the rock.
I must say it is quite impressive and well worth a visit by anyone in the vicinity. Perhaps you will now recognise the header image as a close up of part of Wave Rock.
We camped the night in the caravan park to charge up the batteries, wash some clothes and to have a decent hot shower.
From Wave Rock, we visited Mulka’s caves to view the many aboriginal hand paintings and to walk one of the trails.
The map we were following also had directions to nearby King Rocks, so off went. We arrived at closed gates at the entry track, which looked a bit rough. Bearing in mind we were towing the trailer, we progressed up this very narrow and rough track. In retrospect, it was a bit risky – if we had come across a tree across the track, we would have been in strife. As it was we only came to a tree half way across the track and I managed to steer round, but not without some scrapes to the paint work.
Anyway, we managed to get to and climb the rock. This also had a large reservoir as an emergency farm stock supply, fed by the low wall system to gather rainwater.
On the way to our next overnight stop, we pulled in to the Breakaways, not knowing what to expect, for lunch. This was quite a surprise with almost organically flowing low cliff faces. These have been formed from hard rock topping to a soft clay and sandstone base which has been eroded over time. The colours were quite different ranging from red to pink. I would really have liked to photograph these at sunrise or sunset.
We camped at the base of McDermid Rock. We were the only campers there (a bit scary), but it was a very peaceful spot, although the temperature dropped to at least freezing in the early morning – the coldest night yet.
We walked round the rock, although the supposedly well marked track seemed to leave us wandering at times. This is probably not one of the most impressive rocks, but the campground is worth staying at.
Kalgoorlie – Super Pit
Ok, this is not really part of the rock story, but I had to include our visit to the Super Pit at Kalgoorlie – we managed to catch the one o’clock blast:
We are now a quarter of the way across the Eyre Highway (Nullarbor) heading steadily eastwards. I am not sure when I will have service to post this, but hopefully soon.