History & The Wildflowers

Trip Leader:  John King

When: 23rd August – 2nd September 2012

Location: Yalgoo

Participants: John & Rosalie King, Jackie & Alan Stanger, Lyn & John Byworth, John & Sue Bromberger, Peter & Denise Belcher, Richard & Helen Kingston, Jeff & Maxine Otway

We met at Harper Park in Guildford for a 12.30pm departure.

Peter and Denise discovered they had a problem with their car and so they left with Richard and Helen to get a repair done with the intention of catching up at Bakers Hill where we had been told there was an excellent bakery.  This turned out to be true.  Once the group was all together again Trip Leader John ran through the plans for the trip, convoy order and procedures, radio use and duty of care. He also appointed Jeff (and Maxine)  as Tail End Charlie, Richard (encouraged by Helen) as Incident Controller and Peter (with nurse Denise) as First Aider. These turned out to be very good appointments.  Even before we left this stop John Brom. needed a jump start.

Northam was the next stop to view the White Swans and the suspension bridge over the Avon River, that had been built in 1975 by J.O. Clough, costing $82,280, has a span of 117 mtrs.  and was designed to withstand winds of 150 km/ph. Thankfully we had no winds whilst there to test the information given. The Avon River is home to 60 varieties of birds.

Onwards to Goomalling for our accommodation for the next 3  nights. What a lovely park and we were well looked after. We all joined in for natter and drinks before tea.    (Lyn and John Byworth)

Friday 24th August
Richard K’s birthday, all gave birthday wishes and then set of in a seven vehicle convoy for a short drive on a beautiful morning to Wongan Hills, where after a visit to the bakery we met with Ian Johnson who was to be our local guide. He is a retired farmer with a fount of knowledge about local fauna and flora and an obvious love of his area.

Ian lead us through the hills area and up to a lookout atop of Mount O’Brian where lunch was taken with attractive views over Lake Hinds towards Mounts Matilda and Rupert. Along the way we stopped to appreciate many of the local wildflowers that were in bloom. After lunch a short walk led us to an area with many Donkey Orchids and Ian showed us the lairs of several trap door and curtain spiders.

Returning to Wongan Hills we thanked Ian for his expertise and after afternoon tea returned to Goomalling to prepare for a very good fish and chip supper at the local Farmer’s Club and to celebrate Richard’s special birthday.     (Peter and Denise Belcher)

Saturday 25 August
We woke to a beautiful sunny day in Goomalling and everyone had a relaxing morning.  At 11.30am we assembled the convoy for a drive to Dowerin and beyond.

Dowerin is getting ready for the big Dowerin Field Days next week but that didn’t stop all the shops shutting up at 12.30pm.  Even the tourist information centre was closed.  But at least most of us managed to raid the bakery before it closed too!

Along the way the convoy observed correct radio procedures which led to very interesting conversations and interpretations of the word “OVER”!

We stopped for lunch in the bush at Namelcatchem Reserve and went wildflower and ‘well’ hunting. Found some flowers but not the old well which was used to water the explorer’s horses.

Next stop was Wyalkatchem – not much happening there either.  Alan & Jackie left the convoy here to visit some friends while the rest of us, now under the direction of Richard & Helen, headed for Koorda.  We couldn’t even find an icecream shop open in Koorda so continued on to Cadoux for afternoon tea where Richard told the group about his earthquake experience in the town. Then it was back to Goomalling where most people refuelled.

We had all booked in for a roast meal at the caravan park which turned out to be a sumptuous feast of minestrone soup and warm bread rolls followed by roast chicken, roast pumpkin, roast potatoes, cauliflower au gratin, green beans, then warm apple pie, custard and cream.  Boy, were we full by the time we finished the meal – I think we all rolled out of the camp kitchen.  Jeff presented John King with a (toy) chainsaw – insider joke!

Coffee was around the camp fire kindly provided by Jeff & Maxine and then it was bedtime.
(Richard & Helen Kingston)

Sunday August 26th
Our seven vehicles left Goomalling Caravan Park around 10.15am.  We had an exciting start as Trip Leader John King was pulled over by the Police for a breathalyser!  Naturally the six vehicles following him all pulled over as well.   None of us was arrested!

We drove to Wongan Hills but on the way, we could see that John’s caravan pop top started to lift off on one side, but what happens on a trip, stays on a trip and I will not say which John this was as we had three of them in our 7 vehicle convoy!  We stopped the convoy and three of the clips to hold the pop top down, were undone.

We stopped in Dalwallinu for petrol.  John King’s uncle used to farm in a little place nearby called Baledu. We then drove through Buntine and Maxine told us that they had friends who lived nearby.

There were quite a lot of wildflowers along the roadside with sprinklings of white and pink Everlastings.  There were quite a few bobtails sunning themselves on the road and we managed to avoid them all. We were amazed at the amount of rubbish scattered along the roadside.   We then drove through Maya and Latham.

We stopped in Perenjori for petrol.  We then drove on to Moora and stopped for lunch at the Bakery.  John’s car battery would not start after the lunch stop (editorial sensorship forbids me from saying which John!) as the fridge draws on too much power when the vehicle is stationery.

We arrived in Morawa and had an interesting walk around. We visited the little church, one of the many local churches all built by architect turned priest,  Dean Hawes.   My uncle and aunt came out to Morawa from England in 1952 to work on Marge and Bob Burton’s sheep station.

We eventually arrived at the Mullewa Caravan Park.  It was pretty full and we ended up on the ‘overflow’ part of the camp but the park electrics would not work, so we all fitted in as best we could a bit squashed up.   We did a fair mileage for the day so tomorrow was designated a ‘slow’ day with a late start, not like the rush we had this morning!  (Sue and John Bromberger)

Monday 27 August
This morning a visit to the Mullewa Wildflower Show in the Town Hall where, among hundreds of varieties of wildflowers, we saw the elusive Wreath Flower.  Afterwards a walk to the Church, designed by Monsignor Hawes and now classified by the National Trust. The afternoon was a trip to Yuna to see the everlastings and a photo shoot among them. We stopped at a nature reserve where we could look down to the farms below with this most amazing view from what appeared ot be just a gravel mound, which would be missed by most people. The evening was taken up with a Quiz Night, organised by John and Sue Brom, questions based on Australian history, won by Jackie, Peter and John K. A great day and evening.  (John and Lyn Byworth)

Tuesday 28 August
A heavy fog started the day that we went in search of the elusive Wreath flower.  Setting off at 10.30am, there was plenty of radio banter, but everyone was well over the “overs”,  and the chicken had been strangled, to be heard of no more! In Yalgoo, we visited the Convent Chapel, one of Monsignor John Hawes’  masterpieces that was built for the Dominican Sisters by very dedicated parishioners who travelled by horseback 120 miles each way to the site.

Next stop was Jokers Tunnel, which was a mine shaft through the hillside.  Some of the braver Club members walked through; luckily it was before the “beware of the snakes” sign was spotted but Incident officer Richard was in front so we felt safe.   While on the hillside, we received a call for help from someone near Noongal so Richard, Helen, Peter & Denise headed off to help.

Everyone else enjoyed lunch overlooking the Yalgoo race course, under the shade of the old railway station verandah, then we headed off some 80kms down the road to find the Wreath flower. Our trip leader’s heart was in his mouth in case we could not find one, and it was not looking too good for his reputation for a while, but Geoff and Maxine saved him by finding several beautiful specimens, the best Rosalie had ever seen and John breathed a huge sigh of relief.

John did even better by conjuring up a group of emus galloping down the dirt road in front of us for a couple of kms.  Geoff gave us a quick lesson on how to tell the difference between male and female emus. Quick stop for afternoon tea and headed off home, arriving just before Richard & company.

Everyone busied themselves cooking up a storm for a shared meal, soup, casseroles and apple crumble, yummy!  After a night of jokes and several interpretations of where the name “Wyalcatchem” came from, and the award of the day to Richard, Helen, Peter & Denise for bravery,  everyone headed off to bed after a lovely and exciting day out.     (Alan and Jackie Stanger)
Tuesday 28th August : additional
Having looked around Yalgoo and admired another of Monsignor Hawes small churches we travelled up Joker’s hill and explored Jokers Tunnel. As we prepared to leave the hill we were surprised to receive an SOS radio call from a man who was 30kms away and using a hand held 2 way radio. His friend had not returned to their truck out in the bush at the appointed time and he was worried that he was lost in the bush, and he was unable to summon any other help due to his position.

Richard and Helen, Peter and Denise set off to facilitate a rescue, returning quickly to Yalgoo which was deserted it being lunchtime, eventually the police were informed via the Shire office of the coordinates of the area but they were over an hour away returning from a training trip. Peter and Denise carefully informed the men’s wives of their predicament who were waiting in Yalgoo caravan park, the missing man’s wife becoming hysterical. After calming down the two wives set off to the approximate area in the bush. The rest of our party were informed of the position and proceeded to continue their trip while the K’s and B’s proceeded to the search area via some bush bashing having been given the wrong coordinates. After about half an hour the site was found, the police informed using our satellite phone of the correct coordinates, and R and P set out to do a walking sector search keeping in contact by radio with H and D who manned the radio and satellite phone and stayed with the vehicles in case of further developments. Meanwhile the police at Geraldton were waiting our findings before putting into action an aerial search requesting that our vehicles be plainly visible from the air.

After about an hour the man was found by his friend’s wife who had returned to the track and retraced back about two kms from where he should have been. He was well and safely sheltering under a tree despite being 70 years old, diabetic and having had a triple coronary bypass! A good result! His wife was very relieved and grateful for our help as were the local police who turned up at that moment.

Moral: Go bush with at least 2 vehicles, at least 2 radios, and if leaving the vehicles take a radio and preferably a sat-nav with you. A sat phone in a vehicle helps too.

The Mitsubishi 4WD club again earned respect and gratitude from the group and the police. The club was able, willing, competent and equipped to deal with this incident in a timely efficient and successful manner.
(How lucky were they to reach us on top of the hill over 30kms away with a hand held radio!)
Peter and Denise Belcher

Wednesday 29 August
Our seven vehicle convoy left Mullewa at 10.30am for the short but pretty drive through green undulating hills to Mingenew where after settling in at the caravan park we proceeded on a short drive led by Jackie and Alan to Depot Lookout where we were fortunate to find a lot of interesting wildflowers including Donkey, Cowslip and Vanilla Orchids amongst a host of colourful shrubs. Afternoon tea was taken overlooking a stream and on our return to the caravan park we all enjoyed a fish a chip supper provided by the park owners. (Peter and Denise Belcher)

Thursday 30 August
It’s a beautiful cloudless blue sky with expectations of a 25C day – what a wonderful way for Denise to celebrate her birthday (and she did really keep it secret until Peter revealed all).  Many people visited the bakery first thing this morning but were disappointed that there were no vanilla slices or sweet treats available until later in the day.

At 10.30am we assembled in correct convoy order and headed towards Coalseam Park.  First stop was at the lookout where we walked thru carpets of yellow, gold, pink and purple wildflowers.  Then it was on to Miners Picnic Area where we had lunch and walked across the dry Irwin River South to look at an abandoned coal mine shaft.  On the way out of the park we searched for, but didn’t find, the spot marked on the map where we should have found the elusive Wreath Flower.

We have now lost our official tail-end Charlie as Jeff & Maxine have left us to return to Mingenew to pick up their caravan and head off to Jurien to meet their daughter and family so John & Sue Bromberger assumed tail-end Charlie duties for the return trip.

Back at Mingenew most of us headed for the bakery to buy goodies for afternoon tea.

We all ate out again at the Mingenew Caravan Park – again – and had a delicious meal of chicken soup, roast beef and vegies followed by apple crumble and cream.  And again, we all rolled out of the eating area ………….
After tea we gathered for port and coffee and story telling under Richard & Helen’s awning then it was off to bed.  (Richard & Helen Kingston)

Friday 31st August
After saying farewell to Richard and Helen, and John and Sue the remaining four vehicles with John B as tail end Charlie left Mingenew on a pleasant run to New Norcia through rolling green hills and wildflower areas stopping for mornos at Coorow and lunch at Moora outside the bakery unerringly found by trip leader John K!

The only rain of the week wet everybody setting up at New Norcia but spirits were improved as the rain left and a delightful meal was enjoyed in the stately and historic surroundings of the hotel.
(Peter and Denise Belcher)

Saturday 1st September
Five of us, Jackie and Alan, Denise and Peter and Glen who came up from Perth for the day enjoyed a very informative two hour guided tour around the monastery and town before having lunch and setting off for an uneventful trip back to Perth
Many thanks to John and Rosalie for all their planning, patience and leadership and for leading a very enjoyable and informative trip. (Peter and Denise Belcher)

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