Holland track

We drove between Hyden and Coolgardie on the Holland Track

We drove between Hyden and Coolgardie on the Holland Track

We have just arrived home from our latest adventure to a 4wd track that runs from Broomehill to Coolgardie (30km southwest of Kalgoolie) in WA. It was first created by John Holland in 1892 to enable supplies to get through. This was during the gold rush era so I imagine there were lots of young hopeful diggers hoping to strike gold while all the opportunistic shopkeepers and other business venturers followed with supplies! Because there is not enough rain out there to sustain agriculture the track soon was not used. However it was rediscovered and carved out again in 1992 for people like us to enjoy!

Holland Track is only one lane wide

Holland Track is only one lane wide

When John and his team first created the track they carved out the trail of 500km in just over 2 months. This blows my mind as it took us just under 2 days to drive 150km of the track. We were driving between 20-40km most of the time and twice I reckon we got to 60km. So these guys on foot chopping down smalls trees and clearing small shrubs to allow a horse and cart through in 2 months for 500km meant they cleared at a rate of roughly 7km per day (no chainsaws or the like!) I’m impressed!

Some of the vegetation John Holland and his crew would have had to clear.

Some of the vegetation John Holland and his crew would have had to clear.

So on the first day we met with a group of 5 car loads that we were driving the track with. We met at BP lakes roadhouse near the Swan Valley and drove towards Hyden. On the way we stopped at Corrigin, a tiny place that boasted of line up 1527 utes with a dog in each ute’s tray! Don’t you love how sleepy little towns in Australia do bizarre things to attract attention to themselves!

Colin and kids at BP lakes Corrigin dog in a ute

After lunch in Hyden we drove a short distance to Wave Rock. This cool rock is 15m high and about 50m long and is shaped like a big surf wave. It is hard to climb as the rock is steep and even climbing a metre up to sit and pose for photos was quite tricky. Our kids love rock climbing though so climbing up to the top and wandering around was a good stretch of the legs for them!

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Soon we were on our way to the start of the Holland Track which is only wide enough for one car. So when you meet traffic coming the other way one of you has to carve a spot out in the shrubby bush, looking out for the sharp mallee roots which have claimed many a tyre!

We found a bush camp and had a lovely night camping in the bush, surprisingly there was no bird song or critters to be heard apart from bats. The colour of the trees is gorgeous coppers and greens which photos don’t really do justice.

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One of the funny aspects of bush camping is finding a private spot to toilet in. With such a big group of people together in a sparsely shrubbed area it was difficult to find your own space and not be ‘sprung!’

The next day we drove just over 100km and drove through lots of big muddy puddles. The vegetation changes rapidly as did the dust/soil colour as shown in photos so i wont bore you with my description, however i did enjoy watching the bush around us. There had been a big bushfire through the track around 6 years ago which killed a couple of truck drivers who were sadly trapped by it. Looking at the new regeneration I wouldn’t have guessed it was so long ago. Rain is sporadic out here and so everything is very slow growing!

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We kept coming across some large rocky areas that were quite flat but full of puddles with tadpoles in them. They also had lizards that scurry around on their long legs quickly, reminding me of the baby dinosaurs in one of the latter Jurassic Park movies. Abi excitedly caught some tadpoles but unfortunately we gave them a sugar high and they didn’t survive.

photos 2013 summer autumn 566 photos 2013 summer autumn 529 photos 2013 summer autumn 635We also kept Easter Bunny and the Tooth Fairy busy with three teeth falling out during our 5 day get away and Easter Sunday having a visit from the tooth fairy. We also had a little service around the campfire with everybody to remember Jesus’s resurrection.

Once we got to Coolgardie we parted company from our travel companions and headed towards Kalgoolie. We saw the superpit where they have combined 4 separate goldmines into one…it is HUGE!

ipad photos march 2013 362 ipad photos march 2013 387We also went to the mining museum and only had an hour to visit but really enjoyed it. We bush camped on the side of the road about 20km out of town as we wanted another campfire. However it was hard to sleep with road train noise and scratching sounds outside our tent!!!!

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The next morning we had a wander up the main street of Kal which is lovely and reminds me of Ballarat where I grew up or Bendigo or even Geelong! Then we headed for home…599 in all and Dale did an awesome job driving the lot! ipad photos march 2013 354 ipad photos march 2013 403 ipad photos march 2013 407

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Kalbarri to Home

Dale feeding pelicans offcuts from fish he caught

Well you have probably figured out by now that I fell off the daily blogging committment about a week ago! We have been home since Thursday now and are enjoying the creature comforts of home and being able to just relax in a cosy space where everything is accessible and easy to do, as opposed to camping where going to toilet with kids is a mission!

So I want to recap the last few days, my last post we had just arrived in Kalbarri, a lovely seaside town on the Murchison River which is also home to the spectacular Kalbarri National Park and all its beautiful wildflowers. The first day we wanted to take it easy as we were all exhausted and still recovering from gastro. We went to the Rainbow Jungle which is a parrot aviary with all sorts of parrots, local, interstate and international birds. We all enjoyed wandering around looking at the birds and interacting with them. The macaws in particular are quite intelligent and wanted to interact with us.

We also looked at Red Bluff which is a spectacular piece of coastline with waves crashing against the rocks, and lovely views. The flowers in particular sucked me in as it was my first chance to examine my book and work out what flowers I was looking at and that was FUN!!! The weather was starting to turn on us with really strong winds and by the time we headed back to camp it was raining, and that was the start of a long night with a pool forming under our tent and vicious winds howling all night! (Was ready to come home by this point in time!!)

coastline along Red Bluff

However by morning it had cleared and the BKs headed out to Natures Window and Z bend gorges. Chris and Charley had decided to do the tour the following day due to road condition to get to the gorges which was a wise choice. I drove the kids mad by constantly stopping the car whenever I saw an interesting plant, and of course when I was walking I lagged behind everyone else. The view was spectacular and the rock climbing made it enjoyable for the kids too!!

Natures Window

Johnny and I did Z bend gorge as others had had enough of walking and stopping for flowers. Johnny was patient with me and even pointed out new ones! We saw an echidna and enjoyed the view, all very spectacular and hard to capture on a little point and shoot camera!

Afterwards Dale took the boys fishing and Sam, unbeknown to him, had a little black bream dangling off his handreel, and Dale caught an edible sized Taylor so he was happy. The mouth of the Murchison where it meets the sea is quite rough, so we enjoyed watching crab boats navigating their way around it.

Chris and I nicked out to the airport with the girls and found some more wildflowers including the local areas Mangles Kangaroo Paw.

Our next stop was Geraldton where it was cold and miserable so we managed to get an old cabin to sleep the lot of us quite cheaply which was awesome as all our camping stuff was wet, and it meant we had a roof and toilet and TV!!!!! Luxury!

On our last day I headed off with Chris for the wildflower route while Dale made a dash for home with 4 kids (thanks Dale!). Chris and I headed to Mullewa after looking at the war memorial for HMAS Sydney 2 which is really nice and lovely to visit. Mullewa is 100km inland and is well known for its flowers. I had a map which had 21 sites listed between Geraldton and Dallwallinu that were also telling astory about the history of the area. Our first stop was a little nature reserve and it was a treasure trove. I found a bloke down on his knees with a GPS unit and thought he was geocaching…however he was an avid orchid photographer and showed me two different donkey orchids, a Kalbarri cowslip and a greenhood. Poor Chris had no idea where I was as I had wandered off in the bush with this bloke (sounds unsafe, but it wasn’t)! Anyway I then found Chris to take her and show her the orchids, all very exciting as they are not a common plant to see and they can be hard to find. So we stalked this man and his friends at a roadside stop further up the road and saw spider orchids as well…how cool is that!

The rest of the day involved lots of driving and not seeing much more than we had seen already. We found a patch of the infamous pink and white paper daisies and fortunately got plenty of photos as it was the only patch we saw, we were expecting it to be everywhere from that point on.

So we did an awful lot of driving to see what we did but I would have been disappointed if we hadn’t. We ended up only seeing a few of the sites on our map and stopping occasionally by roadsides but time was against us and we high tailed it for Dallwallinu. We got there at 5.30pm and then had a 3 1/2 hour drive home! But God looked after us and kept us safe and we were exhausted when we finally finished our journey! What an awesome trip we have had, and there are plenty of memories to think on and photos to sort through. Chris and I both took about 1000 each!!!! Thanks for following with us and hope you are inspired to see this beautiful part of the world for yourself one day!

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Denham to Kalbarri

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We are all feeling much better now and started heading for Kalbarri. On the way out of Shark Bay we stopped at Shell Beach where all those bivalve shells are dumped on the beach for over 100kms. The kids had fun dumping shells on Dale and he was still pulling them out of his underwear after lunch!

Next we saw the stromatalites which are really old living fossils. We have seen them twice before with the kids and so they were not impressed to see them again as they look like funny stumpy rocks! However it was also a good place to have lunch!

The vegetation has changed again as we have moved south. Trees are becoming more prominent and shrub layer higher, and flowers are changing again. We are seeing reds today as well as paler yellows and a wispy silvery white smokebush…gorgeous! Closer to Kalbarri we are also seeing pasture and crops returning for first time since leaving Dalwallinu, kind of weird after not seeing any of this for past 3 weeks. We stopped a couple of times to take photos but as we didn’t want to be too late setting up camp, Chris and I had to be content with coming back to visit the roadside leading into Kalbarri. There are 3 caravan parks in town and the first one didn’t have two powered sites, so we tried the Tudor where I stayed with my family as a kid and they also had limited selection. They had two ladies manning the reception and they said they had been fully booked for 7 weeks and that they are mostly always busy! So we got a powered sites behind some of the new monstrous 5th wheelers which are a house on wheels, usually towed by a small truck or big car!

We set up camp over their hoses, electrical cords and cords to satellite dishes which most grey nomads seem to carry with them now to get eastern state channels. Two blokes near us kept coming out to clap away the galahs….seriously! Why bother holidaying I say! Anyway when I stayed in this caravan park many moons ago there was a menagerie of animals including wallabies, rabbits and birds. I spent most of my time in the park finding grass to feed to them. Well Fredericka the long billed corella still lives here, but is the only one left of the the original gang, and so the kids wanted to feed her, but she wasn’t so keen on our celery and carrot!

We decided we would try the local pizza for tea but it didn’t sit so well in our still recovering stomachs so there was plenty left for lunch the next day! Chris set up the bunk in her britzy which is supposed to fit five people – HA! The photos below show much room there is. Abi and Charley slept up top and it was very claustrophobic! It is much cooler at night so we all retreated to our tents/van pretty quickly to stay warm.

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Denham

Well it was my turn to have the bug today followed by Johnny and Dale by mid morning! However the others managed to see some things so here is a short recount from their day…

Monkey Mia was first stop of day. It is 28km from Denham and is famous for feeding of dolphins. Now i have been here before when I was a kid and back then you bought a bucket of fish for $1, went down to waters edge and waited for a dolphin to come up to you and offered it a fish. It would usually take it whether it was hungry or not as they are very polite and the rangers said they would drop it further out if they didn’t want to eat it! Well that has all changed now (for the sake of the dolphins of course) and now the rangers pick about 15 people to help feed the dolphins while the rest observe at the edge of the beach. The first feed is at 8.30am after a talk for 40mins (which bored the kids senseless) and then the feeding was over really quickly. So I what I experienced as a kid was much nicer but obviously not great for the dolphins as visitor numbers increased.

In the afternoon Chris took Abi, CJ and Sam to an aquarium just outside of Denham which does shark feedings and has a turtle that had been rescued. They saw a fish with bugs bunny like teeth that looked like it was smiling. Anyway I cant tell you anymore and I don’t have any photos but my future wildflower photos will make up for that!!!

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Carnarvon to Denham

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Today it was Chris’s turn to be out for the count so I drove the Britz car and got to stop to see lots of wildflowers on the way! They are amazing and the variety of colours and textures really make it pretty to look at, the yellow of the wattles with the softer blue and purple shrubs underneath followed by a carpet of whites, yellows and pinks on a red soil. The scenery changed again as we headed coastal again into Shark Bay. No trees but again different greens yellows and purple daisies poking their heads through the shrubs were just gorgeous. Because Chris and I (Dale’s not fussed!) have been showing such an interest in the plants the kids have also been taking more interest and wanting their own selection of flowers. Johnny was trying to keep two flower heads alive by drowning them in a bucket of water!

We arrived in Denham mid arvo, set up camp and wandered down the street. It is a small seaside town with lots of boats and fisher people and not much else! There is a building made out of shells which is quite quaint, and you can’t tell unless you get up close. These shells are sourced from the nearby shell beach which has millions of little bivalve shells washed in from a nearby bay and the shells are mined and used for construction and shell grit in chicken feed. The shells are also spread throughout the sand we are camping on so you can imagine the fun the kids are having digging in that. Anyway I shall leave you with all my wildflower shots and the tawny frogmouths we saw this morning above our tent…

oh and the prickles i got in my thongs and feet walking around the flowers were huge! Definitely wear proper shoes next time!

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Carnarvon

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Well just when we thought we were in the clear, at 11pm last night Sam started the lovely reaching sound we all love to hear. Dale and I spent the night on the floor with him, shoving a bucket under his mouth whenever we heard him starting. Poor little mite was not a happy chappy this morning, but he picked up much quicker than the girls. We had to change sites as we had not asked to stay 2 nights originally, and someone had requested our specific spot from today so we had to pack up tent and shift it five metres across the road!!!! However I backed the trailer into position with Dale’s direction, another first for me!

We headed out to One Mile Jetty and caught the little electric train to the end. The jetty was originally built so long to allow ships from Perth carrying people and livestock to berth there and the train ferried the passengers down the jetty to awaiting transport…I assume! The jetty is old and rickety and there are still massive gaps between each beam so that you can see through to the water. I remember walking part of this jetty as a kid and being freaked out by that, so was quite pleased to ride the train instead as I wouldn’t have enjoyed walking out there with kids, especially when several of side rails were missing. There is a restoration society working on fixing the jetty, but this obviously takes time and money. Even to walk on the jetty cost $4 per adult to contribute to the restoration.

We took our rods and joined the fisher people at the end of the pier who were pulling in bream and made all the kids sit well inside the edge after hearing their were tiger sharks in the water! Paranoid mothers! Johnny and Sam had their little rods that their Uncle Marcus had given them and were quite happily fishing when Johnny actually brought one in, all on his own! It was a little yellow fin bream about 20cm long and he was pretty chuffed!

Abi, Sam and Chris all had had enough so they caught the train back down the jetty. Charley was keen to catch a fish, having never caught one before and Johnny was not going home after feeling the satisfaction of having landed his own fish! Johnny ended up with 5 on his line and while poor Charley was getting bites but not landing any. So we challenged Johnny on whether it was he that was a good fisherman or his rod that was causing him to catch the fish and swapped rods between the kids….next thing you know, Charley is landing her first fish and it was just under legal limit of 30cm so we couldn’t bring it back to show Mum, but we took a picture! Dale and I managed to catch a fish too so we went n the train back to the others quite happy with our fishing experience!

After lunch we headed out to Quobba which is about 70km away from Carnarvon. It is impressively rugged coastline and the waves are very big. Watching them smash against the coast is amazing! The big attraction is a blowhole which is where a cave/tunnel has formed in the rock of the coastline and the force of the waves pushes the water through it and up into the air and it looks like a water fountain! You can see it from quite a distance back from the coastline and being close to it is amazing. Their are warnings everywhere about how dangerous this bit of coastline is, king waves are common and unpredictable and people have been swept out to sea because of them.

Once the water shot up into the air, the wind pushed it sideways and the kids had a ball standing in the spray, and getting literally drenched!!!! When Chris showed me a picture she took of the kids standing in the spray I could see a rainbow over their heads, so I had a go too and you can see it below….absolutely gorgeous! This is the kind of spot I could spend hours at, just watching the sea and being in awe of its power and majestic nature, reminds me of my God.

We drove up to the lighthouse to view the coastline from there. There were a couple of nests at the top, I’m guessing they were peregrine falcon nests, but not quite sure. There was also some more lovely wildflowers to look at including a beautiful orange banksia.

On the drive home we spotted several groups of emus close to the road. If you have seen the movie ‘I am legend’ with Will Smith I kind of felt like we were racing against the sun to get home before dark when all the scary creatures ie emus and goats and roos, come out and harass drivers and their bumper bars!!! We also spotted metal tyre rims bolted to every fourth or so power pole and many were being used as birds nests as picture below shows. Cool hey!

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Coral Bay to Carnavon

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Last night was not a great night. Poor Abi was awake half the night throwing up, followed soon by Charley and so the adults didn’t get a full night sleep either! It was time to move on from Coral Bay, so we propped the two sickies in Britzy next to Chris (she was not so impressed) but my thought was to isolate the sickies from the boys as they seemed OK so far!!!! Anyway we trundled off towards Carnarvon with buckets in tow for the sickies and frequent stops to empty buckets, and take pictures of wildflowers!!!!! Roadsides are often the best places to see native veg as it hasn’t been touched and so wildflowers are often growing on the verge. With my flower guide in hand I have been having fun trying to work out with Chris what different flowers are and today we saw the daisy like flowers again, pinks, whites, yellows, literally forming mats! Lovely! I used to bag my Dad for taking photos of flowers and now I’m doing exactly the same! Ha! So I will put a lovely collection for you at the bottom as I have no other pictures for today.

We decided not to go to the blowholes at Quobba Pt which shoots water through rocks up to 20 metres in the air. The sickies were arcing up so we landed at a caravan park just after lunch. Later on we tootled into town to see what was there and then out to one mile jetty. The wind was do strong that the train had stopped running so we decided we would come back in the morning. All the eucalypts around here have their branches on one side and the trunks have a serious lean because of the wind, shows what a windy place it is.

We had a look around the historical precinct at one mile jetty which had old engines and other stuff from whoop whoop ago. Normally I lose interest pretty quick but the kids were quite interested to see things so that made it more interesting for me!!!

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