Club Trip 443 – Balladonia, Bilbunya Dunes, Baxter Cliffs
25th October 2020 – 8 nights
Participants: Bob & Bridget McP (trip leaders), Peter C (co-trip leader), Peter M, Tom VH, Muzz & Rachel B, Malcolm F, Bob & Cathy S.
After 3 other attempts (once getting to Israelite Bay only), we finally conquered floods and bushfires and completed this long planned trip. Just a brief report for future interest.
Day 1 25th October. After meeting up at Karagullen we travelled to Lillian Stokes Rock, Frank Hann NP for first night camp. It was so different from the visit here a few years ago, after fires had passed through. Although the sunset was pretty spectacular.
Day 2 26th October. We left Lillian Stoke Rock intending to free camp on the oval at Condingup and take to the tavern for a meal. A phone call from the Tavern, shattered that idea, even though we had booked they decided not to open on Monday night for a meal after all. So on to Thomas River to camp tonight.
Day 3 27th October. Thomas River to Israelite Bay. We met the only other people for the whole trip from Condingup to Caiguna in just about the tightest spot on the track into Israelite Bay. We were seven vehicles but they were towing, so ……… we managed to all get off the track! No one else camped at Israelite Bay, so plenty of campsite spots to choose from. It is an interesting place with lots of history, old graves, old buildings, vehicles to explore, and an old jetty.
Day 4 28th October. Israelite Bay to Bilbunya Dunes. Definitely the highlight of the trip, they were awesome, spectacular, a “wow” moment. Again, we were the only people here and we camped behind the dunes, with a great sunset over Bilbunya.
Day 5 29th October. Bilbunya Dunes to “camp on side of Track”. There is a jump up to climb up onto the scarp after Bilbunya, it was in good condition and no problem. Several more highlights today as we travelled along the Baxter Cliffs with fantastic views. No one else around so we just pulled off the track for camp tonight.
Day 6 30th October. Visited Toolinna Cove and the Baxter memorial today. John Baxter accompanied Eyre across the Nullabor in 1841. Baxter was shot by two fellow members of the expedition at this point. Tonight we found a lovely open area to camp about 20kms in from Caiguna Roadhouse.
Day 7 31st October. A few members were lucky enough to spot a herd of camels pass by quite close to our camp this morning. Breakfast at Caiguna RH who were very quiet due to borders closed with SA, we were questioned on where we had “sprung” from. Travelled on Eyre Hwy to Balladonia, then onto Old Telegraph Track. Noted the track from Balladonia down to Israelite Bay is still closed …. another time! We camped halfway along the Old Telegraph Track.
Day 8 1st November. Finished Old Telegraph Track to Norseman, where we said goodbye to Muzz and Rachel who were travelling on to Esperance. We had intended to camp at the Breakaways on the Hyden-Norseman road but it was only 1.30pm and horrendous flies, so too early for some of us at Breakaways to camp, said goodbye to Malcolm and Bob and Cathy who stayed there. Tom also left to travel home. Bob and Bridget along with Peters 1 & 2 travelled on to Kondinin. Weather looked bad with storms forecast, Bob and Bridget took to the motel and pub meal. Peters 1 & 2 opted to travel home.
It was a good trip, good company and great to finally “tick” it off !! No major vehicle problems, a staked tyre for Malcolm and screeching brakes for Bob and Bridget (a tiny pea sized pebble) meant a couple of wheels off. Oh and Peter C, ended up in the bushes after crossing a very muddy, wet area …. we suspect he was concentrating too much on his video taking!!
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